I sat on my front porch alone Sunday afternoon. I had just finished a painful, hour-long discussion with my wife about one of our kids. He is struggling with an issue that is not the point of this writing, and so in an effort to protect his privacy, let’s just say it is one of the hundreds of challenges young people face as they grow and mature.
The discussion was painful because Sheri and I mostly agreed about what was going on, but we had a slightly different take on the nuances. It was painful because despite having four kids, this is our first time dealing with this particular issue, so we are a bit lost as to what to do next. But mostly, it was a painful discussion because we are both hurting for our son, and feeling immense guilt for our potential roles in causing his struggles, and for our inability to make the struggles go away. Like most parents, we would do anything to take pain away from our kids, and when we can’t, that is about as helpless a feeling as I know.
As I sat and watched the summer rain fall on Sunday afternoon, I also thought about my Monday schedule. To start the Monday morning, I had a tough, contentious meeting scheduled with someone who has proven an inability to hold his temper. Then in the afternoon, I had high-stakes events scheduled too back-to-back for comfort. As if the stress of each individual event was not enough, I was super worried about having time to transition and be on time and ready for event number two.
I thought about alcohol. I never considered drinking it. It might make my epiphany more dramatic if I described a relatable near-relapse, but that’s not what happened. I never considered drinking. Not for a moment.
I thought about the potent power of the combination of guilt and anxiety. I think you can substitute any of the following words if they resonate better: stress, fear, sadness, shame, anticipation, hopelessness, worry, loneliness, nervousness, depression, or an overall sense of pending doom.
I also thought about the potent power of alcohol to make it all go away.
I often drank to excess on Sunday afternoons and evenings. My end-of-weekend drinking was not celebratory. Nor was it because I hated my job and I didn’t want Monday morning to come. It was because I tried to keep an open calendar for Sunday afternoons and reserve that time for relaxing and for family. The…