My relationship with alcohol has never been healthy.
By the age of five years old I would look at any bottle containing any kind of fermented drink and I despised its existence.
Alcohol was the enemy.
It had taken my easy-going, happy, father captive and morphed him into a man I did not recognize.
My mother married and divorced my father twice in hopes of him being able to stop drinking and keep our family together. He would quit for a while, but the demon on his back prevailed.
By eight years old when I would watch my father drink I knew he consumed that liquid to make him feel brave and alive. Don’t ask me how I knew at such a young age that vodka was his numbing medication, but I did.
As I grew, so did my hatred towards the toxic potion. I would stare at the bottle wondering how and why my father let whatever was in that bottle steal him from his family.
I can still see myself sitting on my front porch steps in my favorite sundress hoping he’d show up on the weekends to pick me up.
Every car which passed by I would strain my neck praying it was him. Nine times out of ten, it wasn’t. And I knew where was, at the bar getting drunk.
I remember walking back in the house with tears streaming off my face and always looking up to the familiar look on my mother’s face. A mixture of deep pain and anger.
As I grew into a young adult and saw my father marry multiple times, in and out of jail, and hurt every person in his life, I made a conscious decision:
Alcohol would never steal the peace and joy from my adult life as it had my childhood.
When I turned twenty-one I did drink on and off for a couple of years. I caved to peer pressure and wanting to fit in and be a part of the fun my peers seemed to be having.
I actually got to witness physically why my father had loved this liquid so much. It made you forget your problems, soothed your pain, and made you feel on top of the world.
Every time I was with my friends at the bar I noticed it did give us liquid courage as they call it.
The quiet people became talkative. The people who would normally never go near a dance floor would be on the floor all night. Or the person who wasn’t good at expressing their emotions would cry and tell everyone how much they loved them.
It made me bolder and took my inhibitions away. People said I was funnier when I was drinking. I remember thinking to myself, “Why does it take a substance to help us be brave?”
I realized then why my dad always said alcohol made him ten foot tall and bullet proof.
My father got clean when I was eighteen years old. After losing everything he made the decision to get help. When he walked through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous a miracle took place in his life.
For twenty-four years I watched my father through his sobriety learn a new way of life. I watched him learn how to deal with his pain instead of numb it, how to have fun without being plastered, and become the man God had created him to be.
What an unforgettable experience this was, talk about redemption.
When I look at alcohol now of course I don’t despise its existence anymore.
I realize there are people who did not come from backgrounds like mine and their family drinks socially and it never has been an issue.
In many Christian circles the topic is brought up if it’s a sin for Christians to drink in moderation. The bible does not say drinking in itself is a sin. It talks about refraining from being drunk or being a drunkard.
I have found the answers to be different depending on who you are talking to. A Baptist will say its forbidden, a Catholic will tell you Jesus drank wine, and Italians and Europeans who grew up with it in their culture say, “What is the big deal?”
My best friend and mentor Landi is ninety-four. She is Italian and Catholic. Her and her husband were married for sixty + years. Their was always homemade wine in their home. They never drank to get drunk. It was a part of their upbringing and culture.
When we first met she offered me a glass of wine and I declined. She asked, “Why is it because you are Baptist?” (I was Baptist at the time. I still chuckle when I think of that).
Because alcoholism and addiction are rampant in our society I do believe we should consider our relationship with alcohol and the role it plays or has played in our lives. Especially, if the disease runs in our family.
Of course because of my history and the scars I bear I realize I’m hypersensitive to this issue. But, I also believe I’ve peered behind the curtain of the glittery commercials and billboards and I am fully aware of the false illusions and empty promises they portray.
I believe someone’s decision to drink is a decision between them and God. He will tell them what He thinks of it, I am no one’s judge.
But I do believe we should heed the bible’s warnings and the caution it gives us on alcohol consumption.
“Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:31)
“It is better to not eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.” Romans 14:21
I also caution families to pray when making the decision if alcohol will be used frequently in their homes.
I believe we should talk to our kids and ask them how they feel about it. (Also, the enemy is very good at deceiving our kids into thinking alcohol is not only cool, but a relaxer and a problem solver.)
I pray those reading this post hear my heart and know I wrote this not to condemn, but to share my story and bring awareness of the effects this disease can have on family members and loved ones. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction there is hope my friend.
You are not alone and please don’t let fear or pride prevent you from getting the help you need. We all need help for our issues, our issues just have different names.
Getting well is the bravest gift we can give to ourselves and our families.
My father went to be with the Lord two and half years ago. And because He turned his life over to the care of God and joined a program which taught him how to live, he lived twenty-four years happy, joyous, and free.
Those are the gifts God offers to all of us.
May we each walk in that freedom.
(image source: canstockphoto.com)