The Reasons Why

What?” Bambino asks and turns to me, “is alcohol really a drug?

The kid’s on lock down until after Christmas following his decision to get steaming drunk at the weekend. When I went for a run last night I put on a documentary about alcohol for him to watch. It wasn’t the best choice in that it showed alcoholics at the end stage after a lifetime of alcohol abuse so although useful in order to teach him some facts and home truths, I want him to be able to relate. How he was surprised to hear alcohol being referred to as a drug triggered a good discussion and also how else – even in small amounts – it harms the body, but whilst this is good, it’s not enough. Besides, most people do know that alcohol is bad for us but it doesn’t bloody stop us, does it? I would quite regularly feel my heart race and feel genuine terror that this time I might just have gone and broken it, that this time my number might just be up. I’d feel that and then I’d pour myself a drink the next day. Or even the same day. Or the next hour.

We engage in whatever shitty behaviour – drinking, smoking, drug taking or whatever – because of the perceived benefits, end of. Then of course if it’s an addiction that has us trapped or if we want to be cool in front of our mates, that’s secondary. The point is that the reasons why we shouldn’t is pretty much ZIP, ZILCH, NADA to do with it. The reasons we do it override the reasons why we shouldn’t and THAT is what we need to look at and tackle. As long as our reasons to go ahead override our reasons to refrain, we’re fucked.  

It’s like with smoking – the average toddler can probably tell you it’s dangerous to smoke, and I don’t think a single person in the parts of the world where health information is freely available tries a cigarette for the first time UNAWARE that it’s bad to smoke. As Bambino himself so eloquently put it when he was about four years old: “If you smoke, first you get sick and then you get dead.” As much as I love my child and think of him as the most glorious creation to ever inhabit this world, he was not some health guru at four years of age with access to insider information about smoking closed off to other people. No, most other four-yearolds could tell you this too. If you don’t believe me, ask to have an audience with a reception class at a primary school and see how many four-yearolds you can find there who don’t know smoking is bad. And it’s the same with drinking in that I think most people know it’s risky business to drink too much.

I wanted to see what it was like.

This is the reason Bambino gave for doing what he did, i.e. knocking back shots of vodka in his bedroom with a friend.

Perhaps I’ve just given myself a bunch of answers here. Maybe this is precisely what I need to go over with my son. After all, these are the conclusions I have myself come to in these ten+ months since I stopped drinking. Alcohol in my world came with a bunch of promises, like it makes fun more fun and happy happier. Bullshit like that, mostly. Many people drink because booze acts as an anaesthetic and will help push down painful emotions, which of course then in turn instead get amplified given the same anaesthetic also happens to be a powerful depressant. You can’t win. So it’s tearing down Bambino’s reasons TO drink I need to help him tear down, just like I tore my own down.

Bambino may very well grow up to be a responsible adult who can “enjoy” alcohol in moderate amounts and at a level that doesn’t put him in lethal danger on a daily basis. Unlike his mother. If that happens, great. But there is also a considerable chance this limitless nature of his comes from that very same mother and so in spite of his fairly young age, I’ll need to have this conversation with him many times over. Go through all of this the way I went through it myself. Look at what we’re made to think alcohol is and does and then with simple and easily accessible facts and figures show him how this is all a big fat mother of a lie. That’s where I need to start. Fuck, why is it so hard to see this clearly? Almost all documentaries show the dangers of alcohol. We need one to highlight what GOOD we believe alcohol does, which shows what bullshit it all is. We don’t ingest arsenic if we can help it because we know it’s poison, but few of us try having arsenic “to see what it’s like” because we’re not sold a bunch of lies about what good it would do. Alcohol is also a poison but we ignore the dangers because we believe there are benefits to it. Of course in Bambino’s case this might be more troubling than for kids who did not grow up with an alcoholic parent, but let’s just see if I can turn this into some sort of strength.

I want to find someone who I can sit Bambino in front of, someone he can relate to. And I’ll do my best to show him my own journey and how what the world is telling him about booze is a lie. I can’t bring myself to think about Saturday night and how badly it could have ended. Given how ill Bambino was all of Sunday, he would have had a serious amount to drink. At 14, was I really as childlike? He isn’t fully grown, and although there’s a hint of a tash on his top lip, he’s still very much just a BOY and he is still not taller than I am. His voice is still breaking, a slight vibrato making itself known but still not a deep man’s voice. He’s a child. I was roughly the same age when I first tried alcohol but for some reason Bambino seems so much younger, smaller and more of a kid. Which, presumably, means Bambino himself sees himself as the big man just like I before him thought I had it all figured out too.

Hmm…. Scare tactics do have their place, I do believe that, so I’ll be making sure Bambino understands the calibre of this particular dance partner. It is, more importantly perhaps, beginning to become clear to me that I need to approach this in much the same way as I dealt with it myself – by looking at the reasons why. And I should know how to do this, right?

The big lie of alcohol made me angry and bitter when I realised it had stolen so much from me. Now, however, when it’s attempting to steal from my son, this mama bear is working up a rage that I don’t recommend you get in the way of. Hell hath no fury and all that. I fought you off, you motherfucking beast, and now you think you can go after my kid? Oh hell no. Not without a fight you won’t, and trust me – you won’t find me cowering in fear again. I’ll fight you again and again. Or I will die trying. You won’t catch me giving up though so sharpen your claws because you’ll fucking need them.

Today I’m not going to drink.

9 thoughts on “The Reasons Why

  1. I think one of the most difficult parts of navigating through my addiction has been framing it in a way that my kids understand. My oldest is 13 and we’ve started to have conversations about sex and drugs (including alcohol). I’ve framed for him that addiction can happen to anyone, and that with a familial history of addiction, he is at much higher risk to become addicted than some of his peers. He told me that right now, he is not interested in drugs- and in fact- is very against them. I was like that too at a young age, I told him that that may change, and I can understand wanting to experiment, but the biggest thing is that we need to be able to stay open and honest with one another. I’ve promised no judgement from me and I think he trusts me to hold up my end of the bargain. Plus, that first hangover tends to do a pretty good job of illuminating the fact that alcohol can have serious health impacts!!

    Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • i think this hits the nail on the head – genetics play a part in addiction and alcoholism – my son has it both sides of his family so as i understand it he has a 50% chance of being an alcoholic. something i remind him of a lot and i keep a keen eye on his recycling pile. and i really agree with keeping lines of communication open – i had a draconian father and just lied to avoid the consequences. this led me to being in far more dangerous situations when drunk with no adult being aware of where i was because i was supposed to be at a friends house. i talk openly with my son about alcoholism being a progressive illness that is in your head as much as in your body. he knows a lot of my AA friends so he gradually realised i wasn’t joining a cult and that quite sensible people fell foul of alcohol. but the thing i have to accept is that i cannot control how it goes for him and that he may well end up with a problem. if he does at least he know there is a solution to it and knows people who can help him.

      sorry this is a bit of an essay! i wanted to comment on your last post but i got distracted! i don’t know wher you are in the uk (i am near brighton) but i love your blog and read it every time you post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That must have given you a horrible fright, finding out that he had been drinking vodka at age 14. Oooh…. shivering here. Good that you are on it. I wish somebody in my surroundings had known there and then that high-risk behaviour was indicative for addiction. 😦 Sometimes my mom tried to talk with me about alcohol, but that would always end up in an argument and that was counter productive. I guess I was already so hooked that I went into denial immediately. 😦 😦 Well, actually, I’m pretty sure I was. 😦 “My only way out, my only pleasure.” 😦
    Brrrr…. nasty stuff it is.
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I can imagine that. (Well, obviously only to a point because I don’t have children… so, disclaimer….)
        Gonna put some more unlikeable info in here: addiction IS a family disease. The ‘not wanting to be with what is’ is a very contagious way of living. 😦
        There is a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven, I’m pretty sure that, in this world, that is based on the traffic. Which, well, is a joke, but not when I realise how this world functions and how strong the alcohol mythe is. 😦
        Hugs to a brave mom!
        xx, Feeling


  3. i wrote a long comment but it has vanished into cyberspace. the jist of it was that i think open communication is really important and that i love your blog. if it ever reappears i will post it!

    Liked by 1 person

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