Alcoholism is something that requires time, patience, and love. It is a disease, and those facing it are always at war with resisting the temptation that alcohol has. Someone battling this needs a family who will be there to support them through their time of need, no matter how long it takes to overcome, if ever overcame. Family, the power of resisting and learning from others’ mistakes is what I believe in.
My mother’s side of the family has a depressing history with alcoholism. My mom and aunt are the only two siblings who do not drink. I have seen my uncles so belligerent; they us kicked out of restaurants because of their drunken behavior. And my grandfather, well, I have seen impacts from his drinking as far back as kindergarten.
The earliest of those memories occurred one day after school in kindergarten. I appeared normal to most of the other six year olds in my class, but what went on behind the closed doors of my house the issues that faced my family were ridiculous. I did not truly understand what was going on I just knew that my grandpa used to drink, but I had never seen it. I also knew that he had a history of mental illness; he was severely bipolar. My mother had been taking care of him since she had turned twenty. At the time my grandfather was living with our family, he was there to help out with my sister and I while my mother was at work.
One day after school, I walked through the gate and into the backyard just like I had done every day before. But something about this day was different. I almost tripped over an alcohol bottle on my way into the kitchen and then stopped dead in my tracks.
I saw my grandfather, for the first time, passed out. I thought he was dead. He had been drinking all day. I ran back to my mother’s car in hysterics saying that I thought my grandpa was dead. When she entered the kitchen she did not know what to expect.
My mom went over and started shaking him; the next thing I knew my grandfather was awake, mumbling his words, and stumbling to get to his feet. This was not the last of the negative events that took place with my grandfather and his addiction. He would get drunk and threaten to kill himself, tell crazy farfetched stories, and even drink before he would pick me up from school.
When I was in the third grade he went on a drinking rampage. I remember him pulling a knife from the drawer and saying he was going to kill himself. My mom sent my sister and me into our room and told us to lock the door. My sister was a first grader and this had her in tears. At that point my mom vowed she would never let my sister and I ever see him like that again. But it was definitely not the last time we experienced these terrors.
My mother has been dealing with her father, his drinking, and his mental illness for the last twenty years. My sister and I have dealt with the impacts of his alcoholism for the last twelve. Even though his drinking has slowed down, my family still experiences the affects that he has had on us. We go to his AA (alcoholics anonymous) meetings, his doctor appointments, and help him with his bills. These aspects of his drinking are very embarrassing, but it is with our support that we can hope he gets better.
After the damages that alcohol has done to my family, I should have had a different perspective on drinking. My sophomore and junior years I was on the verge of developing a drinking problem. I cannot think of a weekend in those two years that I did not go to a party, or did not have at least one drink.
The summer before my sophomore year I had my first drink. I was a lifeguard, and everyone that I worked with was at least eighteen years old. I was the youngest person there. I went to a couple of parties with the other lifeguards and all they wanted to do was get me drunk. I started slow but by the end of the summer I would drink as much as the other people I worked with. At the end of that summer I joined Reveler, my schools sorority, and the members were known as the drinkers. When I would hang out with them, there would always be drinking. And of course I would try to fit in by drinking and ended up drunk. I kept it a secret from my family up until my junior year when my mom caught me drinking and driving.
Being caught drinking and driving was not the reason that I decided to end the newly formed habit. One night my best friend and I were at a party. She was extremely intoxicated and made a wrong decision and was pressured into having sex with a boy. I had no response when she came out of the room and told me what had happened to her just moments before. I was in utter shock because she had trusted the guy. Because of my friend, I decided to stop putting myself into situations where that could happen to me. I made the decision to stop my drinking before it got even more out of hand.
After reflecting on my family history and the decisions that I made, as well as those the people around me made I was able to learn from those mistakes. I am now able to say that I choose not to drink and do not feel pressured to do so. By making this decision to be alcohol free, I overcame the struggle that faces many of my friends, my grandfather, and used to face me. Without the support of my mother and the other people in my life that made the same decision, I would not be the person that I am today. And I thank God that I have those people to help me through constant struggles that appear every day.
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