Thursday, February 23, 2012

Paradigm Shift: Destiny

I hardly ever think about the fact that I am a mother. Not any more anyway. It is like I always have been a mother but I have not always been one which I am thankful for. I would have been one of those seemingly unfit type mothers portrayed on MTV has I decided to have children before the age I did.

In fact, in the months before Matthew’s conception, in the time before I became a mother, I changed dramatically from the party girl into someone else.  Possibly starting down the long road to me, now.

I rocked the party scene. I liked to drink. I like to stay out late and I did not much care about my free time nor did I like my job so I was perpetually hung over. I found in alcohol the ability to hide my severe anxiety and shyness that I felt when I was around “people”. I believed that alcohol would get me what I wanted, that I could manage it well and still be successful. Largely all of these beliefs were wrong.

Then the year I turned 30, I made an extravagant discovery. I was not an alcoholic.

There are two main things I would say my mother did poorly in my life. One had to do with coming out of the closet and the way she foisted that upon us. Just to clarify, I could give a rat’s behind that she came out of the closet, it was the WAY in which she did it and her inability to understand what we were feeling about that which sucked. That is another story for another time… or maybe I have already told that one? Oh well, it might be worth retelling some time.

The other is the nonstop nearly constant nagging of her children that we would fail miserably because we were children of an alcoholic. She became heavily involved in AA around the time COINCIDENTALLY that she came out of the closet. She now has some obscene amount of sobriety, 30 years? I believe it is something along those lines. While I used to feel immensely proud of her for being sober I think it sort of angers me that she could not see what she did to us with her nagging about becoming alcoholics and how that had fairly negative consequences in our lives. The irony is that her words, her prophecy, became the fabric of my life. I believed her, we believed her. I will let my brother and sister tell their stories but mine goes like this.

I started drinking heavily when I was 13. I learned to hide it. I hid it very well for the most part. I modeled my world after my Dad who is indeed an alcoholic. He did it so could I was my attitude. I surrounded myself often with people who drank heavily and there was always a steady flow of people. I proceeded to drink heavily until I was almost 30.

Now looking back on that statement makes me shudder. It seems so profound. I drank away a lot of time that I could have better spent doing almost anything else but I so firmly believed I was an alcoholic that I lived my life as such. I was a heavy drinker and I was fairly mean drunk. I was fun to a certain point and then I would become mean. My demons would come out at that point. Most of my drinking involved blacking out. Much of the time it put me in extremely dangerous situations that somehow I managed to either stuff down so deep inside of me at this point or simply I survived somehow without harming myself and those around me. I am not being overly dramatic here. I am just being honest.

If the one person who raises you tells you in nearly every conversation that you will grow up to be something… guess what, it will happen?!

Now the fact remains I made this choice out of freewill but in the back of my head I would hear her voice telling me that I was a child of an alcoholic therefore I would become one too, I better watch out. I also felt that being an alcoholic was not bad. My Dad was very successful in his heyday. He was a Nuclear Engineer and my hero. He was very intelligent, well read, and just a kind man.  He travelled the world. He made a ton of money. He had a nice house and a lovely family. He supported all of us through good and bad. I believed in her statements so deeply and I saw my father as such a success, I bet if you asked some of the people who knew me back then they would tell you I told them this fact: “I am an alcoholic” and I might have even seemed proud of that fact. Most of them would laugh and tell me to shut up, I was not. But the thing is I believed it.

Then I turned 30. I have this belief that your 20s these days are just a merry extension of your teens or that is the story I go by. I think there were a lot of moments before this one particular moment that lead me to this moment. Regardless of the situation, I had an epiphany after one particularly incredibly drunken night. No details needed. As I lay shuddering under a blanket on a green couch sick and pale in a tiny apartment in Fort Wayne Indiana I made the decision for real to stop this madness, to grow up and act my age and stop believing in the story I was told and make my own story. So I did.

To come full circle on this whole story, I do drink now. I know several truths. Most importantly, I am not an alcoholic. I drink fairly infrequently and when I do drink I feel no desire to have more than 1-2 drinks. I have no interest to go back to the person I was all those years ago. I wonder how I did that back then. I am so aware of alcohol and the effects it has had on my life that I have zero interest of passing along that legacy to my children. When I do drink more, I remember why I stopped doing that. I am in control but most importantly I control my own destiny, only I can tell myself who I am going to be in this life.  That is one powerful thing!
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