Body Blog: Happiness vs. Addiction

My aunt has been addicted to cheap pink wine fore 13 years. When I was a teenager I remember finding a giant bottle tucked away in the fridge near her bathroom. She used to say, “I just like having a glass before bed…it helps me sleep.” But even then I knew there was more to it than that.

This woman I knew as energetic, happy and fun transformed into a mean, foul being who constantly played the blame-game when she explained why she drank. “Your mother and uncle have always been awful to me…they made me this way.” I never loved my husband…he made me this way.”

Listening to her go on and on was not only angering, but utterly draining. I’d leave her house after a visit and feel exhausted by the toxic energy she spewed at me. It was in that last moment, when I pulled out of her driveway, that I decided I’d never set foot in her house again. 

It’s been four years. And when I received an intoxicated and seemingly heartfelt voicemail from her on Thursday, wishing me a happy birthday, I decided I needed to see her. I knew she would be a mess, my mother and grandmother constantly report her unimproved status on a daily basis. But I wanted to experience her myself. I wanted to see how much worse she’d become, as crazy as that sounds.

I walked in her backdoor with my mom (there was no way in hell I’d go alone) and saw her: hair, a mix of gray and red; face, makeup smeared and layered; body, almost emaciated. She was sweet at first. Her body shaky and weak. But when my uncle came home or my cousin entered the room, she’d shout, “I hate you!” and “You’re worthless.”

It was shocking to see what they were living with. That day she’d thrown my uncle’s laptop computer out the window and destroyed it, just because he wouldn’t pick up wine for her. He called the cops; she got arrested and sat in jail for 4 hours. Of course this was all she talked about. A circling of phrases that sometimes inquired about how I was doing, how my boyfriend was and then back to “Can you BELIEVE I was in JAIL for FOUR hours today!!!!!?????”

Speaking with someone in this state of mind is incredibly unbearable. And seeing how much her addiction has ruined her and her family was almost movie-like. It was so bad it didn’t seem real.

It got me to thinking about how people deal with problems. She has been suppressing years and years of emotional pain and thoughts with alcohol instead of dealing with them head on. She has been missing out on her life because she’s been too afraid to deal with and communicate her concerns, her worries, her dreams.

Life isn’t easy. But it’s overcoming challenges, not hiding from them, that makes us healthy and strong. If what you’re experiencing is too overwhelming, ask for guidance, speak up and surround yourself with happy people. Doing so will ensure that you never find yourself alone at the bottom of a wine bottle.

Beer Does a Body Good
Beer Does a Body Good
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