Navigating Boundaries & Enabling

And so the call came.
As I always knew it would.

The familiar sounds
of retching and belching.
A tearful hello.

The news that you’ve been drinking again.

And the last time we spoke,
you told me you were
three months sober.

Your news filled me
with pride and joy.

You finally said the words
I have waited years to hear:
“I am definitely a full blown alcoholic”

I told you how proud I was.
I told you how strong you are.

We talked about the freedom
of acknowledgement.
How we both believed
that things would be different
from now on.

You sounded strong.
You sounded in control.

And just 5 weeks later,
the call came.
As I always knew it would.

With racing heart
and rushing head,
I hurry to your side.
As I have so many times before.

I reach the desks.
I ask for your name.
The nurses know,
before I’ve even said a word.

And I find you,
with hanging head and tearful gaze.
Your eyes meet mine,
and the wretchedness of it all
is almost too much to bear.
My heart swells and collapses
at the sight of you.

I hold your face in my hands,
put my forehead on yours,
and I ask
“What have you done to yourself,

my darling?”

And today,
you look just like the people I see on tv.
Nails long and grubby.
Vomit on your clothes.
Urine staining the pyjamas
you came into hospital wearing.

And you tell me
you have been drinking alone.
5 weeks.
4 bottles of vodka a day.
They tell you
“That’s pretty impressive”.

And you tell them
all kinds of stories
that we both know hold no truth.
They tell you,
that you manipulate those around you.
As you look at them in disbelief.

And how do I tell you,
that you are living a different fantasy?
That you are not seeing
the reality of your situation.

That you go to AA meetings,
you look at the people around you
and you label them ‘druggies’ and ‘drunks’.
You believe you are different.
You are too intelligent to be like them.
You are too self aware to be like them.
But you cannot see
that your position of delusion
is the most dangerous thing of all.

And I speak to your friends.
And I speak to your family.
And people call throughout the day,
asking why they’d had a call at 3am.
And I explain to them all
that you are ‘incapable of speaking right now’.
‘It’s all just too much for you today’.

And you ask to come home with me.
And you ask me for money.
And I have to tell you
“not this time honey”.
I have to set the boundaries,
just like they tell me to.

And do you know
just how much strength it takes
to say no to you?
To say that I will not enable you.
To say that you have to take control
of your life, for yourself.
To tell you, I am here for you and I LOVE you,
but I cannot fix this for you.
We cannot fix this for you, my love.
We have enabled you for too long
and it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t help you to get better.

And where did my weakness
leave us before?
We enabled each other, didn’t we?
And I couldn’t bear to stay
any longer.
I would have lost myself
along with you.
But still I feel such tremendous guilt
for leaving you.

I am here for you.
I love you.
I am the same committed friend
I always have been.
But I cannot enable you anymore.

And so I stay with you ,
until you finally fall
into shivering sleep.

And I leave you
hooked up to saline drips.
The £20 note I left for your taxi home,
safely tucked into your pocket.

I look back at you
and I know without question,
that if we hadn’t parted ways
when we did
that I could be you now.

I could be you.

no face woman © 2017



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