She’s a great friend. She’s one of the smartest, most talented, and loving people I know…
…and I don’t ever want to be around her again when she drinks.
Lots of folks struggle to address this issue with friends and family. So what follows is what I shared with her:
With your permission, I am going to pour my heart out to you and all that I ask is that you listen and that you accept the boundaries that I need to set with you.
I hate prefacing myself but I’m about to. I have learned that rather than walking on eggshells and fearing that I’ll be misunderstand, that I can simply say what it is that I fear. So here it is:
I am NOT saying you have a problem with drinking.
I AM saying that I have a problem with your drinking.
When you drink, you bare only a passing resemblance to the person I love so very much. Your humor goes from sophisticated to slapstick. You become unpleasantly loud, moody, and you don’t listen well.
When you’re sober I have to be careful not to embarrass you in public because as we both know, I often get carried away… but you don’t seem to notice or care how people experience you when you drink.
Alcohol takes away the very things about you that I enjoy the most. You go from being clever and insightful to dull and insensitive. You lose your gentle and kind demeanor. You take incredibly unhealthy risks and laugh when they turn out just fine or even well.
When you drink, you are reckless with people’s hearts and with your own well being.
Of course you know that I am an addictions counselor and that I live with addictions (caffeine and nicotine are indeed drugs, you’re right). Perhaps you think that what I do for a living affects how I view people’s use of substances. Full disclosure: It does.
Of the hundreds of alcoholics and addicts I’ve known, we all have this in common:
None of us meant to get to a point where it was a problem.
I say these things because I am concerned and because alcohol has taken away far too many people that I cared for. I’m not saying that you’re an alcoholic. I am saying that you seem to use alcohol to cope with what you feel and that scares the hell out of me.
I’ve never told anyone that they’re an addict. I have passed along this adage to a lot of folks:
Whether you have a problem with alcohol or not, you still don’t have to drink.
Nearly all of the very best people in my life are people who used to drink and drug. I’m not asking you to stop. I just need to let you know that I can’t be around you in the future when you’re drinking. I hope and pray that you can accept this and that our friendship will endure it. I value having you in my life so very much.
Thank you for listening. I love you.