Janet and John have now grown up and grown apart but the one thing they still have in common is the large amounts of alcohol they consume. John knows all about Janet’s drinking but Janet knows very little about John at all anymore.
Both have become pretty damned successful in their middle years.
Janet is one of those high-flying business executive sorts who pretty much every day has a business lunch that is always accompanied by a bottle of wine. It happens more often than not that after work she goes out with work mates to enjoy a few cocktails and then home to the family meal her house husband cooks which is always eaten with another bottle of wine. After putting the kids to bed it goes without saying that a large glass of brandy or two helps her get a good night’s sleep to make sure she is ready for work the next day.
John is self employed and runs a computer consultancy business on his own from an office in a building which houses two big firms. He has become matey with both sets of employees and every lunchtime he is down the pub with one set and at the end of the day in a bar with someone or two from the other office.
He always used to drive home. John works on his own and if he had felt too hungover to have a few glugs of vodka from a mineral water bottle kept in his car whilst he drove to work, he had a similar bottle by his desk in work to get him through to lunchtime. Now it is more complicated as he has lost his licence because of drink driving. He doesn’t like taxis or their cost so ‘works’ from home more often than he used to.
Janet has an active and social life which includes playing a bit of tennis or badminton. The exercise bike in the basement gets used for a couple of hours a week and she is more curvaceous than fat. She can afford three family holidays a year and because she is in charge of three kids for much of the time away, barely touches a drop till the kids are in bed and then enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with her husband who ain’t that fussed about drinking but likes indulging her a bit.
Twice a year she goes on a detox bootcamp week away type break which no one would ever call a holiday but she enjoys it and never misses drinking whilst there. In fact she does not even think about it. Whilst alcohol permeates pretty much every social aspect of work and eating on a daily basis, when she is away from that environment drinking just fades into the background.
The same cannot be said for John. From waking up every morning to going to bed every night John’s every tenth thought is about drink. He drinks from his first to last hour awake. He used to go on 18-30 type holidays but is now too old and what with the cost of his drinking is now reduced to treating himself to a dozen or so booze cruises throughout the summer. And all the planning and preparation to go on holiday became too much for him once he had come home from work.
He used to play sport but he broke his leg in a pub after a particularly heavy weekend away with the lads. Quite timely really as the month before his best mate got beaten up sticking up for John up in a bar after an away match they had lost and he’d been thinking anyway that so many of them were lightweights who did not know how to enjoy themselves on a night out.
Not only has Janet’s husband discussed her drinking habits with her. Her cousin is a GP and her aunt’s husband is a consultant liver specialist and both have talked to her about the physical implications of drinking up to 200 units of alcohol most weeks. Janet is open and frank and says she will always listen but hasn’t had a day off sick in five years and feels happy and content with her life which just so happens to include an awful lot of booze. And if ever her husband is ill and bed ridden she takes a few days off work, looks after him and the kids, does the housework and doesn’t go near a drop.
Since his last girlfriend left him John has not talked about alcohol to anyone, especially his sister. Nor does he talk about why his last girlfriend left him.He is too embarrassed to say that he was unable to satisfy her anymore which he thought was unreasonable given his age. Forgetting Valentine’s Day and her birthday didn’t help either. John has had a few weeks off work in the last year and in pretty much every case it was the day after he had had one too many bottles the night before.
John’s New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was to give up drinking. After two days he felt so awful he drank a bottle of whisky on an all night bender at home alone and felt so much better.
Janet’s New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was to get back in touch with her brother John. Not least because she felt he was missing out on his nieces and nephew. One Sunday they all turned up at his place for the first time in ages only to find him not at home – he had forgotten they were coming. The next time he was too hungover and cancelled saying he had a virus.
This is a recurring theme with John – he has lost touch with most of his friends due to his ever developing commitment to drinking and its predominant place in his life. He just hopes the one major contract that has been renewed several times before is renewed again in a few months’ time as he has lost all the others through missing deadlines.
He also missed his last appointment with the doctor who wanted to discuss the last set of blood tests. And why should he go? He has looked up online all there is to know about diabetes and it does not run in the family. Perhaps he should not have lied when he told the doctor that he only drank 50 units a week but he feels better now.
If you are a Janet then you are a remarkably heavy social drinker verging on being a freak of nature who owes it to yourself to get regularly checked out by a doctor and tested for physical damage caused by such drinking.
If you are a John, the news is not so good and you must realise that you exhibit several signs of alcoholism. A visit to your doctor is as good a place to start as any – just don’t keep using things like the internet as an excuse not to do something face to face with those qualified to help.
You really would be a freak of nature if you could do it all by yourself, telling no one, and giving up pretty much completely for the foreseeable future.