There by the grace…

Went to the shops the other day to get some bits and pieces. While I was standing in the checkout line there was middle aged woman that looked really unsteady on her feet. Her face was red and sweaty and she was clutching two bottles of white wine.  She was talking to one of the shop assistants a slurry voice when I heard the shop assistant say really loudly: “Are you drunk again, dear?”  He gave me a knowing look and a sly smile as if to say: “watch how I humiliate this piece of trash”

I could see this was turning into a scene and just felt so helpless. People were starting to talk in muffled whispers. There was laughing and pointing. When she got to the front of the line she became louder and more animated which of course caused more looks of disdain.

I waited in my car to see if she was ok and also to check that she wasn’t getting into a car and driving! Thankfully someone else was driving the car she go into, she left.

I started crying in the car park. Uncontrollable sadness overtook me. I was heartbroken by people’s reaction to her! I cannot believe how she was treated like absolute shit! Like a second-class citizen. Like a fucking leper. I’m so heartbroken that people don’t know that she isn’t choosing to be that way! She is addicted! That removes your choice and addicts need care and understanding.

I could be that woman! I was that woman! I always sent my husband on last rounds drink runs to the shops before the shops close at 11 so HE was her too!

Our society has such a fucked up view of alcohol/ drugs and addicts. Just because their Facebook/ money/shopping/TV/game/approval addiction isn’t plastered across their face doesnt make them better that the woman in that shop! I commiserate with food addicts so much because they get the same disdain from society; their addiction is obvious for everyone to see. My addiction was easy to hide for a long time but towards the end it wasn’t anymore. My skin, my breath my sweaty face was there for all to see.

My heart goes out to that woman in the shop with her two bottles of Pinot Grigio. There by the grace of God go I.

30 thoughts on “There by the grace…

  1. I’ve felt the shame of buying a bottle of cider as soon as the shops would sell it in the morning as my son was too sick to get himself to the shops and was in danger of having a fit. I hated the looks I got, I hated just buying it, for once I felt I was standing in his shoes. There is so little understanding of addiction out in the real world. Let’s hope she finds the strength to find recovery

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh no, that sounds horrible and uncomfortable and so sad for the drunk lady 😦 We can hope that she finds her way out of the all too familiar trap as soon as possible. People can be ignorant, heartless bastards but it’s not everybody – there are always some people that understand and care, people like yourself. Hugs x

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I can understand why this made you so upset. I can feel that outrage and shame in reading this — that drinking makes us easy victims. And that instead of helping the woman, they laugh at her. One of the hallmarks of abuse is the shame felt by the victim, no matter how innocent or young they were, no matter what the crime committed was. And that shame keeps them from asking for help, because the crime must be kept secret. We were abused, but you can’t point your finger at a bottle and say “Arrest him.”

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I know I went to liquor store drunk.
    They were all too happy to sell me more wine.
    But one time, there was one clerk who said, Are you back already?

    I am so sorry for that lady who would be me, too.
    She needs love, not shame.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I think any one of us who is somehow linked to this post could easily be that woman. I know I was that woman and it makes me cringe, but also feel such compassion. Its the same feeling Ive been having when I see someone sleeping it off on a park bench. I was fortunate to get out before the worst of the worst, but how many drink shy of being in their shoes was I?

    Liked by 5 people

  6. So sad and angry for that poor woman. She epitomises how society treats addicts – derision, shaming, treating them as ‘other’ – WHILST CONTINUING TO PROFIT FROM THEIR ADDICTION.

    I’ve blogged repeatedly about the statistic that 20% of the population consumes 80% of the alcohol. In one study the top 10% of the population were found to be consuming over 70 units per week. That woman (who indeed could have been any of us) is where the alcohol industry make the majority of their sales.

    Damn their hypocritical eyes.

    My hope is that the tide is turning and that in the future legislation such as minimum unit pricing coupled with greater understanding and compassion will make such scenes less common. I do hope so.

    Question – out of curiosity and not implying WHATSOEVER that you should have done anything different at the time – if the same thing happened again is there anything different you feel you could do? Have been thinking about this and don’t know what I would have felt able to do in such a situation.

    Best wishes and grateful for your empathy and concern for that poor woman. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been thinking about that a lot too. At that very moment I felt paralyzed. It was one of those things when you have an out body experience, like I was watching a movie…Don’t really know how to explain it. I was in shock and I was in intense shame because I identified so strongly with her. I understand why I didn’t do anything (except to wait outside and check that she wasn’t driving). I was paralyzed with shock and shame. If and when something like that happens again I will help. I will try and help the person and kick the rest of the onlookers on the shins whilst telling them to mind their own damn business. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds exactly like how I would have imagined myself reacting at the time. I too hope that a second time around I might be less paralysed. There is always the risk too that we act to make ourselves feel better rather than actually helping the person, which is why it’s great that you checked she wasn’t driving and endangering herself and others. Maybe we can best help by supporting others who are in a position to offer help ? E.g. by supporting groups such as street pastors? Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Another prism on this sad vignette, Hurrah….shows that compassion, understanding, kindness…..are yet further gifts that are earned with abstinence. Perhaps things we don’t even know we’re gaining til they have an opportunity to poke through.


  8. One thing I DEFINITELY can’t control is people and their opinions. It’s exhausting, factoring society’s ills. I do it all the time. The way America treats the addict is the tip of the ice berg. What’s underneath, and has always been there, the bulk of the beast, is how treat the marginalized, people of color, the poor. History books flaunt the statue of liberty. But, our nation was built (and continues to be built) on the backs of the poor, the hungry, the tired. How can we be the richest nation in the world and have food deserts the way we do? How can we be a beacon of tolerance when we contain–by a shameful shameful degree–the largest incarcerated population in the world. Land of the free?

    You got me going. Happy to vent with you. I’d also, though, like to point out some great advice I received. Rather than follow ALL the ways we’re all fucked up, find one thing you can do it about it, and focus on that. You’re doing it already, here on this blog. Being a consistant member of this supportive community. So, rest easy, hurrah, I’ll try and do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is so heartbreaking but so true that it could be any of us. It’s always amazed me at how easily others forget their own issues and addictions when a chance to judge and humiliate another arises. Kindness matters so much more than most people realize.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This makes me so angry. I do not care what type of problem they have, what’s with someone else feeling the right to judge… the need to save people from bullies overwhlems me at times (I’m sure that ties into my own issues) .


  11. I know this stigma personally. It left me shamed in the shadows and broken. I didn’t ask for help because of it. Neither did my husband. Although I am “out” on my blog, I am still afraid sometimes people will find out my husband is a recovering dope addict. But by the grace of God I stand tall by his side. You expressed perfectly what we must live by, empathy, love, openness, connection, and non judgment . Thank you for this post. xoxo


  12. I work on a checkout. I am truly horrified by how that operator spoke to that poor woman. I’ve seen that ignorance many times but still find it incredible that some people can treat others that way. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was working on my checkout today when I suddenly smelled alcohol, so strong was it that it caught in the back of my throat and made my eyes water. I looked to the queue, of about 3 people, and realised the odour was coming from the last customer. She must’ve been around 60 and she looked terrible, sweaty, ill…she kept her head down and I felt a wave of sadness coming over me.


    I would never have treated her badly before I read this, and I certainly would not have ridiculed or belittled her but I wonder if I would have been more dismissive before? In all honesty…perhaps. She had a bottle of spirits, a mixer, some ham and some rolls. The rolls were open and she’d eaten two. I asked her if she was hungry and she replied “starving! ” and it was the first time she’d looked at me. We had a wee giggle about it but when she came to pay her card was declined. It was awful. I regularly have to tell people that their card’s been declined but I’ve never felt so truly gutted for anyone before. Bless her, she took the bottles out of her rucksack and said “take these”. I asked if she was sure, but I knew she didn’t have any choice. I cannot tell you how sad I am about that woman. But I want to thank you for writing about this. X

    Liked by 1 person

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