Over the course of the next few days I will be posting this fictional story. Each day, I will post a different one of the 4 family member’s stories, all written in first person. The idea behind this is to show just how differently each family member sees the problem drinking and how it affects them all differently and how each family members coping mechanisms affect each other. I wrote this a year ago, and it has become a bit of a dream of mine to get it into schools in book format, as I believe reading this would have had a huge impact on me as a child.

You can read the first piece by the youngest family member here.

This piece is the 2nd piece and is the experience of the eldest of the 2 children… Would love to hear your thoughts. 

Josh 🙂 

I look around a lot and think about what I see.

I’m 5 years old. I go to school. It’s fun and I like it. I have a little brother who I like to look after. He’s coming to my school one day, I can’t wait. I will make sure he is ok.

I look around a lot and think about what I see.

I’m 6 now. Nearly time for my brother to come to my school. It will be better then. I can look after him, and anyway, nobody likes to play with me. I like to help mummy, because I think daddy is a bit scary. I asked mummy if she thinks he is and she said he’s lovely. I read my brother bed time stories, but I can’t read so I make stories up, or sometimes we watch DVD’s. Danny’s favourite is ‘Finding Nemo’.

We are different I think, but I don’t really know. 

I am 7 years old. I’m glad Danny is at my school now. I still don’t have any friends, but Danny has so it’s ok. He got a hole in his new school jumper, but its ok, nobody has seen it. When we get through the gates we swap jumpers. So he doesn’t have the hole. People already be nasty to me so it doesn’t matter. I like being alone anyway. The police take daddy away sometimes, which is bad, but also good. When daddy is gone it’s easier to read to Danny at bed time.

We are different I think, but I don’t really know. 

I’m 8. Dad is not always here. I help mum with stuff. Like clearing up and stuff. I’m trying really hard at school because I think maybe everyone is sad. I do well at school which makes mum happy. I am also good at ironing. All my homework is on the fridge. I did a drawing and we told mummy that Danny did it, I think she knows i was lying and lying is bad. But I put it on the fridge and told Danny that mum put it on there.

I know we are different but we will be ok.

I’m 9 now. My teacher says that I am really clever, and that when I am older I can be whatever I want. I told her I want to be a doctor, which I think she liked. I don’t care what I be when I’m older as long as I can buy a big house for me and my brother. And we will always have new shoes. Dad is in prison now. We go to see him. I told Danny that they have real nice sofas and flat screen tvs there for dad, so he can think nice stuff about it. I don’t think it is like that though because I saw a thing on tv that says it is punishment.

I know we are different but we will be ok.

I am 10 now. I wish we didn’t have to go and see my dad, it makes me feel weird, but I know Danny likes it. Dad saw my school report and said it’s good that I want to be a doctor. I still don’t want to be a doctor, but now mum and dad both think I do so maybe I just have to be one. Maybe if I am one I could help make mum realise when she is hurt. Dad hit her at the prison and she had a bruise but she said she couldn’t see it. I make sure I am extra good at school so mum gets to be happy.

If I try hard enough I might make it better.

I’m 11. Dad is out of prison, its ok. I’m ok. We have to go and visit him in this place where he lives. I have called mum before to come and get us. I have to make sure Danny is ok. Mum said we don’t have to go if we didn’t want to. I don’t want to. But I think Danny does, and I think mum wants us to. So I tell mum we are fine. And that its fun. We only have one bed there, but we would sleep in the same bed anyway because I know Danny gets scared, even though we go to bed when it’s still really light. It scares me too, but I tell Danny it doesn’t. I know that makes him feel better.

If I try hard enough I might make it better.

I am 12 now. My dad has died. It’s been really hard. But it’s ok. Our home feels quiet but it’s ok. I had to do more stuff at home for a bit. Mum says we are all she has. Maybe that wasn’t enough for my dad. My teacher said it is ok to tell people whatever I want to tell them about why my dad is dead but that maybe I should just say he was sick. So I do. I always make stuff up about my family anyway, so we are safe. I know my teacher thinks my dad died because he was bad, she didn’t say that, but I know. Most adults think we are bad. That’s why mum says other people should mind their own. I’m just going to make sure I do really well at school so I can be a doctor, so at least mum will be happy. I wish it made me feel happy too.

I feel alone a lot, but I guess that’s life.

So I’m 13. I guess school is going really well. My mum and my teacher keep telling me how well I’m doing, so I guess I should be happy, and I am, at least I think I am. All the boys at school say I am a geek. I don’t want to be a geek. But I am one I think. I like trying really hard at school stuff, because then I forget. Forget what? I’m not really sure. I can’t look at myself in the mirror… I don’t know why. But I can’t tell anyone any of this stuff. So I just keep working as hard as I can.

I feel alone a lot, but I guess that’s life.

I am 14. Danny comes to my school now, we are not as close as we were. But I think time just changes things. I continue to do my best at school. I stay behind for a few after school classes. I just like using my mind. When I don’t have a problem to solve I feel lost. If I think long enough I feel so alone. I sometimes wonder if it’s normal. Sometimes I wish I could run away, I dunno, to another planet. On my own.  I have no idea why I think like this.

Is this normal, or am I different?

I’m now 15. I’m expected to get the best grades and get accepted into the college I want. I should feel good I guess, but I just don’t. I think… I think I am a bad person. I’d rather not be here, I mean I don’t think I wanna kill myself, but I don’t wear a seat belt if that makes sense. I wish I could believe this high opinion everyone has of me. But I don’t. I have all these certificates for achievements and feel like a failure. I know this can’t be right. I don’t tell anyone the truth. In fact I lie about a lot of stuff without thinking. More proof I am not a good person. I wish I was more like Danny, he has this ‘don’t care’ attitude. But I am making my mum happy, and that’s my job. At least putting the effort into school helps me forget. Forget what? I’m still not sure.

Is this normal or am I different?

So I am now 16. I achieved almost perfect grades in my GCSE’s. Mum was so happy. So I am glad I did it. There was a party for leaving school. I went. I didn’t want to. I don’t really have any friends. Mum said I should go. Some people were drinking some cheap wine. I tried it for the first time. But I only had a little bit, it made me feel giddy, and I couldn’t stand remotely losing control of what I was doing. I don’t really get it, alcohol I mean and getting drunk. I hung out with a girl named Kate there, she knows how to have a drink and have fun. She was sick at the end and I helped her. I really like her.

I press on with life, although it’s a fight. 

I’m 17 now. On good days life is manageable, on bad days I still struggle to see the light. I flippantly think about ending it all but I am kind of aware of how silly that is. Kate is my girlfriend now. She gives my life purpose and meaning. In many ways we are different. She likes to party which gives my life a bit of excitement. She’s had it tough and struggles. She says I make things ok. I struggle to believe her, but it gives my life meaning. I concentrate on studying and on Kate and it helps me forget… Forget what?! I’m not quite sure. I guess this is all normal stuff of growing up.

I press on with life, although it’s a fight.

I’m 18! A man! I’m in my second year of college and studying hard. When I’m studying or with Kate life is manageable at least. But when I am at home, and mum is out and Danny is doing whatever he does, I get that horrible lonely feeling. It’s almost unbearable. I’m just stuck with myself, and I have no idea who that is. I’m faintly aware that around others I lie a lot. I am afraid a lot. You know that feeling when someone knocks at the door late at night and you have like a feeling of panic in your stomach until u realise who it is? I have that feeling 24/7 and I’m constantly trying to escape it. I’m starting to worry about Danny too. I wish I could do something.

Being the ‘good one’ can feel real bad.

I’m 19 and set to head to Uni. I’m relieved Kate is coming. I’m kinda worried she could spin out of control so at least she’ll have me. And she has no idea how I would struggle without her! We need each other. I would end it all if I didn’t have her. Danny tried suicide. I went to see him. I haven’t been able to help him for so long. He says I wouldn’t have a clue what he’s going through, that I should leave him alone and carry on with my ‘perfect life’. I wish I could tell him how I felt. That part of me admires his attempted suicide. He’s more of a man than me for it. I envy how he says exactly what he thinks. Here i am all ‘perfect’ and doing great in life desperately hiding my enormous self-loathing. I still intend to be a doctor, so I can support Kate. She’s had a tough life.

Being the ‘good one’ can feel real bad.

I’m 20. How do I feel about life? I don’t know really. That it already feels like a long old slog. I look at Danny’s life and as chaotic as it is I wonder who has it worse? I don’t think me and him see the world a great deal differently, yet I get told how great I am doing all the time, and I suppose I am, yet I still feel like I am crazy. To be liked when inside I hate myself is not a great feeling. Would it be easier if people hated me the way I hate myself? I seek escape all the time because I feel anxious a lot. I have learned to mask all this, learnt so well that on the outside I have the perfect life. The perfect man unable to look himself in the eye because of who he sees… That’s not my idea of perfection. I haven’t had the easiest upbringing but who hasn’t? I believe I had a loving home. I have no idea what life is about. Me and Danny used to watch ‘Finding Nemo’ over and over when we were small and I used to repeat to Danny what the fish says… ‘KEEP SWIMMING, KEEP SWIMMING’. Thank god for Kate, she needs me, without her I would just stop swimming.