I can’t actually remember the one point when I realised that my dad was an alcoholic, I thought it was normal for adults to drink after work. It wasn’t until my dad quit his job when I was 11 that I realised there was a problem. My mum started crying more and my dad started drinking earlier and earlier in the day. He’d always go to the shop and the ‘forget’ something (which I later found out was an excuse to drink some cans on the way home).
It became a real issue not long later when my dad was rushed to hospital with a stomach ulcer that had caused him to vomit blood, he was then told that he would no longer be able to drink without the chance of this happening again (which of course it did).
From the ages of 11-17 my dad drank despite how well I behaved, how much I helped around the house or even how much I shouted at him or cried to him that I didn’t want him to die. He was in hospital over and over with various complications from the drinking and developed pancreatitis. All in all he was admitted to hospital around 35 times. Life at home was a living hell, my mum had to work all hours to make ends meet so from the age of 13 I felt as if I was the adult . I took care of my family as much as I could, being there for my frightened and confused siblings and being a shoulder to cry on for my mum. My friends and my school were all aware of the situation and knew that if I disappeared during the day it was because my dad was sick again.
Some of my clearest memories of my childhood are so painful I struggle to talk about them. My parents divorced when I was 17 and my Nan was too elderly to understand all the hospital speak so I was next of kin. The doctors told me that my dad needed a liver transplant but would not get one and if his heart failed they would not be able to get him back. 6 months later I was stood at the end of his hospital bed while he was on life support crying my eyes out, I was only 18 and had no clue what to do, who to call or what to say.
Fast forward 5 years later and my dad died in his sleep (cause of death was undetermined but we believe it was something to do with alcohol withdraw) I will always take comfort in the fact that despite our volatile relationship, the months of not speaking, the screaming at each other and the complete lack of love I ever felt from him that one week before he died he gave me a hug, told me he loved me and to take care of myself and I told him that I loved him too.
It took such a long time that realise that this was not my fault, there is nothing that I could of have done and addiction is an illness that not only affects the addicted person but all the people in their life. I am not a victim of alcoholism, I am a survivor, I doubt I would be as strong in life today without all the terrible things I’ve lived through and I hope that sharing my experience may bring some comfort to someone else.