October 1, 1983. I was seven years old. Thirty years ago. That’s 10,957 days.
I don’t remember my dad drinking. Although, I am certain that I saw it from time to time. It’s gone from my memory, though. Totally gone.
I don’t even recall the day that he quit. I was just a little kid. I do know, as the story has been told to me, that he handed me a pack of cigarettes and told me to throw them away. As best as I understood, that was the end of him smoking. I couldn’t have known then that it was the day that everything important changed, as well.
Alcoholism is a disease. I know that for sure. Being an alcoholic is not a choice. However, admitting weakness and being bigger than your disease is. I’m certain of that.
Who knows how my life may have differed had he continued to drink. Fortunately, I don’t have to know. I suspect that it could have been a pretty damn wild ride. I do know that I have a sober dad to thank for my ferocious nature to always be right, to typically need to have the last word and to have a vocabulary that includes sayings like, “it’s always easier to take someone else’s inventory”, “the wisdom to know the difference” and “an attitude of gratitude”. I have a dad who has consistently showed up (literally and figuratively) for every important event, adventure and important moment of my life. I have a dad who has introduced me to a very interesting cast of characters along his journey. I suppose, though, that it’s become my journey, too. It has taught me how important camaraderie is.
And while he is far from perfect, I have a dad who is there when I stumble, when I rally and when I just need to take a nap to be okay. Because there’s always another day.
I laugh when my dad tells me that he’s spilled more booze than I’ve drunk, because he’s probably right. And then again, it’s sobering to think that my dad has spilled more booze than I’ve drunk, because he’s probably right.
Being the adult child of a non-practicing alcoholic is an interesting space to occupy. Not special, per say… just interesting. I know the serenity prayer backward and forward and I know that sometime this week, my 30-year sobriety coin will show up in the mail with a post-it note. I have them all. They’re randomly scattered throughout my life in various places so that I remember to remain grateful—in my make-up drawer, my wallet, my office desk, my camera bag, the drink holder in my car…
So mostly this post is to say “thank you”. Thank you for not letting me know how different my life could have been. Thank you for showing me that things can get better. And thank you for giving me perspective. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.