At fifteen years old, shortly after my dad and step dad walked out of my life, I was a young man who was hurting and consumed with self-loathing, anger and rebellion. The years of childhood trauma and family instability began to take its toll. As a result, two problems began to surface, namely my battle with alcohol and my battle with suicide.
My battle with alcohol began at a friend’s house one wintery Saturday afternoon. He and I were talking in his room, probably about girls. We were having a good time, when he told me about his mom and dad’s liquor cabinet located in his basement. He and I jointly decided to venture downstairs and sneak a drink. When I took my first drink, something magical happened. The pain, anger and bitterness that stemmed from a life of rejection vanished instantly. One drink turned into two, and two turned into four and so on. This was the first of many such experiences. It was like my problems instantly melted away.
A life of drinking was something I swore to myself I would never do. I never wanted to be like my alcoholic father. Despite that, my life seemed to reflect the 70’s classic song by Harry Chapin titled Cats in the Cradle. This 1974 classic was first inspired by Chapin’s wife but also reflected, according to Chapin, his relationship with his son. The song details a first-person account of a father who was too busy for his son. The father promises the son that he will spend time with him one day in the future. However, when the son get older, he mimics his father’s behavior declaring, “I am going to be just like you, Dad. I am going to be just like you.” In a real sense, I had begun to live out my own Cats in the Cradle scenario. I too had become just like my father. I had become someone I swore I would never be: an alcoholic.