Sunday, September 04, 2011

Secret Origins

In order to be an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, there must, by necessity, be an alcoholic somewhere.  (Actually, in truth, you don't have to have an alcoholic in the immediate vicinity, but that's a subject for another day.)  In my case, that was my dad.

As far as my dad goes, if you were going to have an alcoholic for a father, he would be the kind you would want.  He never missed work because of his drinking.  He never harmed us or verbally abused us because of his drinking.  He was, all in all, a pretty reliable drunk.

But make no mistake, he was a drunk and it did even then have an effect, because it would bring out "that guy".  When my dad would get drunk, he would get sullen.  He seemed always a little bitter about something.  And he never understood why we did not feel he was as fun as he felt he was.

However, the larger effect on my family of origin (FOO; as we go through this, I will introduce some of the acronyms and jargon used in the program) came not from his drinking directly but by how my mother would react to it.

My mother told us the story of how they got involved.  My mother did not like my father's drinking when they were courting and told him that he would only marry her if he could stop drinking for a year.  Her thinking was that would be impossible for him and her problem would be solved.

The problem with this plan is that she grossly underestimated my father's willpower.  This is a man who in my youth, after smoking for years, just dropped his pack into the trash and never looked back.  My father did abstain for an entire year and since my mother was a woman of her word, they married, which was fortunate for me, since it caused me to exist, but may ultimately not have been the best for them.

My dad resumed drinking almost immediately thereafter.  And I believe my mother's kvetching about it started right after that.  My father's drinking was the thing that could most quickly turn my mother into a termagant.  My mother was so harsh about his drinking that it might drive anyone to drinking.  This little vicious circle is one of the gifts of alcoholism and why we need 12-step programs in the first place.  It's like a computer virus in the human condition.

So this is the crucible in which my condition was formed.  I never thought it had anything to do with anything, but as I am finding, it has a lot to do with everything.  But that too is a subject for another day.

No comments: