I don’t talk a great deal about my parents in this blog but I think it’s important to share a few things from my childhood as it certainly shaped my relationship with alcohol.
My Dad since his own teens (and now pushing 60) has always been a binge drinker. Always worked and provided for my Mam and us children but he has always liked his beer and being out in the pub. He’s a bit of a loner in a drinking sense. Doesn’t rely on mates to go out with, and has always (and still does) just go out to the pubs in Town on his own to drink and if he sees somebody he knows it’s a bonus. He drinks cans of lager after work every night and on a weekend will drink all afternoon and into early evening.
He functions, works full time in a manual Labour job that he’s done all his adult life and is a quiet enough bloke. Not much of a conversationalist and not somebody I have ever been able to open up to because he just doesn’t have that depth to him.
I love him and he has been a good Dad but I can’t help thinking his behaviour with alcohol played a big part in my own relationship with the booze.
Some of my early memories as a little lad were trips to the local social club with my Dad in the days where there was still smoking indoors, jukeboxes and mobile phones were non-existent.
My Dad let me have my first beer on the Millennium. We had a party at our house and me and my mate Jonny were allowed one can of lager (probably my Dad’s favourite – Carling). I would have been 13.
I never really did the whole drinking as a teenager on street corners etc. I might have done the occasional house party but it wasn’t until I was about 17 that I started going out and trying to get served in pubs. Naturally my Dad was over the moon his eldest son was now ‘of age’ and he would accompany me. The sad thing I remember from my Teens and early 20s though is me picking my Dad up off the floor or trying to get him into a taxi, not the other way round. In fact, after my 18th Birthday Party at a local social club we all went into the local town centre and my Dad was more pissed than any of us young lads. I cut my night short and got a taxi home with him because he couldn’t stand up on his own.
Funny at the time but so selfish of him, really. My big night with my mates and I end up chaperoning my Dad home. And that happened time and time again. There would even be nights when I wasn’t even out and my mates would call me up saying my Dad was mortal in the pub or club etc. My Dad became a comedy character and whilst it was funny to my mates, it became an embarrassment for me. Nobody wants their Dad to be known as a pisshead who gets hammered and goes dancing in the local nightclub on his own until he falls over.
I remember the arguments he would have with my Mam who isn’t a drinker. He would come in the house pissed, my Mam waiting up for him and they’d argue. I’d lie in bed listening to the verbals and on many occasion my Dad would go back out. There were times we had taxi drivers at the door because he couldn’t get my Dad out of the taxis. We’ve had the Police at the Door. Friends at the door. My Mam always the poor recipient of the special delivery. My sozzled Dad.
I will say now that my Dad was never physically violent with my Mam or us. He could, and still will ‘look after himself’ when out and about but he doesn’t go looking for bother and certainly didn’t bring that into the house. He could get nasty with his words when arguing with my Mam but to be honest, she gave as good as she got and I’d side with her if they did ever come to blows!
As a young adult I would often think I was better than my Dad. Look down at his binge drinking and the fact he drank after work in the house pretty much every night. Determined not to turn out the same way. Throughout my 20s I did what most lads my age did – drinking on a weekend and drinking to excess. I had a good time and drank copious amounts here, there and everywhere but I didn’t have kids and I didn’t drink in the house. I was better than my old man. Well, in my head I was.
But we know how these things develop don’t we? I got married, got a house and had kids. Nights out became less frequent so when I did go out I would go with the ‘go hard or go home approach’ and end up spewing in gutters, fighting, hospital trips or upsetting my wife back in the house. My wife, a very infrequent drinker was suddenly living a similar existence to her Mother-in-law.
Drinking in the house was my new going out. Then drinking in private became my new drinking in the house. The rest is pretty grim…
My Dad still drinks. In fact the first night I was out of hospital after my detox and been sectioned I was staying back with the parents and sitting next to me on the couch was my Dad with a can. He didn’t offer me one at least!
He will never change. Says it all the time. He’s proud of me and I know he loves me but I know deep down he doesn’t understand my struggles because he has never accepted he had a drinking problem.