Feels like a punch to the gut




Hi, it’s my first post. Where do I even begin?
My dad has been alcoholic since I can remember, for about the first 25-30 years of my life he was a functioning alcoholic, now he yo-yos between cleaning his act up and sitting in a piss soaked chair covered in vomit, faeces and surrounded by vodka bottles. He even had to be hospitalised after drinking isopropyl alcohol. Yet despite his best efforts and his wish to walk in front of a bus (which he says he won’t do because of the impact on the driver), he still lives. And I love (the sober) him but I don’t know that I want him to live because of what he’s putting us all through. I wish we were in a new time when this was over. For good.
Spiralled in with this (though starting later than the alcoholism), my mother has schizo-affective disorder and was frequently psychotic from when I was 8 upwards. Ar the time my father worked away (drinking all the money) and I had to do my best to feed myself with frozen spinach and tell mum my teeth had fallen out to buy baby food for my brothers. Others only noticed our state when I’d collapsed with long-term diarrhoea, despite being hounded by the teacher for not paying my lunch money.
Over the years we were in arrears for school fees, I was threatened with being made to leave, then my uni fees, I was also threatened with being kicked out from there, at that point I did what I’ve always done and took over the responsibility for them.
Somehow I thought I’d come out of this quite sane, but the truth is that the slightest bit of bad news, or even an unexpected call gives me an adrenaline hit like I’ve been punched in the stomach. I’ve been fighting to keep my head above water for years, I don’t think I’ve got anxiety or depression but I’m getting such a physical response I don’t know how I can cope with it any more.
Sorry for the essay!

  • williamste

    Hi there,

    Thank you so much for posting on here. I found it really difficult to read this - not just because it's objectively heart-breaking, but also it is so chillingly similar to the situation my Mum is in at the moment and the effect it has had on me. Hopefully this itself shows that you are not alone in what you're going through.

    You'll know better than anyone that there are no easy solutions to the situations that we face, but it's so important for you to understand how much of an impact your parent's drinking will inevitably have had on you. As a result, it's also important for you to put yourself first and start, if you haven't already, to help yourself through such a difficult time.

    Nacoa's Six Cs have really helped me to cope with my own situation. These are:

    o I didn’t cause it
    o I can’t control it
    o I can’t cure it
    o I can take care of myself
    o I can communicate my feelings
    o I can make healthy choices

    To take three of these that I have found particularly helpful:

    Firstly, control and cure. Realising that I couldn’t control and cure my Mum’s addiction has been painful, but it has also been liberating. You may have accepted this already, but if you haven't, it's worth starting to process this thought and think about how to come to terms with it.

    Secondly, communication. It’s a cliché, but it works. I speak to my wife for hours on end about my experiences. Getting things off my chest not only serves as an outlet for that pent up anger and frustration, it also helps me to develop a greater understanding of how addiction is not only impacting on my Mum , but also on me. I would really recommend talking to someone about this, and talking at length.

    Also on communication, therapy and / or a visit to the GP is always an option – one that I’ve taken. It can sound like a drastic step but it needn’t be. It can also feel unnecessary or disproportionate (us COAs can underplay the impact of parental alcoholism on us), but it isn't. You've been through a really difficult time - you need to look after your own wellbeing.

    Don't forget that the Nacoa helpline is always there for you too. They'll always be happy to provide a listening ear.

    Thank you again for sharing - and good luck going forward.

    • onthemerrygoroundagain

      Thank you for replying. It is comforting to know others have felt the same.
      I am in a better place today. My father has come through his latest episode in one piece, though still very weak. Today I feel I can cope, but today I also had an extreme reaction to someone just mentioning a person being drunkenly verbally aggressive.
      I'd got through the first 3 Cs when I found them a few years ago and they really helped me to stop feeling such anger which in turn helped me and my father move forward as I offered him help, not blame.
      The 4th and 6th, I think I've probably done to extreme, distancing myself mentally and physically, I'm almost tee total, but I haven't done it with my own mental health as a focus as the 5th is where I really fall down. I think as a child grown ups think you're unaware; never was I asked how I was doing, so I just tucked the hurt and fear away for decades. I'm in my 40s now and yesterday I booked my first therapy session and I'm terrified, particularly now I'm feeling a bit better, but I think I've accepted the need for it. I can still feel the post adrenaline exhaustion and I know it takes very little to trigger it again.
      It really helps to know that you've also taken the step. I felt like a bit of a fraud when I booked it.
      Thank you for taking the time to reply.

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