Yesterday was a day of surprises for me, good and bad:
- I met Tom, another anglo-expat in Liège for a chat, and that was pleasant.
- It was a sunny day, which for Liège, is always a welcome surprise.
Now, these things aside, some f-ed up stuff happened last night and I kind of need to vent.
While chatting with Tom in a bar, this guy The Boy and I know from elsewhere in Liège turned up. I went over to say hi, but the conversation quickly became drawn out and I'm not great at putting the brakes on something like this, so it just kept going. And eventually Tom probably felt like I'd forgotten about him, and decided to excuse himself. This is something I feel bad about, because at times I forget my basic social skills, like remembering to introduce people, and being properly attentive and so on. (So, I'm sorry Tom, if you're reading this, for my being so socially inept about that.)
At any rate, after Tom excused himself the dude we know from elsewhere essentially demonstrated his mastery of the art of pushing conversation on and on while pressuring others to drink. I hadn't eaten much all day, so this was pretty bad news for me. The Boy seemed to put up weak resistance and then dove in.
Things moved to another place, after a horrible 'emergency dinner' for me picked up at a Kebab, and they just kept going downhill with whiskey shots being ordered up. I drew my line and said I was done drinking, and essentially got pestered in varying degrees by the others, but you know, WTF people? I'm ON MEDICATION that's not wise to mix with ALCOHOL, and I take that pill before bed. I can't go to bed drunk! Call me an old lady, tell me I'm not as much fun as you thought, I don't give a toss. I have one back, and I'm trying to get it better so I can go back to doing fun things (things that are actually way more fun to me than whiskey shots!) I was as gentle in the rebuffs as possible, and stuck to sparkling water.
Sadly, The Boy had not at all drawn his line. After a spell of our being there, quite suddenly The Boy announced that we had to go. There was almost a whole pint of Guinness in front of him when he said it, and when it was pointed out to him, he didn't care. (The Boy, to my knowledge, would never leave his Guinness like this, so I knew something was not ok.) We said our goodbyes and left, and The Boy stumbled his way a half block before retching up a good size puddle on the sidewalk. I told him we should go to his friends place, which was very close by since he was WAY too drunk to do anything, and he said no, he wanted to go home. I said "I'm taking the bus, you should come with me since you can't even walk in a straight line... I don't know how you expect to drive in one." No again. So I waited at the bus, worrying about the boy, about everyone else who was out in Liège, about a great number of things really, and then got harassed by a creepy stranger while I waited, wondering sardonically to myself if things could get any 'better' that night.
This morning The Boy was very quiet. He seems to have realized (all for himself) that he is out of control, and making some really dumb and ultimately harmful decisions. I think he scared himself, or finally saw his impulsive behaviour with alcohol in a more honest light. I don't know really. I said very little, since after all the other BS that's happened involving him, alcohol and my expressing concern, I've learned it's done little good to express my concern or to try and involve myself. I've learned to take a step back and respect that his choices are his, and my choice about when exactly I've lost my patience is mine.
So, The Boy told me this morning that he wants to stop drinking, and asked me if I'll support him on that. I asked him if he really thinks this is addressing the core problem (like... do you know WHY you drink so much sometimes?) or just a scary symptom. I probed what "stop drinking" meant too. Not socially? Not at all? Right now it seems that he's aware he can't just stop everything since that won't help him to come to know his limits either, and in Liège going completely dry is near impossible. He knows that there is nothing 'wrong' in his mind with a glass of wine with dinner. He knows that if he's not driving home there isn't anything necessarily wrong with a few too many among friends at a party. But beyond that, he seems to be suddenly hesitant. Caution here I suppose is best. I think I understand well enough what he means, but I don't know how well it's going to work in a place where people drink in just about every imaginable situation, and where you can actually be ridiculed for trying to drink in moderation. I'm fine making my stubborn "no." The boy however ... he generally crumbles under peer pressure, from what I've seen.
I told him I don't know how exactly I can support him on this, since a decision like this comes from ones own convictions. I told him I'll back him up if someone tries to give him a hard time about not accepting a drink if he's already said no to it himself, but I also said that I've already tried to point out to him the times where he should have said "no" and that I can't and won't intervene or nudge him in the 'right direction like that anymore since it's only resulted in fights in the past.
I've also said that if anyone's asking him why he's suddenly decided to take a more moderate approach, he better not even jokingly say that it's because of me. I've told him that he's made it quite clear to me previously that this is "his business, not mine" and so I'm sticking to that. I can only support this if he's willing to take ownership for his decision and his reasons. But as for my being emotionally invested in this? No, not really. After the Citadel I gave up my last shred of actual hope on this issue. It's not my battle, and I've been told so many times that it's not, and to stay out of this thing which is 'not my business'. But sure, I'll silently cross my fingers on the sidelines for you if you want.
We'll see I suppose. It would be nice if he were to develop a little more self-control. I'm hopeful he's actually had some kind of epiphany about his impulsive behaviour and how it's not serving him well, but honestly I'm not holding my breath. It's kind of like when a smoker tells you they want to quit or cut back. It doesn't mean they will succeed, at all. In the end that's all up to them, their willpower, and their internal, personal motivations.
So although the day started well, the end was quite the unpleasant surprise, right down to the moment I got off the bus, and the guy who'd been harassing me gave me a creepy wave from the back of the bus with a menacing smirk that seemed to say "Now I know where you live." That was the cherry on the pile.
It would be a nice surprise in the end if The Boy finally managed to stick to his better judgement. Here's hoping there's at least one silver lining/breakthrough that can compensate in some way for the awfulness that was last night.