Alcoholism: A Family Affair

It takes an enormous amount of energy to live in an alcoholic family in denial. “Loose lips sink ships,” my father said and our family currency became half-truths and lies. My dad wasn’t a drunk. He liked to drink. He wasn’t an alcoholic because he didn’t go to AA. Even thirty days in rehab didn’t stop the denial. We unknowingly snuck him out one night when he begged us to visit and then told us we could take him into town for an outing. I knew it wasn’t because he missed us, but because he missed the liquor store.

العربية: مجموعة مشروبات كحولية. Català: Divers...

العربية: مجموعة مشروبات كحولية. Català: Diverses begudes alcohòliques. Cymraeg: Rhai diodydd alcoholig traddodiadol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See, no matter how many drunken speeches an alcoholic makes about how he loves his family, he loves the alcohol more. Deep down, his family knows this. We did. We heard it in the next-day apologies for his drunken behavior. We saw it in the glaze of his eyes. It reverberated in the clink of empty bottles.

As I grew older, it became harder and harder to convince myself that I was content in a relationship where I came in second to a bottle of booze. Eventually, he succeeded in pushing me away and I let him. For that, I am grateful.

Growing up with an alcoholic taught me to be careful and cautious and scared. It made me evaluate every drink I take. It forces me to analyze every slurred word or stumble I make when I’m drinking. All of my interactions with alcohol are judged on a strict scale because, due to my family history, I’m only a few drinks away from being an alcoholic. I carry that burden with every drink I take.

Maybe that’s where I break the cycle. I love my kids more than I’ll ever love booze.

Yes, alcoholism is a disease. Yes, some of us are genetically predisposed. And it might be unfair, and un-politically correct, but on some level I still believe that if my father had loved us enough, he would have given up alcohol and I guess I’ll never forgive him for that decision.

All I can do is not make the same mistake he did.

 

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