Let's Talk About The Elephant in The Room
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about this time last year. Will had just passed away. I was a total disaster. I was drinking morning, noon and night most days. And I didn't care about anything. I knew I had a problem. I knew my family knew I had a problem. I just wanted them to stop caring. I didn't want my Mom and Dad to worry about me. But the thought of not drinking seemed absolutely impossible to me. I honestly did not know how to stop. I couldn't imagine living without alcohol. I had tired. I had tired so many times before to stop drinking. I had become so comfortable in my misery, that I just wanted everyone to leave me alone and let me drink. I accepted my misery as a way of life. And the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it!
We were spending a lot of time together as a family after Will died, which was making it a little more difficult to "hide" my drinking. I remember sitting on the front porch of my parent's house one morning drinking coffee and my dad drove by on the golf cart. He pulled up and stopped for a minute and all he said was, "you're mother is worried sick about you." I rolled my eyes and replied, "I'm fine," and he drove off. This same conversation happened morning after morning. My mom recently reminded me of a conversation I had with her one night...that I don't really recall because I was drunk. She asked me if I thought I had a problem with drinking. I told her that I didn't drink everyday but when I did, I had no control over how much....that I wasn't able to stop once I started. She said that conversation scared her to death because those were the exact same words my brother Will had told her less than a year before.
My parents have told me that they were worried about my drinking for a while before Will died but were afraid to confront me because they knew it wouldn't go well and were afraid that I would just withdrawal from them even more than I already had. Both my brother and sister have expressed how distant I was when I was drinking. I didn't like being around my family. I hated seeing the disappointment in their eyes. But more so, I didn't want them to confront me about my drinking.
My family, including myself, tiptoed around Will for years about his drinking. So did his friends. Something would happen every so often that would bring his drinking to the center of attention and we would all demand change, but then after a few days or weeks, it would blow over and we go about our lives like nothing was wrong. He would show up to work or family dinners and we all knew he was clearly not okay, but yet, we just turned a blind eye and would hope that it would get better. We wanted to believe the justifications and excuses he would use. It never seemed to be that bad. My family, clearly, had no clue of just how bad it was for my brother. He had done a pretty good job at hiding a lot from us...as all alcoholics and addicts do.
I was completely aware that my family was tiptoeing around my problem. Here it was again, the elephant in the room and no one wanted to talk about it. I knew they were scared to confront me. My mom was right. It wouldn't have gone well. To this day I know that. She recently told me that she had made up her mind on June 10, 2012 that she was going to talk to me the next morning and insist that I get help. None other than the Grace of God...I beat her to it. I woke up early, around 6am, and went directly to my parents bedroom and woke them up and told them that I needed help and was going to find a treatment facility to check into.
So, let me lay it out for ya. We need to stop tiptoeing around the issue with our friends and family. I hear people say that you have to let addicts/alcoholics hit bottom on their own before they will get help. Well, that's bullshit. For many people, death comes before rock bottom. So, then what? You didn't confront someone because you didn't want to hurt their feelings or embarrass them? You thought they might be angry with you? Well, they may be. They may also choose to get help. If nothing else, they know they aren't fooling anyone anymore.
After Will died, I got sloppy with trying to hide my alcoholism. My parents would say things to me about drinking. My siblings would say things to me. Even my friends, who I wasn't spending much time with would say things to me. As soon as I started realizing that I wasn't hiding this secret life of mine anymore...it made it easier to ask for help. It made it easier for me to accept help.
Being an alcoholic isn't a choice. No alcoholic wants to be an alcoholic. I promise you that. Alcoholism is a disease and it should treated with a little compassion...as you would with any other disease. For a long time, I thought I was responsible for my alcoholism. Today, I know that I am not responsible for the disease. What I am responsible for is my recovery.