My parents both had parents with varying degrees of alcohol problems. They varied from awful to terrible. My dad’s father was an embarrassing alcoholic. He committed suicide when my dad was in his late teens/early 20’s. My mom got the best of both worlds- two alcoholic parents. Her father was a drunk and a cheater, her mother was a drunk, she popped pills, had some issues with agoraphobia, and died of an on purpose overdose of pills and booze. Her father died from brain cancer in his 50’s-ish. I try to imagine my parents as children- handling home life and still going to school, playing with friends, being children with all this craziness swirling around them. I want to punch my grandparents in the face for hurting them (and all their siblings) the way they did. The way they still do.
My parents rarely drank when I was little. My mom tells a story about my dad coming home and mixing up drinks for a few nights (weeks? I don’t remember) and she put her foot down and said, “No way are you drinking every night. You’d better stop that right now.” So he did. I remember both of them being relatively open about their parents and the way their alcoholism affected their lives. They instilled in me a fear and a curiosity about alcohol.
I told my mom yesterday that I quit drinking. I told her why. I told her I was afraid, I was honest about what was going on with me. That was hard. It was hard to watch her cry, knowing that the thing she’d feared most for me had come true. It was such a balm to my soul to hear her say through her tears, “I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.”
So much of our suffering goes on alone. Alone in the dark, filling one more glass, just one more. Alone in the stark light of day making promises to try to quit again, to do better. To drink less, only one or two. To only drink on the weekends, or just on Friday. So much of my suffering was from hiding. From glossing over the truth to look like things were fine when they weren’t. And they weren’t and they weren’t until finally I needed them to be fine. To stay alive, present in this life I needed my voice to be heard. I needed to feel real. Authentic. I needed to say out loud, “I am an alcoholic. I need help” and “I can never drink again.”
That’s why I told my mom. And that’s why I’m telling you, every day. Because every day I have to remember my truth, my story. And I have to be proud of that. And I am.