No one related to me, by blood or by marriage, is safe from alcohol. I believe it.
I returned in the wee hours of the morning from a family wedding. Carole the kids and I headed out Friday morning, back to near where I grew up. My parents were the oldest and second-oldest among their siblings. I have aunts, uncles and cousins of varying ages, and some of my aunts and uncles are not much older than I am.
We had a good time traveling Friday and Friday night we explored an almost-empty mall. Saturday, the wedding was beautiful and went really well. Sunday we visited relatives at a cook out. And Sunday evening we started home, arriving around 2 in the morning this morning.
This wedding had more alcohol than I’ve ever seen at a wedding. Everything was beautiful and costly, and even the delicious entrees (so I’m told) had alcohol in each and every one. I don’t think I’ve seen that before. There was an open bar, wine that was constantly refilled at the tables, champagne and, I’m told, cordials.
(For the record, Carole and I had NO alcohol at our wedding. Nor did we have complications caused by alcohol).
There were several family members I worried about, people who have frequently, in the past, had too much to drink and acted out in one way or another. Again, these people are related to me by both blood and marriage, and their ages and generations vary. I remember once when a drunken wedding guest decided to steal all of the restaurant’s glasses. I have pictures of a dance-floor strip tease. I have pictures of children, children, passed out drunk at weddings. I have to say that no wedding (that I can remember) coincided with my own drinking career, and I do not think anyone has drunken wedding stories about me. But you never know. There are a few years I can’t recall.
So two stories from this wedding. One of my male relatives bullied me about dancing that is still upsetting me. Understanding I have lead a very peaceful life in that respect – I have not been abused or beaten or tortured or bullied. He physically pulled my chair out from under the table and threatened to carry me. I know people live with so incredibly much worse every day, but I am not used to being treated that way. I really panicked, in my thoughts, about how to make him stop and what I would do if he physically forced me.
The other major thing that happened was that an out-of-town relative who usually doesn’t drink, and who I actually thought might have escaped the curse, got so drunk that he sat at the table completely out, head on the table, picking it up to puke. This relative sees us only once every few years. The next day, at the cook out, he was too sick to get out of bed and missed seeing and talking to us at all. I heard him remark to himself, “I missed the party.” I’m still slightly shocked over that one as well.
We came home to the news that a friend in the program is drinking and struggling again.
In all this I realize, and I’m so very grateful, that Carole and I don’t (today) have to worry about each other, that we may or may not be sober, or how drunk we were when we had that (any) conversation.
On our way to the wedding, we visited a place I briefly lived when Nicholas was about two and Erica was about 4. It’s a very rural area, and I’d find it hard to live somewhere like that today. But it was closer to home (about three hours away by car) so I was thrilled with that and I really didn’t suffer from the location at that time. Carole asked me where I went to meetings then. I traveled to the very big city I had left once a month to attend my old women’s meeting there. I found and joined a new women’s meeting in the farm country. I traveled to a nearby tiny city to attend a “bring your kids” meeting in a church nursery, bringing Nicholas with me while Erica was in preschool. I attended my old old meetings on visits home. I kept in touch with a few of people I had known at the beginning. I was then a sober, boring wedding guest just as I was two days ago and today no one is writing about the outrageous thing I did this weekend, or how I scared them or hurt their feelings.
The cook out was in the yard of a house that has been in my family for two generations. I remember being in that yard with my great-grandmother, and my children, her great great grandchildren, were there two days ago. I’m sure she couldn’t have imagined us (in many ways), and I don’t know if she herself carried the family curse or if she just passed it down or married it through. I don’t know what relationship the next generation or any succeeding generations will have with alcohol, but today I am filled with gratitude that I have been able, for today, to break the chain.