This anonymous piece is so incredibly moving and deeply highlights the struggle of the living grief of growing up with an alcoholic parent. If you feel you can relate to this and want support then Nacoa are here to help. If you would like to share as a COA then please get in touch.
Whenever I write it seems to be about you. The problem with having an alcoholic father is that it doesn’t matter how much you want to save them, they have to want to help themselves. And he doesn’t.
I was twelve years old the first time I cried in front him, with a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, he didn’t have a hand free to hug me. I was fifteen when I printed about ten trees worth of paper:
“How to stop drinking”
“The local AA group”
“Here’s what you’ll look like in ten years’ time”
That was the first time you told me you needed your fix more than me.
I was sixteen when my mother begged me not to give up on you. I was eighteen when they asked me to tell my brother how to let go of needing a father. But I wonder if they could see the library of poems I’ve wrote about you, if they’d think I did so well at letting go?
I can’t drink red wine, I always say that I can taste the hangover as it touches my lips. I wonder if I can taste all the hangovers you had, every time I waited by the window and at 3pm you rung to say you’d just woken up.
All I ever wanted to be was like you, now all I ever want is you to be alive. The problem with having an alcoholic father is every outing must be risk assessed, can I really bring you to graduation if you’ll be drunk by breakfast? Another problem is that they judge how long you’ve spent together, by how many drinks they’ve had. After the third glass I don’t want to buy you another, but we’ve only been here five minutes.
They say I’ve done so well at letting go of you, not letting it rule my life. I ring you every week, just to check you’re still alive .I still notice how yellow your skin is, how slurred your speech is and pick up the phone at two a.m. You’re usually just drunk.
All I seem to write about is you. I etch our story over so many pages, time and time again.The paper listens more than you can. I am still drowning in grief for who I know you can be, you’re still drowning in whatever’s cheapest at the off license.
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This is so incredibly relatable. I was about 10 years old when I got my hands on an AA pamphlet and left it on my mom’s desk for her to see. The result was her getting angry at me and stating that she didn’t have a problem – completely invalidating what I felt and causing me to question my sense of the world around me. Less than two years later she died from cirrhosis of the liver. It has taken me so many years to heal from it all, and I connect with your piece so deeply in how so much that I have created has been a product of making sense of it all. Thank you for sharing this.
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