The smell of whiskey, cigarettes, and cologne all mixed together takes me back to a place that I’d rather not remember. But the thing is, it’s time to start talking about a subject that perhaps hits too close to home in many ways.
My father was not an alcoholic, they said. He simply did what my culture defined as “normal masculine behavior:” workaholic during the week days, alcoholic during the weekends.
My parents took partying very seriously (as most people in Colombian culture do). I remember Fridays being the happiest days in my household, my mom would get all pretty and my dad would be in such a great mood. As soon as I heard the Bee Gees blasting from the living room stereo, I knew he was pre-gaming for the party.
I would walk into the living room and we would dance and sing together; he taught me moves from the 70’s and introduced me to Night Fever and Céline Dion. From him I learned that Fridays were good, happy days.
And as per usual, not all good things last forever.
The next morning, as soon as I saw my dad reaching into the fridge for the tomato juice, I knew that he was hungover.
“Daddy shouldn’t be bothered, he’s not feeling too well.”
It was like this every weekend.
[bctt tweet=”My parents took partying very seriously (as most people in Colombian culture do).” username=”wearethetempest”]
With time I realized that my friends’ fathers were the same way. Sometimes I wasn’t put to bed, but I would actually see my dad (and his friends) drunk out of their minds. Although my dad was one of the “cheesy drunks” (and not the aggressive ones) I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed for him. He slurred his words and became some quirky version of his usual self. He was not my dad, and that right there, was scary.
I came to despise the smell of whiskey and cologne. That smell meant that I was going to lose my dad that night, I was going to lose him to alcohol. And one day, I actually lost him for good.
Just like Saturday mornings were a reminder that not all good things last forever, my mother’s heartbroken face would become a reminder that neither did their marriage.
My father was not an alcoholic, they said. Yet alcohol broke up my parents’ marriage.
[bctt tweet=”He was not my dad, and that right there, was scary.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I must say that I came to this realization recently. Prior to it, I wasn’t really conscious of the negative consequences that alcohol had over my parents’ relationship. I think I was blinded by the fact that it’s “normal” for people in my culture drink excessively.
Needles to say, my relationship with alcohol has been very complicated. I despised it as a kid, and I despised it even when I smelled the whiskey and cologne off of my guy friends during the quinceañera parties. But at one point or another, it became “normal” for us girls to drink heavily too – perhaps anything that wasn’t whiskey.
For a long time, I kept thinking that my heavy drinking habits were normal. From blacking out to spending all of the next day in bed because I couldn’t handle my hangover, I started to realize something horrible: I was becoming my dad.
[bctt tweet=”But maybe they do. After all, drinking culture is my culture in and of itself.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic, they said. I mean, I only drank a night per week and my academic life seemed under control. If my case were one of alcoholism, then that would entail that everyone in my culture had an alcohol problem as well.
But maybe they do. After all, drinking culture is my culture in and of itself.
Whether people in Colombia think that drinking too much is “normal,” is way out of the question here. Even if they choose to turn a blind eye to alcoholism, I’ve chosen to believe that it’s anything but “normal.”
Just like I felt embarrassed for my dad when he lost himself to alcohol, I’ve come to feel the same way about myself. From guilt, to regret, to despair, I’ve felt all of the consequences that this drug can bring. Becoming someone I’m not when I’m drunk is scarier now than it was when I saw it happen to my dad.
[bctt tweet=”Before it could lead to something as life-changing as divorce.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I’ve decided to stop drinking because I can’t let this substance affect my relationships with others. I need to stop it before it’s too late.
Before it could lead to something as life-changing as divorce.
I’m done with the “workaholic during the week, alcoholic during the weekend” bullshit that my culture taught me.