The short answer is “I don’t know”. My parents never drank much. My grandparents, who I spent a lot of time with, did not drink. My grandfather was an alcoholic but I never knew him when drinking – only heard the stories. No genetics there though, I am adopted. As a child I spent a lot of time at a neighbors house and his dad always had a beer. I remember thinking it was strange that my father did not have a beer by him on the weekends. I believe he drank more in his past but I never knew him to just drink around the house. I dont know why I accepted this friend’s dads behavior as the norm and my father’s as strange.
Knowing what I know now, I look back at my drinking history and can see some signs that my relationship with alcohol was not a normal one. I have always written off certain events and observations as just “shit that happens when you get drunk”, but given my history some of them may have been red flags.
I did not start chronically drinking at a young age. Sure there was some experimentation. First time was with a neighbor, that I was not very good friends with, out by his woodpile. A couple of Budweiser’s – what would eventually become my volume drink of choice. Remember sneaking a few in my room and hiding the cans in my closet, may have been in the later high school or college years though cannot really remember. A few times with friends in later high school, but I didn’t go out a whole lot.
The first time I really shirked my responsibilities due to drinking was my Senior Prom. My date had told me beforehand that she had to be home somewhat earlier than most because she had to work early. My buddies and I had a hotel room with a bathtub full of wine coolers (hey, it was the 80’s) and beer. We figured we would be safe in a hotel room. We started drinking and when my date had to go I was in no shape to take her home. A friend took her home for me. Years later I apologized to her for my lack of responsibility. Lack of responsibility never became habitual with me during my drinking days, after this occurrence I was always very careful to make sure I did what I needed to do.
I partied in college, alcohol was the drug of choice. One of those red flag moments was in my first year. I was living in the dorms and woke up one morning, entire body sore as hell. I found out later that I had gotten in a huge wrestling match with this guy that we hung out with – a drinking buddy. We rolled down the hallway, slammed each other into the brick dorm walls and apparently went at it for quite some time. I didn’t remember a damn thing. We could get it easily. Initially we had a “buyer” named Barry, 40 year old who lived in the dorms and would buy for us. Later a friend found an of age ID that looked like him – “Peter Zimmerman” was our savior. I was an introvert, alcohol made me come out and people liked me, I liked that feeling. Binge drinking continued through college, but everyone did that, right?
My father got sick and passed away in my second year of college. I am not sure I ever dealt with it, certainly not proactively. I was (am) an angry person. Not all of it was due or associated with drinking, but I’m sure it didn’t help.
There were not many times I really got into legal trouble, I cant remember if I was still in college or back visiting – but it was definitely early 20’s. The “story” goes like this. I was drunk and innocently leaving my friends apartment complex with a couple of other friends when the cops accosted us for id’s. They had reports of some people scaring some girls. For what? I belligerently asked and gave them a bunch of shit. They ended up taking me in and I spent the night in jail. I was beaten up in the jail (for looking away when they told me not to) and chained to a bench in the cell. They also beat on some guy when we were being released – for nothing. I’ve told this “story” many times and it was always about how I was falsely accused and mistreated and that cops are a-holes, that became the focal point of the “story”. What I have never told anyone was that I WAS the one who drunkenly opened the girls mail slot and shouted “Hey girls, come talk to us.” My brain had rewritten history. Honesty – another stumbling block of the alcoholic.
The early years of my working career were pretty much in control as far as I remember. I drank socially and dont remember any frequent drinking alone at home. Later, in my 30’s the beers at home after work started, times 4 on the weekends. With some time off for health kicks, proving I could do it, etc. this pretty much continued for the better part of 15 years – mostly every day. Sometimes more beer, sometimes less – but always alcohol, my best friend.
More trouble. Years ago, coming home from a New Years party my wife and I got in a horrible argument. On the way home I repeatedly hit her across the body, backhand, as she sat in the passenger seat, she hit me too. Correct, I should not have been driving. When we got home I called 911 because I was afraid of what either of us might do. This was in front of the kids as well – horrible, horrible stuff. The police came hours later, after I was already passed out on the couch. They ended up taking my wife in because I had a visible mark on my lip, and her big arm bruise didn’t show up until days later. She spent the night in lockup. Of course we got out of it without any serious legal repercussions, I always do, but it left an irreparable mark on our marriage, and both my, and my wife’s life. Things have gone downhill since. If I could ever un-happen anything, this would be the one.
The years rolled on. Beers after work. Weekend drinking with neighbors. Gotta snatch that extra one. And all of the other things I described in “The Chameleon” post. Sometimes the foggy window would clear and I could look in at myself and I had awareness, I sensed the progression, I saw the guy everyone liked – being the angry drunk debating with a buddy over some ridiculous opinion or piece of trivia and actually getting upset about it, I realized I couldn’t go on like this forever. But almost immediately the window would re-fog and it was back to business as usual. Everything is fine. The last couple months of my addiction I had taken the next step, beer was more frequently replaced or supplemented with something harder, usually straight out of the bottle. Fortunately, the “scales tipped” for me before this went further.
Nothing here really matters, it is water under the bridge. I just wanted to write it down, get it out, and accept it. Like any addict, my problems are not all caused by drinking. But still the truth is clear, and what really matters is that I simply cannot drink anymore. Hopefully the rest will come in time.