Thank you all for your concern - I've been there, done that - been in love with an alcoholic/drug addict who has a serious, serious issue with the drinking, which was why I fell out of love with him.
He's still a friend, and a dear one, but I knew that engaging in a relationship
with my other friend would be the worst possible thing for me. I love him, still (as a friend), but he doesn't love himself
enough to stop. He's one of those who will not stop until he hits absolute rock-bottom - and to top it all off, he's diabetic. So that one was a bust from the beginning. I love him for who he is when he's not tanked up, but the fact that he's endangering himself in the worst way possible was an absolute deal-breaker. Plus, he lives half a continent away (Georgia).
I'm going into this one with eyes wide open. Paul has already told me more than once he knows he has a problem and he has to deal with it - and I told him I am willing to help him, but helping him does not entail bailing him out of jail, etc, when he gets landed there for some kind of alcohol-related problem. Helping him spiritually or morally, yes. Financially, legally, etc - absolutely not. I'm not about to become the "rescuer." If he wants to attend AA, fine with me, but he has to want to go. If he wants me to attend church with him - also fine. Bailing out of jail for alcohol-related behavior - not my game, so he can save his "one phone call" for someone else.
I've seen firsthand how destructive and corrosive addictive behavior is - my father is a compulsive gambler. My mother is the enabler there. I'm not about to live my life that way, and Paul knows it.
I love him dearly as my friend, but I am trying not to let myself fall - because I know that falling for him would be a dangerous game at this point. If he's willing to clean up and work to become what I know he is fully capable of, because he has great potential, I'm willing to stick by him. I don't judge him for or begrudge him that weakness because we all have them (weaknesses, that is). I do love him, and I'm concerned for him, and one of the big reasons he says he loves me (he told me this afternoon) is because I don't judge him, I'm just there for him. And I told him I would be, for as long as he needed me, but I do have my limits as to how far I will go to help a friend - because there's supporting, and then there's enabling, and enabling isn't what I want to do.
That said, I'm still crazy about him (note: that's not love, it's total infatuation - and I recognize that!). But if, in the course of our friendship, he doesn't start taking steps to do what he knows he has to do, then - there are other fish in the sea. I will and I do tread fearlessly into dangerous waters, because I do what I have to do to protect myself (and in this case, my heart).
I know he's not the only man alive; for now, I'm not keeping my distance because there is so much there beneath the surface of him - but he knows what he needs to do and this latest episode is further proof that he knows it - he's just, for some reason (possibly fear) unwilling to take the dive. But I've promised him that I will help him within my limits
. He knows what those limits are. I know what my limits are.
Believe me when I say I am taking this one step by step and very
carefully, at that. I've lain awake many nights thinking through every move with him. If he doesn't want to change, he doesn't have to; I also don't have to be attracted to someone who knows he needs to better himself and doesn't (see above re: my other friend). He does, however (unlike my other friend) take precautions: doesn't drive if he's going to be drinking, etc. So he's smart in his approach, he just needs to work on the issue of the "off" switch - as in developing one. I was like him, once, so I know what it's like, but I'm fortunately not an addictive personality and it wore off well before I was 25 - I like having control of myself too much.
We'll see what happens. He's constantly saying he could learn a lot from me - about strength in adversity, about attitude, about a multitude of things - and that he loves those things about me. That I have a "beautiful soul" - what that translates to, I don't know. But he sees it, and knows it, and I know he wonders if I think he is worthy of me. He's got a little work to do on that score, and I let him know that, in small, subtle ways. I flirt with him shamelessly. But then again, flirting comes naturally to me. *shrugs* He hasn't seen me behave that much differently with other males in my sphere - maybe a bit more toned-down because I don't know those people as well (his friend, waiters in restaurants, the barista in Starbucks) - but I am a natural-born and incurable flirt.
I know he has great potential - the trick is getting him to see that potential on his own, and that means work
. Work on himself, first of all. If he wants help, he can always ask me; but again, he knows where the buoy markers end, the shore drops off to sea floor, and beyond those buoys, he's on his own, so he'd better bring a life jacket. That life jacket will not, unfortunately, be shaped like me.
Don't y'all worry about me. I do love him, but I'm not putting rose-tinted glasses on about this one. I've given my heart once too often to people who are unworthy of me. I haven't given my heart to him yet - I came close until I heard about the other night.
OTOH, there's a very visceral physical attraction to him that I'm trying not to give in to TOO far. Part of it is that I miss the physical aspects of a relationship
very much, and we're constantly touching, touching, touching - nothing inappropriate so far, he's never been anything less than a perfect gentleman and I've been sitting on my hands to keep myself from going beyond the bounds. It's crazy - I'm a cactus 99.99999999999999999% of the time; there are very few people who can even come into my sphere to so much as touch me on the arm, if they are not related to me. He's one of the few who can wade in much, much further without me giving it a second thought or putting the brakes on. Of course, he hasn't really tried to go too far, but the hand-kissing (I'm still obsessing about that! Why am I obsessing??) is, at least to me, kind of intimate. It implies a certain level of respect (I'm hung up on old-fashioned, chivalric gestures like that) toward a "lady," but in this day and age could be considered more "intimate" because he could just say it all with a hug. He doesn't stop it there. I don't want him to stop it there, and you can bet your life that if I didn't want those kisses or hugs or any of that, I'd be pulling away in the blink of an eye.
I know I'm heading straight into a stormy relationship
with him if he doesn't clean up his act. If he has any respect for himself, he will. It doesn't matter so much to me how much respect he has for me - I know it's a lot, and it's flattering. What matters to me is that he finds enough respect for himself to make himself worthy of me. For some reason, I know he worries about that.