I went to one of the local dives the other night to listen to some blues music. I really like good blues and went with a friend of mine. As the night wore on, it became hard not to notice all the cross eyed people staggering around the floor. If I had been there with my SO, I would have been so anxious. As it was, I was just glad that I neither have had the urge to get drunk or really have deep anxiety about what the others were doing or why.
Probably my urge not to get drunk stems from luckily not inheriting the gene but also a fear of loss of control. I've never been a control freak but definitely don't appreciate being the center of attention in a negative way. An AA friend has told me that one of the things he did was use alcohol as a social lubricant. He was a "good" drunk, if there is such a thing, because he didn't get hostile or violent, but would just be one of the ones who was loud and appearing to have a great time. Unfortunately, he also said that his drinking got totally out of control so that he would be drunk for days. He lost his job, got arrested for DUI and caused harm in the relationship with his family. Sober now for 16 years, he is serious about AA and attends many meetings each week. He can be around people who are drinking without any urge to drink. The Big Book says that no matter how far we go, even to the North Pole, there will always be alcohol. I admire the strength of those who work the Steps and who realize what's at stake.
When I see the people at the bars or on the streets who are sloppy and on the skids, I do feel an empathy that I can't ignore. I wonder about what brought them to the point where they are, what kind of life they had before they lost hope, and whether they will ever decide to work towards recovery.
In Al-Anon, there's a different kind of recovery and different types of dispair that have to be dealt with. Nonetheless, the pain of having to live with an alcoholic can be debilitating. I want to rid myself of the feeling of hopelessness and realize that compassion has to be coupled with detachment. I can't save anyone but myself.