Recently, I had to clean out my grandmother’s home to prepare it for renters (she is in a nursing home). It was absolutely a gut and heart wrenching ordeal. How the hell do you deal with all of physical evidence of someone dear’s life? My answer was: large contractor bags, yard sales, boxes and boxes of ‘treasures’ smuggled into the house under sweet hubby’s nose and copious amounts of alcohol to sooth my emotional distress.
Many of the ‘treasures’ from Grandma’s house ended up in the hands of my little ones. Yesterday my little one was trying to ‘hypnotize’ her brother with what looked like a religious medal. I asked to see the medal and was a bit shocked to find the Serenity Prayer. I didn’t see Jesus or anything. I am still firmly agnostic, but I was captivated by this small medal. As best I could guess, it belonged to my great grandmother. But honestly, I don’t know. Someone in my family either liked the prayer or at some point joined AA. Interestingly, my great-grandmother was an infamous booze hound. She was adept at hiding her addiction. I had no idea she drank from sun-up to sun-down until my grandma and mom pointed it out to me as an adult. I wonder if at some point she tried to quit… The idea fascinates me. She lived until she was 96… She had no idea who any of us were for the last 10 years of her life… A cautionary tale, to be sure. I traded my little one the medal for a snowflake necklace. I like the idea of a found talisman…
Alcoholism is a blight on my family tree. I have an uncle who had disappeared (literally, no one can find him) into a bottle. My dad is a recovered or recovering alcoholic. His mother and father were both raging alcoholics. His mother succumbed to illnesses related to her alcoholism in her late 70’s Further, I was raised, largely, by well meaning grandparents who had ‘highballs’ everyday at 4PM. I had my first taste of booze at around 4 when I would finish the last sips of their drinks, mostly so I could crunch on the small ice cubes. My mom had an accident when I was 22 in which, during an overnight stay at a friends house, she walked into a dark stairwell mistaking it for the bathroom. My dad recently pointed out that this happened hours after margaritas celebrating her birthday. My mom wasn’t much of a drinker (she liked pills) but alcohol drastically altered her life. After the accident, she was a complete quadriplegic. She died 3 years later.
Another ‘treasure’ I inherited was an antique liquor cabinet. How is that for irony? Gains fully supplied (glasses and accessories- the booze was long gone) liquor cabinet, then quits drinking. The liquor cabinet became a reason to continue drinking for about a month after I knew my time was up. Now I am conflicted. What do I do with it? Do I keep it as a piece of history, repurpose it (I have thought about making it into a tea cabinet) or sell the damn thing? What kind of legacy do I want to pass down to my little ones?
I started drinking and smoking pot heavily after my mom was in an accident when I was 22. At 22, ridiculous drinking is adorable. More than drinking, though, I smoked pot. Anyone who says marijuana is not addictive is FULL OF SHIT. I was high and probably a little drunk when my mother died in hospice. My mother died alone because I couldn’t get my shit together.
A year after she passed, we moved from Atlanta to Wyoming, where we stayed with my grandma. We traded copious amounts of pot for ridiculous amounts of beer. Slowly we made our way to tequila. Then, of course, there was the martini winter. In 2003-2005, I drank like a fucking 18 year old frat boy. The problem, of course, was that I was rapidly approaching 30.
I had my babies in 2006 and 2008. I didn’t drink, for the most part, throughout my pregnancies (never more than a glass of wine or a beer a few times a week). In 2009, I started my Master’s and I quit breastfeeding. My drinking became epic. My sweet, wonderful husband was my constant drinking buddy. We were a united front, hiding the true depths of our addiction from those closest to us. We drank when we had bad days, good days, holidays, when our kids were driving us nuts, when family visited- pretty much, we drank heavily on a daily basis.
Last winter, we had to put my grandmother in a nursing home. My drinking over the last 6 months sounds like a damn movie about alcoholics. I never drank at work, but pretty much any other time of day was fair game. Still, I didn’t want to quit. Even when my hubby said, “Enough.” I wasn’t convinced. Sure, we needed to pulled back but quit? Come on! I was terrified. Never drinking again meant painfully sober holidays, never having anything to take the edge of a bad day, dealing with my in-laws (who don’t drink heavily but they do drink every night) without an alcohol buffer… Add to that the stigma of alcoholism… How would I have fun? How would I be social? What would people think?
I really liked drinking, or so I told myself. It was fun. I was fun when I drank. It is all bullshit. I have probably had five hangover free mornings in the past 6 months. It wasn’t fun anymore. Bills were piling up (because alcoholic drinking is fucking expensive), the pounds were piling on, I was starting to suck at my job but the icing on the cake? My son noticed. He is six. What terrifies me more than not having “fun” anymore? Having my son grow-up either without a mom or with a raging alcoholic mom. We were pretty good at hiding and being “functional” but it was all starting to fall apart.