A very long day, today; a very rewarding day, also. It started very early this morning as I met C at the train station to catch a train to the South Coast and visit his dying friend again. I wasn’t able to go with him last weekend but I could today, and I was all too happy to keep him company for the day again. We got to his friend’s nursing home nice and early and as usual sat there for a few hours talking sparsely and watching the television. It’s a very nice nursing home; strangely I always find it relaxing going there, despite the terrible condition of C’s friend. To be honest, the past few weeks seem to have seen the man’s situation make a slight improvement. He can now talk a bit and definitely seems aware that we’re there. That said, it still looks as if he’s on the way out, we just don’t know when it’s going to happen. I guess I’ll keep going there with C when I can until the end.
After leaving the home we walked along the sea front for a while, and despite the freezing cold breeze it was a gloriously sunny day, and the sea was lovely. We spent half an hour there, then we had to catch the train back to London for a meeting. On the way we had dinner in a nice pizza restaurant, and during that hour I felt completely relaxed and at ease. I consider C one of my closest friends now, and I never feel anxious or mistrustful with him. We were talking about pretty heavy stuff in his life and my life; I feel able to tell him anything and he tells me pretty much everything. He’s 35 years older than me; I occasionally wonder if he is playing the role of a father figure in my life. He himself has talked about losing his own children through alcoholism, he admits that all his friends in AA are around my age and while he hasn’t got to the realisation that we could be replacing his lost family, I have. I’m probably reading way too much into this, but I can’t help it, I’m a psychologist!
Whatever role he’s playing in my life, it’s a good one, and I love having him around. After dinner we went to the meeting in west London and it was wonderful. I haven’t been there for about a month; the last time I went I said I’d never go again because the chair that week was given by J, a guy I’ve had big problems with in AA. I didn’t like the fact that he was giving the chair there: it spoiled the meeting for me. Luckily it’s been a while since I last saw J, and I had no reservations about going to the meeting tonight. When we got there I saw plenty of friends and familiar faces; it was nice to be back. The chair was wonderful. He shared about being an anxious soul who couldn’t find his way in life until he found AA. As an alcoholic youngster he was completely lost and trapped. I felt huge empathy with him. He struck me as someone who had overcome anxiety to lead a brilliantly successful life, and I wanted some of that. I shared back in the meeting about my anxieties, my fears for the future and my disappointments over the past. It was more of a stream of consciousness that came out of my mouth rather than a coherent, structured five minute share. I was a bit worried afterwards that I hadn’t made sense, but people told me that it had made perfect sense to them.
I’ve just come home and logged onto my former favourite social networking website, as usual, and it’s not pissing me off as much as it was last night, though I still don’t feel very good about it. I can’t tear myself away from it, though. It’s very strange. It’s like I’m just waiting for something good to come out of it. I’ve been registered on this website for years, and I’ve made some good friends out of it. But I feel so differently about life to how I felt three years ago when I first became a member. I don’t see those friends in the same way at all now. I think this is about more than the website, I think it’s about my whole outlook on life changing. All those friends are drinkers; not heavy drinkers, but drinkers nonetheless. They all like their alcohol, and it’s hard to be around them most of the time now. I feel on a different wavelength to them these days. We can’t talk about the same things any more. I can’t talk to them about my recovery because they don’t understand.
One of these friends, P, has been a good friend since the beginning; I’ve been to his house many times, and he’s been to mine; we’ve even been on holiday together. He used to know everything about me. But then I came into AA, and now there are things he will never know about me. I’m starting to resent him for not being part of this new world of mine. I’m starting to find things about him that I really don’t like. We seem to share no interests. I can’t remember why we became friends in the first place. Actually, I think I can: I was very drunk at the time. It was at one of this website’s regular social events, where everyone drinks to have fun as a rule. I was heavily into drinking at the time, it was to be expected that all the friends I made at that time would have got to know me drunk.
So what do I do about these friends? There’s absolutely no way around the fact that when I met those people I was always drunk. Every single pre-AA friend in my life got to know me when I was drunk. Can you imagine how embarrassing that is? Obviously, they must have eventually got to know me during sober times as well otherwise they wouldn’t have stuck as friends. But in the beginning, when they were getting to know me, finding out about me and my likes, I wasn’t being my true self. Even during my sober times I wasn’t being my true self because I wasn’t in recovery, I was in complete denial about what was going on.
I don’t just want to dump all these friends because they’ve been very good to me over the years. P especially has been an excellent friend. But I’m nothing like the person I was when I met him. I’m getting to know the real me for the first time, finding out what I really want in life, and it’s painfully clear to me that he can’t share in those things. I’ve tried talking to him about my interests, such as books, films, music, theatre, things I’d like to explore; he doesn’t seem to get it. He’s happy socialising in pubs every weekend. We’ve gone to the cinema a couple of times but it’s like going with a kid. He doesn’t seem to know what to say about the films we’ve just watched. Maybe, just maybe our friendship isn’t meant to last forever. Marriages and relationships break up all the time, so I guess friendships do too, sadly.