The Good, The Bad and the Ugly


For the last two weeks I’ve been in Ft. Myers/Cape Coral/Sanibel, Florida helping a friend move from her condo back to her house she used to live in.  Until the house is completely ready to move in (there are other renovations going on), she is living in a cottage on the beach in Sanibel, FL.  Here’s a picture of the place.

waterside inn cottages  Here is the one I spent the last two days of my trip:

grapefruit cottage

The good part of the trip was I got to spend time with my best friend of 30 years.  Our kids grew up together and now their kids are growing up as friends.  I think that’s pretty cool.  I also got to meet fellow author and blogger buddy, Jamie Ayres:

Jamie Ayres and me - Barnes and Noble - ft myers 1-19-2013

I also got to meet amazing YA authors (see my post from January 30), and picked up a few books.

During my stay, my friend treated me to some of the best dining in the Ft. Myers/Sanibel area like Doc Ford‘s (a frequent hang-out of author, Randy Wayne White),  RonDao’s, Nick and Stellas’s, Osaka Japanese Steakhouse (website not available), Sanibel Steakhouse, and Timber’s Restaurant.  I also got to see Spamalot a the Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel, and it was FANTASTIC!  The cast and music were brilliant.  Amazing talent in this little, quaint theater group.  I was definitely impressed.

But, as with everything, the trip was not without its bad side.  My friend kept changing her mind a lot, changing schedules, putting off things that should have been done when originally planned.  (I’ll explain this in the “ugly” part of the post).  We argued on several occasions (again, explained in the ugly).  I got lightly sunburned on the beach looking for shells (should have worn more sunscreen).  My friend’s 14-year old Jack Russell, became very ill. She ended up crossing the Rainbow Bridge on Feb. 4, the day after I returned home.  I cried a lot during those 2 weeks.  I wanted to go home.  Why?

My friend is an alcoholic, and that’s the ugly truth.  She’s been in rehab after rehab and she relapses every time.  Out of the two weeks I was there, she was sober one night.  One.  She left me a few nights by myself so she could go drinking.  After Spamalot, we were supposed to get a bit to eat, but she dropped me off at the cottage so she could go drinking.  She kept mixing up the schedules for when things needed to be done because she was hung over or because she didn’t feel like dealing with them.  The last night we went to dinner with a friend of hers who also drank.  They got into an argument over oyster crackers and started banging the table and grabbing each other’s wrists and ‘fighting’ in the booth.  I actually left the table at one point, went outside and called my husband for like the 50th time since I’d been away, and I did cry.  My friend, who has this incredibly sweet, loving side and big heart, was drunk and unreasonable, and I was embarrassed to be with her.  That’s a horrible thing to say about someone you love like a sister.  When we returned home that night, she left me alone to entertain her guest.  She was rude and unthinking.  She put all responsibility on me to take care of her dog, to move, to paint, to vacuum, to mop.  It was not pretty.  Even after telling her how I felt and how rude she was and how these choices were destroying her, she still continued to fall into the pattern that alcoholics fall into.  It was more than I could handle.  Despite all the good food and the help my friend has given me financially over the last two years I’ve been out of a job, I found it difficult to be with her, to sympathize.  Her drinking made me angry.  I didn’t like the person I became being with her.

During my trip we were making plans to go to NY in May or June, but I’ve decided I can’t go, not unless she’s sober.  She also wants me and my family to come down during Spring break so the boys can do some fishing.  Maybe charter or rent a boat.  However, I cannot emotionally go through what I went through the last 2 weeks if she continues to drink.  I plan to explain all this to her once she recovers from her pup’s death.  I feel for everyone who has to deal with an alcoholic or an addict on a daily basis.  God bless you for not losing your sanity.

I went to an AA/NA meeting yesterday for friends and family members of alcoholics and drug addicts to see if I could find some answers as to how to help my friend and how to deal with what I went through for 2 weeks.  I don’t want to lose my friend to this affliction.  I don’t even want to call it a disease.  I saw her make the conscious choice to either stay sober and be with me and have fun, or leave me behind to go drink. She chose drinking.  So, so sad.  Our rare time together could have really been wonderful.

Any advice?

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23 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

  1. I feel for you, Jenny. That is such a hard thing to deal with when it’s someone you love. In the end, you have to do what you think is best for you and for your own mental state and frame of mind. I hope your friend finds her path back home one day. 🙂

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  2. Oh, Jenny! It was so much fun meeting you, but I could tell the difference in your spirit from the one Sunday to the next. I didn’t want to pry though:-( I’ll keep your friend in my prayers. There are lots of recovering alcoholics at my church, the Cape Coral Vineyard. I’d meet up with her if she ever wants to check it out. Also, have you ever heard of Heather Knopp’s blog? I”m leaving her link. She is a recovering alcoholic and would be a good person to talk to

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  3. First off, the good sounded great, the bad…typical of the ugly alcoholic. I’m going through the same thing with my sister and am pulling my hair out. I don’t feel like going into it, though.

    The best I can do from here is to offer my prayers for the both of you. She knows she has a problem (the rehabs tell me that), but she can’t see living a life alcohol-free. So yes, she is making a deliberate choice.

    My philosophy is, you can do anything you want in life as long as you’re willing to pay the consequences. Let’s hope, that since she wants to do this, the consequences won’t be too severe (but enough to open her eyes).

    Unfortunately, an practicing alcoholic’s future consists of jail, institutions, or death. I pray she survives.

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  4. That’s horrendous, addiction is a terrible thing. I don’t have personal experience of anything like this, so I can’t offer any wise words, but I really do hope she finds the help she needs, from within herself as well as from the outside, and that you two can get back the relationship you had before.

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  5. So sorry to hear this, must have been really tough for you. Unfortunately, I tend to think people only get help when they’re ready and willing to try to change. I think you just need to suggest she needs help, maybe send her some info on what she can do then leave it to her to act on it.

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  6. What Can I Say??? Until she sees she needs help herself…it probably won’t happen…Addictions and sicknesses that change personalities are the worst…I wish you as her friend the words that will seep in and help her to see that she might lose you…Maybe that would be an awakening for her…

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    1. I don’t think she’ll ever lose me as a friend, but our time together will be less than I’d like. I hope my prayers and my words of support reach something down deep inside of her. I love her. I hate to see her like this. I feel helpless. All I can do is let her know I’m here for her. She has to heal the rest.

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  7. Hey Jenny. I’m so sorry to hear this happened. I’ve read through the comments and I agree with Julie. We can do as much as we can to try and help people like this, but if they don’t want to help themselves you’re fighting a losing battle (I’ve lived with an addict). You can offer support and love, but you’ll never be able ‘fix’ your friend – she is the only one who can do that. I really feel for you having been put in this situation – sending you big *hugs*…

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  8. Wow. I can’t hit like on this. Watching your friend destroy herself must be painful. You have a big heart to take two weeks out of your life to help her move, etc. I’m afraid the booze got in the way of her appreciating you. I have no advice here . . . except maybe to say she needs an intervention.

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    1. I wish I knew what to do. The whole while she’s telling me how much she appreciated me being there, she’s drinking. I don’t know how to get through to her. I guess I can’t. She has to get through to herself. I hope it’s not too late when she realizes it. She has two beautiful daughters and two wonderful grand-children. She’s a beautiful person when not possessed by the alcohol.

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  9. Jenny, you have my utmost sympathy and support in whatever way you decide to deal with your friend. I am so sorry your special time was ruined in this way – and sorry for your friend that she is (not) dealing with her alcoholism. I may not be very popular with my comments here, but I’ve been in a similar situation – except it was my mother’s second husband, and he was also manic-depressive and sexually aggressive with me. My mother said I should be more compassionate with him and blamed all his actions on his illnesses. I won’t go into the details of how horrible those years were; I’m sure you can imagine. The plain truth is that all the compassion and assistance you offer your friend means nothing if she won’t take the necessary steps to help herself. You can’t force her to get help if she’s not ready to take it all the way. She will continue to blame her bad behavior on the alcohol as long as that’s an option for her, and all the love in the world isn’t going to change her actions – only she can do that; when and if she is ever ready to do that. You’re absolutely right. We can love someone and do what we are willing to do to support them in the ways we are able to and within our own personal boundaries – without putting ourselves in the position of being used and abused by the ones we love. Like I said, this may not be a popular comment, but I’m speaking from personal experience – and yes, I have long forgiven this man for everything he put all of us through … and yes, he drank himself to death. In the end, he chose alcohol over everything else. Sending you huge hugs and lots of love, Julie xoxox

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    1. Thanks, Julie. I hope she finds some way to battle this beast. I’ve seen too many people lose everything to this demon. All I can do is tell her how much I love her and that I’ll be waiting for her to ‘come back’ to us.

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  10. I would recommend going to Al-Anon. You will better understand the depths of alcoholism and it will make more sense. Thanks for responding.

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  11. Hey Jenny, my dad was an alcoholic. I faithfully attended Al-Anon meetings on a weekly basis. It’s not about your friend. It’s about you. As you learn about the disease of alcoholism, you will shift your energy into compassion. It sounds unreasonable but you have to understand the alcohol is influencing her behavior. The real friend that you know is still there but it’s being masked by her disease.

    You also might want to look at the Law of Reflection. It will give you the opportunity to see in yourself what is being reflected by your friend. In other words, your anger, your lack of compassion, etc. has nothing to do with your friend. It has to do with you. Maybe you’re angry at yourself or lacking much compassion for yourself. Perhaps you’re embarrassed by your current circumstances or maybe you have a hard time sympathizing with yourself. These are just questions being thrown out. When we can shift our energy about an individual and realize it’s never about them, that it’s about us, that’s when we can move on from it. You still have the choice of either wanting to be with her or not. Is it serving your highest good at this time? We’re on this journey to learn and when the time is right, perhaps you can thank your friend for the lessons you’re learning within yourself. Blessings to you for your honesty. As always, I admire your writing.

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    1. Hi Dee: I do understand the hold alcohol has on her. I do have compassion for her. She’s my best friend. I love her dearly. I am angry that she made a conscious decision to drink even when I said something to her. She even admitted I was right and she still chose the bottle. I’m not embarrassed by my current situation. It is what it is. I was embarrassed to be sitting at a table with two fighting, arguing drunks in a restaurant. I think I have every right to be embarrassed and angry for them making a scene in front of a bunch of people. My friend is very wealthy. She has every bit of help at her disposal and she chooses to ignore it. We talk about the law of attraction. She’s choosing to attract alcohol. She’s choosing to attract this lifestyle despite my being there and supporting her. She laughed at my meditation. She balked at my positive reinforcements. I feel sorry for her. I do know I can’t continue to try and attract the positive in my life while also attracting the negative. She knows I love her and will always be there for her, but I have to set my own limits of what I will or will not expose myself to. If I get mixed up in her downward spiral, then that will be very bad for me. I can sympathize and promote from afar. I hope that makes sense.

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  12. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I believe this IS a disease, and it’s one that’s in my family. Her choice to drink or not seems like a choice, but it sounds like your friend’s rehabs haven’t succeeded because she isn’t ready to be sober yet. You are wise to protect yourself, and I encourage you to continue reaching out for your own support (Al Anon is a great support system) so you don’t become codependent. You can be there for her when she IS ready to be sober, and she’ll really need your friendship then. You can’t stop her self-destructive behavior, so draw your boundaries (it sounds like you have done so) and don’t feel guilty. Easy to say, I know, but you only have control over yourself.

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