I was 7 when I decided. It happened the way it does for a lot of us: a friendly adult smiled down at me & said, “What do you want to be when you grow up Keely?”
I smiled right back & said, “An alcoholic!”
I grinned bigger as I said, “I just want to mess things up. I want to go from ‘That’s a girl who’s going places,’ to ‘Is Keely living out of her car?’ I want brain damage & liver damage & I’d love a criminal record. I’m hoping my mom won’t sleep for a few years in the process, then drain her retirement accounts to send me to treatment.”
Then I looked a little bashful, “I’m also really hoping to spend my teenage years alternating between starving myself, crash dieting & sticking my fingers down my throat. And maybe to surrender my twenties to chronic depression…but I don’t want to be selfish. I know that’s a lot to ask for, so if I have to, I’ll just settle for the alcoholism.”
Then I skipped away merrily, glad I got to tell someone my hopes & dreams for the future.
It’s probably true for every alcoholic you know. Really anyone who struggles with anything mental health related. That’s why I have no objections to stigma. After all, we chose this path for ourselves.