Each week I will be publishing a piece from the A-Z of my personal life experiences to show exactly what my knowledge on each of the topic I have listed is. This article will be split into three parts that cover different aspects of my experience.
First off, I am not an alcoholic. My experience with alcoholism comes in the form of having witnessed a violent alcoholic take out his issues on my mother’s face and body. While this post isn’t about domestic abuse specifically, it is inextricably linked, because whilst there are devastating physical side-effects on a person with alcoholism, it is the lasting damage done to everyone who comes in contact with them that lives on.
I was 5 years old when my mother, who was recovering from an unsuccessful marriage at the tender age of 29, met a dark, handsome and charming ex-army officer, who whisked her off on romantic dates and showered her in affection and gifts. It was exactly what she’d needed and it seemed she was finally able to start her life again with her two daughters and a caring man.
When the physical violence started not long after he moved in, it seemed a one-off loss of control.
It soon became obvious what was behind the erratic and unpredictable behaviour. The alcoholism was so bad that if he couldn’t find any whiskey, he would start on the methylated spirits. The physical side-effects of alcohol abuse were truly traumatic to witness for a 5/6 year old. I remember fits where vomit would come pouring out of his nose and mouth while turning shades of blue and red before collapsing on the floor. After nearly killing both of them in a car accident whilst drink driving, he promised to get help.
But he didn’t.
I remember once picking all the beautiful red poppies outside of our house as a present for my mum. I couldn’t wait to give them to her as I ran inside shouting for her to come down. I remember so clearly the colour drain from her face as she shouted and cried asking me why I had done it.
The fear of what HE would do to her when he came home had taken a hold and as she sat crying with me on the bottom step, apologising for getting angry and stroking my hair, I felt the last shred of my innocence disappear. I was 7.
From that moment on, everything I did, I questioned. A nervousness about every action I took potentially resulting in the beating of my mother, dominated my younger years. I do not remember him coming home that day. It is probably a good thing.
For almost 4 years we lived in fear of the monster at home. I remember him breaking her arm. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by screams, holding closed my sisters ears so she wouldn’t hear it again, and the fear of what we would find the next day…but more on that later.
I strongly believe that a lot of my anxiety comes from this man and what he put us through. It may not have been the sole cause, but it was certainly nurtured in this environment.
For a long time I hated alcohol. I saw it as an evil best avoided. I didn’t touch it until I was over the legal age at 18, where everything changed…
To read about my changing relationship with alcohol, tune in for part 2.
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net