Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of lives everyday. Most don't realize they even have a problem until it's too late. It is a disease that affects almost every family in America in one way or another including mine. I learned a very important lesson about the disease that afflicted my grandfather when I myself had a bout with alcoholism.
I have always heard from my father what a smart boy I am. My father also talks of how much I remind him of his father, I'm mechanically inclined, have good common sense, and I have an intelligent personality. But I always found a way to screw things up and make a mess of myself. I couldn't hold a job, I was failing out of school, and my family life was almost non-existent. I had no motivation and it was apparent to others that I was a heavy drinker.
I didn't consider Drinking to be a problem though, it was just my way of relaxing. Having a few drinks on the weekends with my friends quickly developed into an all day every day event. I had been drinking everyday for about a year when my father and I began talking about my problem. I knew I had a problem, but I wouldn't acknowledge it publicly.
My father one day in a conversation we were having, mentioned a poem I wrote about drinking. One line in particular at the end "a real friend won't disappear when your thirsty" gave almost definite proof of my knowing I had a problem. At the end of that discussion, we decided to check me into a rehabilitation program in Falmouth called Gosnold. It was a two week live in program at which I learned a great deal about alcohol and other drugs that damage the lives of normal intelligent people. I learned that it's not something I could control, and that I was predestined to have this disease.
It was hereditary. I learned of the affects it would have on my reaction time, my nervous system, my thought process, and my reproductive system. I learned of all the different ways it changed my personality; how it made me a violent ill-tempered person, how my apathy for life was directly affected by my drinking, and all the lies I felt the need to tell were alcohol induced. I had also learned that I wasn't a bad person for having this problem and I could be helped.
I feel if it wasn't for the people, both staff and patients, at Gosnold, for one reason or another, I wouldn't be here today. Unfortunately, my grandfather wasn't so lucky. He had started frequenting bars just after he got back from W. W. II.
My father has told me tales of having to run and climb a tree to escape from his father's wrath returning from work, usually drunk, because of his temper. He has also told me how sick his father got when my father was 13. He was admitted to the hospital for scirosis of the liver never to return. His liver failed because of all the alcohol it had to filter through, which caused irreversible liver damage. The last words he spoke to my father were "get a haircut." He never had the chance to see him after he left the hospital that day. I never had the opportunity to meet the man who I remind my father of so much.
His life was cut short before he had the chance to shine. I was lucky in the sense that I caught it early and got help before it was too late. Not meeting my grandfather has been tough at times, especially when I hear of how alike he and I were, but we share a common bond that I hold in my heart. We both had to go through the self-inflicted abuse that, at one point in our lives brought joy. We both hurt ourselves and our families for no reason other than we were "thirsty." We lost friends, self confidence, and in my grandfathers case, his family and life.
It is unfortunate that a man such as my grandfather couldn't realize the abuse he was putting himself through; or maybe he did and couldn't bring himself to admit it, which is the thing that holds many back. The hardest thing an alcoholic can do is honestly admit to himself that he is an alcoholic. I have learned many things about my self and the people around me and how my actions affect them. The most important thing I learned is that my family will always be there to help me in anyway they can. Now I can honestly be there for them too. I know that wherever my grandfather is, he is proud that I was able to tackle the obstacles that he was unable to overcome..