I wrote last week about growing up as an adult child of an alcoholic. I’ve written on this before, but I went into more detail about my father’s drinking and about the night that he left this time. Now, it’s time to talk about after that. Here are my high school & college experiences.
I hated high school; I hated middle school, and I really hated marching band. It may seem strange to start there, but it’s actually really important, especially looking back now as an adult.
Whatever Everyone Else Wanted Me to Be
I was a good student–I was even in the running for Valedictorian for a long period of time. I didn’t get it, but I cannot count the number of times I was student of the month or of the rewards I won. Looking back, none of it meant anything. And, that’s because it was my life, but it wasn’t about me. Rather, it was about me being what everyone else wanted me to be.
The Initial Breakaway: College
The first time I broke away was in college. It wasn’t a full breakaway, but what had been an initial plan to go to Carnegie Mellon University to study music, I ended up going to St. Vincent College on scholarship. I loved being in college. It was still emotional, and I went through depression at times, but this was where I worked my first three steps from Al-anon, so it was hard to regret.
Now, it’s important to note that I had never heard of Al-anon at this time. It wouldn’t be until later in my college tenure I would learn about what would become such an important lifeline, but during my first semester at St. Vincent, I worked on letting go of control of other people. For those of you not familiar, the first step in AA and Al-anon is to admit that you have no control over alcohol. To this day, I cannot make that admission because alcohol is barely in my life. I drink once every few years, and typically, it’s only one drink. And, I avoid getting drunk and drinking more than this because I know that if I were to do so, I would become an alcoholic like my father. I suppose in some ways, this is admitting I do not have control over it, but for me, the first step was always about not controlling other people and staying in my own lane.
Steps Two & Three
In my second semester and during most of the rest of my time at St. Vincent, I worked on my relationship with God. St. Vincent College, now St. Vincent University, is and always has been a Catholic school. I had grown up in the Catholic church, but it had always been fire and brimstone. I grew up with that guilty Catholic conscience, and to this day, I am a major perfectionist. It’s gotten better, but it will probably be there most of the rest of my life.
In college, I developed a relationship with God and learned how to let go and let Him take control. It wasn’t until my senior year that I really became aware of Al-anon. Initially, I wasn’t exactly happy about it. I was offended at the idea of being required to work the steps of AA myself when I wasn’t the alcoholic. I’ve come to believe that while the steps, as written, may not always apply to me, they can be modified slightly (like switching alcohol for people in the first step) and are a great help with the trauma I endured.
That’s all for this week, and I managed to keep it all in a free post for this week. I hope you enjoyed reading about my high school and college experiences. Until next time…