The good times.
I remember lots of love,
Big strong cuddles from my Dad, his silly stories and rhymes, (often rude which obviously meant we loved them even more!) He would make us laugh until it hurt, dancing around, singing or just generally taking the Micky. Walks to the park; sitting on his shoulders and knocking conkers from the trees. Sharing my worries about school, friends, boys and Dad listening and trying to make me feel better (which he did). Feeling proud that people liked him because he was so easy to get along with friendly, funny and kind.
Knowing that Mum was always there for me 100 percent. She was loving and caring and I remember all the special little things she did to make us happy and which gave me a sense of importance that truly made all the difference. The fantastic birthday parties, wonderful Christmases, the home-made birthday and Christmas cakes that she would bake until the earl hours of the morning, bedtime stories, the best clothes and presents she could get us. When we were little Mum and Dad didn’t have a great deal of money but my sister and I never went without anything!
The bad times.
I remember the terrible fear, embarrassment and loneliness,
Watching my mum as she went back and forth to the window to see if my Dad was coming yet, walking home from school and preying to God that my Dad wouldn’t be drunk and that if he was then ‘please not angry drunk’. Coming home after a nice day out with my mum and sister and approaching the front door immediately sensing the negative vibe that told me he had been drinking again. The sinking feeling in my heart and overwhelming sadness as the roller-coaster started again. The way Dad would always swear he ‘hadn’t touched a drop’ and that he was in fact ‘sober as a judge’, as he breathed on me to prove it I could smell the combination of mints and lager. Why did he always lie about it?
The music at the end of casualty on a Saturday night that made me feel physically sick (and still does) because it meant he would or should be returning from the pub any moment. The sudden knock or bang on the door that filled me with dread (again something that still does).
Lying in bed and rocking to try to comfort myself as I listened to my parents arguing or Dad shouting and swearing or banging things.
Going to the toilet the next morning and smelling the stale smell of alcohol and urine that was all around the toilet seat. Listening to my mum cry and not knowing how to help but begging her not to leave him. Listening to Dad cry and apologise over and over and not knowing how to help him or us. Accompanying Dad to work or down the town to keep him out of the pub. Feeling guilty if he ‘just popped in for one’ and then explaining how I tried to stop him. Reassuring my mum and looking after my sister like a partner and not a daughter. Worrying and worrying and worrying; how would it ever get better, who could help us, how would it ever end?
There was never going to be a happy ending and I always knew it, but it didn’t stop me hoping for one.
Lots of people and children experience traumatic times in their lives, but when you live with something everyday for as long as you can remember it will inevitably have an impact on you and even if and when it stops it never really ends.
This is a guest post that really shows the difficult contrast that alcoholism can create in the home. Nacoa volunteers are always willing to listen with compassion. If you feel like you have been affected by a parents drinking you can call the help line on 08003583456.
And as always, if you feel like you want to share your story, anonymously or not, then get in touch here.