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  • Writer's pictureJessica Harris

To the alcoholic in my life.

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

To the alcoholic in my life,

I love you.

I love you so deeply and unconditionally it hurts.

But I HATE your disease.

I don’t love that this disease has taken over your life and causes you to feel shame, guilt, anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, discouragement, hopelessness and pain. I don’t love that you carry deep emotional scars. I don’t love watching this disease destroy your self-confidence and erode your self-esteem. I hate that your addiction probably shut down your senses a long time ago. I hate that I cannot ease the burden you carry.

I know that I will never fully understand why you turn to alcohol to escape unpleasant memories or hide from disturbing emotions. I just know that you do. I know you have a medically certified mental illness. I know the only thing you can change is you and the only thing you can control is yourself. At first I wanted to jump in and rescue, fix and save you. I hate that I struggle everyday between wanting to help and understanding that I can't.

I know that I can’t ever stop you from drinking.

I hate that I have been trying to get you help for 10 years but your disease has a more powerful voice. I hate that the voice of alcohol is so strong you could not get yourself treatment and stick with it before it was too late. I hate that this disease can never be cured and that it can only be treated and managed.

I hate that you have to experience crisis after crisis- a cycle that devastates and hurts your body more each time. I hate that your body is shutting down and that it can no longer keep up with the demands of your disease. I hate that your liver is so scarred and there is no power to stop it from destroying your health. I hate that drinking is killing you.

I was going to write this letter after the disease took you from this world because of a deep fear that people in my life might be hurt or saddened by my words. I always keep telling myself there will be time to tell you how much I love you, but with each medical crisis you experience I recognize that maybe there won’t be more time. Now is the right time to tell you I love you, because I know you love me.

I know that I CAN’T save you, but I CAN love you.

I realize that how I love you may look different than it used to. I may not seem as present in your life because I have to detach in times of crisis to protect my own physical and mental health. Our relationship may be more distanced because of boundaries I have set, but I still want you in my life. Our communication between each medical crisis is sporadic and strained, but my heart is still present with you at all times. My heart is always praying, I am always thinking about you, and remembering all that I love about you.

I don’t want you to be gone before I tell you how much I hate your disease and how much I love you.

I am sad, frustrated, and angry, but my saving grace is my archived memories of everything I love about you. I can pull from these memories at a moments notice when I need them. I am going to list out these memories for you because I want to paint a picture of the man I remember. I wish the disease didn’t change what our relationship could have been, but I believe deep in my core that you love me. I know the disease is what has robbed your ability to express your love and build our relationship. I am working on forgiveness and acceptance.

I don’t have to like alcoholism one bit, but I won’t blame you for your disease.

I love the YOU because you are a man that…

  • Used to stare at me with pride, tell me I am beautiful, and that you love me

  • Taught me how to mow the lawn, drive a car, paint a room, and build with wood

  • Would watch hours of Bob Villa with me

  • Gave up your weekends to cheer me on at my high school competitions

  • Proudly displayed my school pictures at your office

  • Yelled Ho Ho Ho on Christmas Eve signaling Santa had delivered our gifts

  • Found a really awesome professional speed bike and decked it out for me so I could ride for hours

  • Introduced me to your favorite songs and watched me dance around the room

  • Wrapped treats in tinfoil and put them on the table for Valentine’s Day

  • Drove really fast down hilly roads so we could feel the tickle in our tummy and laugh

  • Built me the most amazing doll house for Christmas that I loved

  • Taught me to embrace my creativity and explore a variety of hobbies

  • Introduced me to my husband and supported me when I fell in love

  • Had sweet smiles and protective arms that always made me feel safe

  • Made amazing ribs, Cuban flatiron steak, salad dressing, and Chinese food

  • Loved to go shooting and camping with me and Rick

  • Had a passion for so many hobbies: photography, cooking, Geocaching, making walking sticks, FJ’s, Ham Radio, Off-roading, shooting, wine making, gardening, composting

  • Was always very wise, loves to argue and can tell a good story

  • Spent hours helping teach me to write and edit my stories in school

  • Encouraged me to be a part of youth group at church and set an example for the importance of having faith in my life

  • Has charisma and humor that I always wish I had

  • Quit smoking and a kicked a very long term habit

  • Worked damn hard for his money

  • Was a responsible provider who gave me a safe and comfortable home to grow up in.

  • Was unselfish with his money and gave up so much to put me through college, buy me used cars, and throw a damn fine wedding

  • Encouraged me to stop doing things half assed

  • Loves his own sense of style and can rock a pair of zip up cargo shorts/pants

I love the YOU because you are a man that gave me life.

I love you.


I believe this letter exposes another layer of my choice to set up the One Year Booze Snooze blog and commit to a yearlong goal. By eliminating alcohol from my life for a year, I wanted to prove to myself that I could make good choices for my own physical and mental health. Alcoholism itself is a complicated disease, but there are links between families and the addiction to alcohol. Children with parents who are alcoholics are anywhere from three to four times more likely than peers to be addicted to alcohol. Research has shown that genetics are responsible for 50% of the risk a person has for developing alcohol use disorder. Mental health is another contributing factor to the disease. I have learned more about alcoholism in the last 10 years than I ever thought I would because I love someone with the disease. It has triggered me to reflect on my own life, my choices, and my own mental health.

Maybe my one-year booze snooze is a stepping stone to breaking the cycle.

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