“My father asked me tonight if it bothered me that he drank alcohol at dinner on Christmas Eve. It took me by surprise. It has been a silent detail, any one question among 300 more, but for me it has meant my whole life ”, confesses Javier Giner, author of Me, addicted (Paidós) on Twitter. In the thread, the responses of people who fight against alcoholism and these days face the challenge of sitting at a table where drinks are synonymous with partying multiply.
My father asked me tonight if it bothered me that he drank alcohol at dinner on Christmas Eve. It took me by surprise. It has been a silent detail, any question among three hundred more, but for me it has meant a lifetime.
— Javier Giner 🏳️🌈 (@j_giner) December 24, 2021
@RosaMPeralta is one of the many people who respond. “At home we don’t drink alcohol at any party, out of consideration for my father. We have been like this for 10 years, and he has never asked us. Everything is much easier with the support of yours! ”, He writes. On the other side, Javier finishes his text. “It’s not about whether they drink alcohol or not. It was the fact of asking the question out loud, of asking it to me. It has made me feel seen and taken into account. It has been wonderful ”.
His tweet and his story seem to me of a precious empathy and tenderness. I also believe that being together is just that, making others feel looked at, understood, loved in one way or another. Love is so soft and so discreet. One question out of 300 more, that is love in one life.
On the other hand, alcohol is always loud and protagonist, it tends to occupy everything in one way or another. Alcohol is an anesthetic euphoriant and, like all drugs, self-absorbing. So the more open you are with others is when you are actually the most within yourself. In such a way that some celebrations end up becoming dinners for lonely drunkards, family members who arrive already cooked to the first course, people who are anesthetized to be with others before even finding them, which is a way to get away from them.
One of the best reflections on alcohol I read to the confessed alcoholic Marguerite Duras. “Alcohol makes loneliness resonate,” he wrote in Material life (Alliance). Then she explained in that way that only she knows how alcohol is a type of drug that immerses you in your imagination. How loneliness before alcohol is to miss things or people. And how swallow by drink they begin to be present, but in a way that you cannot touch, as if they were ghosts. This is just how life blurs for the alcoholic: he thinks he is living but is not touching life.
For the rest, I think it is convenient to recall here the subtitle of Giner’s book: “A personal story of dependency and reconciliation”. In it, he describes, like Duras, an abrasive loneliness, as well as a lot of guilt and a lot of damage. He, like any other addict, accumulates wounds and unpayable debts with others. And his father, like any other father, could reproach him for many things. Instead, however, you have an empathetic question for your child. I think it is because his book has been read, because he has been able to understand his confession and his pain. And I also think that we read just for that, to understand others, to be able to love them. Perhaps we should read a poem instead of having a drink before facing the family encounters that lie in wait for us. After all, Christmas is very much like the story of an addict, as it is still “a story of dependency and reconciliation.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.