Thursday, September 2, 2010

Heritage Drinking

My Dad was an alcoholic.  I wouldn't have called him just a problem drinker, though he certainly was--just that, it wasn't all he was.  I don't honestly believe that he wanted to drink, but this also simply doesn't square with the fact that he chose to drink, to some limited degree, frequently throughout his life, with increasing intensity toward the end.  I also don't think that this meant that he chose alcohol over his life, although that was the eventual outcome.  So what is it exactly that made him drink?

Well, it certainly wasn't about his not wanting to drink, at least not outwardly, and not more than he wanted to see me or my Mother.  At some level in some patch of space, I know that the balance is between one drink, one drinking session, or one drinking night, and keeping his family.  All the while I know that he didn't want to lose us, I know that he rationalized each bout of boozing with some justification that, in the end, proved stiffly incorrect.  He did lose his family, house, job and life to booze.  He also lost his second wife.  I know, for the record, that he began to speak with a college friend about his drinking very early in his drinking and actual career.  He could maintain control, to some degree, but was desperately aware that he could not continue to maintain control.  He drank in excess that I cannot now imagine--well, that's not precisely true; I can imagine it, on some far off plane.  And, while I can't seem to muster enough energy to imagine drinking a 1.75 liter bottle of cheap vodka in one morning, I can and distinctly remember choosing to drink over and above other responsibilities that I should have been attending to instead.  I remember soliciting others to drink with me, and I remember some of the specific others that would form more often than not, meaning that I remember some of my friends for many years in this capacity.  Great, right?  That's probably a bit harsh, I know, but it is at least part of the reality that was my reality when I chose to drink instead of choosing to live some other available reality--not that I wasn't forced to live that other reality, and its increasingly negative slant (because of inattention and drinking)--only that I would drink, in part, because of the increasingly negative slant in the non-drinking reality.  Shame on me, I know, being conscious of both and too weak to drop the bottle and increase the uptake of platonic learning.  Yeah.  Still, I managed to get by.  But I think, looking back, like I said in the first post, my life changed because of it, and yes, I still feel, at some horrible and oft-non-disclosed level, incredible grief and shame for myself.  It could have been.  Could have.  What?  I can never know.  Not that I won't try to realize the potential in front of me now, and not that I cannot recognize the balance of limiting past nostalgia from future fuck up, just that some basic fact will always remain that I cannot undo.

I am also aware that having such a recognition is needed to move forward. To rebuild. I hope I'll have the energy this time around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to find a sobriety blog I can connect with and yours I can relate to, somehow. I'm sure our situations are very different, but I like how you share your thoughts. Thank you for being so honest.