Growing up, everyone in my family was an alcoholic or an alcoholic-to-be. That’s not an exaggeration. Everyone. Except me.
I’d like to say witnessing alcohol’s destruction was the reason I didn’t develop the habit. Or that through genetic bingo I hadn’t inherited the addiction gene. But neither are true.
I didn’t drink as a young adult because: A. control-freakish me never enjoyed the feeling of being drunk, B.) I didn’t much care for the taste of alcohol, and, C.) the sweet drinks I did like had more calories than a Snickers bar. (And, well, you can read a little about that little issue over here.)
Alcohol wasn’t my vice. Unlike chocolate, I could pretty much leave it. So I did.
By the time I was in my teens the alcoholism started claiming the lives around me, first figuratively, then literally. It demolished a lot of promise and potential. Sadly by the time my forties hit, the disease had on some level claimed everyone close to me: both grandparents, both parents, all my siblings, some nephews and nieces.
Fast forward. Today, through incredible determination and inner strength, all of the alcoholics in my life are the recovering type. I’m immensely proud of them.
More so when I imagine that their withstanding the draw of alcohol would be like me denying my need to create. That my addiction, creating art, is what has made my life work—even since early childhood. Art is the bottle with which I toast the good times, and the one into which I dive deeply during the dark times. If you told me at any point in my life that I had to get through another day, even just this one day, without making something or thinking about making something—I’d pretty quickly collapse into a heap. Thankfully I don’t have to fight it; art won’t kill me.
But it’s only in thinking about addiction that way, that I get maybe the smallest taste of the strength that recovering alcoholics, and all people fighting addiction, must summon every day.
Put that way, in terms I can actually understand, I bow to them all. They all deserve a medal and by the time I’m done, they’ll all have one.