One of the biggest cancer causes is addiction, especially alcohol. Alcohol provides the perfect environment and fuel for cancer. More importantly,
the emotional state that we have as alcoholics is what really seals the deal.
Hello my old friend
At 12 years old my friends and I raided their parent’s liquor cabinet and poured some from every bottle into a cup. After that, we took sips while roaming the neighborhood until it was time to stumble home.
At that time my home was in crisis, again. My mother’s third marriage was heading for divorce and we were in the screaming, crying and fighting stage of the breakup. However, that day I felt no pain nor any stone of dread in my belly about losing another father or how we’d make it financially. The alcohol had made me blissfully numb.
My mother was profoundly thoughtful and loving. She was strong and fun and beautiful. She turned heads, looking like a cross between Jackie Kennedy and Liz Taylor.
My mother was also bipolar. Back then it was called manic depression. Her manic episodes were terrifying for my sister and me, often dissolving into violence and threats to give us away or send us to a children’s home. Then her depression would hit and she would be bedridden for days.
During her life, Mama married four times, but the elephant in our house (her mental illness) would wake up, take over and they would flee, just like my dad.
As far as I knew, my father was a good dad and husband until my sister was six and I was four, when he took us to his girlfriend’s house with him. He told us to play outside with her two little girls.
I had kidney problems which made it painful for me to urinate and of course the time came when I had to pee. I peered in through the locked screen door and saw a lady sitting on his lap and he yelled at me to go away. Knowing I was in pain and unable to hold it, my sister took me into the bushes to pee.
Shortly after that day, my dad and his girlfriend sat at our table and announced that he wanted a divorce and we had to move out. He threw us out, prying my sister’s arms from around his legs.
We went to live with my grandmother and for a few months he visited and called us. Soon he cut off all calls, visits and presents as he settled into his new family. He didn’t come see me when I had to be hospitalized repeatedly for my kidney issues. He just erased himself from my life.
My troubles get worse
When I was 6, my older cousin, held me against my will, in a dark room and molested me. It happened many times. Consequently by the time I was 12, I was a hardcore insomniac and had migraine headaches. However, that day when I got drunk, I slept peacefully. I was also diagnosed with depression but my Mom declared the doctor a kook and we never went back.
Shame and secrecy
There’s something about being a victim of sex abuse that seems to broadcast to other predators. In my teen years I was sexually assaulted by two different guys my own age on two separate occasions. So I learned to hate my body because it attracted the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of guys.
Building my adult life
At eighteen, I found myself pregnant and got married to my first and only love, Steve. Being kids ourselves, life was rough for the early years. Immaturity, money stress and being young parents made for a volatile beginning but we stayed together through it all and recently celebrated our 42nd anniversary.
Fast forward to my adult years. Most every night, I drank alcohol. I established rules for myself and stuck to them. Rules like not drinking until my kids were in bed for the night and never driving when I’d been drinking.
My husband would try to talk to me about it but I always shut him down. No one was going to come between me and my numbing friend. I kept my rules well, broke no laws, kept good jobs and took care of my family.
From time to time I would go to counseling. After all, I was still dealing with a bipolar mother. My counselors knew about my drinking but other issues took precedence, so it wasn’t addressed.
I went to al-anon to help me with codependency. I went to different AA meetings to seek help but I never seemed to connect with the people there. They would talk about getting arrested, wrecking cars, stealing from their jobs and losing everyone they loved and I just couldn’t relate to them. They weren’t like me. I stuck to my rules. I felt like shit every morning but I thrived in my jobs and my daytime life.
My body screams for help
By the time I was 40, my immunity was shot. I caught every head cold that I was exposed to and they always settled in my ears. For the next twenty years I was repeatedly prescribed antibiotics and steroids to dry out my inner ears. I didn’t even connect my health issues to my drinking and I damn sure didn’t know that cancer cells thrive in mucus.
When I was drinking, I figured I was killing myself. My liver frequently hurt and I often found mysterious bruises on my body. My hands shook and trembled beyond my control and I would stick them in my pockets to hide it. I believed my family would be better off without me. I was too chicken to kill myself outright and sure didn’t want to put my family through that, but I really didn’t want to be here anymore.
And the bill comes due
At 60, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wasn’t shocked. I figured I deserved it. My account had come due and it was time to pay the price.
Years before, I’d made a deal with God. If he would spare my mother a frightening, suffering death, then I would take it for her. She was afraid of suffering and I just wanted her to have a peaceful death when her time came. And God, in His mercy gave her that peaceful death a year before at the age of 88. So I wasn’t surprised I had cancer, figuring it was my deal with God coming to fruition. I’m a woman of my word and I was ready to step up and take it.
I’m a sprinter, not a marathon runner so that day I was ready to die. I thought it would be fast. Now, a year and some change later, I know that God hadn’t heard my offer of a deal and carved it in stone somewhere in His book. Instead He had a plan of His own to wake me up and heal me!
God’s counter offer to me
As I was healing from the mastectomy I began to heal from the alcohol abuse too. I started feeling really good when I woke up each morning. My trembling hands became still. There were no more secret bruises and my liver stopped aching. I stopped having “oh shit” panic moments because I’d run out of booze. I felt the shame and self hatred abate. And a tiny spark of something that feels like hope was lit.
I started feeling other things too. Niggling little bursts of laughter and sudden tears of sadness. Then fear, joy, wonder and frustration. Lots of feelings. But I’d run out of places to hide and frankly I was sick of life as I knew it.
It was time for an overhaul. It was time to feel things. Sometimes it’s exhausting. Other times I have to get in a quiet room and just breathe. Sometimes I have to let my family members down by setting limits to protect myself and my sobriety.
Where do feelings come from?
I have learned that we cannot trust all of our feelings. Feelings are born from our thoughts and beliefs. If those thoughts and beliefs are lies, our feelings aren’t trustworthy.
Truth comes from the word of God. The one who created us and knows what’s best for us. He tells us what we need to know in His book, His living word that is the source of all truth.
If our thoughts and beliefs are built on His word , and not our ill born experiences, we are safe. We are all here for a finite time and then each of us will die. The suffering is in the living when we don’t trust in God’s love for us.
I’m not good enough
My father had modeled for me a god who turns his back on you. I thought I wasn’t lovable. I believed God’s love was for the deserving good people, not me.
Then I thought of my only son. Would I send him to die for anyone? Who in the world would I love so much that I would send my son to be tortured and ultimately killed in a very public and humiliating way? No one. Yet God did that for me.
Today, I don’t need my old friend to numb me anymore. I still get overwhelmed with feelings sometimes, but I’m working on it. I don’t want alcohol anymore. Quitting alcohol has been easier than I ever dreamed.
I can trust myself now to take care of me. I don’t live with the oppressive feeling of failing myself and everyone around me anymore. I’ve learned that feelings are one of the things that separates us from the animals. They make us human.
I was a drunk
Show me a drunk and I’ll show you someone who:
- Runs from their feelings
- Craves numbness
- Hides in plain sight
- Feels lonely in a crowd
- Doesn’t know how to cope with life and wants out
- Thinks of themselves as failures
- Feels inferior to others
- Doesn’t believe that God loves them as He does others
These are all actually traits of the cancer risk personality. Did you know there was such a thing?
Freedom and light
Breaking free of my numbing comforting blanket has been liberating to me. Having slept fitfully for most of my life, I am now awake.
It’s not possible to recapture the safety I felt as a child before my dad left, however I’ve settled into a certainty that God is in charge and He loves me. He will fight my battles for me and defeat my demons for me.
I will live the years He allots to me and no more. And Heaven itself awaits me on the other side.
Cancer Causes: Alcohol
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