Thursday, May 26, 2005

The state of my family's livers

Aunt Susan has taken over for Trisha while Trisha is away. Her post inspired me, so I thought I would share a little about my adventures in an alcoholic family too.

The most vivid alcohol memories I have center around family reunions and weddings (Budweiser made a killing every summer in my town). My first encounter with the liquid evil was at such a gathering, a family reunion for my mother's side of the family.

I was around 6-years old, and the day was hot and humid, causing you to stick to everything you touched. Even though my great-aunt Mary had a habit of getting confused (she's now been diagnosed with alzheimer's), she was put in charge of the watermelons for the family reunion. It was a seemingly easy assignment: hollow them both out and fill one with vodka and one with juice (for the kids). Since the adults were already lit, however, no one realized that Aunt Mary switched the melons. No one noticed the children behaving oddly. As I said, it was hot, and children tend to chug. When we all started throwing up as if the Ebola virus had swept through town, my mother (who, thankfully did not get lit often) put the puzzle pieces together and removed the offending melon.

I'd like to say it never happened again, but there was the time my cousin forgot to label the punch bowels at the pig roast (yes, people have pig roasts). Then there was the wedding where the guests didn't think to keep the kids out of the orange juice fountain containing peach schnapps....I think I was drunk more as a child than I was as a college student.

At last year's reunion, my cousin wanted to pass around a container to collect money for bailing her son out of jail (he was in for either drug possession or failure to pay child support; I can't keep track). The only boxes we could find were Coors boxes--how classy.

Somehow, my parents managed to break free of the cycle for the most part. Luckily, my brothers and I have also managed not to go down that road. I still get worried sometime when school gets tough and I find myself cooking with wine for more than 3-consecutive days. It's just so hard not to pour a glass or two (or three on really bad days) when the bottle is just sitting there on the counter, staring at me.

I guess you could say that watching your family kill themselves can save your life. At least it gives me something to talk about.


At 9:01 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

Great both moved me and made me laugh.

I'm curious, has anyone in your family ever asked why you are so interested in all the fancy book learnin'? My husband use to get that from his (and it sounds like you two might be related).

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

The cooking with wine always gets me, too.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

Well, since my mom is a teacher, I've been encouraged to read and learn from a very young age. My family has never really questioned why I am the way I am because I've always just been this way. My mom always used to say that I learned to punch (I'm kind of feisty) and open books way before I learned how to walk. I've always been an "odd" child (I think that's what was in my school records...the word odd).

I sometimes think learning is a control thing for me. So much of my life has been dictated by uncontrolable events that I find comfort in information. I may not be able to cure the problems, but at least I understand them.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

ps. thanks jessica

PK: if you ever want some good wine recipes, let me know;)

At 4:01 PM, Blogger Piece of Work said...

It's so great that your mother and father avoided the alcohol trap, and then passed that trait on down to you. I often wonder about the "trait", why some family members succomb, and some don't. My paternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother were/are alcoholics. So far none of the 10 children/22 grandchildren have succombed, though *everyone* enjoys their alcohol. Perhaps too much.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

If alcoholism were a mixed drink, it would be one part genes, two parts innate personality (one could argue that personality is not totally void of genetic contribution), three parts life events and/or luck, and four parts support network, friends, and/or peers. That's a lot of parts.

Thankfully, God gave my parents, my brothers, and myself very messed up GI systems. Irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, herniation of the esophagus,'s like we were built to avoid large amount of alcohol. I know, too much info, but I'm not known for being discrete;)

At 12:20 PM, Blogger muse said...

The more I read blogs, the more I see people's whose lives have been affected by alcohol/addiction and such (me being a prime example).

It's so odd, growing up alcohol was just not part of my family's life. My dad bought a six pack of beer for Xmas, he and my grandfather each took one and sipped it the whole night, and basically there were 4 beers left for the next Christmas! Other than that my mom and grandma had one glass of red wine during special visits, and that was it. Even now I just don't get the reflex of having wine with a meal or a beer to relax/cool off during a hot summer day... I just don't think about it or want it.

The only thing that I like is mixing/trying cocktails (I like experimenting, and love tiki kitsch stuff), but then I only drink one (or two if I'm being really wild... which happens, oh, twice a year?).

Yet my uncle (whom I've never met) is reported to be dying of throat cancer (combo smoker/alcoholic), my 29 yo sister became an alcoholic 2-3 years ago, and my husband is a compulsive gambler/coke addict. I am completely immersed in this world, I'm reading up on it like crazy to try to figure it out, going to AA meetings with hubby, seeing counselors, etc.

And the more I talk about this, the more people I know share their own experiences too (recently, an ex-coworker with whom I'm still friends talked about her boyfriend: "he needs his beer every night after work, but he's not an alcoholic..." ("is he?" was the implied question)

Anyway, I'm not going anywhere with this, just pondering...


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