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The Drunken Years

I never really noticed his drinking until I was eleven. We'd had a picnic indoors because it was raining outside and as evening fell, we decided to put some Beatles music on and dance to 'Yellow Submarine'. I danced like crazy, but eventually fell down onto a chair in exhaustion. But dad kept pulling me back up to dance. It wasn't a particularly bad thing, but it made me wonder what exactly had made him so jolly.

The next time I noticed it, I was twelve and dad had taken my brother and I out for a bike ride to Cosmeston Lakes. The trouble was, we had to pedal through busy roads and highways to get there. Halfway there, dad fell off his bike and nearly got run over by a car. When we helped him up and moved him out of harms way, he told me that he couldn't go on. When we asked him why, he told us he was too drunk. This was the first time my father admitted to me that he had been drunk. Being the oldest child, I took charge. I had to. We rode back to the house along all of the alleyways and quiet streets I knew, because I was terrified my father would be killed on the busy roads. It took us almost an hour longer to get back than it would have if we'd used the roads.

The next time, I was at my grandparent's house and was fourteen. I was staying over at theirs because I used to go to a stage school and they would always offer me to sleep over at theirs afterwards. I remember I was playing Scrabble with my Grandfather and was getting solidly trounced when the bell rang. We all looked up. It was late and nobody had called ahead to say they were coming. When I opened the door, there stood dad swaying on the spot. He practically ran inside, latched onto me and broke down in tears. My grandparents stood where they were, perplexed as to their son's behaviour. They didn't pull dad off me, as they should have. 

Dad cried and cried, almost crushing me with his 17 stone weight slumped over me. But somehow, I held him up. He kept whispering my name, saying I was beautiful and how much he loved his only daughter. Then he admitted to me that he was still desperately in love with my mother, though he was now remarried to a lovely woman called Gwen. My parents had divorced when I was five, but it had been my mum who left him and now I knew that my father still hadn't gotten over her.

Eventually, dad calmed down enough to stop crying. I sat down on the floor whilst my grandparents offered him some food, neither of them saying a word about the incident that had just occurred. I sat and stared at the fireplace, wondering why my father had told me what he had. But after my dad had had his food, he came over to me and stood behind me. I know he didn't mean to hurt me, but he wrapped his hands around my neck and squeezed in a way that he probably thought was affectionately. But in actual fact, I couldn't breathe. My grandparents still stood by and did nothing. 

Luckily, dad let go after about twenty seconds and I could breathe again. I was shaken. That was the very first time in my life that I could honestly say that I was afraid of what my father could do.

Meeoko Meeoko 18-21, F 4 Responses Mar 20, 2010

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I'm glad too. If we've learned anything about alcoholism, it would be that denial by the family doesn't work. Your grandparents generation believed in not speaking about these types of problems. That's another thing you've learned, keeping quiet does not help anyone in these situations.

Thank you for the reassurance Sherpherdess. I know it sounds a bit far fetched, my grandparents not saying anything to my father, but for years they denied to themselves that my father had a problem at all. They're very proper and think a lot about their social standing in the community. They didn't want to sully their names with the knowledge that they had not only one, but two alcoholic son's (my uncle was also suffering from it - he is now dead as a result of it).



But thank you for the kind words. It has certainly taught me a lot and you are right - I am stronger and wiser. I'm just glad my dad got his life back on track. :)

It's difficult to look at the reality of this story. Grandma and Grandpa standing there not helping you.

People don't realize the faith in them that becomes shattered with these experiences. You now realize, though you had to learn the hard way, why we should never stand by and watch wrong things happen to others. I know that's no comfort and I'm so thankful your father got his life together, but you have become stronger and wiser.

That was actually what my next story was going to be about. Luckily, he got his act together and has been sober two year now. :)