When I look back on my life, on all the things I’ve done, and how I got to the decision to drink less/go sober or whatever Sobertown will look like to me, I have to honor my past. I firmly believe that I cannot move forward and make a change without acknowledging what I witnessed and experienced as a kid. It is part of me. It’s in my DNA.
One of the dearest people in my life, my Pa Pa (pronounced Paw Paw), was an angry drunk. He got in some trouble over the years. The man was mean as a snake and violent toward my grandmother, Me Me, who just happened to be my BFF growing up. (God bless both of them and may they continue to smile down upon me.) They had fist fights that would rival college bar brawls. They would yell and scream and fight like hell. Luckily, I only witnessed a few of these fights when I was little. I can’t recall when, but Pa Pa stopped drinking cold turkey one day. Never touched another drop. I never saw the mean side of him again and I have to say that he was indeed the best damn grandfather I could have asked for. I know my grandparents “had words” over the years (which is Southern-speak for arguing), but the physical stuff ended when he stopped drinking. Thank goodness.
Pa Pa was a World War II vet and was part of the invasion of Normandy. That man saw stuff that day that I can’t even conceive in my brain. Not that this gives any man the right to be an angry drunk, but I sure have some compassion for him and will put money down on the fact that he was drinking to be numb. In the end, I am glad he gave it up. He showed up in a big way for me as kid, teen and early adult. I loved and adored that man.
It is safe to say my dad liked to drink too. He drank almost every night that I can remember growing up. He would drink some tall boys on his way home from work and then hit the couch with a few more beers while watching TV. He was never angry with us or anything. I mean, my brother and I were annoying teenagers and he would holler if we were too loud, but that was about all. He will admit to this day that he drank to numb the anxiety of a social situation. (Sometimes this was binge drinking). He is an introvert (which I just realized a few years ago). He quit drinking for good in January of 2016 on the orders of his doctor. In the last few years leading up to his order to stop, dad could polish off a bottle of Crown Royal in a weekend or some Canadian Mist in a night. (None of this is said from a place of judgement. Lord knows, I have don’t my fair share of serious consumption is a short period of time.)
It’s been hard for dad over the last few years, but I am so proud of him. I am a lot like my dad and I’m glad I will be able to chat with him about this and we can reminisce about the good ol’ days when we could slam beers while eating crabs or drink a great wine with steak…and just be goofy as hell.
So, my love of drinking comes easily. My mom always warned me that alcoholism ran in the family and I should be careful. I know I have the capacity to be an alcoholic. I hesitate to label myself, yet. For now, I will choose to live in the gray versus the black and white. I know for sure that I am a binge drinker. “Stephanie” and “drinking in moderation” are not usually said in the same sentence.
All of this information is good to have in my pocket. I can sit with it, process it and make better lifestyle choices. I share my past with you as a means of honoring it. It is a part of me and did play a role in where I am today. But by no means do I place blame on anyone. We all do our best with the cards we’re dealt. All we can do is love and practice compassion toward ourselves and others.
How has your past affected your choices? Can you honor the past and let it go?