Monday, July 17, 2017

The story I've already told my children about risking alcohol

I am not a teetotaler. I enjoy an occasional glass of wine or a beer, but I know my absolute limit is two drinks (and that is two little drinks....not two full glasses of anything like what I might be served at a restaurant).
It takes many months for me and D to go through our alcohol stash. We often just split a beer when we do drink. 
For us, it is a very short drive between relaxed and ready to fall asleep.

At the ripe old age of 21, I stopped drinking more than two drinks and also stopped drinking hard liquor when I got tossed out of a stadium for public intoxication and had a 5-day hangover. How I didn't die of alcohol poisoning remains a mystery to me. 

I have yet to tell my children that story but I will as a warning to them. 

The story I do tell them is the one from when I was 16. 
I got remarkably dumb between 16 and 21, which will be more clear momentarily.

When I was 16, a friend and some of her friends were going to pick me up to go dancing at a local club for teens.  

They arrived, and I got into the car.
I noticed the empty alcohol bottles on the floor.  
I don't recall now whether they were cans or bottles, but I seem to remember glass.
It doesn't matter. What mattered is that I knew the driver, who was my friend's friend, had been drinking.
From the moment I sat down and noticed the booze, I was terrified. 
And angry.

I was scared that we would have an accident, and more importantly, I was fucking pissed off that my "friend" would put my life in potential jeopardy. 

Initially, I was more scared than angry but as we drove away from my house, my fear lessened as my anger increased. 

These were the days long before cell phones.
I kept thinking to myself, "How can I get out of this?"
And that is when I saw a convenience store near my dad's work, which was on the way to the teen club.
I asked them to stop at the convenience store so I could run in and get something.
I ran in, got on the phone, and called my mom.
I told her the driver had been drinking, and I was scared.
I asked her to come pick me up and take me to the teen club (I was meeting my boyfriend at the time). 

Honestly, I don't remember much after that point.
My mom came to me and drove me to the club. 
I seem to recall my friend talking to me both at the convenience store and at the teen club. I'm sure she apologized, but I don't think I accepted.
It took me a long, long time to forgive her for that. 
That event basically destroyed what had been a close friendship. It was never the same between us again.
I could forgive her for putting me in that situation, but I could no longer trust her.
We could be friendly but we could never be friends again. 

Now clearly, this event didn't sour me from alcohol overuse because of the stadium event at age 21. What soured me from alcohol overuse was the 5-day hangover. 
Who wants to feel like shit after drinking?

Plus, I knew of my dad's 2-drink limit. His own father was an alcoholic who drank away the family's income and beat the shit out of my grandmother.
My dad's youngest brother died of liver disease in his 40s due to alcohol abuse. 
Dad learned all too well that he had to be very strict about his own alcohol use to ensure he didn't go down that path. 

A couple years ago, I interviewed two addiction specialists for an article I was writing because many people....myself included at times....make light of drinking alcohol.  You see things about "Mommy's sippy cup" and other funny memes about drinking, and it makes alcohol use seem not as dangerous as it can be. 

I try to reserve judgment about alcohol use, and drug use for that matter. Addiction is a tricky thing.  People don't try to become addicted to anything. There are an awful lot of people who have untreated mental health issues (anxiety, ADD, depression, bipolar, etc) who self-medicate as a way to cool down those parts of their brains they just can't quiet without alcohol or drugs. There is usually an awful lot of pain and general dissatisfaction in life behind the booze or the drugs. 

And, honestly, what people do in their own homes with their own money is none of my business. 

But should it potentially threaten me or my kids.....then it becomes my business.
It was hard to remove myself from the aforementioned sticky situation when I was 16, but at nearly 44 and with three children I need to protect, I have no qualms about making my feelings known now. 

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