Yet another brave and informative piece that is so reflective of what has been a huge week of awareness for children of alcoholics. This piece has been written anonymously but that doesn’t take away any of its power. The resilience shown by children of alcoholics will always amaze me.
Nacoa can offer vital support to those affected by a parents drinking.
If you would like to share something as the child of a someone who drinks too much then please do get in touch.
It will be 4 years this year since my Dad passed away. My memories of my childhood are a little sketchy in places. I have been told by my therapist that this is normal if you have been through trauma.
Have I been through trauma??? I still look at her as if she is overreacting or describing somebody else.
“It could have been a whole lot worse”… “he just got abusive verbally when he was drinking”.
I have said those words in therapy on more than one occasion, because I have been conditioned to think that my childhood was ‘normal’.
To the outside world we were just any other family going about our daily lives.
Nobody ever told me any different.
Nobody asked why I was withdrawn.
Nobody asked if everything was ok.
Nobody told me that his drinking was out of hand and that I shouldn’t have to live in that environment.
My mum would scream and shout to start with in the early days, I remember her being angry that he had come home late again having spent all her housekeeping money in the pub.
She would walk round the supermarket with a calculator just so she wasn’t embarrassed when she got to the till, and it turned out she had spent more than she could afford and didn’t have enough money to pay for the essentials.
Eventually she stopped shouting because he didn’t listen. She got tired, felt helpless and I imagine, quite lonely.
I would lay in bed feeling sick to the pit of my stomach until the front door went and I knew he was home from the pub.
Then the panic would start all over again because I didn’t know what he doing downstairs, what state he was in, has he had an accident on the way home in his car? Has he killed somebody on the road? Will he come upstairs and start a row with my mum?
I would lay awake then until I knew he had gone to bed, sometimes I would still be awake at 3am waiting.
I would then have to get up and go to school or work. This scenario played out 4-5 times a week until I moved out finally, aged 30!
I got used to him not being at home.
I got used to him not being there to wish me happy birthday or to ask me if I had done my homework. I got used to him not being there for parents evening. I got used to him not being there for any of my milestones. He didn’t even come home from work to wish me a happy 21st. He went to the pub and I didn’t see him until the next day.
We had no relationship to speak of and my brothers who are both a lot older than me, decided that if they can’t beat him, they would join him… in the pub.
As I got older I would stand up to him when he was shouting and swearing at my mum. I would be shaking with rage and he would just laugh in my face. The following day he would be sheepish but I doubt he could remember the events of the night before.
His drinking had a lot of consequences for us all, he lost his job as he fell asleep at the wheel drunk. Not just a little drunk either, 3 times over the limit.
As a lorry driver this had a massive impact on us. How was he going to support his family?
He didn’t learn because it didn’t stop him drinking.
As soon as I was able to, I went out to work. I wanted to make sure that whatever happened (as he couldn’t be trusted) that my mum would never struggle for money again. I made sure that the rent was paid and food was on the table. I became the adult.
Mum and I never told him about the extra money. The more money he thought he had spare the more he would spend in the pub.
I didn’t enjoy one Christmas until he died. I used to feel anxious knowing there was alcohol in the house. Christmas to him was just a free reign to drink as much as possible, before he passed out. I would open my presents on Christmas morning and he would look as surprised as me. He had no idea what I had got from ‘Santa’ when I was young or ‘Mum and Dad’ as I got older.
My Dad didn’t die of an alcohol related illness, he had Cancer not attributed to his excessive drinking.
I always thought the alcohol would be the thing that would kill him.
I always wanted to be able to scream at everyone “SEE I TOLD YOU” ….but that isn’t to be.
I was the ‘good daughter’ throughout his illness ..the typical COA.
I looked after him, I helped to nurse him. I was there for his final breath.
All the times he wasn’t there for me growing up, but I still felt I needed to take care of him.
I fought the hospital when his care was substandard, I fought the GP that misdiagnosed him and I am still fighting today. Fighting the demons that I am left with.
The Black and White thinking, the need for perfection, the lack of trust in anyone and the feeling of never being good enough… The feeling that nobody cared.
The hyper vigilance and the constant fight or flight mode.
Jumping out of my skin at every little thing.
The anger and rage that spills out in my everyday life.
I wish someone would have acknowledged me and told me that they understood why I looked so sad. I wish someone would have given me the hug I so desperately needed back then… I wish I had access to a support group like Nacoa.
I am only learning now that my childhood wasn’t like the childhood of my friends. Their Dad’s came home from work sober. They sat down and ate dinner together. They cared how their children were doing at school. They wanted to know their children’s hopes and dreams.
This is all news to me.