And then I stopped!

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A Stork, probably blinded by ice and snow flying through the European Alps without a GPS system, finally dropped me at the house of my parents 56 years ago.

It was the house of unhappily married alcoholics and I had the misfortune to become their only child. I don’t blame the stork. He didn’t know better, he was just doing his job. Also, I got lucky, I only had to spend six years with them until I left with a small suitcase and a big smile.

Every child of alcoholic parents or heavily drinking parents has scars. I assume same goes for the children of drug addicts. We don’t talk about it often, we push bad memories into the very back of our mind, where they stay hidden until many years later, when they are set free -mostly by accident.

My relationship with alcohol was extreme right from the start. I got drunk the first time in the tender age of eight. I had been secretly eating the strawberries out of an adult punch bowl because I love strawberries, and so the found me passed out behind the couch New Years’ afternoon around 6 pm. I slept like a baby from one year to the next.

In boarding school I didn’t want to be a ‘baby,’ it was bad enough to be the youngest one in class, and so I joined the forbidden midnight parties just like everybody else. I drunk the hot mulled wine with all the other girls, and found myself spending the next day in the sick-station surrounded by all my friends.

When I became an adult I didn’t drink alcohol. I didn’t want to be like my parents. I feared that just a few drinks would make my life spiral out of control. Isn’t addiction inherited? If not be genetics, then by habit?

I didn’t dare and so I stayed sober. I feared alcohol like the vampire fears the garlic.

I had a long conversation with an addiction counselor in my late 20’s, and he assured me that I was alright. Just never forget where you come from and never let your guard down, he advised me and I felt safe.

My drinking career started slowly. A few drinks now and then when we went out. A few years later it was normal to have a glass of wine at home on special occasions, and from there it was just a short step to drink a glass or two every night. Relaxing, unwinding. These are the words I used like so many of us.

Is someone who drinks alcohol every night an alcoholic? Or do you have to be drunk every day to be one?

Can you drink every night and not be an alcoholic?

I never got the answers to my questions. However, I got a glimpse of my capability to use -and stop- addictive substances when I gave up smoking.

I quit and that was it. I walked away from smoking with ease. There was not much drama involved. I didn’t have hissy fits and I didn’t hurt anybody during the first weeks and months.

Without looking back I know I quit in 2014 but I am not sure about the month or the date, and quite frankly, it is not important enough to be looked up.

The difference between habit and addiction is perhaps how we react to it.

At a smoking board, they called me a junkie. They didn’t know me. The judged by the fact that I was smoking cigarettes. They told me that I was an addict and I laughed at them -still laughing to this day.

My inner voice told me they were wrong. None of them were educated or trained counselors. They were ex-smokers, who probably had had a hard time when they quit, and so they assumed that it would be like that for everybody else. It wasn’t like that for me.

I think you are not necessarily an addict when you use addictive substances like sugar, drugs, nicotine, alcohol and so much more. The addict shows (or not) when you try to stop for the first time. That’s the critical point when your faith is decided. If you walk away with ease, good for you. If not, then you have a serious problem on your hand. That’s my opinion! Always has been, always will be.

So for around 15 years I had a glass of wine or a drink (sometimes more) almost every night and then my husband had open-heart surgery last year in November and I stopped.

I became his caretaker for a couple of months, and caretakers don’t drink. It’s that simple! I am not a nurse. taking care of a heart patient scared the daylight of me.

I knew that his shoulder surgery was coming up in February and so I thought I stay sober until March or April, just to be on the safe side. After all, I had to get up every four hours to give him his pain medications for about two weeks. I had to be on high alert! Caretaking is a job, even if you just do it at home.

Since June he is back to work and I still haven’t had a drink or a glass of wine. An old open bottle of my once favorite wine is in the pantry. I use a cup when I cook my beef stew, and another cup when I make my Grandma’s spaghetti. Then the wine goes back in the pantry and is forgotten.

I feel exactly the same way I felt when I quit smoking. I feel nothing. So, I don’t drink anymore, no big deal?

“So will you have a glass of wine now and then,” my husband asked me the other night and I didn’t have an answer.

I honestly don’t know. It’s not important enough to think about it!

Perhaps I will, but most likely I will not. I don’t miss it. I don’t need it, and importantly enough, I don’t crave it.

I am not my like my parents and knowing that makes me happy~!

6 thoughts on “And then I stopped!

  1. I also accept the theory that addictive tendencies are often inherited through genetics. My alcoholic husband filed to divorce me after 30 years of marriage because I had finally reached the point where I couldn’t iive with his increasingly frightening addictive behaviors. He told me he loved me over and over and that I was always #1 in his life though he knew he was not #1 in mine. Is it any wonder, especially after he told our youngest daughter, who was more like him than her sister, that he predicted she would become a single pregnant addict. This child is now in medical school and hasn’t had anything to do with her father in years, and again that’s no wonder. The final nails in the coffin on our marriage, besides when he shut the door in my face because he was afraid he would hurt me if I kept pursuing him asking what was wrong (i.e. what I had done wrong) were the two major milestones in this same daughter’s life he had missed because he was “ill.”

    Since the final break, I have been indulging in a glass of wine (at most) with dinner a few nights a week (at most). I have found it helps me relax, along with leisurely solo walks in the So Cal sun where I can engage in my version of mindfulness. These interludes are necessary to help preserve my sanity while caring for my 86 year old increasingly demented mother who one evening felt compelled to ask why “all of a sudden” I had “started drinking.” My first response was that I felt comfortable and possibly even compelled to do that now that I wasn’t living with an alcoholic.

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  2. It should! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I’m borderline addictive, if there’s any such thing, when it comes to alcohol. A crutch. A mood enhancer to turn me into the fascinating person I’d like to be. I don’t drink every day but expat life can easily be the beginning of the slippery slope. Hopefully not πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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