I’ve never been to an Al-anon meeting. They would probably be good for me. But I’m resistant to the idea. I am the daughter of an alcoholic father but I don’t like saying that out loud. I feel as if I am betraying my Dad if I do.

“He’s a workaholic. He’s the President of his own company. He’s the Chief of the volunteer fire department. He’s been a volunteer firefighter for 24 years.”  Rolls off my tongue easily. They are compliments.

My denial is palpable, even now when he’s got nearly 4 years of sobriety under his belt. I don’t want to ruin the miracle. My Dad’s sobriety transformed him back into the loving man I remember from my childhood.

For more than thirteen years I feared my father. Not because he would physically hurt me, but the man had a way of emotionally tormenting me that is hard to explain. I never knew what to expect.  Would he show up as the emotionally wrought and crying persona? The yelling, I’m going to cut you with my harsh words Angry Man? I was never sure what was coming my way.

It got so bad that I stopped taking his phone calls after 12PM. I didn’t want to hear him slurring his words, calling me by my mother’s name, or hurling daggers and spears at me with his words. I didn’t want him asking me questions about his childhood friends. I didn’t want to hear about the abuse he survived. I couldn’t do any more. I didn’t have the strength required for it.

Now I don’t feel it necessary to go into more details right now than that. But trust me when I say he was horrendous to me and my brother and anyone else within eyeshot when he drank.  My husband witnessed a few monumental drunken moments and told me, “It’s so much worse than you ever said.”

So like I said, I could probably use an Al-anon meeting or two to let go of the pain I carry. But I don’t think that will ever happen.

The funny thing is I am glued to the TV when Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew is on. The celebrities’ behavior is so familiar; I’ve lived with that kind of drama.

During a commercial break, something inevitably clicks deep inside me and my guts twist and I think, “Why is the addict’s pain more important than the pain inflicted on their loved ones? What gives them the right to be so selfish?  Why can’t they deal? Why are their reactions so exaggerated? Don’t you think the rest of us deal with shit too?”

But I keep watching and cheering for them.  I want them to get better. I carry hope in my heart like only a child of an alcoholic/addict can. Hope can be so merciless.

I tried drinking like my father when I was younger. He drank glasses of vodka on the rocks with lots of green olives or fine wine. There is no keeping up with that. When I was 22 a few friends sat me down and told me they were worried about me and my drinking.

I said, “I know I’m out of control. I’m going to be for 2 more weeks then I’m going to stop.” And that’s exactly what I did. I drank myself stupid for 2 weeks in the summer of 1991 and then didn’t have a drink after that for 9 months. I think I was testing myself. Subconsciously I wondered if I too was an alcoholic, even if I couldn’t admit my dad was one back then.

Thankfully I am not.

And thankfully my Dad is sober, healthy and in my life. I love you Dad. Always.

To those of you courageous enough to battle addiction and seek help I’m proud of you. I hope you stick with it.

To those of you who go to Al-anon meetings, thanks for being there, just in case I ever decide to knock on the door, it’s good to know you’re out there.


7 thoughts on “Sobriety

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  1. I’m speechless…wonderfully written…I guess you really don’t know people and assume the grass is always greener…I know people who had addiction and lived to share their stories…God bless you for the courage you found to write about it…

  2. Holly, this is so beautiful. I have no experience with alcoholism (thankfully) so it was, dare I say, sobering to hear you write about it. I’ve never thought about the need for support for the loved ones, but yes they do need it, just like any caregiver needs support. I hope you find that somewhere. xox

  3. Alcoholism is a real disease that has a profound effect on everyone associated, leaving deep scars on those close to the heart. Addiction is a horrible affliction which (to me) is compounded by the mere fact that it seems controlable. Alcoholism is a disease where the cure lies inside the alcoholic. Unlike medically treatable deiseases, alcoholism must come from within, that is the real panacea.
    I am of the opionion that addicts, and familiy members of addicts, should attend counseling on a regular basis.

    Thank you for sharing this story. Never feel ashamed to divulge the dirty secret because its not. Addiction is a disease and needs to be treated as such. The tirades you endured had nothing to do with you or who your Father was. He is deeply pained by the experience and know he will regret that period in his life for eternity. I congratulate him on his sobriety and wish success going forward

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