By Evan Glass
“You can’t ever drink again?”
This is what I asked my girlfriend after she told me about her alcoholism. For some reason I thought alcoholics, after they recover, could drink again. We had been dating for all of two days before she had a drinking episode that forced her into the hospital, AA meetings and to accept the fact that she was an alcoholic. After she told me about this episode, my stomach dropped. I was nervous, as I was not fully aware of the severity of her disease at the time.
“Should I date an alcoholic?” I fell into a state of doubt, but knew the most important thing at that moment was to be supportive and caring. She needed it, and I cared for her.
“Good start!” I sarcastically thought in my head. I felt confused, nervous, doubtful, and scared. What was I getting myself into? We couldn’t even go get a beer at dinner.
“Fuck, I have to tell everyone my girlfriend is an alcoholic”.
I was unsure if I wanted to continue our relationship, due to the stigma and judgment that is placed upon alcoholics. However, I had no doubt that I really liked her. I had really liked her for a few months, and decided to give this relationship a shot because I wanted this, and in my head, these circumstances weren’t going to change that. Furthermore, I decided I was not going to let the judgment from the stigma of addiction affect me dating her, but I knew it was going to take some time for me to get used to that fact.
“So you really can’t ever drink again?”
I ignorantly asked my girlfriend that question after she told me about the episode that launched her into Alcoholics Anonymous.
Her response was chilling and grounding. “No, I have disease and alcohol is toxic to me; my body can’t process it.”
I also came to the conclusion that I was crazy for giving this a shot, and furthermore that doing something out of my comfort zone like this was unlike me. That was one of the first moments in my life where I dropped all judgments of someone, and looked past her disease (alcoholism), and saw her as a beautiful human being inside and out.
This was the beginning of our relationship that looking back, has changed me in ways I couldn’t imagine. It has challenged me to grow. Without a doubt, I am so grateful for my girlfriend’s sobriety and wouldn’t change it even if I could. It’s a part of her that goes far beyond just staying sober. Over these past five months, I have seen a drastic transformation in my girlfriend; a transformation that has allowed her to find herself in the world. She has learned to truly live and love, not just simply exist. My girlfriend is the least judgmental person I know; an effortlessly loving and caring individual. I don’t see her alcoholism as a character defect. Rather, I am grateful to be by her side through her journey of recovery and finding her way in life.
My initial ignorance to alcoholism and addiction is the same ignorance that permeates our society. I used to look down on alcoholics and addicts, thinking it was their fault and choice to use so often.
I used to think, “just stop drinking, it can’t be that hard.”
Based on my experience, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Alcoholics are people too. They can love, work, laugh, and be caring. In my experience, addicts are some of the most real, caring and open people I have ever come across. By going to AA meetings and interacting with other addicts, I have come to understand they can function in society, aren’t failures and are people I can talk and relate to. I hope someday society realizes that people who suffer from addiction suffer from a disease. It’s a concrete fact that these people did not choose this disease or way of life. It’s part of who they are; it’s in their DNA.
My relationship with my girlfriend has helped me see the world differently. Instead of drinking on Friday and Saturday night, or even during the day, we go to dinner and a movie, spend good time together, go on hikes and discover viewpoints in Seattle.
Instead, we go live life. This relationship has taught me what matters in life. I used to think partying and girls was the best thing in my week, and I have been opened up to and discovered what the real treasures of life are.
Yes, I still drink alcohol. I drink to enjoy it, not to get drunk and party. I love having a good beer or two, but I don’t drink to get until I puke.
Sometimes I wish Chloe and I could go out to a party together or just drink a few beers at dinner. When I have those fleeting thoughts, I remind myself how I if she did drink, Chloe wouldn’t be the person she is today. She is so loving and selfless and that I am so grateful for the person she has become.