However, many of my childhood memories also include alcohol. My parents were cocktail parents and I was their bartender. I would mix and make cocktails for them on a nightly basis. I would also drink a little bit of those cocktails on a nightly basis. I was probably one of a few eight year olds that knew exactly how to make frozen margaritas and how to use the wine chiller at the liquor store. I could also probably name most of the different kinds of wine coolers by taste at the same young age. At four years old, in Pre-Kindergarten, my teacher called home to let my parents know that during a classroom activity, I said that something smelled like bourbon. At Christmas, I was making champagne cocktails and sipping Bailey’s and coffee before I was in Jr. High. I loved the burn that I felt in the back of my throat as a child, under 10 years old, when I would mix a vodka and Fresca. Mixing those drinks was always such a festive affair. We had a battery operated hand mixer for the rocks glasses, and plastic ice cubes in assorted shapes and colors. We always had all the garnishes to go along with any drink.
Alcohol was always something I associated with a fun time and being socially normal. When I began drinking on my own, I was just that, by myself. When my parents would go out for dinner or nights on the town, leaving me on my own, I would always order pizza and mix myself some cocktails. From the very beginning, my drinking was an isolating affair. When I got a bit older, about 14, I began drinking with friends. I felt old and cool. I was always so excited to drink. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through me and my hands would shake before I would have my first beer. I knew from experience growing up that drinking alcohol either by myself or with other people my own age or older would give me a positive effect inside. Drinking would make me feel like “the man.” Drinking made me feel like I had arrived.
What I never saw when I was younger was the negative side of drinking. The association of drinking being bad was hidden for me, or more than likely, I did not see it since I did not know what I was looking for. I wish I had known about the other side of alcohol abuse. I wish I had known about the alcoholism that ran amuck on both sides of my parent’s families. I wish I had known that my father was an alcoholic. I wish I had known that my aunt was an alcoholic, as well. I doubt knowing about the negative side would have changed my mind in any way about alcohol and drinking.
There are many different thoughts about whether being an alcoholic is a condition you are born with, or learned behavior. I was born an alcoholic. The first time I experienced a drink, I knew drinking was for me. The feeling that ran through my body was more powerful, relaxing, and gratifying than anything else I have ever felt in my entire life. But it is true what they say about being an alcoholic: It is a progressive disease. I could only sustain those perceived positive effects before I would come crashing down. Alcohol worked for me for a long time, but in the end the good times disappeared, and my life became the less talked about side of alcohol: addiction, hatred, anger and loss.
Want to read Melissa's side of the story? http://www.lifeimpaired.com/2/post/2014/02/alcohol-my-old-friend.html