Learning about a friend’s dark secret

I could hardly believe the news. Someone I thought I knew had a very serious drinking problem. Never had a clue. Should have known, but her secret took nearly everyone who knew her by surprise.

My friend was a bartender at a place I liked to go and spend some time with friends. She was generally in a good mood. Worried about how fast her daughter was growing. We shared stories and laughed a lot at each other. Then she was gone.

Other staff members said she was no longer working at the bar due to personal reasons. They were told that was all they should say to anyone who asks. Did she steal from the bar? Did she have an affair with the boss’s husband? Serve someone she shouldn’t have? None of the worst case scenarios dealt with alcoholism.

As it turns out, she was stealing from the bar. Not money. She was removing bottles of liquor to support her drinking addiction. The manager must have suspected someone was walking out with large amounts of vodka.

My friends dark secret was discovered after she was found passed out on the lawn in the back of the bar when she should have been inside working. The manager had no choice. Had anyone known about her problem, she never would have been put in a position where her job was to tend bar and mix drinks for others.

The phrase, “functioning alcoholic” has been used to describe her since she had managed to fool everyone for several years. I know better. I am a son of a functioning alcoholic. Outside of a handful of times when he was unable to hide his disease, he managed to keep a very important job at a major Midwestern hospital and to keep his problem a secret.

As his son, I knew what he was. He was not just a drunk, but a mean one at that. Even though he has been dead for several years, the damage his disease inflicted on those who loved him can still be seen. So I was surprised when I learned that someone I thought I knew turned out to be an alcoholic.

I worry about her and her husband and daughter. I hope she gets the help she needs for herself and her family. When I see her I will suggest that she join Alcoholics Anonymous or some other program. She may well refuse to talk to me and never get the help she needs. Still, if I don’t at least try I will always wonder if my reaching out might have made a difference. I will pray for her and send positive thoughts. Good luck my friend. You don’t have to face this alone.

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