Is My Daughter Destined for Alcoholism?
When I found out I was pregnant, I was elated. We had just started trying to conceive (full disclosure: we tried once and BAM!), and I was thrilled at the prospect of starting a family. But after the elation died down, I became terrified. I sat there, a little over two years sober, wondering if my daughter was doomed to end up like me—an alcoholic. My father is an alcoholic. So was his mother. My husband is also an alcoholic.
I obsessed over the fact that my daughter might have to deal with the disease that has caused me and everyone I love so much pain and heartache.
I immediately told myself that I was selfish to bring another person into this world if there was a possibility that she might inherit this disease. I cursed myself for possibly doing that to another person. I thought of all of the speakers I’d heard from the podium in 12-step meetings who had talked about growing up in the halls and swearing they would never end up there; only to be standing before the group as a member of the fellowship years later. I wondered if there was any hope of my daughter being anything but an alcoholic. I told myself there wasn’t.
And now, as my daughter’s personality starts to come out, I notice that she reminds me a lot of myself. The feeling that I associate the most with my childhood is one of being discontent. Nothing was ever cool or exciting. I was indifferent to almost everything. I look at my four-month-old daughter and watch as we take her down the slide and her face shows no emotion. I see her unmoved by so much that is happening around her. She is calm. She is chill. I hope she is not ambivalent. I worry that she is going to be just like me, that life will never be fun and exciting the way that it should be for a child. I worry that she will have her own memory of being at Disney World and wondering why the hell everyone else is so happy because don’t they know that this place isn’t that great?
OH GOD, WHAT IF SHE IS JUST LIKE ME?
The truth is, nothing that I do or don’t do will determine whether or not my daughter ends up battling alcoholism. Worrying about it is not going to change the outcome, whatever it might be. Besides, while my own alcoholism caused a lot of problems for me, my recovery is the greatest gift that I could ever imagine. Today I’m grateful to be an alcoholic because it has meant living this beautiful, sober life. If my daughter ends up taking the same path, that’s okay. My alcoholism is not a curse—in fact, I see it as a blessing in many ways.
My husband and I joke that we’ll pay for one stint in rehab and then she’s on her own—“everyone gets one!” we say. We also feel bad for her– she’ll never be able to get anything by us. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter, after all. But what I do know is that no matter what path my daughter takes, we’ll walk it one step at a time, together. And if there’s ever a day when she realizes that she might have a problem, I hope she sees me as an example of someone who has recovered and as someone that she can come to for help. And at least I’ll know what she’s up against, because I’ve been there.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that my daughter will find her own way and her own path and will make her very own beautiful life for herself, alcoholic or not.
Britni is a feminist mama and activist, social justice warrior, queer femme, former pessimist, dopeless hope fiend, and super rad chick. You can find her blogging at Fiending For Hope and tweeting at @britnidlc.
A Sober Mommies Contributor is most often a non-professional – in and out of recovery – with reality-based experience to share about motherhood & active addiction, the multiple pathways to recovery, or a family member’s perspective.