I was never one for chasers, alcoholically speaking. I mean, what was the point of taking a weaker drink after a good, stiff one? I seemed to like the burn, didn’t seem to need to cool the hot. In fact, shots for me were best in rapid, massive multiples, like orgasm, no pretending when King Alcohol has his way with me.
All of this comes to me this morning as I sit at the water’s edge, worrying about a friend. My friend’s not having much fun with King these days. My thoughts turn to another person who gently told me last night that he’s stopped worrying about those who are struggling with the quest for sobriety. Despite coming to know that worrying is like a rocking chair–lots of movement with no progress–I’m still in my favourite rocker, agitating.
“How did you stop worrying,” I ask my friend, “was it learned or experienced?”
“Learned through experience,” he replies. “Plus, I was told early on to never deprive another alcoholic of their right to suffer. It may be the only thing that saves him or her.”
In my heart of hearts, I know my friend is right, yet in my own way, I’m not yet ready to get out of this old, well-worn rocker.
I sit for a while longer and hear the words of yet another friend, this one now dead with help from King, this one I loved, this one who loved me, years ago I was crying to her about someone who seemed to be losing the battle, someone who didn’t seem to want the help, someone who was suffering, someone who didn’t seem to want MY help … someone I wasn’t able to “save.”
Ambulance chaser, my friend said. You are becoming an ambulance chaser. What are you going to do about it?
It’s amazing how the thoughts swirl and connect as my mind re-routes and re-maps. I’m led to yet another conversation, this one years before my own sobriety arrived, my own personal Big Bang. This conversation was about my “Chicken Little” tendencies, about my panic, about my repeated ripping up of the basement foundation every time the roof leaked. “One of your less attractive qualities, Les,” he said. What are you going to do about it?
This morning, just for fun I looked up “chaser” online. There are millions of choices, some centering on movies, video games and other manifestations of the word. At ehow, however, I find how to “chase any alcohol liquor shot,” complete with a photo of a gorgeous young thing alongside an expensive sportscar, with the faint, captioned disclaimer, “Don’t drink and drive.” The main headline, though, is peppered with exclamation points: “Chase any shot! Drink any alcohol! Be the champion!”
God knows, we try.
In the end, my friend who’s been clean and sober for 19 years this month, had this to say.
Think about a roller coaster. This one is the one your friend is on. (You have your own.) You don’t need to ride beside him on his. Aim for being there, at the end of the line, fit and prepared to be of true help*, should he be ready to finally get off.
Godspeed, all of us, godspeed.
* May I always remember that I must put my oxygen mask on first.