I had a friend many years ago whose daughters were just crazy about horses. He and his wife ran their own business. They were gentle people together, but he could be extremely tough. He had grown up hard, on the streets. I remember his drinking. He gave my companion a bottle of special whiskey one time that I made into herbal liniment. No one appreciated that.
I cared about that family. He struggled to buy ponies for his daughters and they showed in an English competition that I was judging. It pleased me to see them and they were riding well. But his drinking at the show was a stab of memory for me of my own father, drunk at horse shows while my Mom kept me safe and sane.
This man would take speed to get going in the mornings and drink whiskey at night to be able to “sleep” or just pass out… I could imagine how his daughters felt; projecting my own memories of those childhood feelings.
One time I told him that he spent a lot of money trying to feel how I felt all the time. I could tell I had pushed a button, but his respect for me kept him from showing anger. You see, I just woke up in the morning and got going without any chemical help. And at night, I slept from the simple fact that I was tired. No drugs needed (and I consider alcohol a drug). I spent most of my young life trying to reason with my alcoholic father and trying to save my family. In most ways, I did save my family, but not my father who died at age 52 from the drinking, looking like he was 92. One gift he did give me was the insight into just how easily a gentle, intelligent person could become an addicted, pitiful one. Seeing it all from the “outside” makes an impression that cannot be gleaned from the “inside” as the alcohol dulls the awareness and one’s sense of self preservation.
So, I am grateful to have the genuine experience of feeling tired or of waking up energized – all of it by life itself and not a chemical effect. But I will not judge anyone who has slipped into the depths of dependency because I could slip, too. We are all vulnerable because we are human. We are all also capable of healing even something so deep, also because we are human.