Saturday, April 20, 2024

I CONFESS – Women and booze don’t mix


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WOMEN OFTEN talk about living with a man who drinks, but few men ever tell of the horrors of being involved with a female alcoholic.
I went through this back in the 1980s for nearly two years. But now, more than 30 years on, that experience still haunts me because I saw how a wonderful woman slowly drowned herself in bottles of alcohol in spite of my best efforts to get her off of it.
I remember most of all the great lengths she went to in order to hide her problem and the ingenious places she hid the flask bottles.
She would hide them in obvious places like under the bed, at the top of the wardrobe, at the back of cupboards, in coat pockets hung up in the wardrobe, under the settee, and between bricks in the yard and garden.  Then there were the not-so-obvious places like at the bottom of the white garbage bucket (she would put the bottle on the bottom of the bucket then put a black garbage bag over it to throw things in).
She also used to hide them in the ceiling by standing on a chair, sliding back the trap door, and placing a few up there.
But the most ingenious place she found to hide one was right in front of our faces in a big plant pot in the veranda. She simply buried the bottle just beneath the surface in the sandy soil she had a cactus in, and no one was the wiser.
The thing is that I never saw her taking a drink – not once. In fact, I never even realised that she was a drinker until a colleague of hers warned me about what I was getting into with her.
Her colleague wasn’t being malicious; she realised that I truly cared for her friend and revealed all so that I could help her. I must tell you that I found her revelation hard to believe because the image  I had of a female drinker was big eyes, puffy jaws, discoloured lips and alcohol on the breath.
But my friend was nothing like that. To me she was attractive though she rarely smiled or did her hair in a fashionable way. She was soft-spoken and a homely type – in other words, a real nice person.
Different signs
 With that knowledge, however, I was on the lookout for different signs. The one I noted most was her penchant for sucking Hacks. They gave her breath a strong menthol smell but she swore by them. After being told of her habit I realised why she used them so much.
we were together for several months and I never saw any signs of anything untoward. However, I became more friendly with her young daughter, who drew to my attention how sometimes her mum would be in her room crying at night, cursing, talking loudly to herself and throwing books on the ground.
The girl also said sometimes at night after I left their house, her mother would have a bottle in her hand drinking while bawling at her.
Based on that information, her daughter and I went on a bottle hunting expedition one evening before she came home and netted four flasks all opened and used. With that evidence I confronted her and she blew up. Talk about angry! I never saw her so annoyed. In the end, she told me to mind my business and asked me to leave her house.
For days afterwards she did not speak to me or go  to work. She did not welcome me to her house either when I turned up to talk with her. Actually, that week she went to the doctor for time home.
That was the turning point in our relationship. From then on I tried my best to find out why she drank and did what I could to get her off the bottle. It was a task I was not trained for, but didn’t realise it at the time.
Because she still had some level of self-respect, she drank at home only, so my primary job was to keep alcohol out of her house. With her daughter’s snooping, we managed to keep the bottles of alcohol  out, but then we had to face a depressed, angry individual going through withdrawal symptoms.
When she was like that, she swore at you, refused  to bathe and eat, and would lash out. She was an awful person to be around. What made her position even more difficult was her refusal to go for treatment.
As I would not relent, she changed her tactics by bathing, eating, and trying to be intimate to throw me off-guard. When that did not work, she returned to being resentful and uncooperative.
I then tried appealing to her common sense to get her to see the folly of her actions. But even that did not work. It was as if she could not help herself.
As she could no longer keep liquor at home, she secretly started drinking at work. Her friend discovered what she was doing as sometimes she seemed incoherent and sluggish on the job.
To be honest, after about five months of this I just packed it in. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
A disease
What I didn’t understand then was that my friend had a disease that needed specialised treatment. Her alcoholism was akin to cocaine addiction, but I could not appreciate that fact – so I walked away. I also did not realise the lack of self-esteem and, I suspect, abuse issues she was challenged with. She needed serious intervention and my efforts were just brushing the tip of the iceberg.
I never went back around her though I would see her from time to time. Her face progressively got puffy and the last time I got a glimpse of her she had the classic “rum jumbie” look. It’s a real pity.
These memories came flooding back when I went to karaoke the other night and saw the way a number of young women were gulping down liquor like water. When I saw that, I said to myself, if they know the life of agony they were letting themselves in for, they would never touch another drink.
Believe me, life is not a spirited time when you’re hooked on alcohol.


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