Saturday, April 19, 2014

Don't Worry, Baby...

Ours was a rough household.  As a kid, I saw a bunch of things I probably shouldn't have, but I'm under no impression that my situation was unique.  Plenty of folks endure much more harrowing upbringings, and they never turn to drinking or drugs.  Heck, I wish I'd realized their secret.  I could have saved us a lot of grief and a ton of money.  But then again if I did, I would never know this version of the truth.  I'm grateful for these memories that help guide me forward into my future.
I rather like how things are turning out for me.
It's fun to share what I know.  Mine is a hopeful story.
As early as I can remember, I felt like I needed something.  Something that would make me feel different.  Even if it was just a little something extra.  Before I ever picked up my first drink, I yearned for relief from whatever it was that created this vague unrest.
I bet it started as worry.  When I was little, I ate.  I was hungry to fill this hole inside of me that never went away.  I creeped downstairs at night and opened the refrigerator.  I took cheese and slices of Wonder bread and snuck back through the house.  I made sandwiches in my bed and ate them under the covers.  I listened to the voices on TV playing in my parents' room - reruns of The Odd Couple, Mash and All in the Family.  It seemed like Mom was awake all the time, wondering where my father was.  Waiting for him to finally come home or the phone to ring with news of a terrible accident.  Big Mare was poised to spring into action at any given moment.  My mother was tension embodied.
I wish I could have figured some things out sooner.  But I was too young, with no perspective to speak of.  It would have been nice had I been able to prevent all the running around I did, like a crazy chicken with no head.  Instead, I gobbled up the disappointment and frustration of my mother's choice in partners, all of her anger and fear.  I feasted on my dad's indifference toward his marriage.  I finished the cookies I snatched from the kitchen and brushed the crumbs off the sheet.  I slept with my hands in my pajama bottoms, tucked between my legs.  I sleep like this, even now.

It doesn't matter how addiction begins, really.  It finds its way into all kinds of households.  In many families, it's already there - providing examples of behavior and initiating new recruits before they become aware that there's a choice.  For some, addiction lies dormant for years.  It hangs around in the shadows, waiting for an opening.  It presents itself in subtle pockets of weakness - fatigue, disappointment and insecurity.  It might make a louder entrance through divorce or death.  It comes in a variety of forms, always looking for the same thing - members.
I learned the ropes at a very early age.  Drinking was everywhere when I was growing up.  When I think about my childhood, I see how easy it was for me to become an alcoholic.  Both my parents drank with purpose.  Quite honestly, I couldn't wait to get started.  I pulled up a chair and slid right into my seat.  I always felt like it was where I belonged.

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