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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Driving along in my automobile...

I saw a news article on TV about a young teen-age girl who was killed when a drunk driver jumped the sidewalk and hit her as she was walking to school. It was such a shame – a young life snipped away in a moment by a reckless irresponsible sot.
The article reminded me of conversations I had had with Riley on numerous occasions. His point of view is that he is perfectly capable of driving while he is drunk. My point of view is that no one under the influence of ANYTHING such as alcohol or drugs should ever get behind the wheel of something could be turned into a lethal weapon.
Riley’s point of view is that he’s been driving drunk for more than 15 years and, therefore, knows how to drive when he is intoxicated. He has never had an accident so he must be doing something right. He has had a few DUI tickets, but nothing more sinister than that.
I must admire the fact that he has thought this out and has used logic to argue his point. It doesn’t matter that it’s a warped point of view or a point of view that could kill some unsuspecting person. It is his point of view. But my admiration ends there.
 It is unconscionable to me that any person would put another person’s life in danger in such a manner. Especially considering Riley’s past.
Grant was Riley’s second oldest son. He had his bouts with drugs and alcohol but had been firmly planted in sobriety for several years. His life was going very well. He was married with a son and a second baby on the way. The family was driving to a family event. A drunk driver jumped the highway median hit the family’s car and killed Grant, his wife and unborn child. His son survived.
With something as tragic as that in your past – how could any sane person think it was OK to drive under the influence of alcohol? Well… that’s it right there… no SANE person would think it was acceptable.  Alcoholism is an insane way of life and in the absence of sanity just about anything goes.
Currently Riley is not drinking. He drives when I’m in the car with him. I know where he goes and what he does. And we only drive to go to the grocery store and run errands. I have to do these things and it’s nice to not have to do all the driving.
However, my crystal ball tells me that a time will come when I’ll be swamped with working or involved in some other task and will not be able to run to the store. Riley will insist that he can run the errand and I can continue to do what I’m doing. He will promise me that he will not buy alcohol when he is out by himself. It will be a situation of me being overwhelmed and in the security of the past few months of sobriety – I may become temporarily insane and agree to Riley’s suggestion.
The first few ventures out in the car alone – Riley may stick to his word and not buy or drink alcohol. But that will just be setting me up to gain my trust. I might even start thinking that maybe this time he will end his drinking soiree.
And then it will happen – he will arrive home drunk and I’ll be beating myself up over allowing it to happen. I’ll hide the car keys and go back to being the watchdog that protects my community from the danger of a life ending much like the young girl in the news.
Every day that I can prevent another news story of death by intoxicated driver – is a good day.

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