It Sneaks Up On You When You’re Not Looking

It was a reaction to a bad car crash. An attempt to found a new business was floundering and then crashed irrecoverably along with the car. Three weeks in intensive care followed while internal organs were stabilized and broken bones began to mend. The only sign of trouble ahead was a small problem leaving the opiates behind. But it passed and he moved on.

Social drinking in the family

I should explain that alcohol is a part of my family. We drink wine with our meals and our mother liked one daily gin and tonic with a large splash of fresh orange juice. Dad used to talk in serious tones when we were first old enough to drink (legally that is). He warned of the harm in drinking habits and being-smart-mouthed kids, we pointed out one drink a day was a habit.

For my brother though, it was different. He was at home alone for long stretches of the day while the kids were out at school and his wife was at work. At first, he had little to do but recover and he was not terribly mobile. Of course, I didn’t see it happen, I wasn’t there. But I can imagine how it happened.

It helped him through the day

He stopped waiting for it to be a reasonable time for a glass of something to mark the end of the day. Most leave it until work hours are over, but it sneaks back earlier. Then I could imagine a glass of wine at lunchtime, one from the bottle that didn’t get finished the night before. Wrong to waste it, don’t you think?

I am sure it was a problem in the tight family long before any of the rest noticed. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, lots of people would be around. We would see him often, there would be drinking happening – it was a social situation, why not?

Did he notice? Was he aware? I don’t know. But if you want me to guess I would say not. I am sure he would have felt he was in complete control. I also imagine he was doing it because from his perspective life sucked and it was a release.

No one time where it happened

There was no one turning point. There was no single moment when he moved from being a person without a problem to being a person with a problem. No one defining minute when there is a problem now and we didn’t have one a second ago.

I remember vividly a niece referring to her ‘druncle’. It was a defining moment for me. By then I knew he was always socially drunk, but it was an eye-opener when the next generation had realized there was a problem too.

This tale doesn’t have a happy ending. Rather it is cautionary. There is a problem now, and we as his family have to support him in getting through, and we will.

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