Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Doesn't become easier with repetition

I have a good friend who is dying (imminently) of alcoholic hepatitis. I have had friends hang themselves, OD, get AIDS, crash cars, get cancer, but this one seems more senseless somehow. The person in this case had almost everything going for him: bright, creative, funny, good with ladies, well educated, high powered career. But I saw only in a few instances (usually when drunk) how thoroughly he loathed himself, thought he was a fraud, and was scared of life. In many ways he reminded of my father who had all the above positive attributes and also drank himself to death. I keep thinking of the line from "Needle and the Damage Done":

Every junkie's like a setting sun

That to me captures the whole feeling I have now. Of watching something beautiful flare out and fade, and all you can do is watch and be sad. And in this case there will be no sunrise.

Now of course alcohol and heroin are not equivalent: alcohol is legal. So you can't even count on the abuser being busted to save them from themselves. I know there is a fair amount of romanticism attached to destroying yourself: I have not seen Leaving Las Vegas but I have read Under the Volcano. And I have certainly argued for that point (I once wrote an article questioning the inherent goodness of sobriety). But to knowingly kill yourself this way (and my friend knew he was killing himself) is an incredibly selfish act, because unless you truly are an island, you leave behind a raft of heartbroken friends and relatives, wondering what they could have done to change the outcome, even though the answer is: Nothing.

1 comment:

kissyface said...

But have you seen "Under the Rainbow"?

I hated Leaving Las Vegas. I know, I'm the only one.