“Growing up, I would have sooner sewn my own mouth closed than tell anyone that my daddy was a drinker.
I thought it was shameful, something to keep within the family — because I always heard the adults — usually my aunties and my mum — talking about it in hushed tones. It was never openly discussed with me, and I never felt it was my right to ask.
I was only five when my dad moved out of the house, but even at that age I could tell that this event brought some relief to my mum as well as sadness and hardship.
Throughout all my childhood, I never told a single soul about my dad’s drinking; not a teacher, not a priest, not even a best friend.
I suspect a lot of people knew because in a small town like this, that sort of thing is hard to keep quiet, but denial and obfuscation became my skillset.
I didn’t know what to think about my dad; there were so many conflicting emotions swirling around in me, and I couldn’t settle on an overriding one. So how could I speak to anyone else about him?
I was 14 when my dad died. His death certificate said the cause of death was ‘ischemic heart disease’ but it was the drink that killed him.
I was resentful for a very long time about losing my dad, and I carried it all, silently, inside me.
It wasn’t until I started working with people who were struggling with alcohol misuse disorder that I started to heal.
I’m now in a position to see that the way my family dealt with our situation wasn’t healthy. I had no opportunity to ask all the questions that plagued my thoughts; to vent, to cry, to share emotions and feel solidarity with my brothers.
It’s so important to talk and get things out in the open.
There’s nothing shameful about asking for help.”
Did You Know?
Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol provides support for family members affected by a loved one’s drinking.
Call 01389 731456 or 0141 9520881 or pop into our office at Westbridgend Lodge, Westbridgend, Dumbarton G82 4AD 82 Dumbarton Road, Clydebank G81 1UG.