I Knew He Went Back Out

By An Anonymous Contributor

Reality hit me today.

I pull up into the parking lot. There’s a spot right in front of the meeting I am about to go to. Even better, there is a light right above my new found parking spot. It gives my paranoid mind a sense of ease.

I jump out of my car while rustling through my purse, blindly grasping at my pack of cigs. I grab one out, light it, and start to make my way over towards the mass cloud of smoke.

Making my way forward, I spot a group of my close friends to my left. A smile begins to spread across my face as I go up to each friend. One by one, I squeeze them tight and start saying hello. Before I make my way through half of the group, I spot another close friend who I haven’t seen in quite some time now.

I run over to him before completing my greetings. At first I give him one of my typical head nods. A standard affirmation of fellowship and recovery. The closer I get to him, the less I truly see of my friend. He has cuts on his hands, complimented with faint scratches on his face. He looks like he hasn’t slept in days. The bags underneath his eyes are so purple- for a moment I think that he has two black eyes. He stands hunched over before me. His gaunt body is swimming in one of his favorite sweatshirts- one that used to fit him.

His eyes are what got me.

As our eyes meet, all I see is pain. I feel it. Just by looking into his eyes, I know something is not right. I know he is suffering in ways that I cannot imagine. He looks as though he is in absolute, utter despair.

My heart sinks into the pits of my stomach. All of the sudden I am getting cotton mouth from my cig. That never happens. My body feels tense and numb. My hands begin to get clammy.

I am in shock.

Without him muttering a word, I already knew he went back out.

I embrace him with all of the love I can give. I hold him as tight as I can for what feels like forever. However, no matter however long I hug him, I know it is not enough. I cannot do a goddamn thing to make his pain go away.

We talk. I ask him how he is. He admits that he has relapsed, but that he is back now. I am so glad he is here, alive, standing before me.

Because the truth is, alcoholism is a fatal disease. We face a tremendous amount of loss in these rooms.

I grab him again. I just want to hold him and tell him everything will be okay and not let go until he believes it in his heart. We talk a little about treatment. He admits that he’s aware he needs it, yet is not completely set on going. I wish I could make the decision for him; to make the decision that treatment is necessary, to make the decision that he needs to get sober.

It kills me to know that that will never be in my control. Whatsoever.  

I walk away. Although all I want to do in this moment is give him my care, I know that I have a service commitment that I must follow through with. I have to show up for everyone here, not only my struggling friend.

I feel stressed. I am anxious as hell. I feel broken. My mind is racing with thoughts and worries about my dear friend.

Fuck. Well, fuck it. I deserve another cig. Just fuck it.

I knew this moment would become a reality for me at some point. I knew that I would see someone I love go back out. I knew that this disease is fatal, and that we can only get sober when we are ready to. Reality hit me today, in a way I wished was never possible. My mind will not stop racing.

I light another.