My father is an alcoholic. He has been my entire life. I actually don’t remember him any other way and as an adult now, the impact it has on my life is enormous. My childhood was hard because of the choices he made and I am just now starting to come to terms with it. It affects the way I parent my own children and I will never really be able to fully accept that my children will have to know this man as their grandfather.
One of my earliest memories is my father teaching me how to pour him a glass of whiskey. This was so he didn’t have to get off the couch to get it himself. At the time, it made me feel important, like he had an important job for me. When I think of it now, it makes me sick to my stomach. My mother was working most of the time because my father rarely worked, so my siblings and I spent a lot of our time with our father. It wasn’t always bad, there were a lot of good times, but the bad times made the good times disappear. We were extremely poor and there was always a fear of not having money to pay for simple things like groceries or gas for the car. Early on in childhood, I worried constantly about everything. I had some OCD tendencies, and looking back now I think that this was because I needed to control the things I could because so much of my life was out of control.
My childhood was a mix of fear and sadness and anxiety. I was always scared of getting in trouble from my father. He was never physically abusive to me, but he used the silent treatment and isolation as punishment. He bred competition between my siblings and me for his affection. He had completely hypocritical expectations of us, and I especially struggled with these. My mother was an enabler. She didn’t tell him to stop. I don’t know if it was out of fear of him, or more out of fear that he might be angry with her and she might end up alone.
My sister and I were active in athletics, both playing competitively in two sports. My father was our coach, which was miserable. I think my sister took most of the brunt of his wrath because he deemed her the better athlete, but once she had graduated from high school, his focus turned to me. Games were stressful, rides home were awful. My confidence was low, or nonexistent. My older sisters moved out immediately after graduating high school. I stayed at home longer, mostly because my mother seemed to need me and my personality was that of a caregiver. I liked the attention I got from her when there were less children around to take it away from me. Honestly, I liked his attention as well, which makes me feel ashamed now.