John – Alcohol And My Family.

Over the course of the last few days i have been posting this story. Each day, I have posted 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 from the youngest child here.

You can read the second piece from the oldest brother here.

You can read the third piece from the mother here. 

This is the 4th and final piece and is the experience of the dad. Would love to hear your thoughts. 

Josh 🙂 

There’s a dark place in my soul, a place I don’t want to go.

I am 25. I have a wife who I love, and my 2 beautiful boys are everything to me. I hope I am a good dad, though I don’t really know what that looks like. I throw myself into work and work about as hard as I can. I want my kids to have everything I didn’t.

There’s a place in my soul, a place I don’t want to go.

I’m 26. I’ve always felt different to everyone in my life. I find everything difficult. I know I drink a lot. It would be easy to point to my childhood but I don’t really remember being a kid, or I don’t want to remember. My dad was a scary man I know that much. He would beat me a lot. My mum would just let him do it. She was a junkie. I used to curl up in a ball under the kitchen table and she would carry on doing what it was she did, like I wasn’t there. But I’m 26 now, that’s in the past. I drink to take the edge off life. You would too. Ellana doesn’t like it and so we argue. I’m not good at arguing. I am like a different person, a person I don’t like.

I want to be good, but I’m not sure I can.

I’m 27 now. The boys seem to be growing up fast. Work puts me under a hell of a lot of pressure. I want to be a good dad, I desperately want to be good dad. But I feel I am failure. The police have had me away a couple of times. Things get a bit crazy at home. I’ve spent a night or 2 in the cells. Alone in my own head. Somewhere in me I know the pain I cause the people I love. I wish I didn’t. Ellana says it’s the booze, but it’s not the booze. Life gets on top of me that’s all, and I get angry. If I could just deal with anger things would be better.

I want to be good but I’m not sure I can.

I’m 28 and yea ok I don’t have a great relationship with alcohol. But I don’t see how that is the problem?! I am I drinker yes, but I work hard for my family, the money comes in, sure we struggle but what if I wasn’t there?! Ellana goes on and on and on about my drinking. So sometimes I stay away. It isn’t good for them kids, her making me so angry. I don’t want to be the man it makes me, the man she makes me…. I woke up in a bush outside the house at 4am on a winter’s morning, I was wearing just a t-shirt. I had taken my coat off. It was at least -5 degrees. I recall this story to my mates. We laugh. But really it’s no joke. I remember the night before, taking my coat off and setting up to pass out. Somewhere in me I wanted be found frozen half to death. It sounds like a pitiful cry for help. I guess that what it was. I wish I wasn’t like this.

I hate myself, and wish I was just like you.

I’m 29 and in prison. I guess I was slowly heading here all along. The idea of prison has never scared me, in fact it’s always appealed to me. In here I can’t hurt anyone any more. I know I have a problem with alcohol. I’m going to try to get off it. You’d think it would be easy in prison but it’s not. I don’t mind prison, the routine, the control, I dunno, there’s comfort in it. The outside world is chaos for me. I’m lost out there. Even with a family that loves me and that I love…. I think. Maybe I wouldn’t be in prison if I truly loved them. I’ve been seeing a councillor in here. I talk about my mum and dad. Dad died when I was 15. But he was homeless from when I was 10. I used to walk by him asleep in the subway near town, sometimes I’d think about speaking to him. Sometimes I’d think about beating him to death for all the times he done it to me. But every time I’d walk on without saying a thing. He’d see me from time to time and beg for money… Money?! I was wearing the same clothes every day when I was 12 because they were all I had. My mum was no better. She had always be a heroin addict. She’d bring men back. Horrible men. I’d close my ears. Some came into my room. I never slept. I used to check mums pulse before I went to school. Every day. I have no idea if my mum is dead or alive today. I assume she is dead.

I hate myself and wish I was just like you.

Who would have thought I’d spend my 30th birthday in jail…. Most people I’d imagine! I found recovery in here for a while. I went to meetings, saw therapists, and read a lot of books. I celebrated my 8th month by smoking my first bit of heroin. It worked instantly. It took away everything that was killing me inside and in an instant I understood my mum. I didn’t like recovery. I desperately tried to make it work. I wanted it so bad and on some days i almost convinced myself it might actually work for me. But it didn’t. I couldn’t deal with life. I still physically hurt my wife on a visit. I wasn’t drinking but I was still that man who couldn’t face life the way people should. My mind was like an un-tuned radio 24/7 and all I could think about was release from that. So in the end I sought escape. I know this makes me weak but I have nothing else to give. Bad childhood or not, it doesn’t seem to matter. I’m just not a good man. I think about my boys all they time. I pray every morning that they don’t have to feel like I feel, ever. I hope they don’t. Ellena says they are ok. I hope they are. I wish I could be like the dads I see on the telly. The good ones. Who love their children. I don’t know if I’ve ever cuddled my boys. I don’t know how. I have no idea what love really feels like.

I am hardly existing.

I’m 31. They released me from prison into a small bedsit. I wanted to go back to the kids and Ellena. But they don’t want me there. Who would? I remember once, I have no idea how old I was, or in fact if my mind has completely made this up, but I had just seen my dad beat my mum. I could just about deal with her shrieks that followed the thuds, but when they stopped and it was just the thuds, I would panic. I had ran to the bedroom, just to see, mum wasn’t moving and for a second I thought I might be able to somehow help her, then he saw me. I ran, there was a gap behind the shed I could just about fit in and I hid in there. I don’t know how long for. But I remember thinking that when I was older I wouldn’t be like my dad or my mum. That I’d never make any child feel like I did wedged behind that rotten shed. But the moment I started taking drugs I became a complete mix of my mum and my dad. I wish I could turn back. Never pick up a drink or drug. But alcohol has saved my life. I drink instead of ending it and the first time I took heroin it was like a warm hug I’d always wanted to experience. I wonder if I’m selfish letting my boys come stay. I drink and use around the clock now and i have no idea how to stop that, but I want to see them. Watch them grow. But I’m not present, my bedsit is always full of people. All using each other for the next hit.


I am 32. I think back to when Tom, my first son was born. This little ball of life was placed in my arms and for a time, there was light in my life. I started to make plans, I was working, I had a wife and life was going to be like what I read in books when I was a child. I was going to raise him in a home full of laughter, jokes, freedom, and love. But the truth was I had no idea what any of those words meant. I had a knowing that that’s how things were meant to be, but I just didn’t have the tools to do it. When I look back I think I only managed a month or maybe 2 of anything like normal living. My head is a dark dark place, and I think no amount of light is enough to rid of that darkness. No matter how much I try. It’s wrong for me to continue in this world, I am full of pain and suffering and can bring nothing but darkness to the lives of people who come near me. I cannot bare to wake another morning and be the man that I am. It’s time to end the struggle for my boys. They can close this chapter and move forward with their lives. Maybe I am selfish. Maybe. Or maybe living is selfish. I am broken. Broken beyond repair. It is time to end this, for the good of anyone that knows me. How do I hope to be remembered? …. I hope to be forgotten.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. E says:

    This is such a well written, experiential portrait of addiction. Fighting an uphill battle in the context of poverty and trauma is a story I know well. Healing, changing the course begins when we first have compassion for ourselves, understanding why we got there. When we can love ourselves we plant a seed of hope that says ‘I’m allowed to be different than I was yesterday.’ NACOA creates that compassionate awareness by sharing these stories. My father is a recovered alcoholic. His father was an alcoholic. Anorexia and codependency have been my addictions to battle but it’s really all the same and the answer to all of it is love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. coaisathing says:

      Totally agree that the answer to it all is love. Love and compassion are what have freed me to be able to start a journey of healing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rini says:

    Josh, so sorry it’s been a busy week and I wanted to read all the stories in one sitting. The guilt, denial, anger, abuse of self and others and the vicious cycles are all ones that feel so familiar from my personal experience and my work.

    Of all the narratives, the father’s story really struck me at my core. You really helped me to understand this person’s suffering and despair. Some elements reminded me of my own alcoholic father, I wish I could have had more of these conversations with him…but I was only a child and then a young adult myself when he died, trying to process it all myself.

    My Mum did explain some of his triggers e.g. his physical and emotional abuse from his own father, not feeling good enough at work but we also rarely discussed him after he died. If there is one thing I could change for all alcoholics and their families it would be not to keep silent but to talk and get these difficult emotions out….they come out somehow eventually anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. coaisathing says:

      I really appreciate you taking the time to read and for sharing with me. I’m glad it has helped you to understand more too. I totally agree we need to try to help people open up 🙂


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