Blast From The Pabst: Surprise!

i read a beautiful post on ByeByeBeer’s blog about Sober Parenting and it brought to the surface a lot of issues that i’ve been mulling over recently, involving my kids and my alcoholism.

Time for a…

Blast from the Pabst  alcoholic recovery sobriety AlKHallAnonymous

Blast from the Pabst

When my son was, let’s say 12 (and we’re saying that because i have no idea how old he was), he belonged to a theater “club” that met every Saturday afternoon. The community center was 20 minutes away on foot, and after lunch i would walk him there, come back home for an hour, and then go back to pick him up.

One Saturday, my daughter (and if 12 is the age we’re going with for my son, we’re stuck with 10 for my daughter) decided to walk with me. As we approached the center, she wanted me to hide and surprise my son by showing up alone. i agreed and dutifully waited behind a bush to watch the scene play out.

My son exited the building and was obviously surprised to see my daughter unaccompanied. As they passed in front of my hiding place, i heard her explain that “Dad drank a lot of wine and fell asleep on the sofa, so I came to pick you up by myself.”

And he believed her; after all, why wouldn’t he?

As telling as this story is, the footnote to this story occurred about two months after i went into recovery. i took both of the kids to a teen al-anon meeting at a church here, then waited for them in a cafe. When the meeting was over and we were riding the subway back home, i asked my son what he thought of the meeting and he said he felt that he didn’t really belong there. While other kids told traumatic stories of their parents’ drunken escapades, he said i’d done a rather good job of keeping my drinking from spilling over onto them.

Winer alcoholic recovery sobriety AlKHallAnonymous


i’ve been sober for over 19 months (still not long enough) and in that time i’ve tried to make up for my down time with my children. i find that i’m more present in my sobriety than i was when i was drinking, and that i have more energy to spend on them and more patience to accord them. i like to think we’re close (my son now lives with me and i have my daughter almost every weekend) and i see they are beginning to trust in my recovery. They are relaxed around me. They make jokes about subjects that could be sensitive considering my drinking life and my bottom, but they feel safe.

i want to be the perfect father. i will never ever be the prefect father. Right now, though, i’m a better father than i was, and my children need that a hell of a lot more than they need perfection.

They never stopped loving me, but now they can look up to me.

[Click here to read other Blasts from the Pabsts]


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on October 25, 2012, in Alcoholism, Blast From The Pabst, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Great post Al, what a blessing to be sober for your children. That will mean the world to them especially as they get older.

  2. RoS is right — it is a blessing and it is never to late to be sober and interacting with your kids. I’m glad you have a chance to do that, and is probably one of the best reasons I am not there anymore. You have a chance to be alone with them again, but sober this time, and I think this is a really good thing.

    They just need you present: present with them and present with your feelings around them. Seeing you gain your sobriety and keeping it is and will continue to be huge for them as they grow older, I do believe! Not the main reason, nor should it be the only reason, but another *good* reason to stay sober, eh?


    • Hi Babe!

      True, my children cannot be the main reason behind my sobriety, it has to be for me, but the fringe benefits count and, in this case, they count for a hell of a lot. Thanks for your support!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  3. Miss Anne Thrope

    Having to accept that one will never be the perfect parent is a tough one. On the surface it’s so obvious, but emotionally, it’s just hard. Although my bête noire is anxiety and OCPD rather than alcohol, I struggle with the same feelings. I have to be the perfect mother or else I’m a crappy mother and damaging them in some permanent way. I have to plan, organize, stress, anticipate contingencies and problems flawlessly and in this way be *perfect* so they can have a perfect childhood, and while I’m so wrapped up in my anxiety, the possibility of my being emotionally present and responsive to them is about zip. So I’m feeling you on this one. Hang tough, there, Al. And I’ll give back to you the excellent parenting advice you gave me before I had kids: let yourself off the hook, let yourself be human. I’m realizing more and more that what my kids need is not to have a perfect mother, but rather to have humanity modeled for them, warts and all.

    • Miss Anne!

      Warts and all. Exactly. Hiding defects can be more damaging sometimes because it’s impossible to hide them. i truly believe kids, as well as adults, either see or sens on some level our hiding places. If we confront them out in the open, it’s easier to forgive yourself and be forgiven by others.

      About that advice i gave you… Are you sure it wasn’t “hit them with a phone book because it doesn’t leave bruises”? That sounds more like me.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  4. Hi Al. My heart broke at the start of this post but was restored by the end. I am so happy you are mending your relationship with your children. Beautiful. L.

    • Thanks for props, L! We’re all doing what we can, right? It’s just a question of having as much fun as possible when doing the next right thing.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  5. Your daughter’s words in the first story gave me a laugh in that knowing, uncomfortable way. I’ve heard many similar stories from parents lately. What your son said after the al-anon meeting is less common but I’m glad he told you this. It’s hard not to strive for perfection in parenting, though recovery is teaching me perfection isn’t healthy, let alone realistic. Your second to last paragraph put into words how I feel. Thank you for this.

    • “recovery is teaching me perfection isn’t healthy, let alone realistic.”

      Exactly! i’m glad my words made sense; and i’m very grateful for your post which inspired them!

      Keep coming back, BBBB,

      Al K Hall

  6. Beautiful. Beautiful resolve! Perfection is a “no-can-do”. I am certain of that. Progress is tricky business to “self-realize”. I find that my loved-ones or sig-other is a better gauge of my progress, (still working on my internal monitor) …

    Heartbreaking at the beginning. The realization that your children DO notice the drinking … and that they are already making excuses for “snoozing” and wine.

    I found that when i recovered from bulimia (ongoing) it was time to FACE THE DAMAGE (da dum). Finally i was strong enough to see the sadness around me, and the loss people felt for not knowing me as i hid with my Eating Disorder. I’m sure my family made up all sorts of absurd excuses for my absences and sometimes that really bites! BUT, now i am open, i am reconnected, and if i am criticized, there is a fleeting moment of OUCH … But you don’t understand (poor me) … then there is a firm resolve, “I have missed you, and I am here now” … tell me more.

    I hate when that happen to Pabst cans, btw. 😉

    • Wow, i loved what you said about the secrets! It made me realize that one of the reasons i feel more connected now is that i had to disconnect myself from my kids to hide my alcoholism from them. Now that i don’t need to hide from them anymore, i’m free to be present! Thanks so much for this revelation, Mel!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  7. ouch, and then ahhhh.

  8. I can relate… *sigh* 19 months is incredible, keep on. I’m curious, “not long enough,” Long enough for what?

    • Red Sox!

      Thanks for the visit. 19 months feels pretty damn good, to be sure. As for the “not long enough”, it’s kind of a running joke i have which means i haven’t been sober long enough that i’m “fixed” now, so i have to stay sober longer. Of course i’ll never be sober “long enough” because i’m an alcoholic and a pickle can’t go back to being a cucumber.

      Keep coming back, my friend,

      Al K Hall

  9. I’ve been in that position where someone exploited my drinking history to tell a credible lie about me. It’s really a harsh blow because 1) someone told a nasty lie and 2) people believe it readily.

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