My Alcoholic Father
by Tracey F
My father is 82. He has been "a heavy drinker" ( his words) all his life." We 5 kids have never gone without" his words again. We had a wonderful childhood he tells me! Now that I am 42 with my 4th baby on the way, married to a wonderful man for 19yrs who has one beer with dinner and children who our life revolves around, I know what utter bullshit we have been made believe growing up.
My saint but enabler mother died 6 months ago. She did everything for him, the minute he asked. She knew how to not upset him. Whenever we complained how out of control his behavior was ( aggressive, abusive, demeaning hurtful insults to his children, grandchildren) mum would say "you are too sensitive, he is only joking, it's his sense of humor"! And so we grew up thinking there was something wrong with us!
By the time I was a teenager I really hated him and hoped mum would leave. He was a merchant sailor and thank god away for long periods. That was bliss, just me and mum, quiet house, no fighting, love and attention. I was the youngest of 5. All the others left as soon as they got jobs at 16.
Then he would arrive home for a couple of months and I would loose my mum. She spent her days driving him to and from clubs and taking him everywhere he demanded, being at his side 24/7. The house would be filled with his ranting and raving about all the people he hated. He would order you to come and listen to these rantings and if you didn't go along with his political and religious opinions you copped his aggression and so did mum.
She would just sit with him and agree to it all. It would make me so angry and rebellious - not a great thing as a teen! So of course I learnt to escape. They never did anything with me unless it was something that revolved around dad. I remember a lot of outings to pubs and camping and shooting trips (yes omg !! An alcoholic with a gun!!) with his drinking mates.
Just mum and I tagging along. I was like an only child, and there were never any kids to play with.
I now realize how sad this was. I look at my family life now and how many wonderful things my husband and I do with our kids. None of which involves alcohol.
Sometimes my sister who was 10 years older would save me. She was training to be a nurse, so was really aware of the damage this could be doing. I would stay with her on her days off. She did things with me my parents should have been doing - taking me to the zoo, shopping, to see a movie, going to the beach, painting my nails, giving me the ' birds and bees talk'. I used to wish she was my mother that I could live with her.
I was lucky to survive my teenage years. I was rebellious and drank and smoked and had a violent boyfriend by 14. But by 18 I had got the psycho boyfriend away from me (a story in itself!) and was so determined to be something. I never finished school because the psycho boyfriend was so obsessively jealous he made me drop out to sit at home with him.
So I studied to gain qualifications to apply to university. I studied nursing. I had little money, paid for most of my fees and my own car. I stayed at home which was insane. Trying to study while my father was on drunken rampages, turning music up as loud as possible and coming into my room screaming abuse at me that I was an ignorant, lazy, bludging uni student. Anything to make it hard for me to study.
I don't know how but I got top marks. I loved learning and the identity of becoming a nurse. My tutors loved and respected me. I got wonderful reports from my clinical placements. Finally I knew what it was like to be praised and treated with respect. I just had to survive that crazy household.
I look back and think I was lucky I didn't become an alcoholic. I did a lot of drinking and wild partying when I got away from the psycho boyfriend and all through uni. As soon as I finished uni I went to Sydney (2 hrs away). I got a job in the most prestigious teaching hospital. I started my new life. 'My dream to be someone'
I met my husband at work. This gorgeous dark handsome intern doctor. I was terrified he wouldn't think me good enough. But he was madly in love with me and his family was so similar! It was fate! We have been married 19 years and are having our 4th baby. We have really broken the mould and not let history repeat. Our children's confidence and well being is our top priority.
My father is very lost and lonely since mum died. He can not care for himself. He hit the bottle and nobody could cope with him, so I moved him up to near my place in a retirement village. He begged and then demanded to live with me!! No way!! I thought I could sort him out. Get him off the grog, spend family time taking him out with his grandchildren. He refuses to give up, although he has cut down due to the rules of where he is staying.
Now he isn't rolling drunk, he has stopped having falls. He rings me 10x day demanding I come see him immediately or run to the shops and get this or that. He is not interested in my life or children, his focus is still getting more alcohol.
I tried taking him out a lot at first, to watch my kids play sport etc, over to have lunch with us, for outings, but it was always about him trying to get us to take him to the pub.
One day I got so angry with him demanding I fill up his glass every 5 minutes. I just 'lost it' as my husband says - I gave it to him with 2 barrels! I told him how he put alcohol before every relationship in his life, that he treated mum and us kids like shit, that nobody wanted to take care of him after mum died because he is so awful.
He was yelling abuse at me and to shut up, he was going to hit me and throw a glass at me! (funny now he is 82). I told him mum isn't here anymore to stop me telling him the truth. He threatened suicide. My husband took him back to the nursing home. I was worried so I let the staff know about his threats and he got carted off to hospital drunk and in a stupor from his sleeping pills.
He told the doctor he would never commit suicide, or give up drinking.! He ranted to everyone I was punishing him, and it was all my fault! He still tries to manipulate me and pull the guilt strings. He now has a psychologist visit to him. She helps me deal with him as well.
I get him his case of beer and 2 bottles scotch every week. He has " happy hour " 3 x week at the nursing home - but complains because it's light beer and he never gets enough wine. I keep my visits short and don't bring him to my home anymore because he was scaring my children with his drunkenness and yelling at me.
It's still amazing though that I continue to visit him and get his alcohol. I feel sorry for him and his life wasted through drinking. I'm trying to find peace with it, because I can't change him.
Sorry for lack of editing but this is on my new iPad and I don't know how. It's taken me 1 1/2 hrs. I'm feeling guilty for ignoring my children but it's been invaluable therapy!!