People ask me why I don’t drink – Harriet Strange
People ask me why I don’t drink anymore. Most of the time I never really knew where to begin. However, since finding Nacoa, I now know exactly where to begin.
I knew he drank, my dad. I knew where he would ‘hide’ his bottles. I knew the amount of wine and vodka bottles being tossed into the recycling was more than other people’s parents.
We both knew he was an alcoholic, but we never talked about it. Not once.
What Dad says goes. That’s the way it had always been. So as a child I never dared to question him. It was confusing because when he was good, he was amazing. He could charm the socks off anyone! He was hilarious, kind, caring, clever and charismatic when he was good.
He was the source of immense love, but also chronic pain.
We never talked about it. Not once.Harriet Strange
He couldn’t hide it anymore
When he wasn’t good, it was sad. When he punched a hole in the wall on New Year’s Eve, when he would turn up to my school performances drunk, yelling at inappropriate times to the point of being asked to leave.
When he would drive me around in his car drunk. When he would send his friends to get me from school because he was ‘at a work meeting’ only to arrive home, hours later completely slaughtered. When he’d go around the house growling because he thought he was a wolf on a night of a full moon.
When he came home covered in blood telling me he had a fight on the way to the off license. When he told me, I was an angel and he could see my wings. When I’d come home to find him crying on the kitchen floor.
Some people would never have believed them even if I told them.
He was the greatest showman most of the time, keeping everyone laughing and charmed. Until he couldn’t hide it anymore. I knew this wasn’t him. His addiction had spiralled and was out of control more than ever before.
Not once did I ask my Daddy what was going on? I knew he could be the most amazing person. Why was he being like this? I never dared question him.
I suppose that’s the thing with addiction. It steals a person of their very soul, making them completely unrecognisable.
Watching my hero becoming unwell
I may have slipped into having to become the parent at times within our relationship without realising. It was me and him, though, against the world. So of course, I would stick by him and look after him no matter what.
I know now that my dad suffered with his own mental health conditions, which led him to use alcohol to “self-medicate”.
But medication is supposed to make you better.
Watching my hero becoming unwell more than ever before and trying to navigate the events that took place surrounding that caused me confusion, anxiety, isolation, unhealthy habits, and great fear.
I remember in GCSE music we were told to compose a requiem & mine was about my fear of losing my dad, my fear that he would die.
On me and my twin’s 16th birthday. That’s exactly what happened.
On our birthday, he didn’t show up. I was so angry. He would never have missed this normally. Not in a million years. Even when drunk, he did love us. He would boast about me and my sisters to anyone who would listen.
When I was told he had died, I thought it was a lie. It was the most pain I had ever felt.
A fire was growing in me
A fire was growing in me, I could feel it.
I never had a ‘normal’ relationship with alcohol from the very start. I see that now. I began alcohol and substance abuse from the age of 14. And when he died, I personally went out of control. Self-destructive. I began to spiral into a world of depression, drinking, self-neglect, self-harm & life-threatening hospitalisations.
I gained the attention of social services due to my hospitalisations and clear signals of self-harm and became what they classed as a ‘child in need’. I felt so stupid that I had gotten into this place. I didn’t want to be kept in hospital. I didn’t want to be assessed and judged. And I didn’t want to have caused more grief to my parents.
I began having panic attacks and was diagnosed with PTSD which they tried to medicate me for. I wanted to die, and nearly did. I continued my circuit of bad habits, inappropriate relationships, alcohol and substance abuse, dead end jobs which I would lose from drink and drugs. My mum recently told me she would cry every night not knowing if she would find me dead.
My last emergency in hospital my mum couldn’t even come to see me. She explained that she couldn’t watch me do it to myself anymore and was considering walking away from our relationship.
Something special sparked
That was a new low point for me.
That following year, I fell pregnant. Something special sparked and I knew it had to change.
Pregnancy was like a forced rehab. I would never dream of harming my baby. It was the first thing that had ever been enough to stop me.
After having my beautiful little girl, I began seeking help for my drinking so that I didn’t go backwards. With personal coaching alongside the support and training from Nacoa, I am able to sit here today and tell you that I have just celebrated my one year of sobriety.
People ask me why I don’t drink
I am able to sit here and tell you that I don’t feel alone anymore.
I am able to sit here and tell you that I have a life I really want to live.
I am able to sit here and tell you that I have broken the cycle.
My daughter will never be a child of an alcoholic.
My whole life has completely changed. To the point people around me never thought it possible for me. I understand myself more. I understand what happened to my dad more. There’s freedom in speaking up and working through this.
If Dad or myself had Nacoa support back then, I can only dream of what might have been different.