According to my mother, I have struggled with addiction throughout my life, in fact, she claims I was an alcoholic by age 1.
This is a story that is shared over and over again at family gatherings and parties. I have been hearing it my whole life. It is all based on this photo of me as a one-year-old baby, where I am holding an empty wine bottle. The story goes that I used to crawl into the hallway, find the bottles waiting on the floor to be taken out to the recycling bin, and then drink the last drops of wine that were in them.
I obviously have no recollection of doing, or not doing, this. The only proof that exists, is this photo of me, as a baby, holding a wine bottle. But does that mean I drank from it? And if I did, does that mean I did it all the time? Maybe I did. Or maybe it was a story my mother concocted to shine an unfavorable light on me when talking to others.
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Even if I did manage to crawl out into the hallway, find these bottles, and drink from them, what on earth were the bottles doing in a place where a baby could easily take hold of them? And if I did drink from them, how could I be blamed for it? I was an infant! Shouldn’t it be seen as the shortcoming of my parents for leaving them within my reach? Ingesting alcohol like that—especially the amount I drank according to my mother’s narrative—could have killed me. Babies and wine don’t mix! Yet, the blame was placed on me, rather than on my parents.
Even though the story was shared as a funny anecdote, these were the messages I heard and internalized when I heard it as a child:
You have no self-control
You have always (and will always) have bad habits and behavior
You are a disappointment
You are not loveable