Today’s piece is another bravely written anonymous piece that really gets to the heart of what living with alcoholism is like. If you feel like you can relate and would like help and support, then Nacoa can offer this. If you would like to write a piece for this site then get in touch.
Since about the age of 6 years old I have watched my dad drink he has always drank and probably always will, he drank before I was born. . During the day he is sober, holding down a job from nine to six in an office. At night he drinks, comes home goes to the fridge and opens a bottle of beer, or wine, or a can of stella, sometimes he will stay out after work and go to a pub or bar. Our first house used to back onto a pub – I would sometimes stand watching the pub knowing dad was there waiting for him to stagger out and come home just so I knew he was home safe.
School was hard to feel normal. I have always felt different from my friends, I didn’t have many friends, the one friend I had left when I was about 7 years old and moved to Ireland. in school on Monday mornings it would always start with sharing about what we did over the weekend. Many people would say that they spent time with their dad or that their dad took them somewhere. When it got to me, what could I say? “Dad just drank?” No.
Talking about Dad and his drinking is not something we were allowed to do, and we still do not talk about Dad and his drinking.
Dad would sometimes take us to the park on a Sunday but it would end with a trip to the ‘offy’ for beer, sometimes it would be the club house and dad would sit in the club house drink and leave me and my sisters in the corner with a chocolate bar each and the TV to watch while he sat at the bar drank and then drove us home and while mum cooked dinner, he would drink and play a game with us, this would usually be kerplunk, frustration or ironically ‘happy families card game‘.
It wasn’t until my bed times became later that It really began to affect me I was noticing more and more how much my dad drinks, as my bedtimes got later – this was when I began to notice my dad passing out on the sofa and having to deal with him. Inviting friends round to my house became problematic because the later they stayed, the more chance I had of them seeing Dad drunk. To keep this from happening I would make sure my friends were gone by the early evening. I was going to school tired and exhausted from waiting for my dad to either pass out or to go to bed, and from trying to wake him up if he did pass out on the sofa. I was starting to get angry in school, not just because of what was going on at home, but also because I was getting bullied at school. Wherever I went, I was dealing with name calling and abuse. It was like there was no escape from it at all. I was labelled as naughty and badly behaved. I was threatened with suspension and isolation, and was put on report. I started to bunk school and classes.
If I did attend lessons, people would irritate me and I would become angry. No one ever asked if I was okay and just assumed ”that was how I was.”
The reality was that I was trying to juggle schoolwork, dad’s drinking, the abuse, arguments and trying to avoid getting into trouble at school.
Yet, I could not tell anyone what was going on at home, I didn’t know how to tell anyone, I also felt like telling them what was going on at home would destroy the family. So I kept quiet. I still do feel like telling would destroy the family. I would fall asleep in classes, I’d get angry, yet most of the time I’d act like everything was fine. There’d be times when me dad would turn up drunk if he’d taken the day off work.
My attendance fell from 100% to 50%, and it continued to fall until the attendance percentages got lower and lower. This was then attributed to me being a trouble maker and not being bothered about my education. As time went on, I missed deadlines and didn’t bother with homework. If I did do my homework it would be sloppy and rushed, sometimes done on the bus or train while on the way to school. I would often hide in the library at lunch times and break times to try an escape from the bullies and to get some homework done. Sometimes I’d avoid going to school altogether and I would hide out at a friends house or loiter in town.
I managed to get into college only just scraping by with the bare minimum grades I needed for my course but college proved to be just as hard. Though my attendance did seem to improve, I would still arrive late for class. I was becoming more and more angry, to the point where even the smallest thing would set me off. If someone said something I did not like I would rise from my seat and start shouting, or I would just shut down and stop talking. My tutor noticed and asked me what was going on. I said nothing at the time, but I had a few friends and one of my friends did know about my dad. This friend became my rock throughout college, they would call me most nights to make sure I was okay and that my dad was not getting violent or abusive, they offered me a place at their house for if I ever needed a place to stay, and would often bring me a sandwich from their house just so I had some thing to eat. I was kicked out of that college and labelled as ‘too troubled’ to continue the course. I moved colleges. At my second college, my tutor saw the cuts on my arms and asked me about them. I told her they were nothing and pulled my sleeves down, not wanting to talk about it. The truth is it was not just nothing – I had self harmed the night before as way to cope with everything, Dad had been drunk and in one of his violent rages, had rammed a chair into my leg,crushing it into the side of the worktop, but after last time and finding social services were not helpful at all I wasn’t going to tell on dad again. I kept myself to myself I was trying to do a college course and hold down a job. I was going to work acting like everything was okay and if anyone at work tried to help me or give me some helpful criticism I would end up in the toilets crying to my manager yet I wouldn’t tell what was wrong, they worked it out when my dad turned up to my work drunk asking for me to go with him. My manager realising the situation told me dad that they still needed me at work and told my dad ‘She will be home later’. I broke down in tears and told my manager about some of what happens at home – I managed to pass my college course getting a NVQ3.
Dads still violent with me, its not like it used to be on a daily basis and he thankfully does not strangle or punch me anymore. But the fear of what I’m going to go home to each night it there, some nights mum and dad will argue, some nights it will be dad arguing with me, or mum arguing with me. Sometimes theres no food and in winter the house is cold.
My house is never quiet, silence scares me, so does lots of noise and shouting. Silence is worse silence usually means something bad has happened or will happen. Theres always people coming going in my house usually this is mum or dads friends bringing wine and beer with them. Dad will probably not stop drinking and will probably drink for all of his life.
I’ve told myself I will not move out till both my sisters are safe and ok. They need me to protect them from dad that I will always will – till they are safe I am staying at home to protect them. As long my sisters are not hurt by dad, its ok.