My Alcoholism Was Like a Thief in the Night
It came under the cover of darkness to rob me of everything I cared about while I wasn’t paying attention. But I turned the light on.
As a writer who’s always been somewhat confessional, I’ve never been afraid to share the darker experiences of my life in front of other people. I’ve talked about growing up with narcissistic, emotionally unavailable parents without much apprehension. I’ve rehashed all the truly stupid decisions I’ve made over the years, some of them multiple times.
But for some reason, I’ve really only glanced in the direction of my struggles with alcoholism when it comes to the written story of my life. Alcohol is no longer something that sits at the center of my solar system like a cold, malignant sun. But the memory of my former relationship with it is like a dark stain I haven’t been able to get out of a favorite tablecloth — an ugly reminder of past mistakes I’m ashamed of.
I don’t want people to see it when they come over for dinner, so I always make sure to set something pretty on top so nobody notices.
I’ll be frank. I never had a very high opinion of people who rely on alcohol to get through life. It’s because I was raised by an alcoholic — my mother — and grew up profoundly resenting the fact that she hid from her problems and drank instead of facing things head-on. It meant I was left to deal with the fallout by myself even though I was just a kid who still very much needed a healthy, alert, conscious mom.
And she knew I needed her. But she didn’t care and would sometimes even tell me as much. Drinking one’s cares away became something I saw as the height of self-absorbed dismissiveness as a result.
So later in life, when I finally got fed up with all my responsibilities and of other people counting on me for so much more than I was comfortable with, I saw habitually drinking myself sick as a way to flip the bird to all of it. Always being there for everyone else had officially become a drag, and I wanted to feel good for a change. Alcohol made me feel good, so I started spending more and more time with it.