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August 2014 I’m Hear

Dear Liv,
I’d like to talk to you about my close friend who I’ve known all my life, grown up as school mates, had hundreds of sleep-overs, and whom I love very much. Although she’s many wonderful things, what seems to stand out more than anything these days is her excessive drinking. There’s no other way to say it. She simply drinks too much. I drink too, but not like she does. I think social drinking is fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks when you go out to dinner or when you get together with some friends, however, my friend can’t seem to have “just a few drinks.” I’ve been overlooking it for years. In fact I’ve done lots of things to avoid being around her when she gets all liquored up, as she’s very annoying and over-the-top when she gets drunk. She repeats herself, tells you about 500 times how much she loves you, she gets very loud, corners you and tells you a story that has no relevance, and in general, just embarrasses herself. I’ve found myself going home early at times when we’ve been out, and even making excuses not to go out in the first place. And it’s not just her behavior that’s bothering me. She looks tired and worn out. I’m worried that she may become ill. My friend is a great person when she’s not drinking. She’s kind, generous, loving, funny, trustworthy, and a whole lot more. I’ve gotten to the age where I want to spend quality time with my friends; not time figuring out ways to avoid them at some point during the evening! All of our mutual friends are aware of her drinking and feel exactly the same way, but no one ever says anything about it. It’s one of those difficult situations where everyone just stays out of it. I’m not sure what I should. She’s a grown woman. We’re in our 50’s and most of us are grandparents. I’m not thinking she’s going to change any time soon. What are my options here? Do I speak to her about this? Do I just continue to avoid her? I love her and care about her, and it hurts me to watch her when she gets like this. What do you think I should do?
Disheartened

Dear Disheartened,
This is one of those times when you pretty much put yourself on the line if you speak out about it. If this was a situation that just started a couple of months ago – “my friend recently started drinking excessively” – that would be a very different story. In that situation, there would probably be some issues occurring in your friend’s life that were causing her to drink more than usual. Speaking with her about her recent behavior and your concerns for her well-being would most likely be heard with an open mind and heart. She would be grateful for your concerns, and would be likely to confide in you and discuss the issues at hand. HOWEVER…that’s just not the case here. According to the email you sent me, this has been going on for a very long time. It appears quite clear that this is the path your friend has chosen to take, and you’re right in thinking that it’s unlikely that there’ll be any changes coming soon.
Obviously you are free to approach the subject with her; however, I guess I would wonder about your objective? If she’s pressuring you to go on a vacation with her for a week, then I can understand why you’d want to discuss this with her. If another close friend of yours (God forbid) was ill due to an alcohol related disease, again, I could certainly see why you’d
want to have a chat with her. I’m sure there are other reasons why you might want to discuss her actions, but for the most part, if there isn’t a specific incident that has recently occurred, I’m not sure what you’re thinking will happen by broaching this subject?
If this was my friend, for the moment, I would lay low. If one day she brings up the subject or is complaining that she isn’t feeling well or does something that offers you an opportunity to speak with her about this, then jump on it. Tell her how much you love her, and the concerns you have for her health both mentally and physically. And of course if she’s drinking and driving, PLEASE talk to her about that, REGARDLESS! We ALL need her to make good choices regarding getting behind the wheel!
As it stands, I would continue to pick and choose when to be around her, but I’d make sure to be prepared. For example, always have your own vehicle so you can depart when you feel things are starting to get out of hand. When you’re at a social event with others, spend time visiting with others. You don’t have to hang out with her all the time. I know it’s disappointing that she does this, but her life is her life. She can live it any way that she chooses. I know you don’t like her drinking and the behavior that accompanies it, but she’s still is a good friend, and enjoying the best part of her is probably going to work best for everyone at this particular juncture.
Live and Learn
If you would like to ask Liv a question that may be addressed in a future column, send a short email to livannelern@gmail.com

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