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Brought up by alcohol
by TeenHelp April 3rd 2016, 06:34 PM

Brought up by alcohol
By Anonymous

Since about the age of eight years old I have watched my dad drink. He would have a can of beer whilst playing a game with us while my mum cooked dinner, and that would be the norm for a Sunday night. It never really bothered me that much when I was younger as alcohol has always been in this house and always will be. During the day he is sober, holding down a job from nine to six in an office. He's not the stereotypical alcoholic but he's still an alcoholic.

I can remember when his drinking would get out of control and it still does. I have always felt different from my friends - in school on Monday mornings it would always start with sharing about what we did over the weekend. Many people would say that they spent time with their dad or that their dad took them somewhere. When it got to me, what could I say? "Dad just drank?" No. Talking about Dad and his drinking is not something we were allowed to do, and we still do not talk about Dad and his drinking.

It wasn't until my bed times became later that I really began to notice how much my dad drinks. A can or two of beer per night was all I saw up to about the age of ten, maybe eleven. It was about this age I began to notice my dad passing out on the sofa. Inviting friends round to my house became problematic because the later they stayed, the more chance I had of them seeing Dad drunk. To keep this from happening I would make sure my friends were gone by the early evening. I was going to school tired and exhausted from waiting for my dad to either pass out or to go to bed, and from trying to wake him up if he did pass out on the sofa. I was starting to get angry in school, not just because of what was going on at home, but also because I was getting bullied at school. Wherever I went, I was dealing with name calling and abuse. It was like there was no escape from it at all. I was labelled as naughty and badly behaved. I was threatened with suspension and isolation, and was put on report. I began to bunk (skip class).

If I did attend lessons, people would irritate me and I would become angry. No one ever asked if I was okay and just assumed ''that was how I was.'' The reality was that I was trying to juggle schoolwork, dad's drinking, the abuse, arguments and trying to avoid getting into trouble at school. Yet, I could not tell anyone what was happening; I didn't have the words to say nor could I find them. I also felt like telling them what was going on at home would destroy the family. So I kept quiet. I still do feel like telling would destroy the family. I would fall asleep in classes, I'd get angry, yet most of the time I'd act like everything was fine.

My attendance fell from 100% to 50%, and it continued to fall until the attendance percentages got lower and lower. This was then attributed to me being a trouble maker and not being bothered about my education. As time went on, I missed deadlines and didn't bother with homework. If I did do my homework it would be sloppy and rushed, sometimes done on the bus or train while on the way to school. There were times when I used to get excellent grades, but overall my grades were slipping. Homework was not something I considered to be important, nor did I have the time to do it. I would come home from school, run up to my room, and collapse on my bed in a heap and cry - this was not just because of what was going on at home but also because of the pressures of school and the bullying. After a while I would calm down and tidy my room and watch some TV. I'd have dinner, and by then Dad was home from work and my time was taken up from having to deal with Dad. Arguments were every night and sometimes we would have up to four arguments a night. If it was a ''good night'' we would have one or two arguments. On a ''good night'' I would manage to get some homework done before having to deal with my dad whilst he was passed out the sofa and I would make sure he was okay the following morning.

I managed to get into college only just scraping by with the bare minimum grades I needed for my course but college proved to be just as hard. Though my attendance did seem to improve, I would still arrive late for class. I was becoming more and more angry, to the point where even the smallest thing would set me off. If someone said something I did not like I would rise from my seat and start shouting, or I would just shut down and stop talking. My tutor noticed and asked me what was going on. I said nothing at the time, but I had a few friends and one of my friends did know about my dad. This friend became my rock throughout college, they would call me most nights to make sure I was okay and that my dad was not getting violent or abusive, they offered me a place at their house for if I ever needed a place to stay, they gave me a card with emergency phone numbers on it for housing and places that could help me, they spoke to the police for me on my behalf to just get advice. I don't think I would have made it through the first year of college without that friend. This friend also encouraged me to call a helpline. The helpline became a safe place for me where I began to talk to them about my dad, the bullying and the self harming - which by now I was doing several times a day. There would be times where I would cry my eyes out or cry myself to sleep.

College was also the first time that I had social services involved. I was taken into a little room where there was a college counselor, a child protection officer and the person in charge of my course. They told me social services was going to be involved regardless of whether I wanted them involved or not. Someone had told them about my dad - I began to panic. Was my dad going to get arrested? What was going to happen to my family? A social worker came out to see me and my family, and met with me at college the next day. Because I was not willing to tell social services everything and to be completely honest with them, they closed the case.

I was left to cope with the situation by myself. I moved colleges. At my second college, my tutor saw the cuts on my arms and asked me about them. I told her they were nothing and pulled my sleeves down, not wanting to talk about it. The truth is it was not just nothing - I had self harmed the night before as way to cope with the events that occurred (Dad had been drunk and in a rage, had rammed a chair into my leg, crushing it into the side of the worktop).

I was smiling on the outside but crying and screaming out for help on the inside and was wishing for someone to notice the pain I was feeling and to offer me a way out of the situation I was in. No one in my life who I saw on a daily basis noticed or did anything to help. I felt helpless.

I began to look for help on my own. I found a few websites. Some were more helpful than others. However, some of the places I found have helped and supported me. TeenHelp is now one of my main sources of help and support - I know with TeenHelp there's always someone I can talk to or just logging into the chat room can help.

I'm still in the same situation - my dad still drinks. Talking has not solved or fixed the problem and has not changed my situation, but talking about it with the places I have found and use has helped me to understand that I am not the one responsible for my dad's drinking and that if my dad is to stop drinking nothing I try or do will make him stop - it's something he has to want and do for himself. I still care for and look after my dad on a regular basis. Talking won't stop my dad's drinking, however talking about it with people I have learned to trust and feel safe with does help me cope with my dad and deal with my situation. Talking is also helping me to deal with things in healthier ways. I'm still self harming but it's not every day. I have also learned that my dad's drinking is not my fault though I still find it hard incredibly hard to not blame myself for it.
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