Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An apology of sorts

I'm the child of an alcoholic. Actually two, but my mom was less obvious in her way until she got into pain pills. Then she was terribly obvious. But I was raised by a kind, gentle, friendly man who was a great success in life and generally happy until he drank too much. Then he got belligerent and argumentative.

My aunt is a lovely woman, I always refer to her as one of my favorite people in the world. That was always true and still is today despite what happens between us. I have never spent a lot of time judging people for their ways of coping with the pain life brings. Some choose God, some choose working themselves to death, some choose therapy and some choose addiction. My aunt became pregnant at an early age, married an abusive man, and in her early twenties had to decide between abuse and single motherhood of 4 children with a high school education. She then proceeded to help my grandfather through his old age until his death, my father through the loss of his son, then lose her own son to a stupid medical mistake and finally lose her best friend, my father, too early as well. I have the benefit of not being an addictive personality so I can't sit on my high horse and judge her decision to drink more each time a blow came. When she's sober she's wonderful. I love that woman. I wish I could be with her more often and I relish phone conversations and cards from her.

But I can't stand drunk people. I can't even stand my happy drunk husband when he's just celebrating in a seemingly appropriate manner. I get mad, uncomfortable, and close up. And put me with an angry drunk person who is someone I admire and look up to? I get mad.

And so I did, and I aired my anger here. And who knows if she ever read it or ever will. I hope in some ways she gets some of the message but not like that. I don't ever want to hurt her. She has never intended to hurt me and it's I who went in with unrealistic expectations of her and the situation. I knew her well enough to know what the risks were. I had no right to expect her to be a different person than she was. The problem was I hadn't ever been honest with myself about who she really was. And the childhood fantasy was finally over, nobody's fault, but over. And that's crushing. Add in my helpless feelings about my sick child and not being able to save my aunt from killing herself with the choices she's making and I felt doubly overwhelmed.

As for my cousin with the jerk husband? Who am I to judge a marriage? Many people might look at my marriage and not understand it. Everyone struggles in their relationships. Who am I to say what is and isn't worth it when someone will love you and raise a child with you? I am told he was in worse form than usual and who knows if he felt he needed to show off to me but whatever the case, I don't have the right to sit in judgement on that one either. I don't have to like him, but I have to suck it up if I want to spend time with her and I do.

Who knows, maybe I've burned these bridges. I hope not. Family is very important to me but I can't help my scars showing and my wounds bleeding in public sometimes. I happen to have a sharp weapon here in this blog and I have wielded it rarely and always with bad consequences. I like being honest but I have to be sure I'm ready for the results it may cause. And if I've hurt someone I love that's not ok. And if I spend hours feeling guilty then I know I've gone too far. At least I figure it out eventually.

And now it's off my chest.


  1. Everyone picks their own beds. We live in a world where it's possible to get out, if we like.

  2. hours feeling guilty... that sounds familiar. im glad you feel better now though.

  3. I sometimes think that unhappy families are the area where we all most need to write but simultaneously the area where it's hardest to do so. I identified with an awful lot of this; I am not on good terms with quite a few of my family and I wish they didn't have access to my blog. When I write anything which even remotely involves them, they think I am trying to tell them something and contact me - usually with a set of corrections.

    I also know something about the impact that alcohol has on families, and you write beautifully and sensitively about that. There aren't any answers, just a long ugly list of questions we wish we didn't have to ask.