I’ve recently seen some of our readers celebrating their sobriety. Congratulations! As if being a parent isn’t hard enough! I applaud everyone who has been able to recognize a problem and correct it, especially when children are in the equation. I think so often parents can be self absorbed into their own lives that they forget they are a living and breathing example for their own children every day. Though I have many close friends that enjoy a drink from time to time, I never was one of those people. What I mean by that is, I never was able to enjoy just one drink. One quickly turned into two, and three turned into…floor.
Alcohol was a huge part of my life for many years, and not once was it a positive addition. I hope that by sharing this other people can be inspired to reflect, or that they can find a common thread, or that they can just smile and nod knowing they were once there and they aren’t alone. When you don’t drink it is almost a social taboo, people make assumptions and jump to conclusions. It is bizarre that it is more socially acceptable to be drunk than to be sober. What a strange world we live in!
I think addressing addictions are a huge part of being a modern day parent. Many of us came from the party lifestyle, are still a part of it, or just recently left and it’s something that is important to mention. This site has always been about community, inspiration, growing in a positive direction, uplifting other parents, and most of all loving our children.
“I’ve had my fair share of benders, but certainly I wasn’t an alcoholic” I thought, as a friend of mine handed me “The Big Book.” I had an idea in my head of what an alcoholic was and it surely wasn’t me. I enjoyed kicking back a few from time to time but after I slept it off for a day or so I was back to being super dad. I was in charge of alcohol not the other way around, or so I thought.
That moment really stuck with me when my friend gave me that book. One day I started reading it only to find it read like an autobiography. The common thread was that there was no real definition of an alcoholic. Daily drinkers or bingers that can’t stop after one, there was no clear picture and it was any and all of it at the same time. My notion of the alcoholic that gets up in the morning needing a drink just to stop the pain was blown out of the water. Come to find out, the negative effects of alcohol were affecting my life much more then I was willing to admit, and this was something I learned only after cutting it out completely.
Before I was married with a family, I came from a party lifestyle. Partying to excess was just part of the program. My group of friends were a rough-and-tumble bunch that stayed out all night and partied hard until the sun came up. It was a familiar scene for fights to break out, or entire nights that none of us remembered. Looking back, the only difference between them and myself would be that once I started I didn’t stop until it was lights out. I was howling at the moon and drinking til’ sun up. At 21 it was typical, at almost 30 it was pretty pathetic.
As I got older it was a roll of the dice. Some nights one or two drinks would be perfectly fine and I could enjoy my evening, other times, once I hit a certain point, I would continue until I physically could not drink anymore. I became someone I hated, loud, obnoxious and unpredictable. Most of these nights I don’t remember clearly enough and have to relive them through scornfully told tales by my friends and family. Some are funny, but most are kind of sad. Alcoholism comes in many different shades of gray but the common thread is that it affects your life negatively.
When you drink to excess, it doesn’t take long to have that “moment of clarity,” you just have to recognize it and change. It has been well over a year since my last drink. I have noticed that my life is on much more of an even keel and things go pretty smoothly without the wild ups and downs. Our minds remember the good and never the bad when it comes to alcohol. I might say I’d kill for a drink but that comes with a high cost. I read somewhere that “If I am an alcoholic I shouldn’t drink, but if I am not an alcoholic I don’t need to.” Given my track record, it’s clear that alcohol was boss, not the other way around.
Though it’s tough sometimes, the important thing to know is that if you or someone you love is an alcoholic there is help available, and despite the ups and downs, there is a much better life to live than letting alcohol run the show. If you can handle just one or two, my hats off to you, but if you are having more bad times than good, it might be time for a little introspection. There are better ways to escape, and when you notice especially during stressful times you would kill for a drink, just remember exactly what you could be killing for it.