My father never taught me how to shave. Or how to smoke a cigarette. He taught me how to drink, though. I remember him not being able to walk from the table to the car. I remember helping him walk. I remember Mother telling him that he is too drunk to drive. I remember him arguing that the car knows the way. I remember him driving us home and tumbling to the floor as soon as he got out of the car. I remember the acrid smell of alcohol mixed with garlic. I remember sitting in the backseat, anxious. I remember Mother telling Father that he was driving too fast. I remember shrieking break and approaching the stoplights of the truck. I remember the ‘thunk!’ and the hard yank.
We were lucky that day. Nobody got hurt, even though the car was wrecked. That day I promised myself that I would not be like him. But then forgot the promise.
I started drinking when I was attending middle grade. I thought drinking was cool. I was a loser in my mind, and my friends were cool, so I drank with them to be cooler. Then I would go out to a restaurant with Father. He would drink until he couldn’t walk, and every time, I would think that he was dumb to drink that much and believe I was cool because I could handle my drink and stop before I get drunk.
I believed that I understood alcoholism well, and I was sure I wasn’t one. Even though I almost drank every day, I didn’t blackout or caused a scene. Therefore, I must have been drinking responsibly, right? I would always joke that “I drink until my graphic card moves from the slot.” That was my way of saying I always stop drinking when my vision gets laggy.
I drank away countless days. Drinking was the only way to socialize. When I didn’t drink, I got so bored that I wanted to leave and be alone. And then I would go home and drink by myself. Over time, I started drinking so much that my friends had to make sure that I am fine at the end of the night. I started drinking so much that at the end of the night, my friends drove me home. I started drinking too much that I had to spend countless hours trying to remember what had happened the previous day. Unaware, I was turning into my father. I was becoming the same sorry man, drinking his life away.
I don’t remember my last drink. But the last memory of my drunk self is a girl handing me a bottle of tequila and inviting me into my friend’s house. Who knows what happened after that. I came to myself strolling the streets the next morning, not knowing where I was or what I was doing. I trudged myself back home, slept until five p.m., and have never drunk again.
While I was teaching our cat, Thor, how to shave, I remembered the confusing pain and destruction my father brought wherever he went. Even though Thor was more interested in attacking my slippers than watching me shave, I felt contempt: I figured out that I kept my promise to that little guy sitting at the backseat watching the stoplights coming closer than they were supposed to be, with terror.
I didn’t turn out to be like my father. I am forever thankful to all the people who helped me along the way. If you struggle with alcoholism, please don’t hesitate to reach out.