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