A generation ago there were two brothers in my family (my grandmother’s brothers). One was a laborer. The other was a doctor. They were both married. They were both alcoholics. The laborer lost his life to a failed liver (a direct result of his alcoholism). The doctor took his own life leaving behind his wife and children (although it is impossible to know the exact reason he committed this act, the increased depression that resulted from his addiction to alcohol was undoubtedly a factor).
Now, a generation later, I’m watching my father and uncle go down the same path. My father holds a respectable public office. My uncle owns a small business. My father’s drinking is largely hidden. He wakes in the middle of the night and uses the occasion to have a couple drinks. He drinks with breakfast. I don’t think there has been a day in recent history when he hasn’t had at least a few drinks before he’s left for work. Then, when he comes home he drinks until he has to go to bed early…. and the cycle repeats. On days when he doesn’t work, he often has to return to bed before noon as he has already drunk the day away. He is in complete denial.
My uncle’s drinking is well-known. My father often comments on how his brother is an alcoholic and needs to get his life under control (!!!). He isn’t able to hide his drinking as well as my father. He is not respected by his employees. He has nearly lost his family. He drives his car even when he is drunk and at times with his children in the car as well. His wife forced him to leave their home last year for about a month, but in the end he promised to change and came back home. Although he’s back home now, he’s still drinking although he now admits (with alcohol on his breath) to being an alcoholic.
I don’t know what the future holds for either my father or my uncle, but at this point, it’s almost impossible to imagine anything but the most bleak of paths. I place my trust in Allah (swt). I know that anything is possible and pray to Him for their well-being. At the same time, though, I can’t deny the reality of the situation. These men put themselves, those near to them, and others who might be on the road with them at risk almost every day of their lives.
As I watch alcohol eating away another generation of my family, between the tears and heartache I also feel grateful. I am now firmly convinced that alcoholism runs in our family – a part of our genetic makeup. Alhamdulilah by the grace of Allah (swt), I have been saved from this path. InshaAllah, I will never delude myself into thinking that I can handle a drink or two.
Leah is a dedicated mother to two little ones.