I thought I would post the email that I sent to Gaspar
after our last date went south, because it may help someone who is
faced with the same situation. It's been a couple of months since I
sent this email, and I never got a response, but that didn't surprise
me at all. In fact, I would have been surprised if he had answered.
But I hope that I planted a seed.
I had meant to write to you earlier, but problems with my internet connection prevented me from doing so. I hope you are doing better than last time we talked. I wanted to pass on some important information to you, but before I do, I want you to know that I���m sending you this information not as a way of trying to control your life or tell you what to do, but because I can see that you need help, and it is only with concern and caring for you that I���m sending this. I don���t feel like I would be a true friend if I didn���t. It���s up to you whether to follow through with it or not.
Of course, now I understand what you were trying to tell me when you said that you are not in a condition to be able to pursue a relationship, and you are right that I can���t help you with your problem, but I can point you in the right direction, because you can help yourself, but you can���t do it alone. You need the help and support of other people who have had your same problem and have overcome it. Fortunately, such a group exists in Prague. After living in the States for so long, you���ve probably heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but you may not realize that there are AA groups in Prague, too. They have both Czech and English speaking meetings, and there are at least two meetings that you can attend every day of the week, if you like. I���ll give you the meeting schedules and the links to the web sites at the end of this email.
Gaspar, I���d really like to encourage you to seek help for your drinking problem. You are such a wonderful person with so much to offer the world, but you are letting your dependence on alcohol destroy your life. I don���t have to tell you that��� you know it already. That���s why you made the original decision not to have me move in��� because you didn���t want me to know about it (I realized a long time ago that it wasn���t Ben���s decision, but yours). But on some level, you want to find a way out of this. That much is obvious from the fact that you told me about this problem in your emails and your text messages. It���s that ability to be honest with yourself that will help you to succeed in your struggle against alcoholism.
So, you���re aware of the problem, but have you ever taken an inventory of all the things in your life that you���ve lost due to alcohol? I can name a few, just from the little you���ve told me about yourself. You���ve lost your girlfriend, your friends, potential friends, and the respect of your flatmates. (I think that, in some ways, Ben did you a big favor by giving you the cold shoulder. A true friend lets you feel the consequences of your actions, and I know that the loss of his friendship was painful for you, but I see it as a final act of friendship, so that you would be confronted with the necessity to make changes in your life). You���ve also lost money and possibly some job prospects. Alcohol has taken all these things away from you. Alcohol has not been a friend to you. But these losses don���t have to be permanent. You can have your life back again.
The AA program is based on twelve steps to recovery from alcoholism. The first step is, ���we admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.��� Gaspar, you are already halfway through the first step! You���ve admitted to yourself (and to me) that your life has become unmanageable because of alcoholism. That���s nothing to be ashamed of. Alcoholism is a disease like any other, and there is a cure for it. Now, to get all the way through the first step, you need to admit that you are powerless over alcoholism. From what you told me in your text message, it seems to me that you think that you can conquer this on your own��� that you should be able to ���tough it out.��� No one can do that. You need the support of people who share your experience to help you through the hard times��� because there will be hard times. But you���ll have a sponsor, a person who is in recovery from alcoholism, that you can call 24 hours a day, anytime you feel like you need to take a drink��� and that person will help you to put the bottle down. The easiest way to complete the first step is to go to an AA meeting and find a sponsor that you can start working with. By the simple act of accepting help, you are admitting your powerlessness over alcohol.
At an AA meeting, no one will judge you. They have all been there themselves. And nobody will tell anyone that they saw you there. Anonymity is the foundation of AA. Indeed, you won���t even tell anyone your last name.
Let me warn you that it won���t be easy. Especially at first, when you no longer have the false friend of alcohol to turn to, you may be tempted to turn to other addictions as a substitute. But alcohol itself is not the problem. The problem is your avoidance of painful issues through the use of addictive substances or by engaging in addictive behaviors. From what you told me about yourself, I can see that you have some secondary addictions. The first is an addiction to romance. You told me that when you fell in love with your girlfriend, you neglected your day trading, which was your job at the time, and that is how you lost so much money. It���s wonderful to be in love, and it���s wonderful to love someone and to feel loved by someone else, but it shouldn���t take over our lives and consume us so much that we can���t continue to function. I believe that���s what happened to you. And the other addiction that I suspect you���ll be doing battle with is gambling. Yes, I realize that you may not go to casinos or play poker (or maybe you do��� I have no idea), but day-trading is really just a form of gambling. And with the amounts of money that you were playing with, I imagine it often afforded you a kind of a high. Unfortunately, you found out the hard way, what the dangers of this addiction are.
The reason I���m mentioning these other addictions to you is because it���s not enough to simply lay down the bottle and substitute something else for it. As long as you���re looking for a crutch to get you through the hard times.. anything that you use addictively, whether it���s a substance or a behavior, you will always be living on the edge��� never safe. Because what happens is that once you stop drinking (or doing any other addictive activity), you are going to be confronted with the emotions that led you to drink in the first place��� the feelings that you���ve been trying to numb with alcohol and other addictive behaviors. In order to fully recover from your addictions, you have to face and work through those emotions instead of avoiding them. The twelve steps and your sponsor can help you with that. You may also decide to try counseling at some point, depending on what issues you are faced with. And I believe the issues go beyond just your financial difficulties. You didn���t develop a drinking problem overnight. This has been your way of coping with difficulties in your life, but you have to find another way. Your life depends on it.
You may wonder how I can be so bold and direct in confronting you with these things. It���s because I���ve gone through a similar struggle myself. Although I���ve never been addicted to alcohol or another substance, I have struggled with a behavioral addiction of my own. At the time when I was practicing my addiction, it was obvious to everyone except me. Then, a good friend had the courage to send me a book that made me take a look at my behavior.
At first, I was furious with her. I thought, ���How dare she psychoanalyze me?��� And I didn���t think the book had anything to do with me, so I put it on a back shelf. And then, one day, when I didn���t have anything else to read, I read it. I still didn���t think it had anything to do with me except for one small thing that kind of rang a bell for me. So, I put it on the shelf again. It wasn���t until the next time that I found myself repeating the same behavior that I reached for that book again, and jumped ahead to the part that talked about how to get better. I immediately got myself into a twelve step recovery program and I attended meetings at least once a week (sometimes a lot more) for the next eight years. Now, it���s been over ten years since I stopped going to meetings, and my life is very different��� much more peaceful, much more manageable. I���ve had to take a look at a lot of things in my life, and the thing that helped me the most, other than the support that I got from other members, was my ability to be honest with myself. I see that ability in you, too, Gaspar. Use it to your advantage.
You may be tempted to hit the ���delete��� button on your email program and send this letter into the trash bin, but I hope you won���t do that. Please know that this letter comes from the heart with much love and caring for you and your future. If you don���t go to a meeting now, you may change your mind at some point in the future. Please keep this information handy.
When I think of you, Gaspar, I think of a precious man who wants to do the right thing, both for himself and others. You have so many truly admirable qualities��� I���ve told you about them before. I didn���t imagine those things. I saw them in you, because you were kind enough to show me those parts of yourself. Those qualities are the essence of who you are. Alcoholism does not define you. It is just a problem that you are struggling with now, and you can overcome it��� but remember, you cannot do it alone.
There���s one more thing I���d like to say before I say goodbye. I see that you feel worthless as a person because you lost so much money. And you seem to think that other people judge you as harshly as you judge yourself. Please don���t ever base your self worth on how much money you have. That is not who you are, and anyone who judges you by that criterion is no friend of yours. I don���t look at such things when I look at my friends. It���s more important for me what is in their hearts and their souls. Right now, when I think of you, inside of the man that I described above, I see a small boy who is lost and frightened and who needs a hug. I wish I could give it to you. Think of this letter as a virtual hug. I wish you all the best.