To John, February 5, 1951 – July 24, 2010
By Mark E. Smith
If you’ve read the research of recent years, then you probably already know about me: I’m an alcoholic.
Indeed, the medical establishment has concluded that alcoholism is hereditary – that is, if your family tree is lined with drunks, you’re a drunk, too. Or, you’re at tremendous risk of being a drunk. Walking past a bar or liquor store is like a metal shaving passing a magnet – it wants to suck you in!
For me, being an alcoholic is torturous because I think it’s the only thing I’ve failed at. I mean, I’m a bad alcoholic – really bad. My parents, grandparents, great grandparents and probably their parents were great at it. I mean, my mother and father had it down to a science – it’s not easy losing everything, including your life. But, me, I’m a terrible alcoholic. I’m so bad of a drinker that I haven’t drank today, nor did I drink yesterday or the day before or the day before or the day before or the day before….
But, my alcoholism even gets worse, pathetic, really. I’ve never hidden bottles, lost jobs, sobbed, Please take me back, ruined a wedding or child’s birthday party, bathed in cologne, slept on the front lawn in my clothes, wondered how my car keeps getting smashed up, vomited blood, feigned vertigo, passed out with a lit cigarette and burned my fingers, lied to everyone about everything, stole money from my child’s piggie bank, stood with belligerent narcissism before a judge, drank because of this or that, drank vodka from a water bottle at church, hugged a tree while the Earth spun at tremendous speed and I urinated on myself, or explained to a bank teller why my signature doesn’t match. Yes, I’m a terrible alcoholic.
However, here’s what I’m really good at: a little thing called personal accountability. Unlike the color of my hair, hereditary doesn’t dictate jack squat when it comes to my being an alcoholic or not. Life gives me free will to choose my path. And, while I understand the science, it’s 100 percent my choice to drink or not to drink. My mother did nine months in jail due to her third DUI, and upon being released, she stopped by a liquor store on the way home and downed a pint of vodka. Time and time again, I’ve watched people around me choose to re-elect life-destroying alcoholism, while others choose sobriety (and the science behind addiction recovery shows that the only time alcoholics maintain sobriety is when they literally choose to).
In this way, I’m among the worst alcoholics you’ll ever meet because I’ve turned my back on my own heredity.