• Melanie Renken

What If I'm Not an Alcoholic?

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Regardless of whether I'm truly an alcoholic, unconditional love is the answer.




What if I'm wrong? What if I'm just someone who doesn't like the after-effects of being drunk? What if I'm just scared of my family history?


What if I'm not an alcoholic?


After all, I was able to stop drinking the second I started fertility treatments. Wasn't even a struggle. I was willing--and able--to do whatever it took to have a baby. And once God blessed me with that miracle of miracles, not a drop touched my lips while Rugrat was nestled inside of me.


And the sobriety went straight through six-plus months of breastfeeding. I wasn't willing to take the slightest risk of hurting Rugrat for the sake of a drink. It wasn't a sacrifice--it was simply what had to be done. And I didn't miss the booze one iota.


From the time I got the phone call telling me that, despite the odds, I WAS PREGNANT, I had someone else to live for. When I held him the first time, my heart hurt. It still does when I watch him sleeping, or glance at him in the rearview mirror (or any other time he's not being kind of a turd).


I would do anything for him. Any. Thing.


Which is why, once I realized that shielding him from my addictions required more than a year-and-a-half commitment to keeping my body clean, there once again wasn't a question of whether I could do it. I did it. I continue to do it. And I will do it as long as I live.


He doesn't deserve a mom who could end up in prison (because she just couldn't keep it to one beer at happy hour before driving herself home).


He doesn't deserve a mom who spends her weekends nursing a hangover (and fighting like hell to keep the post-drinking depression from eclipsing their time together).


He doesn't deserve a mom whose obsession over when she can have another pill (or whether she'll be able to drink at any given social function) keeps her from being 100% present.


He does deserve a mom who will show him that drugs, drinks, and dysfunctional relationships can't plug the holes that life has left in his heart.


He does deserve a mom who is a living example that real, honest-to-goodness joy never ever ever comes from a bottle because, in the words of ever-so-smart Brené Brown, "Numb the dark and you numb the light." Words to live by.


He does deserve to have no memories of his mom being out of control (from being drunk or high because--let's be real--I make no promises about maintaining my composure if I ever meet David Beckham...or Brené Brown).


He does deserve to know that, if he is an alcoholic, it's not the end of the world. Quite the contrary--it will hopefully lead to a recovery that only starts with giving up booze. A recovery that teaches you how to live life on life's terms. A recovery that finally fills those unplugged holes.


He does deserve all of me. Because all of me makes a helluva good mom--even when I forget that it's pajama day at school. Again. And again.


The question isn't, "What if I'm not an alcoholic?" Because I am--trust me on this one. I can list the evidence another time. Being able to stop because I wanted to protect Rugrat isn't proof that I'm any less of an alcoholic--it's proof of what love is capable of accomplishing.


Which begs the question, "What if there had never been a Rugrat?"

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