The Failings of “Finish All on Your Plate”

Before I went alcohol-free, all I wanted to do was drink. I realized I had 3 nights left of drinking before it was done. I didn’t want to go to the bars since it was an additional cost. I don’t have anybody to drink with anyways, besides my 23 year old roommate, and even though there’s 6 years between us, there’s 6 years of experiences, so we have very little in common. Instead, I wanted to drink up what I had at the house. I had 3/4 bottle of Jack Daniels Honey Tennessee Whiskey, 3/4 full bottle of Canadian whiskey (purchased in 2011), and 1 full bottle of Blair Castle whiskey (purchased in 2006).

Here’s the kicker, and what solidified my wanting to go alcohol-free for 1 year: Why on EARTH would I want to drink all of it up in 3 days? I could have drank it up every day, but didn’t. Now I wanted to hurry up and finish it all. Reasonably, it has kept for years. It will continue to keep. The only conclusion I could come up with was if I’m tempted after a frustrating day, then It’ll be there to drink. I could give it away, or I could pour it down the drain. I can’t give away a used bottle of whiskey without answering questions (I’m not ready to explain people this for fear of judgment.) I can’t pour out the whiskey because that would be a waste of money.

I grew up in a household where you finished everything on your plate. If you took it, you’d better eat it. As a child, when the whole family went to a restaurant, we (my sister and I) could order what we wanted. However, if we didn’t finish it, my mother and father would order for us next time. It was taking a responsibility and agency away from an 8 year old, and punishment for gluttony. This has manifested itself into terrible habits today. I have to finish my alcohol. I have to finish my food. I have to finish my projects, and if I don’t, there will be consequences. I quit graduate school with only 1/2 a thesis and a defense left to do. I felt like a failure. Nobody supported me throughout my graduate career. Of course, there were people saying, “you can do it. This is a good thing.” However, talk is cheap. When it came to people actively supporting me, I had no one. Of course, if my parents were to read this, they’d say, “No, you had a choice. You always had a choice. Don’t blame us for your choices.” No, guys. No, I didn’t. I was broken before I turned 18. And as anybody who has dealt with horses knows, once you’ve broken them, you’ve broken their spirit. I had turned into somebody who was a doormat. I wouldn’t voice my concerns with a boyfriend because I didn’t want to cause a fight. They’d just leave anyways. I didn’t go to the school I wanted because mom said, “Dont’ go. If you go too far, we can’t come help you.” And I went to a school only 1 hour away from home. I’d go months without seeing my parents. They weren’t around when I needed them. Our relationship is irrevocably broken, for so many reasons.

I was a drunk in college. I overspent and bounced checks like a basketball. I wanted to be friends with everybody since I grew up without them, besides my sister. The best way I knew how was to buy them stuff, and to make them reliant upon me, make myself in-disposable. This time, however, my parents couldn’t stop me as they had before. I went from being a conservative Republican to, well, not being one. For a political family, they couldn’t understand why, and blamed the liberal educational system. They blamed my liberal professors and friends as being terrible influences. It certainly couldn’t have been them pushing me away, or my own logic, since I was a screw-up, I didn’t have logic on my side. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, but I know where they went wrong. And where I come from, you can’t tell your parents they were wrong because that’s disrespectful. They also can’t admit when they’re wrong, because that admits their failings. So we hold in our criticisms. What could possibly go wrong with holding in how we feel? Ugh.

So for all those parents out there who want to rule with an iron fist, lose tempers, and want to break your children to bend to your wills: for the love of GOD, don’t do it. The world will try to break them well enough, so don’t do it first. Love deeply. Show them your trust. Pick your battles wisely. Don’t force them to finish all their alcohol, er, ah, I meant food on their plate.

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