The Terrible Sinking Feeling
Because you thought you were done pouring your love into alcoholics
Current mood: bleak.
Is that a mood? I don’t know. But that’s how I feel.
adjective, bleaker, bleakest.
1. bare, desolate, and often windswept.
2. cold and piercing; raw.
3. without hope or encouragement; depressing; dreary
Yup. That’s it. I’m declaring bleak a mood.
Let me explain further with a thought experiment. Come with me…
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you dated a person for seven years and that person was a (mostly) functioning alcoholic. And you loved this person deeply, but the alcoholism was slowly driving you crazy, diminishing the quality of your own life, and so one day you decided you could no longer have this person in your life and you ended the relationship.
But this was not an easy decision to make, because you loved this person. Yet, you knew you had to do what was best for you and that was breaking up. And so, after the break-up, it took you quite a bit of time to fully come to terms with things. This wasn’t just any relationship, you see. Years of loving an alcoholic fucks with your psyche a bit.
So you saw a therapist. You colored in adult coloring books. You journaled. You did yoga. You meditated. You went on dates. You had lots of sex. You drank. You smoked pot. You found new hobbies. You talked to new people. You began creating a life for yourself, a life apart from its broken past.
And eventually you became okay. You became a (mostly) happy and healthy individual free of the smothering nature that comes with loving an alcoholic.
And here you are in the present, you’re going on with your merry little life and things are good.
Then one day, you learn that your little brother — whom you love so very deeply, in that way of loving that’s reserved solely for siblings you’re fond of — that little brother, you learn, is an alcoholic.
It’s a somewhat recent development he’s been struggling with.
He used to be okay. Not so much anymore.
He used to have a job, an apartment, a motorcycle, stuff. And now he’s living back home with your parents and he has no motorcycle and no stuff because he sold it, and he has no job because he lost it because he didn’t show up on more than one occasion because alcoholism does that.
Your little brother, whom you want to protect. Heal. Cure. Make safe. Hold. Love. Put back together. Because that’s what older siblings do.
He is an alcoholic.
It dredges up all sorts of feelings you thought you’d never need to feel again because you thought you were done pouring your love into alcoholics.
Those feelings are a fuzzy cocktail of: sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, helplessness, broken-heartedness, disgust, understanding, fear, worry, depression.
You are crushed. Your life that was once again approaching good and stable suddenly feels like nothing of the sort.
Now, replace in this thought experiment the substance of choice of both your ex-love and forever-little brother — alcohol — with something else.
How do you feel now?
(I realize the substance shouldn’t matter, but, in some ways, it does. Doesn’t it? Because you feel different now, right? Because however devastating alcoholism is — and it is devastating — heroin is, in many ways, even more devastating. It’s next level tragedy. It is, in fact, an epidemic. It destroyed your relationship, it plagued your ex-love, and now, you learn, it’s demonizing your poor sweet little brother, too.)
That terrible sinking feeling you feel — that feeling, I think, is bleak.