Today we have another anonymous piece. As ever, the courage shown to write such a post is nothing short of amazing. If you feel like you would like to share your story as a person affected by a parents drinking then get in touch. Reading these posts can be triggering for many, if you would like support then Nacoa is on hand to offer to it, with trained helpline counsellors on the end of the phone. We also have our secret Facebook group that offers peer-to-peer support. Contact me through my Facebook page if you would like to join.
I am 40 this year and never shared my experience of being a child of an alcoholic and it certainly didn’t stop there it carried on into my adulthood. I was brought up with my Mum and Dad as an only child. My Mum didn’t drink but my Dad it was a different story. My earliest memory of my Dads drinking was around the age of 8 years old, I soon realised that non of my friends parents drank alcohol to such an extent why was that ? At such a young age, a child of that age, it was hard for me to work out. My Dad was never violent or raised his voice, what I realised was my Dad was suffering with his mental health ( Anxiety, depression, OCD). Many a night I would be sat on the stairs listening to my Dad say to my mum that he wouldn’t be here in the morning, that he would take his own life when she’s asleep, as you can imagine she never slept! This was a regular occurrence during my childhood, which in turn made me very anxious on high alert all the time, dreading going to sleep, dreading coming home from school to go through it all again.
The doctor described my Dad as a “chronic alcoholic”. My Dad was in and out of detox/psychiatric units for many years, each time coming out he would remain sober for around 3 weeks which was great, I had the Dad that I knew back but it was always short-lived and my heart would sink once again, drinking day & night, not eating. Also witnessing the seizures my dad would have due to trying to detox himself, finding him collapsed, ambulance bringing him home because they found him in the street as a child was horrendous and is still imbedded in my memory to this day. My Dad also attempted suicide on a number of occasions resulting in him be hospitalised.
I met my now husband when I was 16 and discovered I was pregnant with our first child at the age of 17. I decided then that I would be leaving home, I couldn’t bring a child up the same as I was, no way. I also knew my mum was thinking of leaving my dad, she had told him many times over the years she would leave but he never thought she would. We both decided to leave, it was a heart-breaking time for us all. I moved in with my husband, my Dad moved into a flat. After coming out of detox my Dad was looking forward to his first grandchild arriving. 2 years my dad remained sober, I couldn’t believe it, he adored our son, was a constant figure in his life throughout this time, life was good, promising he wouldn’t be drinking again but I always had that nagging feeling that wouldn’t shift and I was right after 2 years the drinking started all over again, only this time I became his “carer” if you like. As I was the only child he relied on me for everything and I carried all the worry that came with it. My dad when drinking never ventured out of his flat, he would drink 24/7. I tried desperately to try to get help for him and support for me, I didn’t know where to turn, I was trying to raise my children, run a home and a job and look after my dad, this continued for years.
Fast forward to December 2008 we was given the devastating diagnoses that our second son aged 7 had stage 4 cancer, our world fell apart.
Our son was obviously my main focus, I could no longer be there for my Dad as I had been, the only thought I had was that my dad will probably drink himself to death but I couldn’t focus on that, my son is fighting for his life and fight for his life he did.
Our son is now 18 and 10 years in remission.
What surprised me during our son’s illness was that my dad didn’t touch a drop of drink. We more or less lived at the hospital for 6 months, my dad visited daily during this time and remained sober but once again everything changed only this time permanently. On the weekend of June 2009 we left the hospital for the final time, all our sons treatment had finished, we was over the moon. I rang my dad to tell him we was home, no answer, hours later still no answer, I rang the police as I couldn’t get in his flat, I had this awful, nagging feeling inside that something was wrong, my fears were confirmed, my dad was found dead in his flat, the years and years of alcohol abuse had finally taken its toll, he was 53 years old.
My feelings of happiness and joy that my son was finally home from hospital and on the road to recovery was replaced with shock and devastation. My main focus where my children and that is what got me through the dark times.
I now suffer with anxiety which I think I have done most of my life, only then people would say I’m a born worrier and that’s what I thought. It was only going for CBT treatment 5 years ago the therapist told me it was anxiety. The CBT helped me a lot to understand anxiety and to manage it. Life now is good. I left school with no GCSE’, aged 35 I decided to go to university to study Criminology, married my long-term partner and now work in rehabilitation supporting people with their mental health, all the things I wanted to do years ago but didn’t. What I’m trying to say it’s never too late to achieve your goals no matter how long it takes.