3 Quarts of Brandy in 6 Days and a Good Kicking

Karen Madej

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It's not what you think.

Do you know, or know of, a toxic woman, who is in a toxic triangular relationship (her, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s friend, who lives in the apartment above them)?

Do you hear her shouting and screaming, banging doors and crashing around in the morning, just as you are going to start your full-time online English language coaching job?

As chance would have it, your headphones are a snug fit and block out all peripheral noise. Then there’s silence for a while, maybe six to seven hours and you think, oh, that’s good, she’s fallen (probably literally) asleep.

Around ten to five in the afternoon, when you are about to start your second job as a market research interviewer, this one’s part-time, the yelling starts up again.

You reckon she’s been on some kind of mind-altering drug for another few hours and is good to have a go at everything and anyone who has slighted her.

You arrange your snug headphones, log into multiple systems and start work.

Three days after this anti-social behaviour started with the banging and crashing, you stand listening from the grey and dingy litter-strewn hallway.

You suspect she is a woman who feels so deeply that life is not worth staying sober for, and her twenty-years younger boyfriend must be shrivelling from the onslaught of her jibes and taunts. Perhaps you agree with her.

On the sixth day, you hear a cat crying. You think nothing of it and get on with cold-calling tenants to ask how they feel about the services their landlords provide.

A few hours later, you remove your snug headphones to hear an all-mighty banging coming from the apartment above.

When you reach the ground floor landing you see large male police officer kicking the door of the drunk woman's apartment. A petite female officer asks if I have a crowbar.

Back downstairs again, after you’ve knocked on his door and explained the usual kicking the door down isn’t getting past the robust fire door, you ask him if he’s got a crowbar for the police to use.

This kind neighbour tells you that the woman had spent the week working her way through three bottles of brandy.

He produces a screwdriver and the best you can come up with is metal mop handle. Neither of which were of any use to the police.

Life is what you make it.

Malbec, Rioja, and Cabernet Sauvignon; Brandy, Whisky, and Polish Bison Grass Vodka are all wonderful accessories to making a Saturday night pass in a blur — your one evening off — with no demanding jobs to be charming and on the ball for on Sunday.

Of course, you don’t drink them all in one evening, that would be far too expensive and destructive. Not to mention stupid.

You’ve chosen to control your desire to go out in a haze of drunken bravado.

You’ve realised that life is what you make of it, and you strive to stay long-term by doing work you (mostly) enjoy, speaking with friends and loved ones regularly and writing about topics that deserve an airing.

A second-hand treadmill is great for the days when it hasn’t stopped raining and you need that adrenalin rush to power your evening. If you can fit it in between your multiple self-employed and casual worker contracts, that is.

The police did succeed in their mission to get into the woman’s flat by prising the door off its hinges.

The mewling heard on the sixth day but ignored, wasn’t a cat. In fact, it was the drunken woman who had fallen down and was rescued.

Jolene was whisked off to the hospital to be assessed by a doctor, I hope a psychiatrist.

The kind neighbour told me it wasn't the first time Jolene had done this. She'd return from hospital embarrassed by her behaviour for a few weeks.

When enough time had passed for her to have forgotten how she felt after her last binge, the cycle would begin again.

The older we get the worse the hangovers.

A woman in her late sixties should not be doing this to her brain and her body.

If we don't give ourselves enough time to recover between drinking sessions we are only harming ourselves further.

What you should know is that the affected individual might not be the best person to judge when his or her drinking is out of control. Alcohol can affect the area of the brain that is responsible for good decision making and logical thinking, so it is very likely that this person is unable to see what is obvious to you.~Jason Shiers Dip.Psyche MBACP

This woman cannot help herself. We can help women who do this to themselves. Maybe you could be the first step in her recovery.

Remember that alcoholism is an illness that can cause the person in question to change. He or she will likely become manipulative and selfish in the pursuit of alcohol, and nothing will stand in the way — not even you, as difficult as this might be for you to come to terms with.~Jason Shiers Dip.Psyche MBACP

You might, however, choose to do nothing.

If you choose to act, an intervention might be the catalyst for an alcoholic to accept help and rehabilitation.

You won't know whether or not they are ready until you gather willing friends and family members in a safe comfortable environment.

Regrets are terrible burdens.

I wish I had organised an intervention for my beloved stepmom. I have only excuses. Of not recognising she was in terrible trouble with her disease. Of not speaking Spanish.

Despite the thousands of British alcoholics living in Spain, there were no local charities or organisations to assist with organising an intervention.

Instead, I witnessed the impact on her breathing as the woman's organs shut down one by one. I heard her death rattle first hand. This woman raised me and was in my life for over thirty years. I did nothing to help her.

I saw my father cry for the first time.

I learnt Spanish words for everything related to arranging a funeral and the wake afterwards.

I spent five years denying she was dead and shutting down my life.

Guilt weighs heavy when you know you should have known what to do and saved her life.

One month sober.

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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