Tuesday, June 2

An Explanation for My Daughter

Growing up, I never once saw my father drink a single sip of alcohol. In fact, neither did my mother. I never really thought about it at the time, but now that I'm older and wiser (Hahahahaha!), I realize that they both made that choice after battling demons from their past.

My father's tale was the more dramatic of the two. He grew up as one of eight kids, a middle-ish child in the midst of a clan. The family owned a bar in West Virginia, and each of the kids took a turn or two or ten at defying the laws of child labor and helping out. Despite the free labor, the bar wasn't exactly what you would call successful. Rampant alcoholism would certainly explain a great deal of what was wrong. It's hard to make a profit when you're drinking all the goods, or so they say. If you talk to any one of the siblings, you'll hear talk of Christmases without gifts or even a big dinner. More than one of the brothers and sisters will wistfully tell you about the Christmas when the only thing in the fridge was a six-pack of beer. Some will tell you, "At least we had each other," while others will quickly change the subject without a syllable of niceties.

Alcohol tore the family apart.

I respect my father's decision to not follow the same path. Not all of his siblings chose the same one, and it's easy to see the impact alcoholism continues to have on the generations. The ones who have a problem have never realized it, but if you look in the eyes of their kids, you can see it. Even the cousins who are barely old enough for kindergarten have The Look. The Look that says, "One of my parents is not the best they can be." While my father is REALLY far from perfect, he did get that one thing right. No doubt about it.

Long ago, I chose the same path. I'm not unwilling to drink a little alcohol, but I simultaneously figure it's not worth it. It's not worth the potential for addiction, which is obviously meandering it's way through the bloodline. It's not worth the risk of hurting others. It's just not worth it.

So, if you ever see me out and you think it's a little lame that I'm not real big on the alcohol consumption, cut me a break. I'm lame because I learned from other people's mistakes that it's not for me.

29 comments:

  1. Brilliant and poignant post babe.

    MWAH! You are awesome.

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  2. Growing up, I saw many out of control drunk women and decided way back then that I never wanted to be like that. The worst episode was coming home from school, aged 9, and finding my dad's latest girlfriend on the kitchen floor, passed out in a pool of her own vomit. I left her there and sat outside until dad came home from work hours later.

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  3. I had noticed that you never drank at our gatherings, but certainly didn't think you were lame for it. What a respectable decision to make based on family history.

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  4. If anyone calls you "lame" for not drinking, that's their problem. I think it's pretty cool.

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  5. I have had one drink since my son was born. I had my moments in my 20s, but I've seen the effects on alcoholism in hubby's family, and have some lame memories of my dad drinking when I was growing up. I would do well by my son not to give him those same memories.

    And honestly? There are plenty of beverages I enjoy more. Even water. And the other drinks are cheaper, too!

    I'm right there with you, and I admire you for this post. :)

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  6. Wow. You and I have SO much in common. My parents are the same.. Only they didn't stop drinking. You are far stronger and you have broken the chain of your family's disease. That speaks volumes. Thank you so much for sharing this personal story.

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  7. I never think someone is lame for not drinking. I do drink, myself, though much less than you would think from the way I talk about my "drunkovers"

    And I think there is a special place in hell for drunk drivers.

    So, no, instead of thikning someone is lame for not drinkng, I think: Deisgnated Driver ;)

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  8. Great post and good for you. You are an excellent role model for your lovely daughter, and a great mother. I also would never, ever think someone is lame for not drinking.

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  9. Isn't it funny how we have to justify our choice NOT to drink? I can't drink, I can't digest alcohol, and yet every time I am out I have to explain why. You're a smart woman and not one bit lame. you're an adult, and clearly capable of making the best decisions for yourself!

    Wanna be my sober buddy? We can do shots of water.

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  10. @Molly C--You're on!

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  11. What a great post!

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  12. Doesn't make you lame. Just makes you very, very brave.

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  13. My father was an alcoholic and still is (I haven't seen him in over 6 years now). Despite swearing I would never go down that path, I did. I've been sober now for 5 years and have no desire to go there again. There is a lot of pain that follows alcohol...I think you made a beautiful choice for you and most of all for Alexis. (Hugs)Indigo

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  14. I can't believe there are people out there who would give you or anyone else a hard time about NOT drinking! As you have just proven, people can never assume the reason others don't drink. I have a few friends who simply don't like alcohol for no other reason than they don't like it!

    My hubby and I were recently talking about the teenage to college years that our children will go through. I said to him that I'm sure they will want to try drinking, but we need to make sure that they understand there has been alcoholism in both of our families. My husband and I both have always understood that and believed that it is important to know. I think it helped us reign ourselves in during college when things could have gotten out of hand. We do drink now (when I'm not pregnant), but only moderately.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

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  15. I come from a family of big drinkers. None of them abuse alcohol, but they like their wine and occasional mixed drinks. I am the "black sheep" so to speak and rarely drink any. We don't drink around our kids except on very rare occasion. My husband's family doesn't drink at all, so my kids only real exposure to it is around my family. It's not to say I don't enjoy an occasional rum and coke, but I could just as easily do without it.

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  16. Bravo! Beautifully written. As for the those hypothetical ppl who would actually think you were lame, I believe Pee-Wee said it best with: I'm rubber, you're glue. :)

    Alexis will love you all the more for your choice and I think it's sweet and wonderful of you to capture this for her along with all the smiles and fun times.

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  17. You're definitely lame, but for other reasons. You cry at movies.

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  18. My Sweetie is a recovering alcoholic. There are times when he still craves it, and he tells me at least once a week, that if it weren't for me and the Howler, he'd have started drinking again (I didn't know him when he was drinking.) Some days, he tells me, it's like the first day he quit, but having someone/something to believe in and hold on to helps him remember how bad things were when he was drinking.

    He & a friend of his were in a car accident (yes, drunk) ages ago, and he still has the scars. And, no, that isn't when or why he quit. We're both hoping that as the Howler grows, and asks questions, she'll understand that he almost died that night, and that in drinking the way he did, he was slowing killing himself, too.

    Considering the stories that I've heard (from him and from others) about his drinking, I'm glad I didn't know him then.

    Heck, he had kidney stones and when they offered him morphine, he bluntly told them that the pain he was in was far better than whatever the morphine would do (and that's an addictive personality!)

    Anyone who thinks it's lame, is just lame themselves. Nyah Nyah to them.

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  19. Good for you for recognizing the potential for a problem, and even more good for you for being willing to share an explanation. You may be lame, but if you are, you are the coolest lame person I know.

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  20. Justin and I rarely drink - he doesn't because it gives him terrible heartburn, and really, I'm just as happy drinking a virgin daquiri as an alcoholic one. I haven't missed alcohol in the past year, and suspect I won't miss it in the next year as I'm breastfeeding (and perhaps then some as we're going to start trying again when Alex turns 1).

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  21. I'm with you on that. While I was raised that drinking was wrong, I don't wholeheartedly believe it. I do believe, however, that I tend to get addicted to things quickly (hello, Starbucks!) and don't even want to begin anything that may prove difficult to end. At least Starbucks won't ruin a family. Just your finances.

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  22. Would never think you were lame for not doing it.
    Nobody should need a reason not to.. unfortunately, too many people shouldn't.

    Understand this completely. Love that face.

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  23. Great post. And I love Molly's idea of water shots.

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  24. That's an awesome post.

    That is all.

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  25. You just eloquently explained what I have been trying to for a very long time. Amen.

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  26. Kudos to you!!!! More people need your line of thinking! Alexis will have a MUCH better life because of it! :)

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  27. I agree with you on this one. My husband came from one of those families too, and chose to break with it. If you go back 4-5 generations, my family was alcoholic, till they went LDS. I sit in court every day seeing how alcohol has messed up lives and it's not worth even trying it. Four or five generations of people abstaining gave me the gift of none of that pain, in it's place a wonderful family life and I'm not about to risk breaking a good streak and starting that cycle again. God knows we have enough trouble as it is without adding that to the mix.

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  28. Same thing here ...

    I was so close to succumbing to my families alcoholism ... then I quit. JUST QUIT.

    I have the occassional - once in a blue moon...

    I think about it - more than I actually do it and never at a family function.

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