So…my dad’s an alcoholic. We’re not supposed to discuss it. Secrets are big in my family. He hides alcohol, and goes for ‘walks’ on weekends (Super Stealthy Secret Code for getting on the sauce) from which he returns slurring and smelling like cough syrup. We don’t ask too many questions. I think because we don’t want to know the answers.
He disappears a little further from our lives every year. He loves kids, but when they can talk (and think for themselves) the novelty wears off, and he disappears back up his own rear end. He’s had a tough-ish life. Haven’t we all. He prefers to drink away his problems and suppress his rage; have it leak out sideways in resentment of the women in his life. Because the women in his life have little to no respect for him. Chicken and egg dad, chicken and egg.
So today I get a phone call that informs me of a new and delightful twist on his alcoholism (and I fear impending alcoholic dementia). Dad’s had himself arrested. Yep. For malicious damage. To four cars. Not even this is done in an upfront manner. I pictured him finally letting loose, smashing a car with a crowbar. Not that it made any sense, but that’s what malicious damage conjured.
No. Even this piece of juvenile ‘rebellion’ had to be passive aggressive. Dad’s done the keys along the side of the cars trick. Why? God only knows. Suppressed rage that ‘Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen’?
I don’t know. I don’t actually care.
Why am I sharing this? Because I believe in discussing things, I don’t believe in secrets. Because secrets are what has messed our family up for generations.
I went to al-anon meetings for a long while there. Because (surprise, surprise) living in a family with an alcoholic parent (and the dynamic that sets up) I grew up and married an alcoholic myself…then the family said “WHERE did you learn to let someone treat you like that??”. I wonder.
So I trundled along care-taking my alcoholic husband…not realising I think. Until one day I recognised the dynamic. One day I could see our future. One day I said no. I packed my bags, I left the house and I never looked back. How lucky I am that I had that support.
I wonder if my mother will leave. There doesn’t appear to be anything for her in this relationship apart from financial security. And that’s enough to trap people isn’t it? She looked after the kids, and she hasn’t had paid work in around 20 years. I think she’s staring at the void of “What if…”.
Ah, Christmas will indeed be fun. I don’t know how to look at my father. I haven’t known how to do it for a very long time. Yes, he’s my father. And he leaves me cold, blank, empty…except when he’s being a pain in the arse and I want him to just. shut. up.
I’ve known for a while he’s drinking himself to death. But secrets rule the family.
I’ve known for a while that when he dies I will feel blank…blank with the merest hint of…relief?
Bring on the Christian judgment…I’ve lived with alcoholism my entire life. It’s familiar to me. I get the jokes before the punchline is delivered.
It’s what? Eleven years since I left? Ten since my last meeting. Mum told me and I immediately pictured myself back in that space, the closeness with people you don’t know…because you all get the jokes before the punchline, because you knew in your marrow before it happened, you knew things impossible to conceive, let alone believe because you always knew it would come to this; because no one else in the world can disappoint you the way an alcoholic can.