Museum: Toulouse-Lautrec Museum
How do you tell someone that their drinking is ruining their life, and the lives of everyone who loves them? How do you stop pretending that no one knows and that no one is being hurt by it? Secrets, lies and promises... It has not been a secret for years, and now that it is progressing, people cannot continue with the lies anymore. The sad thing is, no one is being judgmental, just extremely sad ~~ and powerless to help.
Alcoholism is not a solitary disease; it is insidious and has a long-lasting ripple effect on everyone in the alcoholic's life. The alcoholic drinks and their loved ones suffer. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and as it progresses and destoys the alcoholic's life, it takes down everyone else in its path. And, the most destructive aspects of alcoholism are the secrets, the denials and the promises, especially the promises. When parents drink to excess, it robs children of their innocence.
Alcoholism can ~~ and does ~~ happen to anyone. Some folks can drink socially for years and not become *hooked* on alcohol, while others can become addicted after just a few drinks. It is easy to understand the *hows* and *whys* of why a person starts drinking. Sometimes it's to cover pain and unhappiness; sometimes it's just the *occasional nip* to endure an otherwise unendurable situation. Sometimes it's to bolster one's confidence when a person is feeling insecure, lonely or confused about a situation. Sometimes it's just to get through the evening. Unfortunately, there comes a time in the process when the little nip becomes something much more, and the alcohol takes over. The once funny, bright, warm-hearted individual becomes irritable, angry and mean-tempered ~~ their personality changes and they are no longer themselves, but an alcohol-infused ogre. And the sad thing is, often they are not even aware.
Trying to describe the process of becoming an alcoholic is like trying to describe air. It’s too big and mysterious and pervasive to be defined… [T]here is no simple reason it happens, no single moment, no physiological event that pushes a heavy drinker across a concrete line into alcoholism. It’s a slow, gradual, insidious, elusive becoming. Caroline Knapp ~~ "Drinking: A Love Story"
I had a close friend who was an alcoholic, and I sat by and watched her life deteriorate, like a slow-motion train wreck. I could not help her. One day she came to me and said she had joined AA and was determined not to let alcohol have any more power over her life. Since then, I have watched her life blossom in her sobriety. To me, alcoholism is the darkness, and sobriety is the light.
The disease of alcoholism is not something to be ashamed of. In the 21st Century, we have become enlightened about so many diseases, including the disease of alcoholism. It no longer carries the stigma that it once did, and thank God for that, because it is in pretending the disease doesn't exist that people suffer. Like any disease, alcoholism can be treated and cured. The first step on that journey is removing the denial and the secrets. The second step on the journey is to accept just how badly it is affecting one's life, and especially the lives of the people who love that person. The third step is to do whatever it takes to stop drinking, before any more damage is done ~~ to everyone.
To anyone who has become caught in the trap of alcoholism, I say, please get help. The life you are slowly but surely destroying is not only your own, but all of the people who love you.