A chance meeting
Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes for my 7th sober one. I know that it's only thanks to the miracle of the AA programme that I'm sober today. In my last few years of drinking I couldn't stay sober for 7 hours, let alone 7 years!
This afternoon on my way back to the car from the Barking lunchtime meeting, I passed a pub. A taxi was waiting outside and a man and woman came out. He was walking with a stick, and she was saying to the cab driver "he's not drunk, he's just got a bad leg". I looked at him and realised that it was a former boyfriend of mine who I hadn't seen since 1988.
He was a chronic alcoholic even then, and I know that the few months we were 'dating' (if you could call it that) my drinking escalated. It was a very unhealthy, alcoholic relationship, a cycle of abuse and dependency on both sides.
He does actually have a bad leg. A long while ago he'd been a pillion passenger on a motorcycle and had been badly injured in an accident. He'd been awarded a huge settlement - £58,000, which in the early 80s was a lot of money, probably the equivalent of around £150,000 (about $270,000) in today's money. Within months he was broke after spending it all on drink, clothes and holidays for hangers-on. When I met him he was living on state benefits.
But despite what the woman today said, he was also drunk today. Well, he was coming out of a pub at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and, knowing him, he was probably in there at 11am when it opened.
I said hello, and it took him a few seconds to focus his eyes and recognise me. He grinned, and we exchange a few words "good to see yous", etc. and then I went on my way.
He could be the sweetest, funniest, most charming bloke you could meet, and then in a second turn violent and abusive. We split up after he beat me up at a party we were at. Nobody there came to my aid. It was the norm amongst the people I was mixing with. As it says in the Big Book, the unacceptable becomes acceptable. Thankfully I was able to get myself away from that particular crowd.
To be honest, I'm astonished he's still alive, he was drinking 2 litres of Bacardi a day when we were together, as well as whatever drinks he could get people to buy him in the pub (people felt sorry for him because of the leg, and there were also a lot of people who enjoyed his hospitality when he had money and he called in every favour he could.)
He looked like hell. He's probably 45 now, but looked at least 20 years older than that. I hope he gets sober one day. He carries a huge burden of grief and resentment over the loss of his baby son over 25 years ago and even in our brief exchange today, I could see that nothing had changed in him. But as long as he's still alive, there's hope that one day he might find this blessed gift of sobriety.