As usual, the only person in this joint who has plans for New Year's Eve is our 5-year-old daughter. She is off to a sleepover at a friend's house, where she will be able to stay up late and blow party horns and eat popcorn to her heart's content. If we are very, very lucky, her daddy and I will hit a Redbox on the way home so we can watch a movie as soon as the little one goes to bed, allowing us to have some grown-up entertainment before we pass out from routine exhaustion at 10:30.
Once upon a time, pre-children, we would have spent the evening with a few friends, making a huge meal, playing board games, and getting more and more toasted until midnight. There are a number of reasons we don't do this anymore, children being only one of them. Many of those friends have moved on from us, or we from them - depending on how you look at it - and at least one of them is slowly, but surely killing himself with alcohol.
I joke a lot about drinking and getting drunk, and I have certainly tied one on a time or two, but in the last 5 or 6 years, I have hardly tilted back a glass at all, and I cannot even remember what it is like to be truly inebriated. Maybe once a month, my husband and I remember that we have some rather tasty beer way in the back of the fridge, and if we decide to have one, we have one - which we share. And I never finish mine.
This is partly because too much alcohol can trigger one of my massive headaches, but this is usually avoided if I drink as much water as liquor - though it keeps me in the bathroom during all the fun stuff. And any kind of a hangover when you have to get up at 6:30 am and keep two kids entertained for the rest of the day is just too much of a handicap.
But, frankly, getting a good buzz on has just lost a lot of its appeal for me. A few years ago, I had to cut off ties with an old friend because his drinking had gotten out of control. There was a time when I thought my job was to try to help him, then another friend revealed to me that she was a recovering alcoholic, 16 years sober, and she explained a lot to me. Suffice to say, if you have a friend who is drowning in alcohol, you cannot fix him. You can only "raise the bottom" by walking away and saying, "I cannot have you in my life until you are sober." And I did this, and it hurt like hell, and I questioned what I did for a long, long time.
Then, later, he truly hit bottom. He drank so much that his organs began to shut down. He was hospitalized, and each day the doctors told him he might not make it to the next morning. And each day, he kept making it to the next morning anyway. Eventually he was released into hospice, which required him to start AA, and for the next three years he was sober.
But it didn't stick. My friend who is a police officer in the town where he lives, and who knows him as well, responded to a call last night, and found him on his sofa, wasting away, drunk and despairing. He was in such a bad state, he had to be hospitalized for a psych evaluation as well as for medical reasons. I don't know yet what has become of him. I'm scared to find out.
So, if you're gonna party 'til you puke tonight, please have a designated driver or take a taxi or stay home. I've lost more than one person to alcohol, and I don't want to lose any more.