Eric: Explain the meaning behind the title Shaking the Family Tree.
Ans: First of all, Alcoholism is a family disease. And Here I am referring to the genetic predisposition. It has already claimed members in four generations of my family, and, there are indications that it is threatening the next. When my son told his story for the first time, he said, and I quote. “If you shake our family tree, every kind of alcoholic you can think of will come tumbling out.”
Eric: What was the road that led you to become an alcoholic, and do you think it was predetermined?
Ans: I believe in the genetic predisposition, but the bottom line is I drank my way into alcoholism. I can come up with all kinds of excuses: I was raised in a home and neighborhood where a few drinks took the edge off and the corner bar was a respite for all of your ills; my marital life was the pits and alcohol was my escape; I needed to relax, I deserved a little fun. The list goes on and on. Perhaps if I had been raised in a different environment, or had been exposed to the educational material available today. it would have been different. Who knows? It’s probably a coin toss, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. It is what it is.
Eric; Do you remember when you first became aware of alcohol and when it started making a presence in your life?
Ans: I remember it was the root cause of my mom and dad’s arguments. But at the time, I didn’t quite understand why. I saw no harm in Dad stopping at the corner bar to unwind after a hard day’s work. Yes, maybe on occasion he stayed too long, or on the holidays he started celebrating a few days too early, but so what? I used to think that Mom nagged him so much no wonder he drank. But that is another story. I didn’t understand anything about the family dynamics and co-dependency until I got into recovery. Reflecting on my own consumption, one of the things that stands out, was my level of tolerance. Even early on it was extremely high. I mistakenly took that to mean that I didn’t have a problem. I could out drink most of my friends without appearing drunk. That ability happens to be a warning sign that means the exact opposite.
Stay tuned for more next week.