Alcoholism in the Family
Every year, I see scores of children who live with an alcoholic parent. With millions of alcoholics in our country, there are millions more family members who live with a mother, father, husband or wife who has a drinking problem. I hear their sad stories, filled with shame, anger, and hurt. This experience leaves life long scars.
Recently, I talked to a youngster whose father had been through inpatient alcohol treatment several times, but continued to abuse alcohol. He shared me with his story, and he gave me permission to share it with my readers. Here it is, in excerpted form.
“I remember the day my father died. It wasn’t very long ago. My whole family was in tears. Some were mad, some were sad, and some were in denial. As a little kid, I grew up around alcohol. My dad came home every night and drank and since I was young, I really didn’t understand it. It wasn’t till I got older when his drinking started to bother me. I talked to him about it and I would ask him to stop drinking, but he would take me off topic and promise to play catch with me, and I would get so excited that I would forget about the alcohol. But when he said he would play catch, he was lying. When we suffered it got worse, because my dad drank all night and all day. It scared us. Eventually, my mom kicked him out of the house.
I still wanted my dad in my life so I would try to set up days when I could spend time with him, but when it happened, all he did was try to buy me out and it made me so mad that he thought he could buy his son’s love.
My dad did try to get help. He went to rehab two times but always came back half way through the treatment and gave up.
I was called into the school counselor’s office and I already knew what it was about. My dad was getting sick and his kidneys were shutting down again. As I walked to the counselor’s, I saw my sister crying in her friend’s arms and it gave me shivers but I kept on walking. As I got to the counselor, they said that my father was in the hospital and was in a vegetative state.
On the way to the hospital, I remembered all of the things me and my dad did together. Like when I was 5, he would put me on his shoulders and run me down the stairs and how we made rockets and watched football games and yelled at the referees. There were a lot of fun times, but once I saw him on his deathbed, I remembered every detail. It wasn’t him—it was just his body and it burned into my mind what he looked like. I didn’t know whether to feel sad, mad, or another feeling.
I felt alone.
I stayed home from school and my mother went to the hospital. When I was home, all I did was think. I remembered as a kid I used to say I hated my dad, but every time I wanted to say I missed him, I would swallow it and ignore it, but now I realize I need him in my life. But when I thought that, my mom came in and said that he is gone now.
The funeral was held a few days after my father died. When I was at my father’s funeral I learned a lot about him from when he was a little kid to an adult. I learned more about him in 2 hours than in the whole time he was my father. I honestly wish I knew the real him. Maybe we would have had a better relationship, but all it is now are questions, what ifs, and maybes.”
There are over 25,000 alcohol related deaths per year, excluding accidents.
His words speak volumes. It is the story of the sadness and hurt that befalls children when their mother or father struggle with alcoholism, but are unable to recover. I only wish that his Dad could have read this story before his health began to fail. Perhaps it would have helped him to stay in treatment. Maybe it would have helped him to stay on the road to recovery.