So Where Do I Begin...

First of all, I've never shared anything on any online forum, let alone anything like this, so I hope I'm doing this right. So where do I begin...

I guess I'll start by just coming out and saying it, my father was an alcoholic. For the longest time, my dad was someone who just wanted to spend every day in the total oblivion that is alcoholism. I can think all the way back to when I was four years old and recall seeing him passed out from another binge, and not knowing what was wrong with him. Growing up, there were many more odd events like this including but not limited to being passed out at random times at random places, smelling strange, having several odd and abrupt changes in appearance and stature from day to day (you know like basic changes from being sober to being drunk, such as changes in the eyes, in the tone of his voice, the way he talked, how he walked, and how he stood up and carried himself), having random fights with my mother and occasionally with me about things that either had happened a long time ago, things that had never happened, or things that made no sense at all, and him becoming violent with my mother and sometimes (but rarely) me (of course he always "conveniently" forgot or never remembered this last part).

Now before I say anything else, it must be noted and clearly understood that when my father was sober, he was a great man and the epitome of what a loving husband and a good father should be. He taught me a lot of things about life, and like my mother, raised me to be kind, hard-working, understanding and most importantly of all, to be open minded. My old man has always loved me and my mom with all of his heart. It was only when he drank that he became this nightmarish creature that ruined everything he touched. (Sound familiar anyone?)

As I said before, when I was growing up, my father would always, on different occasions, behave strangely, and do things that were completely out of character, but I never understood why he would act this way, but deep down, I always knew that something wasn't right. One of these things he'd do that I remember quite vividly was that he would just get into fights with my mom, and make wild accusations against her about things such as stealing money from him or being unfaithful. Now of course, not only were these accusations always completely untrue, but they were also completely baseless! I was too young at the time to understand these things, but later in life, I questioned him about this, and he said, "Son I'm sorry you heard me say those things, the fact is I knew that everything I said wasn't true, I only said those things to your mother to be hurtful." He was drunk of course when he told me this, and he actually said it like he thought that made it all okay. (This is something he still regrets doing to this day) He also would make wild accusations against me too, but for whatever reason I can't seem to recall what they were.

Now even though there were all these obvious signs of alcoholism, I still was absolutely clueless as to what was going on. Everyone who knew (including/especially my father) had managed to hide it that well. I was oblivious to the fact that my dad was an alcoholic until I was 14. Yes, you heard me right, 14 years old, can you believe it? As a matter of fact, I didn't learn about what alcohol was until I was in 4th grade, and until I was 14, I was so naive, that I had always believed that alcohol was not a part of our family's household (before I was 14, I had never even seen a liquor bottle before), and here's how I found out the truth. Nobody told me directly about it, instead I listened in one night when my folks were having another argument and while I couldn't make out everything that was being said, some certain words still shown through, and I heard my mother say something like, ".......I can't..... you've had another drink....... haven't you?" and that's when I learned the truth, I asked my mom about it later that night, and she confessed everything. The next morning, the three of us sat down together and we told my dad that I finally knew the truth, and I thought that now that everything was out in the open, I thought that everything was going to be okay now, that he was going to stop and get better, and that things would finally be normal again (or at least what I thought was normal). He even said that he was going to get better, and I believed him.

(Shows you how much I knew huh? Like I said before I was naaaaaiiiiiiiiiive)

Well anyone of you who has gone through this and has had a parent tell you this before can probably guess what happened next.

He didn't get better, (I know, shocker right!?) as a matter of fact, he became far worse than he had ever been before. My father didn't even trying to hide it anymore. Instead, he tried everything in his power to be plastered 24/7. For months he would work at his job for one week, and stay home complelely blasted the next. It eventually got to be so bad, that he ended up quitting his job. (How on earth he never got fired i'll never know, but whether or not he actually quit or got fired from his job I guess will always remain a mystery, I know I'm never going to ask him) Now did this deter him from getting drunk, of course not! So how did he get the money to feed his habit, well first he started off by pawning and selling his things such as his tools and various other items, then he tried to pawn my mother's jewelry (which somehow by some miracle, he/we always managed to get back before the payback date ran out), then he just tried to directly steal money from my me and mother. Soon the alternating weeks of drunkenness and sobriety became months of drunkenness with hardly any points of sobriety at all. All the while, he still did "anything" he could to keep from being sober (For example: I remember one time, my dad actually drank listerine in order to get what little alcohol it had into his system. I know this sounds like a bad joke, but I'm being dead serious, he had become that pathetic!)

I can't possibly imagine what would make anyone believe they'd want to live this way, I mean what on earth was driving him to live such an existence? He was literally losing weeks to months of his life just trying to stay intoxicated, and not remembering a single thing he did during those times. It was like he had given up on living, and all the while, I wondered what I'm sure everyone else that has grown up with an alcoholic parent has wondered at least once in their lives, and that is, why was he so unhappy. He had a woman that loved him unconditionally (even after everything he had done), he had a son who still cared about him and still (somewhat) looked up to him (this is only because I know what he was really like, you know, when he's sober), he had his own home, he had previously had a job that he had loved, and even though we sure as hell weren't rich, we sure as hell weren't struggling either. So, at the time, I asked myself, "why did he want to live like this?", did he think there was honestly something missing in his life, was it "something I did or was doing that disappointed him", or was it that he loved alcohol so much that he just didn't care about anything else? Whatever the reason, it seemed that he just wanted to stay in a drunken oblivion.

But I digress.......

Anyway as you can imagine, with the escalation of his drinking, you could probably guess that his drunken behavior escalated as well. During my high school years, (particularly my sophomore and junior years) things had gotten really bad at home. As a matter of fact, things had gotten so bad that it had gotten to the point that I dreaded going home and wanted to stay at school. Can you imagine that, actually wanting to stay at high school instead of going home for the day, (then again, if you've grown up with an alcoholic for a parent, I'll bet you could, if you haven't already.) So like I said, as the years had gone by, my father had put all of his focus on staying intoxicated, and giving absolutely no regard to how he treated others while he was drunk. He had become more out of control, and much more violent, and he was really trying to throw his weight around to get his way. However, by this time, I too had grown quite a bit over the years, and well as we all know, people can only take so much before they've had enough.

(Note: Before you continue reading on, you should know that I took know pride or felt any happiness in/about the actions and events that I'm about to describe below.)

I still remember the day, January 23, 2005, my dad was trying going out to the liquor store to get some more booze, but my mom tried to stand in his way, like she and I both had many times before (usually to no avail), and this time my old man wasn't having it, so he put his hands on her in order to try to move her, and he ended up pushing her down. Now I don't know what happened that made me react this way out of all the other times he's acted like this, but I guess the camel's back finally broke. I charged at him head-on, grabbed him by the shoulders, and threw him to the floor. After he took a second to realize what had happened, he rolled over and just looked up at me in disbelief. I even remember what I said next, "YOU PICKED THE WRONG DAY!" and I prepared myself for whatever was coming next. I was expecting my dad to pick himself up and get ready to brawl with me, but instead, he didn't even get off the floor, he just crawled back to his room, faking like he was hurt, and shut the door. He didn't try to come out again for the rest of the day.

It felt so strange, the fact that I had actually and finally fought back against my old man. I thought I'd be happy or satisfied, I thought I'd feel proud of myself for finally standing up to that old drunk and exposing him for the bully he was, but that wasn't how I felt at all. Instead, I just felt sad, empty, and hollow. The only thing I felt was regret, not because I fought back, but because I had actually raised my hands against my father in anger, and in an attempt to hurt him. The next time he was sober I apologized for what I did, but he just said nothing.

What happened after that can only be described as a series of events where whenever my dad would get drunk, he would of course get into fights with me and/or my mother, the only difference now was that, if or whenever he would get violent with either one of us, I would always be the one step up and put him in his place. (if you catch my meaning). The weird thing was that every time this happened I thought to myself, "maybe this time I'll feel better, and he won't dare try to do this again.", but I didn't. Each time I squared off with my dad, I just felt more and more of myself slipping away. So I guess someone could argue that I had truly become insane, because was doing the same thing over and over again, and expected a different result each time.

Before I talk about this next part, I would like to say something about my mother. My mother has always been a saint of a woman who tried to hold this family together. She still loved my father and chose to stay with him because she knew who he really was, she worked to support the family and keep it together, she raised me right (and practically on her own during my later teen years, whatever she couldn't teach me, I learned on my own, and my father taught me things during those short but treasured moments of sobriety) and always tried her hardest to do right by me. However, after dealing with so much animosity from my father over the years, you could understand how or why someone would want a little payback, and she found a way to get hers, I just wished it had been through some other means.

My mom had eventually figured out that if I so much as suspected that my dad had put his hands on her, then I would put my hands on him. So what would happen was that whenever she would get into an argument with him when he was drunk, she would intentionally try to provoke him into hitting her. She would physically push him and slap him around a bit, until he would finally react, and whenever he would rise up against her, she would call for me and I would come in and put him back down. I don't know if she knows that I ever figured this out. Never once did I hold that against her though, because in a way, I understood how she felt, furthermore, when this would happen, I had a choice to make, either I would hurt him, or let him hurt her. If you were in my position, which side would you have chosen?

I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about me. I'm not just some thug that thinks that resorting to violence will solve every problem that is presented to him (especially violent ones). I know that what I did was wrong, but back then, I just wanted all of that madness to just stop, and I wanted to keep me and my mother and other people safe, so I just used that as my justification for how I acted. But I know that doesn't make it right, and as I look back, I just wished that I could've kept it together and handled it better.

Out of everything I've said here, I have yet to discuss my father's worst act/trait from when he was a drunk. At this point you've got to ask, if none of this qualifies as the "worst" quality, what does? It's this, my dad's worst habit from being a drunk was drinking and driving. He didn't reserve his drinking to just at home, no, he would go to the liquor store and to bars and he would drink, drive while drinking, and drink some more when he got home, and when he ran out of booze, he would go out and do it all over again, sometimes multiple times a day. (This was usually the main cause for the fights my mother and I had with him, in either protesting is behavior or stopping him from leaving) We'd try to stop several different ways, such as taking away his car keys and hiding the others, but he had such a proficient knowledge of cars that he knew both how to open the doors and start the cars without the keys. After doing this for so long, it's a miracle that he never hurt anyone.

He had been drinking for 30 years at least, and in all that time, he had never been caught, until one day he finally got himself arrested for DUI. It wasn't long after that, after he was finally punished by the law for his drunken behavior, that he gave up drinking. While I'm relieved that he finally quit, it sort of makes me angry. based on how everything ended up it seems to me that the DUI is what made him shape up. It wasn't his love for me or my mother, it wasn't at least seven different attempts at rehab that always failed, (that's seven in my lifetime, no telling how many before) and sometimes it doesn't seem like he stopped because he honestly thought he was in the wrong. If I had known a DUI would've stopped him, I would've reported him myself years ago. (In hindsight, that's what I should've, now I'm not sure why I didn't)

So in the end, my dad gave up alcohol, and has been sober and (as far as I know) has not touched a drop in three years. Life within the family has finally reverted somewhat to the constant peace I once knew long ago. Now my father and mother get along beautifully, and our bond as father and son has never been stronger. It's almost as if all that stuff from before never happened. Of course, I know that at times, he's still trying to make up for it, although, at times, I sometimes feel like it's too little too late. This is mainly because in the past, even at his worst, whenever he would sober up, he would try to make it up to me and my mother. This time however, I do feel that his feelings are genuine, in truth, I guess he always has been, but was just so enthralled by the addiction of alcohol that he just couldn't/wouldn't give it up. I can only hope that from here on out, things will continue to get better for all three of us and that we can move forward from this and enjoy the rest of our lives.

Now I know what some of you must be thinking after reading this, you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, your dad got better, and not only that, he got better years ago, so why are you just now bringing this up?" Well, it's because like anyone who has been or currently is going through this situation, it has been and will always be a constant struggle. You'll always deal with the pain of what has happened and it's harder still to let go of all the emotions that have been built up as a result. Another reason is that I'm in college now, and well if you're in college or have ever been, you know that alcohol and drinking is "always" a hot topic on any campus (On a side note, and I know I'm getting of topic with this, but I think it needs to be said, just once I wish I could go one day on campus without hearing some student lush talk about how alcohol is God's gift to mankind), and lately a lot of my friends have been inviting me to drink with them, and when they do, all of these old memories start to kick back up and well after holding it in so long I just needed to share all this with someone, but I don't want my friends to know, my family wants nothing more to do with the subject, I don't want to hurt my mom's feelings by bringing up all this stuff again, and my dad, I can't talk to him about for fear that it might cause a relapse. I've never touched a drop of alcohol in my life and I don't intend to. I know my friends mean well and are not trying to hurt me by asking me to go drink with them, but the fact is that they just wouldn't understand my reasoning, sure a couple of them could argue by saying, "That may have happened to one member of your family but it doesn't mean it will happen to you." but the fact is that those of us who have been raised by parents who are alcoholics know that the issue goes much deeper than that, and like I just said, the fact is they just wouldn't understand.

Before I wrap things up here I have some advice for everybody who ever has or still is dealing with this issue:

If you have an alcoholic for a parent, believe me when I say that first and foremost I know what you're going through, and I know that at times, if not all the time, that things seem like they won't get better (especially in the eyes of those who are younger than me) but I promise you that things will get better. Believe me when I say this because I mean it, you will get past this and things will get better for you, I know it doesn't seem like it now especially when you're young, but if you stay strong and hold on to all hope, your life will get better and you will be a better person for getting through it. I beg all of you, please don't give in to feelings of anger, fear, depression, or despair. Furthermore don't be like me, I know that we've all had thoughts of fighting back or getting even with the drunk parent, but don't do it. Do what you must so that you can stay safe, other than that don't be violent for violence's sake or to "settle the score" it'll only leave you feeling like a hollow empty shell, it doesn't make you feel better, and in the long run, it solves nothing and it only hurts you, not them. Finally, don't blame yourself for your parent's condition, it's not your fault in any way, don't you dare consider it for a second, and don't you let anyone tell you otherwise. Alcoholics have no one to blame but themselves for their condition, though they will try with all their might to shift the blame to someone or something else. Strive everyday to better yourselves and your futures and I promise you, that everything will be okay in the end. There's a reason people still say that same old phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." and that's true especially here, especially for this scenario. So go forth "carpe diem" and live your lives the best you can.
Both my heart and my prayers go out to you all.

For those of you who have read my story, I thank you for your time, your attention, and your patience. I know it was long winded but you have to understand that this is 20 years of anger, shame, and misery from 20 years of mental and physical abuse that have all been locked away for a very long time. I thank you again for listening to me. I feel so much better now that I've finally gotten the chance to tell this to someone.
LookingForALifeline LookingForALifeline
22-25, M
5 Responses Nov 27, 2012

Your story was amazing. It really touched me, mostly because my dad is an alcoholic as well. It's honestly hard to talk to anyone about these kind of things, simply because most people don't understand, but I'm glad someone does. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I enjoyed reading it, it gave me the chills through some of it, but most good stories do that.
For me, I honestly have no faith left in my dad for getting better. He's been, like your dad, an alcoholic for 30+ years, and all of my lifetime. It's hard not to feel anger towards him, after everything he's done. He tells me and my siblings he truly loves us, but he doesn't show it. If he honestly loved us, wouldn't he do whatever to change? I've even offered to get help for him, and he just responds with the fact he doesn't need help. He's had 4 DWI's, and he's been to multiple treatments, still nothing changes.. How long am I supposed to wait for something to change? I even tried telling him I wasn't going to have any contact with him until he stopped, but that didn't change a thing, he just told me I was being selfish. I'm 17 now, and I've been done waiting for awhile now. I gave up on him awhile back, and I have hardly no contact with him. As much as I wish it didn't have to be that way, that's the way it is.

you know, you might not write back cause there is probably more people writing to you here but I found this story because of my drama coursework.

I had to find teenage issues and write a little story, so hope you dont mind me using it:)

you are very encouraging and God is so good and i am so glad that everything's getting better for you and your family! So strong and i am so sure that you've helped so many people through this.

thank you again:)

Thanks for posting this. Every extra story I read helps me feel less alone in dealing with this. I'm really glad you got to a state of "normal". It's unlikely to be perfect, and damage has been done, but it is so much better than the alternative. Good on you all, I'll keep my fingers crossed that your future is as bright as it seems.

All the best

I just read your story and really sorry you had to go through all that.
So happy your Dad has stopped drinking and trust he continues to stay sober so
you can all live a happy life together. It was brave of you to write all that down and
remember the things that took place. I wish you everything of the best .

that was long :) but worth it. And I tend to be long-winded myself so i understand. Especially when it is such a long period of time to get out on 'paper'. I am sorry for the turmoil you and your family endured. I am happy for you dad's recovery. Two things your story made me wish everyone knew: 1. that we can always call the police when we know someone is getting behind the wheel drunk (I know you had wondered why this didn't occur to you either... strange isn't it?) and 2. to not pester people who choose not to drink - they have their reasons! Especially in the young adult phase when it's not just a polite hostess thing "can I get you a drink?" but a peer pressure thing "c'mon c'mon bro! loosen up!" It's like, if they could just get a glimpse into your past huh?! Thanks for sharing. I am in the midst of my mom's alcoholism.....I am 34, it actually didn't start until I was 20 and out of the house. But it happened quick, and it's happened hard. 3 weeks ago she tried to commit suicide. her BAL was 3.13. Holidays are going to be the worst yet of these last 10+ years... I come here every now and again to know I'm not alone. It really does help. You keep your chin up - keep saying no to beer pong - and make your parents so proud that they will know without a doubt it didn't really matter what hell they put you thru - you were born to be the best you can be.