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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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Witch hunt...

I wanted to write a post on drunk driving this morning. I had just settled in front of the computer armed with my morning coffee and my trusty old dictionary. But, just as I was getting my creative juices flowing I heard a loud screech of skidding tires on pavement. I looked out the window and saw a car had gone off the road and into the ditch. It had been raining earlier and the roads are slippery. There’s a small curve right at that point and if you’re going too fast, it can be problematic.

Riley heard it too. I wanted to hop in my car and go down to see if anyone was hurt. I had my keys in hand and was almost out the door, when Riley insisted he come with me. But… he had to get his shoes on first. I waited… I waited some more… I hope I’m never in an emergency situation and depending on him for timely action. Finally, with shoes on his feet, we went to the crash site.

The car had gone over the ditch and was in the field. It had turned all the way around before stopping. The air bags had been deployed, the engine was still running, and there was no one inside. There were people tracks from the car going toward the street. We went back to our house and called the state troopers. I had not wanted to call when we first heard the screaming tires just in case it was a simple little thing. I suppose we should have called right away.

Of course, I have a very creative and active imagination and there could be a very reasonable explanation as to why the driver would leave the car and disappear. I’m thinking another passing car stopped and picked up the driver to transport him to the auto shop which is just up the road a couple of miles. That’s the logical answer. But, why leave the car running? And that imagination of mine has another idea.

My theory of this morning’s accident goes something like this… the guy was a drunk driver and was either trying to get home – it was 5 a.m. – or he was trying to get to work. When he careened off the street into the field his first instinct may have been to flee so as not to get caught and cited for a DUI. The next passing car’s driver simply wanted to help a fellow out of a bad situation so he picks up the driver and takes him to wherever the accident victim needed to go. Because the driver was still in a soggy state of mind, he never thought to turn the car off.

I do have another theory that doesn’t involve alcohol and that is that the car was stolen and the thief didn’t want to wait around for the troopers to show up.

Of course, in all reality it was probably just someone on their way to work who got surprised by the small curve in the road and the slippery pavement. Everyone knows everyone out here, so the passing good Samaritan probably knew the accident victim and just wanted to help him get to safety. No malice, no foul play, just a simple accident.

Something happens to us non-alcoholics when we are involved in an alcoholic world. Our radar goes up and we see alcoholics everywhere. Alcohol is such an intricate part of our lives that the first thought of something amiss is almost always blamed on alcohol.

When I watch certain television programs where there is a lot of partying and heavy drinking, my first instinct is – just a bunch of alcoholics. I’m not interested and will quickly change the channel. I find no amusement in watching people destroy their minds and bodies. Never mind, that it could be a one-time or seldom-time thing and the participants are not really alcoholics – just people acting like fools. I won’t stick around to find out. It’s so offensive to me that I won’t give the program a chance.

Alcohol consumption at any occasion or celebration causes me to go on red-alert. I love a glass of champagne or wine – maybe even gin & tonic at a barbeque. But, my limit is two. I know my limit because before Riley came back to my house, I exceeded my limit at many social functions. Everyone loves it when I get tippsy – I become very happy and will laugh at almost anything. I dance and I will even sing if the opportunity presents itself. But, I don’t drive. Even then, before I have that third drink, I make sure that I won’t need to drive. Now that Riley is back, I have no desire to exceed my limit and I only drink at very special occasions. Over the past year, I haven’t found any occasion so special that it warranted me to raise a glass in a toast, dance or sing.

Riley says that I’m on a witch hunt. Not all car accidents are alcohol related. Not all partiers are budding alcoholics on their way down the drain. Not every glass raised in celebration is a slippery slope. Even with his unclear, alcohol-soaked brain, I know that he is right.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to go to a nightclub again and just enjoy the music and lively atmosphere. When someone tells me they don’t drink, will I ever believe it is because they don’t want to or will I assume that they are in a 12-step program? Have I come so far into the forest that I can only see the drunks of the trees?

Alcoholism has far reaching consequences for more people than just the alcoholic. Life with Riley has changed me and how I perceive the world. I’ve always considered myself to be an optimistic realist. I’m beginning to think the optimistic part is becoming less and less as I continue in the journey.  At least as far as the outside world is concerned. Inside the walls of my home and within my family, I’m still extremely optimistic – but outside that there is danger.

I’m not hunting for alcoholic witches… I’m just aware so I can avoid them.


Syd said...

I did not have much optimism when I lived with active alcoholism. I put on a face to the world but inside I was simply dying.

Kitty said...

I would agree in your assumption that the person driving either stole the car or was on a substance of some kind. Nobody in a right state of mind would just walk away and leave the car running....unless maybe they were in shock from injury. They would probably remember they need their keys. and the good Samaritan? they would most likely notice the car was still running...again, unless there were some bad injuries to tend to.
Weird incident either way.

Ann said...

Even though I, like you, enjoy an occasional glass of wine or vodka/tonic, being somewhere with people drinking and "having fun" makes me very uncomfortable and I choose to not put myself in that situation any longer. My radar goes up instantly whenever alcohol is present, even just a glass of wine with dinner and family. I become very wary and distrustful.

Have Myelin? said...

I see alcoholics everywhere too... if I see spider veins, a little fat around the belly, skin too shiny, I immediately think "he/she doesn't have long..."

Gabriele Goldstone said...

...the drunks of the trees... ooh, I love that line.

Every time I hear a radio ad (not a TV watcher) for alcohol I do a mental shudder. The pressures for young people to drink are enormous. Fortunately, my children have their father as a wake-up call.

I love to have a glass of wine or two with friends over dinner. But I sip it consciously - if you know what I mean.