The other day a tragedy happened.
A good friend of my wife and I — one of the coolest, most loving, funny people we knew — died.
He was 35.
He got checked into the hospital earlier this summer with cirrhosis, and almost died then. The rest of the summer he was in and out of the ER; earlier this week he suffered a heart attack which ended it all.
A wake up call for all of you out there (like yours truly) who enjoy their drink. Alcohol is no joke.
But as a wine guy, I am not here to beat that drum. Plenty others to take that angle.
In my estimation the issue with my friend, M, wasn’t alcohol — or at least not directly.
Alcohol was simply a symptom. A coping mechanism.
For what you might ask?
A disastrous family life… caused by having a harpy for a wife, and an equally controlling mother who hated her.
His life was, objectively speaking, hell.
And I am not being hyperbolic when I say that.
He had three beautiful daughters, but was the sole breadwinner — and didn’t make much at that. They lived in abject poverty — he worked hard just to keep food on the table. Yet rather than make life easier for him, the women in his life focused only on themselves, creating drama and tension that made every day a miserable slog.
He considered divorcing his wife, but financially it was suicide. Rather than understand this and try to work through it, however, his mother refused to talk to him for months for not pulling the plug. When they reconciled, his wife could not accept it. Even when he was in the hospital his wife was screaming at him for letting his mother see him.
No matter which way he turned, someone was giving him crap.
A bottle of vodka a day — a constant buzz — was how he got by… till it destroyed his body.
The takeaway here?
There are many. But the big picture one is what I care that you understand the most.
He numbed himself to death.
In many ways, this was understandable. Each of his options were bad. Stay in a bad marriage but see your children, leave and get broken by the state and miss their childhood.
But in a situation where all your options are bad, the worst option of all is to do nothing.
He avoided confronting the totality of his problem. Rather than pick his poison and suffer the immediate consequences, he avoided dealing with it all-together, trying to keep his feet in every option. The tension of this situation tore him apart.
The lesson for us is simple, though not easy:
If you have to numb yourself to your life, then you have to change your life.
This will inevitably be painful.
But the alternative is psychological collapse, usually followed by (conscious or unconscious) suicide.
The whole story is a real tragedy.
M was one of the best men I knew. He was a light in a family with a lot of troubles and pathologies.
The last time I saw him I could tell that light was dimming; he looked broken. Because he was choosing the security of certain death rather than uncertain survival.
Don’t be like M.
There is always a way out, even if the beginning part of it doesn’t look pretty.
You have to trust in possibility.
And most importantly, in yourself.
PS If you feel stuck, and you’re numbing yourself to deal with it, consider working with me. I’ll clear out your bullshit and give you the confidence and clarity to move forward: www.patstedman.com/application