Here is the complete story of ‘Alcohol And My Family’ together in one post. I have done this because one of my 2018 ambitions is to get this into book format so that it can get into the hands of children or people that it can really help. I plan on trying to crowdfund this. People will be able to donate as much as they like, but if they donate a certain amount I thought they could actually donate to become part of the book…. At the back of the book I thought people could donate to have some kind of short sentence or paragraph or even a picture of something they think a child of an alcoholic might benefit from reading. 

This is, of course, currently just an idea of how it could work. I would welcome peoples opinions on whether they feel this is doable, if they would get involved if it happens or any other idea they feel may be helpful to make this happen. You can do this by leaving a comment or by email at coaisathing@gmail.com.

Thanks 

~ Josh ~


Danny – The youngest of the family.

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I don’t know what you think, it’s not entered my mind.

I’m 3 years old, this place is huge. I like to explore… and cuddles with mummy… And daddy too.. When he’s here….He tickles my belly with his beard. It makes laugh. His mouth smells funny sometimes but I don’t care.

I don’t know what you think, it’s not entered my mind.

I’m 4 now. I’m going to my brother’s school soon. He’s cool. I like when we play upstairs. When we play with the door shut its harder to hear when daddy’s angry. Mummy says he accidentally breaks stuff sometimes because the people at his work are nasty. I don’t like those people. I ask mummy why daddy’s mouth smells funny. She says it doesn’t and that I’m being silly. I’m silly a lot.

I wonder what you think. Are you just like me?

I’m 5 and go to school now. I like playing chase at play time. But the classroom is quiet, which makes me feel scared, so I try to make people laugh. Mummy tells me everybody’s houses are different, and we have to look after each other. I don’t know what she means. The police take daddy away sometimes, to make him all better and so he doesn’t smash things. Sometimes he’s gone for a while. I would tell the policeman about the nasty people at daddy’s work, but they are a little bit scary. It’s ok though because we always get ice cream and stuff when he’s gone, so we are happy. We must be happy. I thought mummy was sad but she just had something in her eye.

I wonder what you think. Are you just like me?

Now I’m 6. I really don’t like how daddy’s mouth smells because I think the smell makes him be nasty. Which is horrible because his mouth smells all the time now. I kept asking mummy but she was telling me off in the end. She said who cares that his mouth smells anyway?! My house is small now. I don’t like playing exploring any more. I think daddy lives somewhere else. But sometimes he sleeps on the kitchen floor. I don’t want to ask mummy because ‘don’t I think she has enough on her plate’ or that’s what she says. Anyway we have to be happy. Sometimes at school I pretend I live somewhere else. It would be nice but I would miss mummy too much. And daddy…when his breath was not smelly.

It annoys me what you think. You’re not like us.

I’m 7. You think we are bad. Dads in prison. So you think we are bad. I can see the way the adults look at me. But I don’t care. I stay strong for my mum. I have to now. The smell on dad’s breath was beer. He’s alcoholic. Mum has told us that now. Prison will make him better. Mum cries less now.  So she doesn’t have to lie about the thing in her eye. I can make her laugh. Which I do a lot so we can be happy. Visiting dad is cool. And I don’t have to worry about coming home from school when dad is drunk. My older brother acts a bit strange. I hope he’s not alcoholic.

It annoys me what you think. You’re not like us.

I’m 8 now. I’m trying my best to keep mum happy. I think it’s working. Most of the time anyway. She cuddles me a lot and says us boys are all she has. That makes me feel good and means I must be good for her. I still mess up, we were visiting dad and I told him about mum’s new friend, he got angry and punched mum real hard. She was ok. She said it didn’t hurt and that these things happen. But I know it was my fault. I should learn. Maybe if I’d learnt how to make people laugh before dad went to prison i could have made him happy enough to be good.

I know what you think. Any maybe you’re right.

I’m 9. Dad is out from prison and living in this tiny house. We go there sometimes. I don’t like it. Dad is still alcoholic so prison don’t work. Nor do I. I can’t make him laugh that much. And I’m scared to try. His laugh is scary. I hate is breath. It makes me real scared. His friends are nasty. I don’t know why he is always angry at mum. I try to make mum laugh but she doesn’t. I look at their faces all the time so I know when it’s coming. I try really hard at school because maybe if get really really good I could make them real happy and they wouldn’t need to argue. Sometimes I think I am nearly there. Then dad shouts a lot of things. Nasty stuff. I heard my friends mum tell her friend that my mum has a lot to answer for. Mum said ignore them, they don’t have a clue, and not to get angry because then they have won. But I punched bobby at school so nobody will know what I’m angry about.

I know what you think. Any maybe you’re right.

I’m 10. We went home early from school. I knew dad was going to be dead. I had been waiting for it. He was. I cried and then managed to stop. Mum said he was alcoholic and gone to a better place. I wondered where that was. And if I’d ever get to go there. I’m gunna be strong for mum. She has had it really really bad and I’m not gunna make it worse. We went back to school. I’m not like the other kids at school.. You looked at me with those eyes. I just make people laugh. My teacher said I was brave. I don’t cry in front of people because I am strong. Sometimes I cry on my own in my bedroom so nobody sees. I know when I cry it’s because I am weak. I am not weak. I am ok. Mum is so proud. She told my Nan she is glad I’m so young that I don’t really understand. I pretend I don’t so mum is happy. We are all happy, so I don’t talk about what makes me sad.

I know what you think. You think I’m brave.

I’m 11. I have to be brave. Mum seems to be quite happy and that makes me feel good. When everybody is happy my world is easier. A girl at school did a dance she learned and was allowed to pick one person to show. She picked me. The dance wasn’t great, but I told her it was amazing. She smiled and that made feel good. Mum keeps telling people that my teacher told her she was real happy the girl chose me because she knew I’d be nice even though the girl has learning difficulties. They tell me what a star I am and how fantastic I’ve done and stuff. I don’t really believe them. But people say nice stuff all the time. I’m glad they don’t know how weak I really am. I am really scared to go to senior school. I tell mum I can’t wait so she doesn’t have to worry.

I know what you think. You think I’m brave.

I’m 12 and at senior school. It’s weird. I don’t like it. We had to start talking about what we want to be when we grow up. I don’t care. I just don’t want to be alcoholic. My teacher thinks I’m a clown and disruptive. Well she don’t have a clue. I get angry at school a lot. I don’t really know why. Making people laugh is about all I have. We still don’t talk about my dad. There’s posters up in the corridors about how bad alcohol is. Some of the posters make me realise my dad did drugs too. A famous footballer died of alcoholism. Everyone talks about how he couldn’t have loved his kids enough. No one says anything nice about him. I start to wonder about my dad, but it makes my head go so fast I can’t think. I can’t ask anyone. I put it to the back of my mind. I still cry most nights. Thank god I’ve never been caught. If people knew the real me…

I know what you think. And I just don’t care.

I’m 13. Me and some of the lads from school drink and smoke weed at the weekends. I love it. That noise in my head goes when I drink or smoke stuff. I ent harming anyone. I don’t care about school. The teacher’s don’t have a clue about me and my life. I don’t care anyway. I love the weekends. I feel part of something at last. I don’t even cry at night anymore. Life is good. I get in trouble a lot at school but who cares. I’m always good at home. I’ll never let my mum down at home. She don’t need it.

I know what you think. And I just don’t care.

At 14, to be honest, I’m confused. I have a group of mates but I don’t feel like I fit. I find it hard to connect properly with them, unless I’m drunk. Then I don’t care. I’ve had a few girlfriends but I’m not into it really. I have to be drunk to talk to them properly. I couldn’t deal with them turning me down. They make me angry anyway. I smashed my last girlfriend’s phone against a wall. I don’t really know why. I get angry a lot. At crazy times. For no reason. It bursts out of me like I have no control. Some days I feel like I wanna burst. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because of my dad. But people have had it much worse. I saw a thing on T.V, an 18-year-old boy lost his dad when he was 10. It was to cancer and he had to watch his dad die slowly. The boy was about to run a marathon for the charity that had helped his family. I imagined running a marathon for my dad, the alcoholic, I’m not sure anyone would donate, or even if there is a charity I could give the money to. Anyway this boy seemed like he had dealt with it. So I should be able to. Deep down I know I can’t though. The crying at night is back, im pathetic really. I wonder if there’s anyone who feels like I do on the inside. At least I have the weekends. They’re fun.

I know what you think, and it plays on my mind.

I’m 15 now. I’ve been arrested a few times. People judge me now. I say I don’t care, but I think I do. I don’t like myself but I act cocky so people don’t realise what a loser I am. People annoy me a lot. They have no idea about my life or the real world. A couple of people have said I should talk to someone.. But about what?! I’ve never talked about anything to anyone. I don’t need to. I’m strong. My dad was a drunk, so what?! Life is tough and you have to get on with it. I don’t really like life. I do think about ending it, that will show them. I’d have to be drunk to do it. But when im drunk I don’t want to do it. So im still here. How do people live like this for so long?! I can’t be like other people.

I know what you think, and it plays on my mind.

I’m 16. I’ve left school. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I’ve started selling drugs. I go out clubbing and drinking in the pubs. The pubs give me a slight sense of belonging, if I take enough drink that is. People around me seem happy and directed. I’m lost. I try to work people out. Are they like me? People think I’m a good laugh. A real party animal. I guess I am, but I really struggle, there’s pain in me somewhere that I cover up. Is everyone doing that?! If they are the world is a pack of lies. No… Nobody is like me.

I know what you think, and I’m imprisoned by it.

I’m 17. Life is crazy. The police know me well. I’m in trouble a lot. Nobody understands. I hate life and I hate people. I often drink so much I don’t remember a thing the next day. I like fighting. Even getting beaten up feels good. I’ve woken up in hospital a few times. Who cares?! There’s nothing anyone can do to me that will hurt any more than I hurt inside. I couldn’t tell you what goes through my head if I tried. It’s just noise. I do insane things when im drunk. Stuff that makes me feel unbearably ashamed. I can deal with that. It’s alone in my head I can’t do. I tried to kill myself. I failed. Now im a failure at life and a failure at death. What’s the point?! People have started to see the real pathetic person I am. I hate it. I can see the disgust in everyone’s eyes. I drink most days. Do I crave it? Who knows, I just cannot do life. People say I should stop drinking. Drinking isn’t the problem. I am. I do want to die. I still play the clown. I tell people im ok. I don’t want help.

I know what you think, and I’m imprisoned by it.

So I am 18. I’m still alive. Not that I deserve it. I’m rarely sober at all. My life is out of control. I moved out. Didn’t want mum to see what I’ve become. I can’t imagine my life without alcohol but I can’t imagine it with it either! I’m barely existing. I shake all the time. I’m scared to answer the door. The world terrifies me. So I drink. I drink and use. I don’t even know if it works. But I blackout. I have a baby now. I wanted more than anything in the world to be a good dad. I tried to calm my drinking. It didn’t work. I wake up to a smashed up house regularly.  I don’t drink in the pubs. I can’t afford to. I have no idea how I got here. Or why I’m so pathetic. But I’m here. As a child I had 1 dream. To not be an alcoholic. My life has barely begun, and here I am. A dad. An alcoholic.


Tom – The older brother.

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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.


Ellana – The mother of the family

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This is just as I planned, just how I wanted it.

I’m 23 and I have the most beautiful family I could have imagined. Me and my husband married when I was 19. He’s an amazing man who works hard for our family. He still likes to go out on the weekends, which he totally deserves, while I take care of our 2 beautiful boys. They are so special.

This is just as I planned, just how I wanted it.

I’m 24 our family is happy. Both the boys are at school now so I have a part-time job at the shop. My husband, John, still works just as hard, so we do argue. It’s not a lot but we do argue. Never in front of the kids, I won’t let them see it. I went through that as a child. Seeing my parents argue all the time. The arguments start when john gets home from the pub. So the kids are never up. It’s not every night. We are a happy family. All couples argue. It can be difficult when his drinking has gone a little overboard, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. He works hard. We both do.

It’s not what it seems, but I have it in control.

I’m 25 now. The job at the shop didn’t last. I was tired a lot. John gets himself in trouble. He is a great dad but he’s had a tough life. It’s hard for him. Our family is ok. I protect the boys from everything. I have to hold it together. I mean, no one said life was easy. The boy’s don’t miss school ever. And I reassure them it will be ok. John is a good dad. We have really amazing days when he doesn’t drink. Often the arguments are my fault. I get angry and snap at him. But we hold it together. The boys are happy and that’s what’s important.

It’s not what it seems, but I have it in control.

I’m 26, as a little girl all I dreamed about was creating the perfect family.  I had the perfect family life growing up. Sure it was tough, mum and dad argued, and dad was away a lot and quite angry when he was around. But it was a loving home. Johns drinking is terrible. He disappears for days sometimes. I don’t know what to do. It’s dragging me down, but I have to hold it together. I don’t know what to tell the boys. They are young. I try not to get snappy with them. It’s not their fault. They are both doing ok at school so, thankfully, this isn’t effecting them. I cry, when I’m alone. I must hold this together. I can’t have people think we are lowlifes. We are not. I keep forgiving John. I don’t blame him. This is just a rough patch.

It’s over now. Time to move on.

At 27 this is not what I dreamt about as a girl. John is in prison. I wonder if I could have done things different, but John is alcoholic. I have to hold it together for the boys. I think I’m doing ok. I don’t know anyone who’s been through something like this. It’s lonely. I think about talking to the boys, but they seem ok. I mean I ask them if they are ok and they say they are fine. I treat them when I can. I like to see them happy.

It’s over now. Time to move on.

I am 28. I still take the boys to visit their dad. It’s real hard. I wonder if I should take them at all. I’m trying to move on. John got angry and hurt me on a visit. I had to protect the boys. I tried to explain. But what could I say? I think about getting help… But who? Johns not a bad man. He’s sick. Maybe he has this kind of hold over me. It’s like I’m strong until I see him and then he can get me to do whatever he wants. Perhaps that makes me weak. I wanted to help him. I mean I want to help him… I don’t know what to do. He’s the boy’s dad. I comfort the boys all the time. I check they are ok, they seem strong. They do ok. I’m doing the best I can.

It’s supposed to get better, it’s just getting worse.

I’m 29. And here I am. I’m not divorced, but as good as. It’s too much of a fight to get John to agree to a divorce. He’s out of prison now and staying in a bedsit over the other side of town. I take the kids over at the weekends. I leave them at the door to go in themselves now. I can’t bare to see John how he is now. He’s somehow managed to become addicted to drugs in prison. I don’t like the boys to see how he is with me.  I have to protect them, but he’s their dad, they have to see him. Plus he has to take some responsibility. My life is on hold. I’m so lonely. Maybe I’m a bad mum. Maybe i do wrong letting them go to their dads. They have rang from the phone box before to say their dad is really bad, so I have to pick them up. I ask them if they would rather not go, but they say they want to, that they are ok. They are so good. At least their dad is there right? I mean I could stop them going altogether, but then they have no dad at all. I worry about John. He’s destroying himself. There’s talk in the playground among mums at the boys school I know it.. They should try a day in my shoes. Everything I do I do with my boys in mind.

It’s supposed to get better, it’s just getting worse.

30 years old and I am a widow. John has died. A little over 10 years ago I put all my hopes and dreams of the perfect life into a man who seemed perfect. In those 10 years, our dignity, respect, hopes, dreams, family, and eventually his life were taken and destroyed by alcohol. Or did he pawn it all for the easy option of just being drunk all the time? Were we not good enough? I could stop anything for my boys, why couldn’t he? There’s too many questions and I’m too exhausted to seek answers. The first thing I felt when he died was utter relief. Relief that it was finally over. The line drawn. John was like a tornado tearing through our lives. At least now he can’t hurt us anymore. Then came the guilt.. The guilt that I felt the relief. That I didn’t do enough.  The guilt that I, when I’m totally honest,  had wished death on John a number of times, not because I hated him but because I just wanted the situation to end…. Grief? I cannot begin to start this properly. I have to be there for the boys and show them it will be ok. I show them that life can go on. That we have to be happy because…well because we have to. They seem to deal with it really well. I think they are too young to understand.

Time is a healer.. Or so they say.

I’m 31 and my life seems calmer at least. My eldest boy, Tom, continues excel at school which is great. Danny, my youngest is doing great too, aside from the odd scrape. His teachers say he is a good child and Loving. He is excited about senior school too which is great. This means we are doing ok. Thankfully I’m pretty sure we are doing ok. The boys were too young to be effected by all of this. I have buried the past, we have moved on. A new beginning, I’ve started a catering business which is doing well and has given us stability.

Time is a healer, or so they say.

So I’m 32. I’d be lying if I said life wasn’t tough. But I’m a survivor. The business is doing well. Tom is the perfect boy growing into a young man. Danny is our little character, picks us up when we are in a low. He hasn’t had the best of starts at senior school, but he’s a little misunderstood that’s all. He’s an angel at home. They both are. I’m so proud how strong they have both been. They were young, and I protected them the best I could.

It’s a tough life, but we’re doing ok.

I’m 33 now. I still live my life for my boys. I have the business but i do that for the boys. Things are ok. Tom doesn’t put a foot wrong at school, his grades are amazing. He’s a quiet soul but it looks like he will go on to do good things. Danny seems to get into trouble a lot at school, but that’s his character. he’s more outgoing and likes to be out socialising with his friends. That’s fine. He’s not wayward as such, just a character. Neither of the boys speak about John. I guess this is a good thing. I think about talking about him to them, but, when they seem happy enough, why rock the boat?

It’s a tough life, but we’re doing ok.

Now I am 34. It doesn’t get any easier.. Life… Danny seems to be struggling. He’s an angry kid. I don’t really know where it comes from. You could say because of his dad, but Tom seems fine, and Danny was younger when all the stuff happened so it can’t be that. He’s just a hot head. He has started drinking though I think. I’m praying he won’t be like his dad. I have warned him what happened to dad could be in his genes. But when he’s home he seems happy, most of the time!

Life is what it is, I’ve done the best I can.

I’m 35. I’m worried sick about Danny. He’s been getting arrested. When he’s drunk his eyes are just like his dads. School want to chuck him out. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me if I’m honest. He’s still so lovely at home. I’ve raised my 2 kids the same. Tom continues to excel. Danny must just have the gene, or it’s a phase.. I don’t know what more I can do. Its making me have the same feelings I had about John all over again. Am I failing??

Life is what it is, I’ve done the best I can.

I’m 36. An old 36. Tom is in his 2nd year college and seems like he’s really taken to life as a young man. I can’t be doing such a bad job at raising my boys…. But with Danny it’s like the nightmare has begun again. It’s like his dad all over again. I’ve protected him the best I can and he has been treated no different to his brother. It’s all in the genes. This whole thing is out of anyone’s control. What could I have done differently? It still makes me cry, and frightens me to death. I lay awake most nights. Waiting for that call.

Helpless and alone.

I’m 37. As Tom prepares for university, Danny gets worse. He’s just like his dad. Have I treated him different!? Maybe I have?! Is this my fault? I’m alone again. He tried committing suicide. A cry for help? I have no idea, I try to talk to him he says he’s fine. I don’t know what to do or who to turn to. It’s happening again all over. What can I do?!

Helpless and alone.

I am 38. Tom is just the most perfect young man. He has a partner and they are off to the same university together. She seems to have her own issues but I know Tom can handle all that. Danny, well Danny has met someone and they have a baby. I fear the nightmare has only just begun, I have no idea what to do to help him. I don’t think anyone can help him. This is another beginning of the cycle of alcoholism. He’s trapped in it. We all are. I have to do right by my grandchild!


John – The father of the family

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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 DONE.

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.