On Drinking

I’ve recently been thinking about alcoholism because of Gabriele’s post regarding the subject. His position tells me that he is against it. I am, too, since I grew up with it in my life, and it wasn’t pretty.

He has this to say, “Alcohol is like a hook .. they bite the most tempting palates. And as Saint Augustine said: Perfect abstinence is easier than perfect moderation,” which prompted my response, “It is a great quote for alcoholics as they are the most tempted, but I think he was referring to sex? Got me thinking – maybe someone who felt pressured to not have sex because of religion should not slut-shame others. LOL” It was more to indicate that St. Augustine probably wasn’t speaking in regards to alcohol.

But the post did get me thinking about alcoholism and my family’s struggles with it. In an alcoholic’s mind, their desire may be perfect moderation, but that will never happen because that is precisely the definition of the disease – being totally out of control. Maybe a better way of saying it would be, “Perfect abstinence is better than imperfect moderation?” Sure would have been nice if that thought had crossed a few minds in our family.

My dad was an alcoholic. For the most part, he was an absentee father, which was more the predominant injury than his drinking. Not that his drinking didn’t harm, as I recall quite a few instances from my childhood were problematic. My dad mostly pulled my mom into his drama. Us kids stayed away from it, but I do remember her being somewhat humiliated because of it. There was usually an awful lot of crying and hysterics going on; in one incident, she had ketchup all over her shirt. 

My stepfather, divorced from my mom a long time ago, was a heavy drinker and, I would say, also an alcoholic. Booze always available and readily stocked in the globe-shaped liquor cabinet for him to imbibe whenever he chose. I remember stealing a nip or two from it myself when my sister and I first experimented with alcohol. Again, with regards to his drinking, humiliation seemed to be a recurring dynamic for my mom. One afternoon, I believe it was a Saturday, he’d already hit the stash pretty hard, and my mom’s leg became the receiving end of a glass shard from a glass he’d decided to slam down on the dining room table. I could hear her screams outside on the front lawn where I was playing with my friends. I remember them surrounding me because I was panicking and crying. Going into the house to confront him or maybe seeing that my mom was injured made him realize he’d gone a step too far, and he calmed down; I don’t know which one was the catalyst for peace from that point on. Regardless, I remember many instances where he put all our lives in danger with his drinking, primarily that he would always drive home drunk if we’d gone anywhere that he’d had a few. We were lucky that nothing unfortunate happened on the road.

After I left my home, I had several failed romantic relationships with alcoholics. In the early years of my adulthood, I’d indulged in risky behavior concerning drugs, but that stopped entirely in my mid-20s. When I became a mother at 29, even my drinking slowed down, although I never eliminated it. I remained a responsible social drinker with my second child. That is not to say that my kids or my husband, especially my friends, haven’t seen me ingest copious amounts of alcohol. Fun times were had, for sure! I paid for it the next day.

I have to be honest and say that I enjoy drinking alcohol for its effects on me. Other than weed, I don’t know of any other substance which can make me feel that relaxed or not have a care in the world. If weed were legal here in Kansas, I’m guessing I probably wouldn’t drink at all. Because let’s face it, alcohol is not good for you, and we all know that. Consuming large amounts of alcohol and being dependent on it will damage you physically and mentally, not to mention that it will impact your relationships with family and friends. It may not happen right away, but it will eventually if drinking goes beyond a social setting, beyond moderation, and is something you are addicted to. 

At various stressful points over the years, I’ve worried about becoming an alcoholic. Genetically, my kids and I are predisposed to being alcoholics. For as much as I’ve enjoyed drinking, it’s always on my mind to be careful. I know things can quickly get out of hand. And I hope I never go down that path that the alcoholics in my life have. I think it would hurt too much to lose the ones I love and, for that matter, their respect for me as well. I wonder if my father and step-father ever thought about the damage their drinking caused to our connection, or if they even cared enough about it. I’m guessing not. But I’ll never know now since they are both dead.

It’s sad. Such a wasted opportunity.

43 thoughts on “On Drinking

  1. As an addict, in retrospect, I know now how important educating myself about the disease or use of pain pills, alcohol, etc…would’ve helped me make more informed decisions. Develop a plan to ensure you don’t become an alcoholic by identifying triggers in ur life that give u that urge to drink or make u want to turn to alcohol and then develop an alternate solution for each scenario so that when similar things happen and you may not be in the most stable of places mentally or emotionally… Ull still be capable of grabbing ur journal and reading what you need to do….and don’t be afraid!! As an addict, i wish I would’ve been so proactive and I hope to hear more from you soon!

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    1. Absolutely, Beth. Knowledge is power! I’m glad that you’ve done that for yourself. I don’t know how often I will speak to this topic but I welcome you to read everything I have to offer, Beth. 🙂

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  2. Alcoholism is a disease that is an illness that can be a generational thing so if your parent’s were alcoholic probably better not to have a drink unless you are celebrating a birthday or something once or twice a year. I was afraid every day and because of my dad getting his gun out in the house there was plenty of reason to be concerned. I am so sorry that you had to deal with that growing up as growing up is hard enough to start with without all the drama and the life threatening events that happened in our house several times a week. We survived but many don’t survive a life like this or if they do it is a very dysfunctional one. We are blessed, we are survivors. Thank God. Love Joni

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    1. Definitely, I’m sure there’s more history that I don’t even know about that was passed down. I think the other thing is the tumultuousness is something I got numb to so in my later personal relationships, it seemed almost expected.

      Yes, we are. Thanks, Joni! ((hugs))

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      1. All the more reason to celebrate you and your Anthology, “The Sound of Brilliance.” Growing up without examples as children is not easy. It made us stronger than most. You should celebrate yourself and all your accomplishments Susi. Yea!!!! Hugs 🤗 and love ❤️ Joni

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  3. Excellent post. My family also dealt with alcoholism. I don’t think it starts out as a sickness but can get there fast depending on the individual and the reason for the draw. Regardless, it is a horrible sickness that affects everyone around the one drinking. It is indeed profoundly sad.

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  4. Thank you for sharing! I grew up learning that to drink was a sin, because if you had one drink, you might become an alcoholic, abs addiction to anything is a sin, (except religion and the Bible). My parents were Bibleholics!

    I started drinking socially and then just one or two drinks at night. Then just this year, my liver blood numbers went off, and a ct scan indicated I had a fatty liver—but it is not from alcohol, however it’s much easier to damage the liver further with drinking. I’ve since lost a lot of weight, and i’m hoping I will be “released” from the ban of alcohol. (he said OCCASIONAL-I need to know what he meant)ha.

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  5. I admire anyone that has the courage to write about the dark side of their life. There was alcoholism in my family, as well, and also drug dependency. Anything in excess usually has a negative impact on people. A true alcoholic doesn’t know moderation, unfortunately. Because of the alcoholism in my family, I am very conscious about my alcohol intake and I hate taking any kind of drugs. Hugs! ❤️

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    1. That means a lot to me, Eugenia! I feel like the older I get, the less I have to hide. These struggles are done and over but need to be revealed. I don’t know whether that’s courage or just necessity. I’m happy if anyone can benefit from my experience. Hugs right back at you! ❤

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  6. A very raw examination of self and personal history. There were alcoholics in my mother’s family – and being around them always terrified me. My friend’s father was a violent alcoholic and the police would routinely arrive to rescue his mother from the rages of his father. All of that made me hyper aware of the effect of alcohol on behavior and I was never comfortable with drinking. Couple that with zero ability to tolerate it – I’ve never gotten drunk. Not that I didn’t try in college. Two fingers of wine and I’m out.

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    1. I’m not sure why today but it was something in me that needed to be put out there. I’ve had the thoughts in my head for a bit. Good for you that you didn’t start, Val!

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    1. That is very true. And I would say an addictive tendency is what I came away with, that is the reason for caution. Yes, but the past is over and I just try to live better now than what I grew up with. Thank you, Shantanu!

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  7. the same goes for eating unhealthy, as soon as I get a taste for anything unhealthy the urge to go overboard is relentless. (I read an article somewhere that there is a common ingredient that tells your brain that you need more) Every single time I abstain from unhealthy eating eating, the urge disappears. When someone tells you it’s ok to eat crap in moderation, which they actually say in WW, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

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    1. Yep! Another area which is tricky for me. If I let me myself eat one M&M, then I’ll want to eat the whole bag. Addictive behavior is feeding a chemical need in our brains, I wish the battle for control over it was somehow easier.

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  8. The question I have about alcoholism is: I know it is an addiction, but is it an illness? Does the alcoholic have the same choice as the rest of us? Or is an addict predisposed to not having any choice? Questions I have pondered a lot after living with an alcoholic husband. Also, violence seems to go hand in hand with alcoholism. Is that something they can’t help doing? Or like the rest of us do they have a choice? Thanks for writing this Susi, you are very brave. ❤👩‍🦰❤

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    1. I think Matt said it, that craving where one is not enough, is different in people who are not addicted. They make the decision to stop eating/drinking/drugs/whatever but people with addictive personalities somehow have a chemical inability to not crave something. The fact that DNA plays a part in alcoholism tells me there’s some biology in play. But I think there is also choice, it’s just way harder to choose better behavior.

      Personally, I think alcoholics which are violent are people who’ve never dealt with their issues, whatever they may be. I’ve met some that just drank and were happy to live in their own world.

      Like I said to Eugenia, I don’t know if this was brave or just time to discuss. 🙂 But Thank you, Carolyn! ❤

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  9. Yes … I understand Susi … I’ve being there, in younger days … being married, and then becoming a carer for 30 years, totally changed my perspective on life … and I now care about about myself, and the world around me… 😀🌏

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