It’s a sentence that’s been with me most of my life, one that I’ve argued against, through belief it just isn’t true, but sometimes just because I don’t want to believe it.
My name’s Josh and my dad was an alcoholic and died when I was about 8.
Telling my story is difficult, not because I find it upsetting, but because my memory is so patchy, at times non-existent, and sometimes pretty untrustworthy. I often question in my head if I have fabricated a memory or even made it up from scratch!
What I do remember is how I felt as I came into my teenage years. I felt I was different. I had no trouble making friends but found it almost impossible to connect with them on any level.
Like the world took place on the other side of a clear screen while I watched, but I didn’t really take part. Confidence didn’t really seem a problem but it was only masking a terribly low opinion of myself.
Life itself scared me and I was always angry. My anger came out in all sorts of ways. I often thought everyone else was crazy, that they were blind to the real world and that’s why they managed happiness in life and I didn’t.
I was confused by life, like nothing was enough and life was hard. I tried to think about my dad and was often filled with guilt at the fact I didn’t remember much, but I still cried a lot. Only when I was alone, so no one knew. I never knew why though. I knew somewhere in me I was sad, but I learned to bury it, everyone experienced tough times and you just had to get on with it.
That became my logic. I didn’t speak to anyone, I didn’t know who I could, I thought people would be disgusted with me and me being ok kept my mum happy so I felt I couldn’t turn to her, even though we were close.
I began to seek release. I found that most easily in drink. By 18 drink was causing problems in my life. I needed it to cope with everything, from love to hate, and happiness to sadness. I started having children, and that statement was back, ‘if he loved them enough he’d stop’. But I couldn’t. The denial I had for the way I felt about my dad’s alcoholism was deep routed and perhaps even stronger in my own drinking. The world was the problem, not me.
Today I have recovery. I haven’t had a drink for nearly 4 years and live an amazing life with my wife and I’ll be 29 this year, thanks to a whole bunch of different reasons, some that I don’t even know or understand, but not least because I’ve begun to accept and address the way I’ve felt and feel.
Talking has always been the first step to solving any of the ways I feel. The most surprising thing to me is just how many people think and feel exactly as I do and how it is all so closely linked to being a COA. If alcoholism was simply a case of loving enough I don’t think alcoholism would exist. I consider myself lucky today, and that in itself is a dream.