The Lessons you taught me
My name is Simon. I am the only child of an alcoholic parent.
Within the world of addiction, it is often hard to see the
wood for the trees.
In my experience, whether you are the subject to this fickle and destructive disease, or if you are within arms-reach as a child or loved one, the negative stigma remains much the same. Failing to see past the smog that surrounds this existence serves only as a constant reminder that one feels alone, with no escape and little hope that anything will ever change.
That’s why in sharing my story, I seek to better that outlook for those experiencing similar feelings and to emphasise that there is a huge positive to be found in the life we live.
You’re not here anymore. Ten months ago, you left us behind and submitted to the fight you had battled for longer than I can remember. Dad and I are doing our best to carry on without you, but the reality is we are finding it so hard to discover what “normal” is.
Because of you, my childhood memories are very much a blur. Often, when friends and loved ones talk of their childhood I will struggle to relate and I find it much easier to stay quiet or pretend I have similar memories to recall. The occasional glimmer of the happy memories I do have mostly relate to music, or the times we shared a long time ago when you were able to enjoy your passion for teaching. It saddens me deeply that these memories are shadowed by half full bottles in strange places and the constant feeling of anxiety and fear whenever we were alone together. As a child I had no escape, school was a hideous place to be due to the bullying and my dyslexia just made it an even harder mountain to climb every day. Where ever I went there would always be a reminder that soon, something scary will happen. You did however provide me with a love for music which later in life became my guardian.
As time went by and as I grew older my memory becomes much clearer, although troubled and shadowed by the horrible things I have seen and endured. Beyond the four walls of our family home my life was mostly a secret. To those that made fun or queried the strange behaviour, dad and I would protect you wherever we could. “mums not well today” became a constant theme and only a select few knew the truth.
As I battled through high school and your health declined rapidly I started to lose my direction. In and around falling asleep at school and constantly finding myself in trouble while defending myself against the bully’s I would dread the journey home. Where will you be? Will you be injured? Is today the day you took to many pills? How deep will the cuts be? Every day was dark and rarely did I arrive home without some form of emergency service to greet me on the drive.
Returning home from my first maths GSCE exam I distinctly
remember the metallic smell and silence as I walked through the door. When I
found you, you were cold, lifeless and severely wounded having fallen through our
living room table, blood and glass everywhere. I was scared, alone and a
million miles out of my depth.
At age 15, I saved my first life.. that life was yours.
Months later you were deep in a coma when dad played you a professional recording of me singing a requiem for an audience of some 2,000 people. You were quietly fighting for your life. Dad was so proud and I will forever be grateful that he chose to play it to you. That same day you started to show cognitive signs and this is why I maintain that music became my guardian.
For a number of months we believed we had won the fight. Helping you learn to speak, eat and write again was a task pale in comparison to the fear and the pain of the past. Hearing you approach the piano again was a warm feeling I will never forget. However, it didn’t take long for you to slip back to the dark days and quickly we were back where we started, and it only got worse.
For 26 long and tiring years you fought this demon. Slowly and surely, it took away your identity. It took away the love that I valued so much and it consumed you. In reality, the alcohol took you away from me many years ago. The words “I’m sorry” became painful to hear and the constant abuse, violence, broken bones, sleepless nights and prolonged periods in and out of hospital became the norm. All while pretending to the rest of the world that all was fine. Many would see through my false smile and my tired eyes. Thankfully those that did, always seemed to know how to help.
Today, I am in a position that allows me to share my past freely. It’s no longer a dark secret and I have found faith in being able to be honest and open about who I am. It’s never easy, however I find it helps me process what I have been through, and in many cases it helps me remember who you really were. Often I hear “I am sorry you had to go through that” and yet, however strange this might seem.. I am not.
Now you have left us, the regret and the “what ifs” haunt
me. There will always be an element of guilt and the feeling that I could have
saved you. But the reality remains- I didn’t and I couldn’t.
So what did I do?
Well mum… Today I stand in a position of trust that allows me to represent the vulnerable. I am able to protect those that come to harm and make a difference for those that see no end to their pain. I am trustworthy, I am strong, I am an example to those that have lost their way and I am resilient.
Through the years of fear, pain and sadness, you were able to teach me lessons that most could only dream of and ways in life that without you, I would never have known. For this I will be forever grateful, and I endeavour to share this positive message for as long as I am able.
I am Simon, I am the only child of an alcoholic. I am also a Police Officer and armed with my past I have turned each lesson into a positive to better what I can for others. I love what I do, who I have become and despite the past I leave behind, I take comfort in knowing that without it, without you… none of this would be the way it is.
I hope you are proud of me, and I hope to make you happy and content.
Above all else your final words to me as you left us behind
will resonate with forever.
I will never forget them.
Its ok, I love you too mum.