rejecting my birthright: how my mother's death, one wife, three children, and 12 months in Iraq have me hoping I can say 'no' to the last legal drug


My grandmother killed herself after many days of telling my father and his siblings, “I may not be here when you get home from school.” One day, it was the truth.

My mother gave my four siblings and I food stamps to buy treats, and asked us to bring back as much change as possible, so she could use the remainder for whiskey. She’d get drunk enough so she wouldn’t hear when my stepfather screamed at us for sins like sleeping in each others’ rooms for comfort, or burned us with cigarettes.

One memorable Father’s Day, I had promised to bike to my in-laws’ house with my oldest son, a 25-mile trip. By noon I was too drunk to stay upright on my bike.

I’m trying to break free, but alcoholism is my birthright. Am I doomed to repeat the sins of my fathers, the sins of my forefathers? Am I bound by the sins of my mothers, the sins of my foremothers? The day after Ignite, I’ll be mobilized in the Army Reserves, headed toward 15 months in Iraq. I hope this — and my Ignite presentation — will change me. I hope my son won’t be doomed, too.

jonathan hanson

Affiliation dad @ cafemama

born and raised in Oregon, my first time overseas was a honeymoon in Madrid with my wife, Sarah Gilbert, and our nine-month-old, Everett. the second time will be in the fall of 2009 when I go to Iraq as a reservist in the U.S. Army. I hope I can finally do something for my family to be proud of; I hope I can finally kick my addiction.