I had only been a casual, social drinker before my mom died. I’d never considered myself to be someone with an addictive personality, and when it came to alcohol, I’d experimented in high school and college in what I’d thought was a “normal” way, but nothing crazy or out of the ordinary. Alcoholism didn’t run in my family, as far as I knew, but as I mentioned in my last post, my father was never a part of my life, so it’s possible there is some genetic predisposition from his side of the family.
I think the fact that I’d never struggled with any addictions, and never had any real problems with alcohol before, made me more susceptible to falling into my alcoholism. “Falling” sounds so passive, like I just tripped and stumbled into a boozy puddle, through pure accident or no fault of my own. I do take full responsibility for my actions; I chose to drink every single sip. But at the time, it felt like it was happening so gradually, until I found myself, night after night, drunk and alone in the house where my mom died. It was no way to live, and something had to change.
My mom passed at age 65 from breast cancer. It had been a long, slow battle, with her undergoing chemotherapy and various other treatments throughout a decade since she’d first been diagnosed. She would go into remission, only to go for a checkup and find out cancer had come back ten times stronger. My mother was the most influential woman I have ever known, and seeing her suffer and dwindle ate at me.
I still didn’t turn to alcohol yet at this time. I think mainly because I was working (as a full-time receptionist at a fitness center), and because taking care of my mother was almost like another full-time job – getting her to doctors’ appointments, making sure she ate and took her medication, watching her favorite shows with her so I could hear her laugh in the midst of such a sad time in her life. In the last few months of her life, cancer had come back again, and she decided this time she wasn’t going to fight it.
I was devastated because I knew it meant she would most likely pass much sooner than she would if she continued treatment. My mother was my best friend, the person I spent the most time with and loved more than anything or anyone in the world. But I saw how much more lively and happy she was when she wasn’t undergoing treatment or taking a million pills a day. If she wanted to live out the rest of her days feeling more comfortable and more like herself than she had in a decade, how could I stop her?
When she passed, I was inconsolable. I felt like a piece of my heart died with her. She had left me her house, where she’d died peacefully in her sleep, and a generous inheritance. I moved right in, both to give up paying rent on my apartment when it was no longer necessary, and to be surrounded by memories and the presence of my mom. I’d practically already been living there anyway when I was taking care of my mom, and already had my own room and half my belongings there. I also quit my job, because, with my inheritance, I had enough money to take a much-needed break.
That’s when the drinking started. With nothing else to do, no one around to see, no job to wake up and go to, I started having a drink in the evening to help me sleep before bed. Then little by little, I started drinking more, and earlier and earlier in the day, until I was drinking from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed, simply because I had nothing else to do.
Drinking from boredom is a terrible idea.