Reprinted from "Alcohol" issue of Visions Journal, 2006, 2(9), pp. 23-24
I was 13 years old when I realized that alcohol had taken over my dad's life.
One day, when I was 10, I walked home from my grandma's house to find our front-door window smashed in. I panicked and ran back to my grandma's—luckily she lived just a block away—to tell her what I had found. My grandma and I ran back to my house, and found a trail of blood leading from the front door all the way to the kitchen, where the phone was off the hook and papers were scattered everywhere.
I ran to my parents' bedroom, where I found my dad lying with his feet hanging over the edge of the bed. He was bleeding—and my dog was barking; she knew something was wrong. My Dad had been so drunk that he couldn't open the door with his key, so had punched through the window.
Several years after the window-breaking mishap (and others), we moved to a new home in a bigger town now far away, so that my brother and I could be closer to school. I was 14; my brother is two years younger. School was good, but family issues kept arising, causing family feuds. Our family was getting ripped apart. Things kept getting worse, my relationship with my dad grew thin, and I couldn't handle listening to my parents fight night after night. And my brother would yell and scream and cry when the fighting got to a certain point. After a year or so of this I would threaten to move out unless things either got fixed or my dad moved out, but my mom always convinced me to stay. Finally, my dad did move out when I was 16, and things improved at home.
My dad is pretty good between getting his disability cheques. Once he gets money, though, he starts phoning and phoning, and he's usually drunk. The conversations my brother and I have with our dad have no meaning. Every five minutes he forgets about what he has just told us, so he repeats himself. It is hard to hang up on my dad, but I have to sleep sometime—I spend about 25 hours a month on the phone with him. His behaviour lasts about five days and then he'll be so broke that he can't go anywhere. He tries to borrow money from me, my brother or, sometimes, my mom, and sometimes we give in to him.
He thinks we have a good relationship now that he has moved out, but to me, it's nothing—we don't have a relationship. I feel sorry for him, because he's a lonely drunk. I've tried to help my dad by finding the AA groups and by talking to counsellors to help me communicate and deal with him better. But no matter how I try to help him, he denies that he is an alcoholic.
About the author
Donna is 17 years old and is in grade 12