It all started when I was a kid.
My dad was an alcoholic. His family tradition was passed down from generations, and he kept it going strong. As a child, I wasn’t truly aware of the severity or consequences.
I remember many trips to the drive-up liquor store. (Yes, that was a thing.) Throwing beer cans out of the truck so that no one would know–had to get rid of the evidence! A family road trip that involved several wrong turns, spin outs in the truck, and ended with my uncle having to come pick us up at the gas station.
My childhood was full of alcoholic episodes but how was I supposed to know it wasn’t right? Unfortunately, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. He went through treatment and was on the mend when he caught a bad cold. He let the cold worsen to pneumonia, and his body was unable to fight it off. Despite being very young, in his early 30s, he passed away. I certainly attribute his death to his years of alcohol abuse.
His death certainly changed me as a person and has had a lasting impact on my life. There are so many what ifs and questions about how things could have been different. In my youth, I didn’t correlate his alcoholism to his death. But I know now that it damaged his body to the point of no return.
As the years went on and I grew up, the cycle lived on.
In high school and college, I was always the “party go-er” type. I made several stupid, drunken decisions. I have many regrets and wasted memories. It was all fun and games and everyone was doing it! Thankfully, I never got into serious trouble, but I made a fool of myself more times than I can count, put myself in unsafe situations, and came close to losing everything.
Drunken episodes started to turn into battlegrounds between me and my husband. Alcohol magnifies everything!
Drinking wasn’t fun anymore. It was exhausting, dangerous, and, most of all, it was so bad for our children. I was teaching them the cycle.
I slowly started to recognize the toll alcohol was taking on my life and started to change my lifestyle.
Above all, I strive to be the best mom I can be. But alcohol was interfering with that. Headaches and hangovers with three littles are not fun! Missing out on activities and time with my children were not sacrifices I was willing to make anymore.
I decided I wanted to stop the cycle. I wanted to teach my children a different way. I drastically reduced my alcohol use. I began to plan my weekends and social activities around fitness, food, and family instead of alcohol and started working on myself. I thought I was on the right path. But my husband had a harder time leaving the lifestyle. This was a curve ball I did not expect.
Ending the Cycle
For the past several years, my husband and I have struggled with alcoholism and its impact on the family.
Luckily, I was able to stop on my own. But my husband was not so fortunate. After several attempts to quit, rehab, meetings and more, he continues to fight a battle against alcohol every single day. Thankfully, we have a lot of support from our family, friends, and community.
I’ve heard it said before that alcoholism, any addiction really, is a family disease. I didn’t realize this for the longest time. I, too, am working on my own recovery through the grace of God, my higher power, and the Al-Anon program.
Struggling with addiction and alcoholism is not something we talk about often in our society. Our culture makes it extremely difficult to stop, admit there is a problem, and seek help.
And, if you’re like me, it’s a tradition that is hard to walk away from. The best thing we did was admit that we were powerless over alcohol and needed help. Whew! That was hard to do. But I am so thankful that we did.
We are now working to change the future for our children by teaching them a life without alcohol. It’s a long road ahead and definitely not easy. But we are blessed to be on this journey. If you’re struggling with addiction or alcoholism, please reach out and get the support you need.
Al-Anon Family Groups: Help and hope for families and friends of alcoholics