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.