What would have helped me when I was a child?
I’m middle aged now, I have a sister. Our parents broke up when I was three and Mum remarried. Mum and our stepfather who we lived with drank heavily. Childhood was not knowing what I’d be coming home too, insecurity, would Mum be drunk and depressed.
I remember going to the birthday party of a friend at primary school but I couldn’t invite anyone to my house as they’d be shocked, and I’d be embarrassed by the mess and I wouldn’t know what state Mum would be in, I couldn’t tell anyone about it either. For a while Mum stayed sober but then for no reason started drinking again. I felt isolated, lonely, that I didn’t matter, and that life had to be better than this. School and the things that other kids were interested in like clothes and makeup seemed trivial compared to what was going on at home. Sadly, Mum didn’t decide to get help with her alcoholism and tragically she died from it at a young age. What a waste of what could have been. My stepfather died a few years after Mum. I remember Mum as being talented, although she couldn’t read music she could play the piano well. Unfortunately Mum tended to play when she was drunk and low, so if you heard the piano when you came home, it was a sign that all was not well!
I was lucky enough to get away in my early twenties, and start to try and build my own life. Many years of counselling enabled me to come to terms with my upbringing, although I still felt guilty talking about it, as if I was betraying my Mum.
There are things I still do like keep on trying long after others would have given up, sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it’s not. Childhood experiences, have given me the resilience to get through some challenging times, and helped make me the person I am today, for which I’m grateful.
What would have helped me when I was a child that helps children of alcoholics today ?
Hearing that the support of Nacoa was available, and finding out details of where to call to speak to a neutral person would have helped me.