Tonight, my friend texted me a real-time account of the ugly, drunk fight she was having with her boyfriend. “Blow-by-blow”, if you will, although gratefully, it didn’t come to that. I had to ask her several times if he was being physical, or she was concerned for her safety. In classic fashion, she never actually answered any of these inquiries, but she did say everything but. She couldn’t come out and directly say “yes, I am physically safe”, because that would be admitting that they were indeed just having a drunk couple fight. This is not to understate how cataclysmic a drunk couple fight can be, my last one has a body count.
I know my friend is an alcoholic, and she knows she’s an alcoholic, but we don’t really use that word. My role has been primarily to lend unconditional support for any and all of her bad life choices. I have done so happily, as she has done the same for me. You know, friends. (I recognize there are many who would use terms like “enablers” and “co-dependents”, but that sounds so elitist.) Drunk couple fights are fixable, but first both parties have to admit they’re in one. This can be very difficult when it feels like the world is imploding. It can be just as hard the next day, when you’re sober and the world keeps on spinning. Usually much preferred by both parties to pretend it didn’t happen.
I became an unwitting participant in tonight’s showdown when I received a distressing late night text from my friend advising me that she was in an uber and her boyfriend was wasted and “really angry”. I became immediately concerned, forgetting that with my girl, it won’t just be her boyfriend who is wasted.
She begged me to meet her at their apartment. She lives over an hour away. I told her I would pick her up, and bring her back home with me, but I had to be here in six hours to babysit. She didn’t want to leave, she just wanted me to come there. “And, what?” I asked. “Intervene?”
They were locked out of the apartment when they arrived home, which caused her to double down on her efforts to get me to come over. She texted me again – “He almost threw me down the stairs”, and I gave serious pause. That’s physical. That’s extremely violent. Should I call the police? The statement conjured up an immediate, and terrible, image. With the image, however, I thought about her wording – because “almost” throwing someone down the stairs seems akin to being “a little pregnant”.
There are two different ways that scenario could have gone down. Either she meant that he grabbed her, perhaps by the shoulders, and began the motion of phsyically hurling her body down a flight of stairs only to suddenly stop, or (more likely) they were on their very small back porch when he realized they were locked out. She was standing behind him on the very narrow stairs. He was drunk, angry and frustrated, and pushed past her to go back downstairs. Perhaps she was almost knocked over, and he was a careless, stupid asshole. But choosing the wording that she did was a deliberate manipulation of me, and an attack on him.
She used the word “help”. She used the word several times. I told her to call the police if she felt in danger. She wasn’t, but continued typing out the mean things he was saying to her. She wouldn’t walk away from the situation, she wouldn’t go to bed, but she would frantically type to me, and beg me to drive 60 miles to witness it.
I told her she wasn’t being fair to me. By the time I got out there, the whole thing will have blown over, and if it hasn’t – then what do I do? All I could do was tell the drunk couple to go to their separate bedrooms, and I was already failing at doing that. There is also the good chance she is currently in a black-out, so I could show up and she wouldn’t even know why.
As I have regularly found myself with my friend over the years, I am frustrated with her this evening. It is not because she is drunk, it is because she will never – under any circustmances – come out and state “I’m drunk, and I’m upset”. When I initially asked if she was drunk, she said she had “a few”, but pointed out it was her boyfriend who was wasted. When I mentioned that I thought she was much drunker than she indicated, and she should go to sleep, she replied she was “way more sober than he is”.
As I suspected, as I sat here and typed this, the situation has calmed down. He broke up with her, and told her he was leaving in the morning. Then she told me again he broke up with her, and she’d have to move out tomorrow. I asked about her earlier statement, but I don’t think she remembered. I tried to say I don’t think he can legally make her move out tomorrow, but she had moved on to something else.
I am committed to remaining completely supportive, and judgemment free when it comes to the people I care about. Live and let live, and all that good stuff. My friend’s dad is on her about AA, she’s been to meetings, she can find one if she wants. I’ll support her in sobriety, but I’ve always thought withdrawing support during active addiction is brutal (a necessary brutality for some, understood.) My friend and I have provided each other a great deal of positive love and enouragement over the years, but we have also become tangled up in each other’s bad habits.
Even as I type this, I know exactly what my girl would say if she read it – I can hear her voice pointing out my destructive patterns, habits, and addictions. Because to an addict, the best defense is a good offfense. And I am an addict of so many things. As such, I have always felt poorly qualified to codemn anyone for, save the big stuff, pretty much anything. I also know that enabling isn’t just pyschobabble. What I haven’t learned is where the line exists between loving and accepting each other’s flawed humanity, and passively contributing to a young woman’s destruction.
I just want her to be happy. But not with this guy, he’s a douche.(OK, maybe I judge sometimes.)