I'm 49 and feeling menopausal. Apparently it's called peri-menopause, or peripause. What this really means is that on a good day I cry at the John Lewis advert with the boy and the Christmas gift for mum and dad, and on a bad day I want to throttle the gal sat next to me on the train for tweezing her eyebrows in public. I have a child who is sweet and beautiful and smart, and nuttier than a box of rocks. I am single - as in unmarried, unattached and at times feeling just 'un'. I've got near-constant chatter clogging my head, and not in a schizophrenic kinda way. I thought an online journal might be a good place to deposit my middle-aged chatter. Here goes...

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Alcoholism, sodomy and that thing called tough love

It's called tough love. You know – it’s that thing you're suppose to do when someone you love is doing themselves a harm, and you’ve been watching them do themselves a harm for so long you’re now spent. That’s when you’re supposed to do tough love, apparently. When that someone you love, your best friend, is so full of self-loathing he goes to saunas in London’s Vauxhall and participates in group sodomy for the benefit of a baying crowd of often married sodomiser-onlookers waiting to take their bareback turn on your vulnerable friend, who is reeling from a day-long binge consisting of two bottles of Sauvignon, one bottle of Vodka, and the G he took before consenting to get fucked up the ass in an act of self-hatred.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your best friend phones you at 3am crying, lost somewhere in the backstreets of Vauxhall, without house keys or a wallet because one of the onlooker-sodomiser-barebackers coerced him into going to an ATM machine to withdraw money to party and then lifted the bank card out his hand as if from a mere toddler, PIN logged in memory, ready to siphon out as much money as he can before the sun rises over Trafalgar.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when you go to your best friend, the friend you love so dearly, and find a curled-up wretch, covered in bruises yet again, with a sore anus, complaining of diarrhea and bellyache, crying because the dominatrix he is convinced he’s in love with – the one who plies him with copious amounts of Vodka and MDMA and G, and whom offers him a level of sadistic sexual activity that few empathic and self-respecting women could ever muster – is yet again fucking with his head and telling him he must sever all ties with his teenage children if he is to have a relationship with her. 

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your friend, the friend you love so dearly, phones you in the middle of the night, incoherent and sobbing, and you learn that earlier in the day he was signed off work for three months and told to clean up his act.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your friend says he fears that cleaning up his act is an insurmountable task because his gamma levels are out of all proportion, and the chronic diarrhea is impossible to stave off, and the night shakes and tremors make it impossible to sleep, and the only thing that offers solace and quells the shrieking demons inside his head is yet another swig of Stolichnaya.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when you realise you are spending yet another child-free weekend lying in bed next to your best friend, caressing his sweaty head and scratching his back lightly with your long nails while chatting aimlessly so as to distract him from the shrieking inside his head.

Tough love is the thing I did last night, when I arranged for my son to sleep over his father’s house so that I could go to my best friend late in the evening with several shopping bags of groceries and possibly coax him into a bath to help wash off the stench of faeces and vomit that has replaced his usual Bulgari aftershave.

Tough love is the thing I did last night, my sharp intake of breath nearly winding me, when stood before me was not the 6ft tall, lanky, blue-eyed high-flying banker with a penchant for risky sex in the toilets at Brown’s that is my best friend, but instead a trembling half-man in soiled boxers, with bruises down the back of his legs and inner thighs, and a cut on his face, and swollen toes with a burgundy hue and missing toenail, and nicotine stains on his rigid fingers, smelling of faeces and vomit, a trail of blood from his sliced toe and chards of broken glass only just visible from beneath the innumerable empty bottles and cigarette packets on the floor.

But this time, rather than mop his brow and hold his hand and scratch his back ever so lightly, I stood, immobilised, in the grip of his embrace, the desperation of his clasped arms around my neck nearly taking my last breath between silent long sobs, listening to him whisper ‘thank you’ in my ear repeatedly and feeling his tears on my shoulder-neck.

And I did the tough love thing at that precise moment, when I stepped back and locked eyes with my best friend, the one whom I love so dearly, and the realisation slapped me, that he will die soon, and that the pain of watching his demise in such a degrading way is more than I can possibly bear following the death of my dad only months ago.

So I abandoned my best friend last night, the one I love so dearly, and turned to leave, tears cascading from my bottom lashes onto the stairwell as I raced down the stairs, my wee heart pounding so hard it would surely break, worrying he may collapse and I won’t be there to mop his brow and caress his head, and that he may die, and I won't be there to hold his hand and tell him I love him. 

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your best friend refuses to honour the appointment you made for an initial assessment at The Priory Roehampton and you realise there is nothing more you can do but watch him die. Slowly. Painfully. Dishonourably.

Tough love is the thing that makes you feel like a cretinous fucker of a human being for turning your back on your best friend and withdrawing your unconditional love when he is most in need of it. 

Patient.co.uk - liver function, gamma levels
Al-Anon - for families affected by alcoholism

Here's a link to a truly inspiring blogpost, sent to me on 25 February by a single mum fighting her own demons and addiction – Gappy Tales


  1. Wow. And I thought I had problems ...

    You did all you could for your friend. He's lucky to have someone as devoted as you in his life. Even if he insists on ruining it. We all snap after a while. That makes us the perfectly imperfect humans we all are. The sodomy thing is just unfortunate; I'm gay and even I abstain from it. It's plain wrong. On a plethora of levels. Especially as punishment. And what is your friend punishing himself for, anyway?

  2. Well, I think it has a lot to do with growing up in the care system. I think some experiences are so horrifying they scar people for life :-(


  3. i think it's best to avoid this kind of drama at all costs and in it's place put a cushion of rational, as opposed to emotional, distance. In the space between you can always decide what you are prepared to do in advance, like seek assistance or whatever ... the place is full of people whose own tragic and pathetic dramas are spilling out into the lives of others who need their excess energy to sustain their own lives ... we all have a choice, and the best choice is to set the limits, which it seems you have reached ...

    1. And therein lies the difficulty: reason versus emotion. I've often been influenced by the latter, and now my teacup overfloweth...

  4. And that blog post, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the most powerful and emotionally charged pieces of writing any of us are likely to read all year.

    Peri, you're a gem. In every way, and not only as a writer.

    1. Thank you so much. My blog has gone from goofing on the boys on Guardian Soulmates to death and destruction! I need hilarity to return... I'm gonna start goofing on the boys again. xx

  5. I've just read this truly inspirational blogpost from a single mum blogger about her own struggle with demons and addiction. She sent me a link to her blog update. I'm going to share it with you.

    The blog is called Gappy Tales, and it's splendid:

  6. The three C's of Al Anon:

    I did not cause this
    I cannot control this
    I cannot cure this

    You have done absolutely the right thing Peri. Your friend *has* to want to help himself. You can't do it for him. And supporting him through that level of self abuse is clearly taking too much of a toll on you. Losing your support may be the wake up call he needs. And it may not be. But you must take care of you.

    Sending you much virtual moral support. And thanks for the links too! x

    1. Thank you Gappy. And much affection and best wishes to you x