I have this recurring dream. Just one of many that takes me back to my desperation of being in the throes of my addiction. I’m in my parent’s basement and in front of the cabinet where they kept their scant liquor bottles. It’s bound up by one of those plastic tie locks because their daughter is an alcoholic and would immediately drink all their liquor if allowed. I remember thinking, I can’t just cut it with a scissors because they would know it was me. As if that was my biggest issue right at that moment. God forbid they find out I’m an alcoholic. When I was living in their house as they sent me to yet another rehab after I had lost jobs, homes, relationships. When they yet again were trying to help me, before they stopped and drew a line. But I was far from rock bottom yet. There is desperation and then there is fear of death and then at the other end of that is fear of life.
I was at the fear of life portion. Once you give in to fear in any way shape or form, you are cooked. Fear is a liar and a cheat. Fear is what makes us retreat and think all is lost, when in reality, fear is just a bully and a feeling. It can be overcome. But when you are so deeply drowning in it, you have no idea there is a way out.
Nobody wants to be an alcoholic. It’s long past any fun when you get to the stage where you absolutely cannot quit. There’s a sadness and desperation and fear there that few ever feel living a normal life without the chains of addiction around their neck. It’s a selfish disease for sure, and I take nothing away from the hell that addicts and alcoholics inflict on others, but it is no party for them, I assure you.
Nobody is harder on themselves than addicts and alcoholics. Nobody thinks less of themselves. Nobody inflicts such torture, thus the hamster wheel of insanity and addiction. It’s perfect really. I hated myself so much that I had to keep drinking and in order to keep drinking I did things that made me hate myself even more. And on and on and on.
Nobody wants to be an alcoholic. When you hear kids talk about what they want to be when they grow up, I would bet a lot of money you haven’t heard many say, “I want to be an alcoholic when I grow up.” And you can surely bet their parents weren’t wishing their kids would become alcoholics when they grew up. On the list of big dreams we have for our kids, alcoholic and addict is not very high up.
Right now my 3 year olds want to be a Knight, a Doctor, a Dancer and Batman.
These were on my list and what I actually did in some capacity along the way:
- I want to be an actress.
- I want to be a figure skater.
- I want to be a stylist.
- I want to be a singer.
Things that I ACTUALLY became:
- An alcoholic.
- A big shot Executive Assistant.
- A writer.
- A wife.
- A mom.
- A productive member of society and the greater good.
- A dependable family member.
- A tried and true friend.
It may not seem likely on the surface, but that second list has been much more fulfilling overall than the first list and had I not gone down my path, I never would have gotten here.
Would I wish being alcoholic on anybody? NO. NEVER. It is absolute hell. When I think of what my kids will want to be when they grow up, I can only hope that they have an easier softer road in some ways.
I can only say I’m grateful to be an alcoholic today because I’m not sure I would have arrived at this place of self love and forgiveness had I not become a drunk and fought my way out.
I never ever would have met the most incredible people and encountered such absolute love and acceptance had I not taken this path. I am self aware. I can ask for help and give help. I am in love with my flaws and my strengths – many of which are the same thing. I care for my fellow man in a way that was never accessible to me before I traveled this road.
As with everything now, I view the world through mom-colored glasses.
What will I tell my kids about me being an alcoholic? When the time is right, and they are asking questions, I will tell them a bit of why I don’t drink. They know daddy drinks beer (moderately, WHAT?) and mommy drinks water because that’s what we like to drink. Daddy can drink alcohol and mommy can’t. It’s almost like I am allergic to it. They know about allergies because their Nanny has them and they get that it makes her feel lousy sometimes. They will know that alcohol makes mommy feel bad and do silly things and that is not what I want. Like bad medicine.
When they are old enough to drink themselves, they will know that their mom is a recovering alcoholic. They don’t need to know everything, but they do need to know a bit of my story. It’s important. Sobriety is the only reason I get to be a mom. And I can only hope they will be proud. And they will be careful. Because as great as life is today as a recovering person, we don’t all get here. In fact, most don’t. It’s that serious.
But it doesn’t mean I have to scare the life out of my kids. That doesn’t help either. One day at a time, we tell our stories and hope our kids choose wisely. And if they don’t, we still extend them grace and love and understanding. I hope I can do as well with this as my parents did with me.
Because while we all know the reality of doors closing to us, I want my kids to believe that they have everything open to them if they work hard and act kindly toward others. That they can choose to be who and what they want to be. Today I choose to be a recovering alcoholic. I hope I choose the same tomorrow.
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