Why not me?

Recently my boss and I were talking about my brothers’ alcoholism. I had taken a day to attend my brother’s intervention and I was telling him how it went.

“I thought your brother with alcoholism died in April.”

“They’re both alcoholics.”

It’s been nine months since my brother died, and I still have trouble speaking in the past tense.

“What happened to you?” he asked.


That sounded too flip. Too superior.

“Or lucky genes.”

The truth is, I don’t know why. This article seems to suggest it’s a little bit of both. Luck of the draw, and taking care to not get too close to the edge.

This excellent post makes me wonder whether the years of therapy (18, off and on), along with the antidepressants, kept me from self-medicating with alcohol.

Or maybe being a dabbler; a little of this, a little of that, but never exclusively one thing, kept me from going under. A little alcohol, a little drugs, a little sex, a little bulimia, a little anorexia, a little too much exercise, a little workaholism. Just a little too much of everything made me appear to have it together. Or maybe as a dabbler, I did have it together. Mostly. Nothing ever totally sucked me under. At least not for long.

But why were my brothers sucked under? Why couldn’t they control it? We grew up in the same houses. With the same alcoholic abusive father. (Alzheimer’s mellowed him. Took away the meanness, the anger. A post for another day.) We had the same codependent mother. We all moved to a different state as we grew up, every year, or so. We spent our summers at the cabin in Ontario. We drove in the mountains together in Colorado. We built snowmen in Michigan. We played with the dog in the creek in North Carolina. We sailed on Long Island Sound. We went to the “beach” on Lake Michigan, and the beach in Galveston. We had the same dogs, cats, rabbits, and hamsters.

How did I say no to addiction?


  • I think that there certainly must be a chemical (genetic) component to alcoholism. Some people just can’t resist once they get started down that path. My brother recognized (after a time or two of blacking out after drinking) that he had a problem with it, and quit before getting completely sucked in. He still abstains because he knows what it could do to him. I, on the other hand, don’t seem to have the alcoholic gene. I drink on occasion, even get a buzz sometimes, but never to the point of getting drunk. I also don’t have the addiction, the alcohol doesn’t call out to me, begging me to get inebriated. I could easily drink, or not drink. Maybe you are in a similar situation… the lucky one who did not get the alcoholism gene.

    Now sugar… that’s a different story… 😉


  • I’ve asked myself the same! on the philosophical side I feel its the impersonal ways of the Wyrd Sisters, the Fates, the Universe, etc. on the physical side it comes down to the way the genes get mixed, but again that’s impersonal. on the psychological side…that’s where it gets interesting. How each person, in the same family, can or can not deal with ‘things’. And abuse does come in various form…if one child more sensitive than the other, for instance, can trigger a weaker personality.

    From what I’ve come to learn about my sib, that was placed into adoption, who is our narcissistic/socio-path, is that she was NOT raised with us and her upbringing had some closet alcoholism, dominance, and most likely some sort of serious abuse, for her to have the behaviors she has. She blames it all on the institution of adoption, which is BS, but, by her own descriptions point to the reactions from severe childhood abuse, possibility sexual in nature. It doesn’t help that she see that her course of life, blaming everyone/thing, isn’t helping her. The bottom line for me is when (whom ever it is in one’s family) that demonstrates negative behavior to me or my children, I remove them.
    That may not work for everyone but its a survival method I’ve had to use.

    How did you escape addiction? Don’t have an answer. There’s a fine line in the human condition, a very fine line, that separates us from going over an edge, what ever edge we are talking about. You are in a middle balance, and that’s a good thing!

    Thanks for pointing out the articles, I may use them.


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