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  • Writer's pictureAli

Sobriety & Me: How Childhood Shaped My Views of Alcohol

Updated: Mar 1, 2021


My story of eventual sobriety begins in my childhood; I was subconsciously taught that drinking alcohol was normal behavior, and that every adult must drink alcohol on some level as a rite of passage. Growing up, my parents both enjoyed having friends over for parties at our house for the Super Bowl, cookouts or just random nights of entertainment. Of course, alcohol was involved to a point of intoxication. This behavior was normal to me. I didn't think to question what I saw or think that something was wrong with the situation. I didn't feel neglected by my parents during those fun times, since I enjoyed listening to music and being around people as much as they did. So why and how did my views of alcohol change over time?

Before I start deep-diving into my story and my views of alcohol use in my own life, I want to point out a few things:

  1. While sobriety is my means of healing, not all stories are the same.

  2. Not everyone in my social circle is alcohol free, and that's totally okay.

  3. Alcohol use does not equal addiction - more on this one later.

  4. Mom and Dad: I love you. No matter what.

 

I vaguely remember one party my parents had at the house I grew up in on Bakers Bridge Circle. My dad was cooking crawfish on the back porch and I thought they looked like nasty bugs. People were singing and laughing while drinking beer or some other alcoholic bevie. I loved the music and the loudness of it all. Music has been such an influential part of my life since I can remember, so this was a fun time for me. Some time during that gathering, a group of us went down to the basement to watch Titanic; I distinctly remember my mom telling me to close my eyes because Kate Winslet was naked - you know, the scene with Jack drawing the sketch with the Heart of the Ocean diamond? By the way Mom, I didn't close my eyes. Que the future lesbianism.


A few weeks after that party, I remember getting off of the bus from school and running inside like I always did, but I didn't see my mom at the kitchen table talking on the phone as usual. My first thought was that she was tired, but this was very unusual for her. She loved to talk on the phone, and I always knew that I could count on her to be in the exact same place everyday when I got home. When those circumstances changed, I sensed something was wrong. I walked back to her bedroom and saw her lying down with the covers around her. She looked extremely sick and I was a very concerned little girl. I crawled in the bed with her and stayed there until my older brother got home from school since my dad was either at work in downtown Atlanta or away on a business trip - my brain can't remember every detail from two decades ago, but you get the idea.

When my brother got home, all three of us piled in the car and hurried as quickly as we could to the hospital. My mom was in the driver's seat, my brother in the passenger, and I was in the back. As we drove toward downtown Dallas, my mom became extremely weak and could no longer drive without losing consciousness. My brother took over as best he could, and we somehow made it to main entrance of the hospital. Once we arrived inside, my mom was sent back for triage and lost consciousness at their desk. I wasn't privy to this at the time, but later I discovered that she was immediately taken to ICU where she would remain for weeks after this happened.

Some friends of my parents came to pick us up, and we stayed with them until my dad could make it there. Over the course of my mom's hospitalization, we stayed with friends and were looked after while my dad worked. The only exciting part about this circumstance was that I could spend the night with friends on a school night and play with toys I didn't have. I've always seen the silver lining of things, and this experience was no exception.

For three weeks, my mom remained in the hospital battling bacterial pneumonia and fighting for her life. She was placed on life support and required to undergo procedures to clear her lungs. The first procedure involved a set of tubes entering her side to clear the mucus from her lungs, and it failed. The second procedure involved a very large incision running from her side to her back to allow enough space for the physicians to manually clear the infection from her airways. The circumstances seemed dismal and we weren't sure if she was going to make it. Miraculously, she did.


For weeks after my mom's recovery, I watched her struggle to accomplish daily tasks like laundry, vacuuming our floors or cooking meals. It was a difficult transition for us as a family to not have our routines in order - or maybe it's just me, because I thrive on routine. Regardless of the minor details, life for all of us was hard on one level or another.

Once the circumstances settled and life started looking a little more normal, I discovered that my mom's illness and hospitalization were caused by aspiration while drinking at the party we had. She inhaled vomit and it caused a bacterial infection that led to 21 days in the hospital. As an adult, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the possibility of losing my mom at 10 years old was too great a price to pay for me to continue drinking myself. I never blamed my mom for what happened at the party and the chaos that ensued while she was fighting to stay alive, but looking back now, it definitely shapes my view of alcohol use and my sobriety. My views about alcohol continue to change and shape-shift over the course of my teen years and adolescence, which I will discuss in future blog posts in this series.


In the eyes of my 10 year-old self: life is too precious to waste it on alcohol or the possibility of what it could strip from you. My 10 year-old self is proud to have her mom alive and well, and is surely proud of me for my vow against drinking. My 10-year old me is learning, growing, changing and embracing a sober girl life.

She just doesn't know it yet.







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