When did alcohol become a part of everything we do?
Let me preface this with saying: most of everything I did revolved around alcohol for years. I didn't like being in social situations where alcohol wasn't available. I would drink prior to going out. I would sneak alcohol if it wasn't going to be served where I was going. I always made sure my bar was fully stocked at home. I drank on holidays and family functions. The only reason I ever agreed to go to Chuck E. Cheese with my nephews is because they serve alcohol. Vacations? Forget it. I drank from the time I got there to the time I left. I would have been the mother that had a coffee cup of wine at her kid's ballgames. I would have been the mom to have the girls over for wine before a PTA meeting. I would have served alcohol at my kids birthday parties for the adults. I would have been the mom to drink a bottle or two at home every night just because. I could turn anything into a reason to drink. But I am also an alcoholic.
I see pregnant women drinking out in public often. I've been invited to several Huggies & Chuggies themed baby showers, where you provide the diapers and they provide the beer. Alcohol is served at most all of the major children's music and theater shows. I know because I drank at Phineas & Ferb and Ringling Brothers. I see friend's Facebook pictures of their kid's birthday parties where all the adults have wine or beer in their hands. I know parents who get drunk at home in front of their kids almost every night or every weekend.
So, when did this become accepted as the norm? It certainly wasn't like this when I was growing up.
Baby showers consisted of peanuts, tea sandwiches, cake squares and sherbet punch. I don't recall alcohol being available at the circus. Is that really necessary? It's two hours and you are most likely with children. Birthday parties were about the kids... not the adults. Doesn't seem safe to have a house full of kids with a bunch of drunk adults. But, I guess I get it. A couple years ago, I drank at all of these events and would have been annoyed if it wasn't available. But, then again, I am also an alcoholic.
I am thankful that I grew up with a Mom and Dad who didn't drink. I can't ever recall seeing my parents drink as a kid. I've never seen my Mom drunk, ever. I have only seen my Dad drunk once and I was 23 years old. My Mom would occasionally have a glass of red wine once my siblings and I were all adults. And by occasionally, I mean like one glass a week, if that. She would buy those mini bottles of wine that came in a four pack and would open one and drink half. She never bought a regular-size bottle because there is no way she would have drunk it before it went bad! As an alcoholic, that is something I can't wrap my head around.
When my brother, who died from an overdose in April 2012, was trying to stop drinking in June 2011, my Mom stopped as a way of supporting him. She never made a big deal about it, but I noticed she stopped drinking all together. I told her recently that it didn't bother me if she ever wanted to have a glass of wine or something and she said, "No, I don't want any part of it. Alcohol has done a lot of damage to our family." Alcoholism took the life of her son and then there's me, the alcoholic. So, I can only imagine how she must view alcohol and what it has the ability to do to people... especially her family.
When I got back from rehab, I wasn't sure how I would be in social situations. I wasn't sure I would know how to act in a social situation without alcohol. I was so used to having alcohol as a social lubricant to get me through anything that I didn't want to do or that caused me anxiety. I wasn't sure how I was ever going to do a lot of things sober. For instance, my family decided that they all wanted to go to the Dixie Stampede at Christmas. Shoot me now, I thought! This sounded like an absolute nightmare. I couldn't have imagined going to that sober! Old Allison would have had to be tanked to sit through it. But what I realized sitting there watching horses relieve themselves in front of us while eating a whole rotisserie chicken with my hands and drinking sweet tea from a plastic boot is -- that these are moments with my family, especially my five young nephews -- that I want to be present for. I mean, who would want to forget all that?! My nephews had the time of their lives. And these are the times that they will always remember about their childhood. Doing things sober isn't going to kill me. And I have come to realize, I actually enjoy things I used to hate.
I missed out on so much from drinking. Even though I was physically there, I was never really present for a lot. And I am not even referring to the times I would black out or pass out and miss or not remember events completely. I am just talking about all the birthday parties, family dinners, vacations, holidays, or just random nights doing nothing with my family... all the times I drank just because I didn't know how to be in situations without drinking.
It sometimes amazes me that I enjoy life so much sober. I don't have anything against people drinking. I just think it's sad that we as a society make alcohol a part of everything we do. I think some things should remain innocent and wholesome. Time with kids is one of them. I am thankful that my nephews have parents who rarely drink and are positive role models for them. I am thankful that probably only one of my nephews will remember his Aunt Al's days of drinking. I pray every night that none of my nephews have the gene that is linked to addiction. But one thing I know for sure is that they don't see any importance placed on alcohol from the most influential adults in their lives. Unfortunately, that isn't the case in a lot of families and it wouldn't have been the case in mine if I had not chosen recovery.