This is another anonymous piece that describes the pressure that comes with growing up with an alcoholic parent and how it can be hard to step out of the ‘circle of fear’.
I am 24. My father and his father before him are sporadic alcoholics, i.e. won’t drink for months but when they do it goes on for weeks. These weeks are complete chaos, shouting, making a mess of the house, hurting my mother and my siblings and I, earlier he used to beat up my mother gruesomely but that has now been largely contained after police intervention and his old age I guess (he’s 57 this year). We are 3 kids, and when we were younger my mother had to get herself transferred to different cities just so we could have an undisturbed upbringing. She couldn’t divorce him largely because bringing up 3 children on a single income is impossible and his contribution would have meant his continuing presence so what difference would the divorce make, also Indian society still has very judgmental view of women who walk out of marriages.
My mother has a good job with benefits as does he so materially we’re comfortable. My siblings are engineers and I am a law graduate. We’ve been good students mostly because we’ve been too afraid to fail. Once I failed a high school test that didn’t even matter and I still haven’t told my parents about it. I managed to get through 5 years of law school without flunking any paper and that’s my only achievement- no debates or competitions or research papers because I was always too afraid to take risks or venture into something that would require me to step outside my circle of fear.
By the time I was 20 I figured out that I’m a lesbian. It was liberating but not being a well adjusted person I couldn’t keep the 2 relationships I had. I also got into alterations knowing that I would get nothing from it, no justice and certainly no peace. I act like I have a huge ego but in reality I feel inadequate and incompetent, the ego thing is mostly false bravado.
I always had other people to blame and veered into some leftist line of thought because the narrative is that only left cares for women and LGBT. (Indian left and right when they exist are very very different from western conceptions of these categories, something I failed to see).
Anyhow, my ambition is to become a diplomat by clearing a highly competitive exam (~1% success rate). I’ve been staying at home and preparing for that since mid June 2018. I have wasted so many of those months not studying. I get stuck in loops of strategizing and planning, not executing, feeling bad about it, not doing anything for weeks altogether, repeat.
I try to not let any ideas about achieving certain things by certain age affect me, but I worry that the longer I take to clear this exam, the more I’ll get trapped in this house. My father when he gets drunk keeps telling me that if I can’t do it it’s ok he’ll find me a good lawyer to work under. The idea is nauseating– I hate this man and can’t possibly live indebted to him for even my employment. Add to that the fact that he doesn’t think I can do it, and it’s doubly repulsive. Even when he’s sober he’s not a pleasant person and I know for a fact that he resents any tiny achievements we have had so far.
I’m really tired of not getting the work done, of being scared to even write tests and assessing them. The first phase of that exam is in a month, and if I don’t clear it, I will be stuck here for another 1.5 years with nothing to show for it.
I read a lot of self-esteem improvement and some ACoA books, and they helped, but I want to stop being a victim and achieve something worthwhile for the first time in my life.
I don’t really talk to my mother about it because while she’s not afraid of hard work she’s afraid for her children and I hate having to stress her out even more. Also she’ll probably go tell him and he’ll only say the same asinine things once he’s drunk. I have 2 friends but they both live in other places so it’s hard to dump all this on them repeatedly. My siblings are busy with their courses in college. I have a dog and she’s kind of the only reason I haven’t been depressed since graduating. I just want to stop being scared and feeling inadequate and start working towards improving my life. My freedom will come from clearing this exam, a lot hinges on it.
Thank you for listening to me.