Dad, please stop drinking, I need you to be the parent for a while

Naturally we all rely on our parents to be there throughout the good and bad times in our lives.

We expect them to be there to catch us when we fall and praise us when we achieve something, and be strong for us when we don’t have the strength ourselves. For some people it would be hard to imagine their lives without the support of their parents. Many of my friends are still living at home and enjoying the luxury of having their meals cooked or their clothes ironed for them. This is something that I long for everyday as I answer my dad’s drunken phone calls at 3am and have to calm him down as he cries hysterically about how much he no longer wants to live.

People are always telling me that I should be lucky that both of my parents are still living. But do I really feel lucky?

My dad is a very charming and friendly man. You could meet me him in the street when he was sober and never even think he had any kind of issue in his life. Like most, I love a good night out and having a drink makes me a little less anxious of my surroundings but alcohol affects people in different ways.

I guarantee in your social circle you’ve at least got one person who cries when they’re drunk, one person who won’t stop talking when they’re drunk and the person who doesn’t normally smoke sober is out the back having a cheeky fag.

So how does it work when alcohol completely changes someone’s personality to the point where if you met them drunk and then again when sober, you’d think it was two separate people?

I had to grow up well before my time and by the time I was 16 a lot of my peers used to tell me that I was far too mature for my age.

My dad has always had a problem with alcohol and when drunk he loses his ability to make any rational decisions and becomes very depressed.

He then looks for someone to vent his feelings to and that person is usually me. The one thing that everyone overlooks about the situation is that I’m supposed to be the child. I may be 20 years old but you are never too old to need your parents in your life. I don’t get to enjoy the conventional father-daughter relationship like so many others that take it for granted.

I get this kind of sinking feeling when I first discover that he’s had a drink that day. I’m not sure why as I’ve learned to live with the fact that alcoholism is an addiction and he’s going to do it whether I like it or not but it’s like a little reminder that it’s another day of my life that I’m not reason enough for him to stop.

It’s another day of the hysterical crying over the phone and the worrying that this could  be the day his body gives up as it’s simply had enough of him abusing it. If it’s hard for me to deal with I wonder how hard it must be for him.

On one hand I want to put all of my own feelings aside and focus solely on supporting him but on the other I want to be able to live my own life without having to worry about his. I spend many minutes of the day feeling guilty for not answering the phone when he calls or ignoring his messages but I’m allowed to be selfish sometimes, right?

I’m always telling myself and others around me to remember that he has an illness and that it’s not as simple as putting down the bottle.

However I torture myself wondering why it can’t be that simple.

I don’t have any children of my own but I wonder about the day when I will. I wonder if it’ll be easier or harder for me to understand how he feels on a daily basis when I am a parent myself.

Will he even be alive when that times comes to be a grandfather to my child?

The older I get, the more I start to worry about the important milestones in my life that he could well miss out on. I’m engaged to my partner and although I’m not actively planning the wedding, I’d like to be able to share that day with him when it comes. Just something as simple as being able to walk down the aisle with my dad is something that I would cherish forever.

I know of people similar in age to me whose parents have died and in a way I feel rather selfish for even moaning about mine when I have something they don’t. Not only do I feel selfish but it makes me angry towards to my dad that there are people who are losing their lives daily from illnesses that they didn’t cause themselves and he’s abusing the otherwise perfectly healthy body that he has.

It’s inevitable that in most cases our parents will die before us and we have to get used to the idea of them not being in our lives forever but how do you get used to the idea that your parent is speeding up that process with no regard as to how you’ll feel when it does happen?

He knows the risks of what he’s doing when he first purchases the alcohol at his local shop but I will never ever simply get used to the idea that at that point he chooses opening the bottle over a relationship with a daughter who loves him more than he knows.

Words by Sandranne Clark

9 thoughts

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about this. My father was an alcoholic as well but after I left home with my daughter and didn’t talk to him for awhile, he sobered up. There is hope. I’m 27 and this is the first year of my life my dad hasn’t been drunk. It’s not something I would wish upon anyone and I’ve realized its usually the kind souls that take to the bottle. My dad sounds just like your dad and I feel like life got the best of them and was too much. I do hope he comes around for you because YOU deserve it more than anything ❤

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  2. I understand how you feel. My Dad is an alcoholic and his behaviour over the years has been very challenging. He is a shadow of a man with illnesses all caused by excess alcohol consumption. I’ve dealt with things a daughter shouldn’t have too and I’ve parented my parent a lot over the years. I have been and do get frustrated, upset and angry and am guilty of distancing myself at times as I cannot cope sometimes.
    I have 3 kids of my own now and never want them to see their Grandad at his worst, luckily they have not.
    My partner’s father was also an alcoholic and died 13 years ago when my partner was only 22.
    It is so sad that sometimes with all the help we offer them they can’t get to the point where they can try to help themselves.
    My heart goes out to you xx

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  3. My dad is an alcoholic too. I recognise so much of what you feel. It is a great source of pain for my whole family, he has had to give up his job, cannot work and is now on disability benefit as he has severe heart failure at 53 years old. I am a Christian so already have a great support network but it is important to think of yourself too. There is a charity called Al-anon which provides support groups for people affected by alcoholic people which if your not aware of them worth checking out. http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/
    Best of luck x

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    1. Thank you for linking the support group. I haven’t heard of the organisation before but will definitely check it out! So sorry you’re experiencing the same 😦 xx

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      1. I think it’s quite a small charity here in Britain linked to Alcoholics Anonymous (12 step program) hopefully they can help you. I think it would be fairly easy to set up if there is nothing similar where you live. I will add you and your dad to my list of people I pray for. X

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  4. When I read your article I can relate on so many levels. It is such a hard position to be in, and exhausting! My dad is a recovering alcoholic who has been drinking my whole life; I’m now 22. He has 2 failed marriages behind him, is jobless due to drink and lives on his own. I say recovering as it got so bad after drinking a litre of vodka a day for god knows how long, he contracted pancreatitis, other infections and his body started to give up on him. He was hospitalised for nearly 3 weeks, couldn’t walk because he was so weak and was given 3 months to live if he didn’t stop drinking. We’re still on the road to recovery.

    I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and tried my hardest to get him to stop but there comes a point when you realise that this is not your battle and as you rightly pointed out, alcoholism is an addiction. You have to learn to compartmentalise your Dad’s issues and carry on with your life without your Dad’s problems leading it. As horrible and as harsh as it sounds, you must not try and fight his battle for him as you’ll loose, exhaust yourself in the process and resent him more than ever. The only thing you can do is offer to be there for him and let him know most importantly that you still love him. Don’t ever feel guilty for ignoring a call because you’re too tired to deal with it, or taking time to sort yourself out.

    I spent many a night lying awake worrying when my Dad’s time was going to finally be up, or whether he would be around to walk me down the isle or hold his first grandchild. As much as he loves you, and trust me he does, he has to want the help himself before anyone else can help him.

    My thoughts are with you and I feel your pain. I wish you the strength to carry yourself forward and I hope for your sake and his that your Dad will eventually see the light and do the right thing. Stay strong and keep positive but remember to seek help yourself and it’s okay to cry sometimes xx ❤

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  5. Sandranne, I remember some of the days that you shared with me, speaking about your dad and how all you wanted was to know for one day, when you got home, that he would be sober and waiting to see you. You’re right, a nicer man your couldn’t get but that wasn’t all the time and those times you wanted more of.

    You’ve grow up to be a beautiful, fun loving girl, that has came through so much and still smiled. I think about you often when driving through the local villages, to talking about things that remind our times together.

    Keep smiling sweetheart. xx

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    1. There’s nothing I want more, even now 😦 but hey, life goes on. I think about you often too – you got me through some bloody tough times wifey! Lots of love and respect for you always xxx

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