I am no stranger to alcoholism. Most of my maternal Aunts and Uncles were alcoholics. My only American cousin is recovering. So is my ex-brother-in-law. I probably know a bunch of secret alcoholics too. There is one alcoholic with whom I have to spend a lot of time.
My new boyfriend.
Just to be clear, he does not drink anymore. He went to rehab about seven years ago and hasn’t fallen off the wagon. He’s not a “book carrying” alcoholic. He doesn’t preach. He doesn’t go to meetings. He simply doesn’t drink. He smokes and gets “impaired”, just not with alcohol. I’m proud of him. He saw that alcohol was ruining his life and relationships and did something about it.
Selfishly, I must admit, sometimes it sucks. He doesn’t care if I drink. In fact, he has an excellent knowledge about wines and cocktails and doesn’t give a shit if I drink a bottle or two on a Saturday night. It’s awfully kind of him. What does suck is that it almost puts a very thin invisible wall between us. It separates some of our interests.
Bars are out. I love bars. Dark, empty bars with good jukeboxes. I love a beautiful wood bar with a footrest and a hook to hang your bag. I love to knock back a couple of beers in an environment other than my kitchen. But alas, no bars for him. I mean, why would he even want to go to a bar? Sometimes I almost catch myself saying “Wanna meet at ______?” only to realize what I am about to ask. So no bars for us.
Parties are a huge deal. I get invited to a party, tell him and then the questions roll out. “Is it a big drinking crowd?” “Is it going to be rowdy?” “How long do these parties last?” After the inquisition usually come the assumptions. “I’m really not into large crowds with blaring music and drunk people blabbing all night.” Sigh. Dude, I’m almost 40. My friends aren’t a bunch of heathens, in fact, I’m probably the wildest of any of them. And weddings. I love weddings. So much fun! He recently received a “Save the Date” for a wedding of a guy he bar tends for (I know, funny, an alcoholic bartender) and he agonized over it. I mean, he just wouldn’t stop. “I don’t think I want to go.” So don’t go. It’s really not my scene to be around 400 drunk people swinging towels around on the dance floor. I’ve never been to a wedding like that. “Maybe I should just send money.” IT’S A SAVE THE DATE!!!!!! STOP IT!!!
Finally, there is the fear. The fear that he may start drinking again. He’s had sips of my wine and I don’t see a problem with that, but the last thing I want is for him to fall off the wagon and his family blame me. I think I’m also scared of what he acts like when he’s drunk. I’ve know him for a long time, but I didn’t know him during his dark days of drinking. I don’t want to know that man.
I love him. I accept him for who he is and what he’s been through and who he has become. I know I can go to a bar with my friends and most of the people in my circle are already married or divorced. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s like wanting to visit a beautiful vineyard with the love of your life and knowing that can’t happen.
I’ll give up the vineyards.