Imagine you’re standing on a thick layer of grass looking out over a serene, greenish-blue lake. Across the water you can vaguely see where children are running around in the yard and jumping off their docks into the water. You look down in front of your feet and see chipping, red paint falling off of an old wooden dock. The wood has stains and rust missing in certain places that suggests it had a time and a place where it was loved and used, but now it sits quietly as memory. Raised in the opening of the dock is a covered pontoon who’s dust shows the same sad fate. Turn around. Your eyes fall upon an a teetering, empty swing set. Behind it, across the yard that now stretches in front of you, is a large two story home with a screened in porch. As you get closer, a thick coat of dust on dirt on the porch can be seen. The only sign of upkeep is the grass that has been poorly mowed. What you can see is an old house that used to be grand, but has fallen down in the lack of upkeep. What you can see is a beautiful, peaceful lake with the sun setting in the background. What you can’t see is the little girl in the downstairs of the lake house waiting for her father to wake up and spend time with her. What you can’t see are the empty pizza boxes that have been left out and accumulating for months. What you can’t hear is the blaring television that has been left on in the upstairs room where the girl’s father has passed out and can no longer hear its noise. What you can’t smell is the scent of aging vodka wafting from the empty bottles the father has pushed under the bed, so that his little girl can’t find them. What you can’t feel is the devastation of the father as he tries to drown the sorrow of the love of his life leaving him because of his mistakes. What you can’t predict are the holes he will punch through the walls in the next couple years when his sorrow turns to rage. What that father can’t predict are the lasting effects his problems will have on his daughter. He can’t predict the resent she will have for him or the walls she will build up against any boy in the future.
10 years later that girl has grown up and she now writes to you. My father unknowingly caused me to grow up with serious issues that I may never be able to completely get over. What started in high school as him drinking and doing “harmless” drugs with friends quickly turned into a reliance on alcohol and prescription pain medication to function. My father made his decisions and I completely hold him responsible. However, I am writing this because everywhere I go activity like this is praised. People think that alcoholism is a joke, but once the word “addiction” is thrown out everything becomes serious. An alcoholic is someone who you want to invite to a party, but an addict is someone to be feared. An alcoholic is not someone who just enjoys getting drunk at parties, or just the person who can drink the most. An alcoholic is an addict who struggles every single day. An alcoholic is someone who can’t go anywhere without a drink. Can’t eat without a drink. Someone who will not get out of bed unless they can go get a drink. Someone who slowly cuts off all socialization with people because all they want to do is drink.
I’m not trying to make people stop drinking. That isn’t the purpose of me writing this. I think that drinking can be really fun and I love having girl’s night downtown on Thirsty Thursday just as much as everyone else. I’m writing this because while I’m downtown or at a party and I see people who aren’t there drinking because they want to, they’re drinking because they have to. It makes me to flash back to memories with my dad. They make me wonder if they will be able to stop the way my dad couldn’t. They make me wonder if they will wreck their marriage they way my father did. Or will they have kids? Will their kids have to visit their dad in rehab? Will their kids need therapy like I did? I was a pity case for all my friends parents. They also never let their children come over while I stayed at my dad’s. Will their children suffer the same fate?
Alcoholism does not just affect the person addicted. It creates a ripple effect for everyone involved. I’ve never been addicted to alcohol, but I have control and trust issues that make it really difficult for me to interact with people sometimes. People can’t always understand how much it affected me to consistently have alcohol and pills chosen over me. There were times when my mom and I had to drive to my dad’s house because we had not heard from him and we were afraid he had committed suicide. My dad has been in rehab twice and he has been sober for a couple years now, but we will never have the relationship a father and daughter should have. I will never get over the feeling that I was the parent to him instead of him being there for me. While he may be my father he will never be my dad. I love him, but I will never be able to get over everything that we went through. Alcoholism is not something that should be praised by society. It is a ripple affect that creates devastation in its path.
This post was a little more real than my normal post and isn’t exactly a chipper post to read. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
I love you all. Be adventurous. Chérir la vie.