It’s certainly a question every alcoholic has asked at one time or another: Why me? Why can’t I be like everybody else? How did I get saddled with this disease? Don’t you understand I am INVINCIBLE!? I can’t be an alcoholic! MY LIFE IS OVER!!! Sorry to burst your bubble, but no, you’re not invincible and your life is not over. Get over yourself; you’re not the only person in the world who is subjected to a disease they didn’t want. (We tend to be a bit on the dramatic & whiny side from time to time, but don’t ever tell us this because we will hate you FOREVER… or until we get sober & realize you were right.)
Seriously, though, what makes an alcoholic? What causes it? That’s a good question. And I’m sure if you figure out the answer, you’ll probably win a Nobel Prize or something. Certainly there are large contributions from nature and nurture. Children of alcoholics (even sober alcoholics) have an increased chance of becoming alcoholic; leading us to believe that there is a genetic factor involved. Likewise, those raised in alcoholic environments are more likely to mimic the alcoholism they see (even if they completely despise such behavior and swear it will never happen to them). However, there are those who are affected by neither of these factors, like me (though I do have some of the –ism on my dad’s side). One guy I know talks about having 5 siblings & being the only alcoholic one of the bunch. Like Lady Gaga says, we were just born this way.
No matter their background, just about every alcoholic you talk to can point to a specific time in their lives when they picked up their tequila and noticed the worm had turned – when their drinking was no longer normal and had turned to compulsion. Many alcoholics began drinking alcoholically with the first sip, but many were able to drink for years before something changed. Once we begin looking through the wreckage of the past, though, we can see how we engaged in alcoholic thinking and behavior long before we ever picked up that first drink. One memory I have goes all the way back to preschool – me being a show-off & getting in trouble for it. To this day I still get embarrassed when I think of it. It’s one of those moments that speaks to me and tells me to sit down & shut up, that no one wants to hear what you have to say. A tiny reprimand, but my alcoholic brain turned it into lifelong condemnation.
My name is Laurie and I am an alcoholic. I don’t know why I am & it really doesn’t matter. Once a cucumber is pickled, it can never go back to being a cucumber. I just have to go from here & learn to live my life as a pickle.