An Account of Growing up Around Alcohol
In college, it’s pretty common to hear people refer to themselves as “a literal alcoholic” because they went to Barnyard on a Tuesday night. It’s easy to laugh these comments off and go on with your night, but they can actually minimize what alcoholism is. It is not getting drunk in your freshman dorm a couple of times a week, it’s something that can fully ruin your life and is something that caused me immense amounts of pain throughout my childhood.
Growing up, my dad was almost never home before 6 AM. At first, I never knew why, but I assumed it wasn’t for super fantastic reasons. As I got older and continually saw his car parked in front of the local bar, I began to put the pieces together. I would be getting ready for school, and he would stumble into the kitchen without even trying to act sober. I learned to deal with that, and I was asleep so I could rationalize it away, but it was when he began missing sporting events and award ceremonies that it began to take a toll. It felt like he was choosing the bar over being with his family, and while I wanted him home, he was even worse when he was. He was cruel and constantly agitated. He couldn’t stand to be away from his bar, and it showed.
After my parents divorced, I didn’t see my dad much, and it felt like this part of my life was over, but then when I got to high school, all my friends started drinking. At first, I thought that it was totally fine. I mean, I wasn’t going to partake, but I also wasn’t going to stop their fun, so I would hang out with them. I initially had a good time, but as they got progressively more drunk, I began to get nervous in a way I had never felt before. I couldn’t move or even breathe, I just wanted that night to be over. Because I didn’t want to have this kind of anxiety again, and especially not in a social setting, I began to not hang out with my friends when they were going to drink. This worked for a bit, but when they would drunk text me, I would have even more anxiety. To me, it felt like my friends were just like him, I was so scared that they were going to leave and never come back.
My anxiety caused a lot of my friends at the time to pull away, some because it made it more difficult to hang out and others because they felt like I was acting like a parent. As some of my friends pulled away, I felt like a freak, like I couldn’t take part in this thing that everybody else had a great time doing. I didn’t get to have these experiences, and I just felt alone and isolated.
Over time I got over this fear and now have a normal relationship with alcohol, but these memories still stick with me. That’s why I can seem like a stick in the mud whenever people make jokes about alcoholism. It’s important for people to understand the implications of the jokes that they make.