As I have stated before, I am an alcoholic and have been attending meetings for almost 20 years now. It has been an interesting ride. My family accepts my sobriety as it is, since I am much more pleasant to be around as a sober alcoholic versus a rabid drunk.
It was not always the case though. I have had many reactions to my sobriety over the years. Before AA, I was asked many times by a step mother, “Are you sure you are not an alcoholic?” “You’ve got to be an alcoholic, both your biological mother and your father are.” I am paraphrasing to remove profanity here. Once I arrived at AA, and began working the program, I moved in with my parents for awhile. My step mother decided that I needed more drugs and went to my psychiatrist for samples. I ended up flushing them down the toilet. In a house with young teenage men, she accused me of drinking out of Dad’s bottle.
Once I moved out though, I got a different song and dance from her. According to her, I was not an alcoholic. I backed away from my family completely at that time, simply because I needed to focus on my sobriety. My relationship with that person has drastically changed over the years, and she is no longer married into the family. Thank God.
My brother was estranged from the family from 1984 to 2004. At one point I had moved in with him. I had about 6 years sober at the time. He told me that I did not need meetings and was using them as a crutch. When that household became too much for me, I wanted to leave. I was told that I was running away. Yes, actually I was, I had placed my sobriety ahead of living with my family.
These situations were difficult and I did the best I could with what I had. By putting my welfare first, I was going against a lifetime of training and alcoholism. My choices are not the popular ones.
Other family members are and were awesome when faced with my recovery. When my birth mother died, I had been estranged from her since I was four years old due to my step mothers influence. I did not know her well, and had only gotten to know her during the last week of her life. I met some of her siblings, and many of my cousins that week and at her funeral. Of my Dad’s 7 children, 3 of us are hers.
I was told to speak at her funeral, and I had no clue what to say. So, I introduced myself to my family there this way. I said, “My name is ——, and I am an alcoholic.” I gave a short talk about my Mom, some of my memories, and what my relationship with Mom was. I had been speaking publicly for years by that point, and that was the most comfortable way I knew to share anything with a church filled with a couple hundred people. The whole family said, “Hi ——” when I introduced myself. I felt love and support from most of my family at that moment.
One of my aunts, who I miss with all my heart, said to me privately, “You have a cousin in sobriety as well. I am proud of both of you. I know how hard it is for you to stay sober.”
Memories flood back, while I write this post. Another aunt had tears in her eyes when I gave her the only thing I treasured on the last time I saw her alive. I gave her my ten year medallion. She said, “I know how hard you worked to get this. I will make sure it gets back to you after I am gone.” We hugged, and held each other for as long as we could.
It is life that stymies us alcoholics. Yes, I go to meetings, and they can be a crutch. I have made many mistakes in life and recovery. Yet I do not have to internalize the worst things that family members do or say about me or my sobriety. I am fully aware that I would not have any family at all without my sobriety.
Some other time, I will discuss romantic relationships and sobriety, I just do not think that it is possible today.
Thank you for reading, feel free to leave a comment below.