email from Eleutheria (day 8): ” … At one point this weekend, I sat and looked at my dad in his hospital bed and said, “You know, if you ever want to walk again, it’s on you. You have to decide you are willing to go to physical therapy …” I continue, “And, when you get home, you are going to want to drink. You can’t. You can’t drink. You can’t have just one. I can’t have just one. Aunt E, your sister, can’t have just one. Your brother T can’t have just one …”
He replied, “I know. It’s genetic … I can’t help it.”
To which I responded, “Yes, it’s genetic [maybe it’s genetic], but so is my nearsightedness. And, you know what I do every day? I wear glasses. I put them on every day to prevent developing headaches. You wanna also know what is genetic? Depression. I take one little pill each day, and it keeps me from experiencing emotional hell. That’s it. There are answers to these problems. And you know what else, there are things you can do about alcohol, too. I write an email – or actually a bunch of emails to a sober coach who doesn’t even live in the United States. I am actually WANTING to go to AA when I get back home … Do I want to go through the 12 steps? Nope! But I DO want to be around other people who “get this” and are in the same boat. It feels good not to be alone.”
My dad replied, “I don’t even want to drink right now.”
“Yeah, you don’t want to right now because you are in the hospital. But when are home and you get bored, lonely, stressed — any emotion, especially any negative emotion — you will want to fall back on what you know you can do. You are going to want to drink. It happens to ALL of us. But you can’t. If you don’t want to end up back here, you can’t.”
Deep down I know in my heart of hearts that my dad doesn’t want to change. At the same time, I am not trying to be a hypocrite. I have had so many Day 1s, I feel like I have broken a record for Day 1s. At the same time, it felt good to tell my family, “I can’t drink because I can’t drink like a normal person.” I told my mom and my sister. I don’t think my mom will EVER get alcoholism. She tells me, “But you aren’t like him. You have sense. You have control.” Ummmmm, no I don’t. I just haven’t told her all the horror stories that have accompanied my overdrinking. She has no clue about how much I have disrespected my body, my self esteem, my waistline, and bank account. She also hasn’t been in my head to replay all the embarrassing shit I have said — the conversations I have forgotten, the nights I don’t remember. I don’t need her to get it, though. I just need her to respect it.
I look at my dad’s life and how alcohol ruined it. He was this super good-looking medical professional with a smokin’ hot wife and two daughters who grew up to be pretty great people… he went scuba diving and snorkeling; he had a cool life … [over time] he ballooned into a morbidly obese man. He spends more time comatose drunk than he does sober … his world is this tiny, sad, dark place. I know that if I drink alcohol, my world will get smaller, more predictable, sadder, and darker, too.
I’m going to bed wayyyy early tonight – and am happy about that. I think I just completed Day 8 (?). Yep – Day 8 complete.”
[update: she’s on day 404 today]