From the April 2008 magazine.

BLISTERING dry

In the beginning, I did not know I was alcoholic. I didn't know anything about alcoholism. But I did know that I was a humiliation and a disgrace. I compared myself to my father, who appeared to be able to do anything: make money, control himself--do anything he wanted. At first, alcohol did not seem to affect him. Eventually, it did. Our home life was a minefield. And I knew he couldn't quit drinking. He had tried several times but had failed. Then, as he became older, he lost a lot of control. He fell down, he embarrassed my mother, he slurred his speech, and he couldn't control his driving.

Although I was still under forty years old, I knew I was already as bad as he had become, and I hated it. I couldn't live with being a failure and a disgrace. I decided I had to quit drinking. I accepted that I could not accomplish anything in life, but I did believe that I could quit. My father could not, but I would. At last, I would have something on him--I could rub it in!

-- Patrick H.

Roseville, Minnesota

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