Children of alcoholics

Originally published January, 21 2009

I’ve been talking to someone new. We are clicking mentally, that’s for sure. But there’s a flag waving in the distance and I cannot tell if it’s red or white. We’ve discussed his alcohol consumption, which comes up from time to time in that he tends to talk about it more than usual sometimes. I told him I thought he drank too much and he quickly defended himself and said that he enjoyed a good scotch here and there, but otherwise, all his talk is just that- talk. And yet, I don’t believe him. At least not yet. He could be telling the truth, or he could be doing exactly what my ex did- saying virtually anything to keep me in his life.

Keep in mind that I am hugely sensitive to alcohol consumption as my father was an alcoholic who died basically drinking himself to death. I mean, there are people whose drinking does not bother me in the least- others, not so. But I’m  hard-wired to detect it. I can sense the slightest nuance or change in behavior when someone is drinking (or doing drugs for that matter). I can even tell when you are about to drink or smoke or that you had something within the last three days. This is both a blessing and a curse. It makes me at once super-humanly perceptive and horribly annoying-but annoying only if you’re the kind of person that’d like to drink in peace and not be told “I think you’ve had too much.” It’s definitely part of my father’s legacy-  and something in me which is probably here to stay.

My last two bfs started off this same way. They were both cured of the desire to smoke weed when I met them. They were done with it. And I believed them. But, things changed and as is so often the case, they both went back to it.

But the issue is this: when you are raised by at least one alcoholic and you go through all the ups and downs with that parent and watch him struggle through interventions and AA and rehab centers, you always BELIEVE, number one, that once he goes through the 12-step program he will be cured. And number two, that you will never have to deal with it again. Poof! Problem solved.

When you grow up, you carry that same belief with you. You are  time and time again, willing to accept an alcoholic or drug addict in your life because you’re convinced that they will change, recover, be cured.

Sadly, this is false. But no one ever teaches you this. Instead, programs like Al-anon and Al-ateen teach and  instill hope in the program, convincing you that it works. This isn’t to say that 100% recovery isn’t possible or that it doesn’t happen. But the disease and/or the recovery that ensues is no easy road. Ever.

I have to come to terms with this as a grown woman. And believe me, that in itself is not easy. Think how people must have felt when they learned the earth was round! It’s a shock to the system. I too am just learning  that I must look at things as they are, not as I wish them to be.  And most importantly, I must know when to stay away from the fire even if it’s just smoke.

Update 1/20/2013: I absolutely love looking back and re-reading some of these old blog entries when I had first met D. I was so mistrusting, and I am very proud of being that way. When you live your entire life in abusive relationships, it takes months, even years to start trusting people again, and only then, do those people have to be FULLY worthy of your trust. I remember Susan Peabody telling me once, “You can heal and you can trust again within a relationship, but only if your partner NEVER lies, or NEVER does anything to lose your trust.” I thought, Are you kidding me?  That is an impossible standard for any man. All men lie, I thought. I will most likely never heal. But I was wrong. I have been with D for 4 years now and he has NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER broken my trust or lied, and when he said he really doesn’t have a drinking problem, and that it was “all talk,” he was right. But it took many months, even years to believe him. Not only did he never lie, he allowed me to be suspicious. Not overly suspicious, of course. But he was patient with me, and  understood that for me to fall in love with him, he would have to prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he was worthy of me. Because he believed I was worth that kind of effort. Anyway, if I had known then what I know now I may have been far more trusting. And yet…I pride myself on being so cautious. No one knows a person’s character in the first few months of dating. It takes years to know someone. Be patient and keep mistrusting! And  look at things as they are, not as you wish them to be.

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