From an email I wrote, today:
Finally I would like to add a personal story of mine. I was raised in a family of drinkers and drug users. They were “functional”, they worked, they didn’t get into trouble with the law, and they were very stylish (or at least, I thought so!). Nevertheless as a child I felt an intense fear they weren’t “with it”, they weren’t there. After they began drinking they were floating off on a cloud and they weren’t there to care for me. I was aware of this, I had this perception (real or imagined!) at a young age. By the time I was twelve this fear had grown into a spirit of resentment. By this time, I perceived them as indolent, sloppy, lazy, Lotus-eaters and my heart smarted at abuses and neglect I’d suffered.
I became an alcoholic. The thought I might be an alcholic started to occur to me as a young mother, not that long ago really, and I was baffled. I didn’t drug, and I drank less than my family of origin, and my pride smarted at the thought I was anything like them. After all I had a “perfect” family life, we were nothing like those people! And yet I could tell this thing was hooking me. I didn’t want to be an alcoholic. In fact I wished desperately for almost any other kind of problem, because being an alcoholic was intolerable to me!
But one day I admitted to my innermost self and to a handful of people in a room I was an alcoholic. This was my first sober day. I remember it was like the Biblical quote, “something like scales fell away from [my] eyes”, as I perceived in that moment that no matter what my family did, no matter if their dysfunction, however severe or mild, had “caused” my problems, I was the one with the problem. I was living out, or continuing, the Problem within my family, and they could no longer solve it for me. It was down to me. I remember having a vision of being a small child and receiving an inoculation that gave me this thing, this addiction. It didn’t matter where I got it or how, it was as my doctor would later say: “What are you going to do about it?”
I have been sober some time today; I am a medical anomaly if not miracle. Despite this, every day I know less about why I’m an alcoholic or how I “got” it. I used to have fixed ideas on the subject; now I don’t. I am just incredibly grateful I perceived my problem and I took responsibility for it. I’m incredibly grateful this problem changed from something that was “done to” me (as a child) and became something I could do something about.