Monday, May 14, 2007

There's a shadow just behind me, shrouding every step I take...

There are so many things I want to share today. My head is kind of clouded and full and it is hard for me to organize my thoughts. When I get like this, I feel very anxious and nervous. It is as though my body physically is acting out because my mind is not properly processing all of the thoughts and feelings that I am having. This is not a good thing.

Saturday morning the Prince and I went to NA. It was an anniversary meeting. A man had achieved 8 years of sobriety. There was singing, cake and people speaking on his behalf. I felt honored to be a part of this. Hearing first hand from real live people, drug addicts, the trials and tribulations of their rise and fall of their drug using to me is brilliant. One spoke of growing up in an alcoholic family and the alcohol soaked parties every weekend, where at the ripe young age of 5 or 6 years old he remembers waking up early the next day and he and his brother drinking the leftover drinks that littered the house.

This story made me cringe more than a little because when we were young and the Prince was a toddler, possibly a little older, I am embarrassed to say we did our share of partying. I, of course being the control freak that I am, never left a mess when I went to sleep so my kids weren't in a position to drink the leftovers, but what kind of example did i think I was setting exactly?

Drinking was a big part of my life growing up. My Dad owned a bar or two in Brooklyn when I was growing up. He was an active alcoholic and I can remember more times than I care to, being woken up to the sound of him vomiting violently. Parties and holidays were all about the drinking. Each holiday had it's own special cocktail. Thanksgiving they served lemonade daiquiris. My fathers own special concoction. The holiday meals were followed with card playing and they drank angel tips. Some kind of liqueur with cream poured over it. They were quite lovely to look at. All of the drinks they served each came with its own special glass. Presentation was a big part of my parents drinking. I remember loving the beautiful crystal tulip glasses and matching pitcher my dad served the daiquiris in. It seemed so eloquent. (It was a tradition I carried on when I married and began taking over the holidays. I searched for years to find the same tulip glasses he served them in).

My parents left the "city" and bought a home in the suburbs with the small inheritance they received when my dads parents passed away within just 4 months of each other when I was three years old. As an adult I came to learn that alcoholism contributed to both of their deaths. My mom was a stay at home mom back then and she didn't drive. The first thing my parents did to their new home was build a custom bar in the basement. Special ordered the bar stools and everything. I have memories of parties that lasted for days. It was exciting for us, because the adults would give us money. We didn't think there was anything wrong with people partying and singing Irish pub songs till 6 in the morning. It was "normal".

Vacations were all about drinking. Boating was all about drinking. My Aunts and Uncles all drank. I had an Uncle that used to carry fresh squeezed orange juice in his briefcase to mix with his Gin when he stopped over. Another Uncle never went anywhere without his little cooler filled with cheap beer. Drinking and driving were the norm. Wine was consumed by the gallon just for the sake of it, not for enhancing the taste of food or for the sake of a good wine. I mean, lets be serious, how much can a glass of Chablis that came out of a 3 gallon vacuum sealed box, add to your meal?

I was 14 the first time I drank to the point of intoxication. We were in a little park, more of a field really, and I just started hanging out with a new group of friends. We drank little beers, we called them "quickies". I do not remember how much I drank, but I remember feeling light and free and dizzy and I liked it. One of the guys in our "group" pinched my breasts. I was too drunk to stop him or care about it. I realize now, that my first drunken experience happened simultaneously with the first time I was sexually harassed.

Looking back now through an adults eyes, I can see these kids were misfits. Most of them came from broken homes, single parent families where the mom worked all the time and there was little or no supervision. Many of these kids were not as "privileged" as myself. They all came from dysfunctional families of some sort. And I guess that I did too. I just didn't know it. This was a mix of guys and girls and they accepted me and my friend with open arms. There was a boy in the crew that was a year or so younger than me. He was chronically truant. I now recognize his behavior as he was likely a school phobic. I had a big crush on him and he on me. He was the first boy who ever put his arm around me. I was too shy and too f-ed up in the head to know what to do. It didn't matter because he was soon sent away for his truancy, or at least that is what we heard. I saw him again a year or so later. A friend of mine was dating his friend and we were hanging out at her parents house while they were away for the weekend. We drank beer, she lost her virginity to the boy she was with and I gave my first hand job. I wasn't very good at it. I didn't know what to do, and I was too afraid to ask. My naivete was so profound that I thought that since he had an erection he must surely have liked me. We barely even kissed that night. I don't think I never saw him again after that, maybe he was sent away again, or he moved, I cant remember. I never knew what became of him. I have a sinking suspicion he is not a CEO of some big company somewhere.

Alcohol removed my inhibitions. I felt like I belonged, it gave me the courage to do things sexually that I wasn't ready for, and for the wrong reasons. Alcohol was present at my first sexual experiences and throughout my adolescence. It led me to make unsafe choices, shunning birth control, and not because I was so sexually charged that I couldn't wait, but because I wanted to be wanted. I loved the idea of someone wanting me that badly. This pattern led me to an unwanted pregnancy with a man I barely knew at the age of 20, and ultimately to my marriage and the birth of my Prince.

I do not know where I am going with all of this. Syd's blog had a post last week on Lesson's that really got me to thinking about the relationships in my past and present. Each one tainted in it's own dysfunctional way. My inability to have a healthy relationship with a man. My need for control of the men in my life. My inablility to see a man for who and what he really is. I become so consumed with the idea that they see me as special that my self worth becomes dependent uopn it. The speaker at the meeting Saturday got me to thinking of the role alcohol has played in my life, the life of my family and the life of my children. These two things are dangerously intertwined for me.


Tab said...

hmm..I think they might be a little less dangerously intertwined for you today after reading that honesty my friend.
I think a lot of us out here can relate to how our histories with family and growing up around alcohol etc made us who we are to a certain point.But it isn't all bad because we are living well and the best we can as growing humans for today right?
You really are growing Kel..this post reminds all of us to be humbled by our pasts , especially true for me when I hear it from another woman like you shared here.

As for your Prince.I hope he continues to find what works at keeping him keeping on..

I love this post and I so appreciate you sharing Kel.
Thank you ~

vicariousrising said...

Excellent post, Kel. I think you are showing your children a better example of how to be in sobriety and to run a sober program. Continue to do that and pray that they will follow suit. I think leading by example is one of the best teachers of all.

Thank you so much for sharing this post. Your bravery is touching and teaches me a lot too.


pat said...

Thinking of you, Kel.

working mom NYC said...

Wow, Kel--
What a lot of insight, and you are one great writer! I can see a book in your blog, seriously. Your story sounds like those of many of the people who attend my AA meetings. With your background, it surprises me that you aren't an alcoholic yourself, given that your parents' home was fertile ground for it. God - doesn't it seem sometimes like we are predetermined by our genetics to follow an addictive path? I watch my younger son eat and eat and eat, and the older one inhale and ingest any drug anyone put before him. And then, there's me, who put down alcohol and picked up donuts and shopping. Oh well - better to have our awarenesses now that we're middle aged, than to never have them at all. In a way, the awakening of your memories is a great tribute to the person who celebrated his 8th anniversary - I think that is the point of sharing, to trigger new self-awareness in the listeners. We can all move forward.

kristi said...

I too used to be in a toxic relationship. He was controlling, had a bad temper, would curse at me. And I would take it and come back for more. Thank God I realized at a young age that I was worth so much more.

keyz91 said...


keyz91 said...

tool..sober smh