Alcohol and the family

A couple of days ago I noticed that someone had been having a good look around this blog. Whether it was someone I know or not I don’t know. That someone had looked at lots of posts including one called where has my dad gone.

As i scrolled through the list of posts looked at I knew what most of them were about but this one puzzled me. My dad died in 1995. So it couldn’t be about him. This particular post was written back in 2015.

Reading it again it took me a little while to remember it. I was describing a visit to one of my sons in London. On the way to the flat he shared with his now wife and another couple. They stopped at a local shop. Whilst they were inside (I was waiting outside with my youngest son). A drunk was ejected from the store.

When my other son came out he asked “where has my dad gone?” I knew instinctively what he was on about. Growing up with an alcoholic father had an impact on my boys. This particular son could do a very accurate impression of his dad when he was drunk.

When my two eldest sons were going off to university within a week of each other I wanted to take my boys out for a drink. All four of them chose non alcoholic drinks even though two were old enough to drink and one was 17.

All four boys are now adults (2 are fathers) they do all drink now but only moderately. As a young adult my eldest son used to be the designated driver when out with mates. My second son was usually the one taking care of his drunken mates. Although I have heard a few tales of his drunkenness. My younger two are not keen on alcohol.

Talking about it earlier my mother commented that when she came to our house once when eldest was about 8 or 9 he told her. ” If you have come to see my part time father, he’s at the pub”. It is sad that from a very young age he knew the telephone number of the pub off by heart. ( Before mobile phones).

As a family our lives revolved around the pub even if we were not in one. If we went anywhere at the weekends we had to be back before the pub opened. My husband couldn’t cope with getting there after the door was unlocked. During the day his friends would come and go but he would still be there.

He would frequently phone home to say he would be back in half an hour. Other times he wanted me to fetch him. When I did (with boys in tow) he would need to finish his drink. I always refused to have a drink. Sometimes it would take several hours before he managed to leave. Often I just left him there and went home.

My boys grew up knowing that their father was very good at making promises. Not good at keeping them. They learnt never to expect him to keep a promise. He would buy them play station games or football shirts to make up for not being there. I lost count of the birthdays he missed because he was five minutes away in the pub. I don’t know where he got the money for his guilt gifts. We never had enough money for the bills.

I learnt over the years that everything was an excuse to drink. Bad day at work, good day at work, hot day, wet day. Money worries or me being annoyed with him.

After I divorced him he was upset that he didn’t want to be a weekend father. I said that would be an improvement. He would arrange to see the boys. Not do much the eldest as he was off leading his own life. Frequently he would either cancel seeing them or he wanted them to lend him money for cigarettes or beer or both. When they did see him I would drop them off. Happy to have some me time. It never lasted. I think 2 hours was the longest before I got the plea from them to pick them up.

I am happy to say that he gave up drinking about 4 or maybe it’s 5 years ago now. He is better for it. He is trying hard to rebuild his relationship with his sons and have a good relationship with our grandchildren.

Since i moved back here to live with my mother I see him regularly. He has been a great help to both of us in the last couple of years. I wouldn’t go back to him but we are at least friends now.

Waiting

Last week I wrote about Abbie Greaves book The Silent Treatment and I was looking forward to reading her second book The Ends of The Earth. I finished reading it a couple of days ago. I would recommend it however it is a heart felt tale of love and pain.

Reading this book was bitter sweet for me. I enjoy Abbie’s writing but some of the characters took me back to my past. I’m not saying that these characters in anyway resemble me or my past. There are aspects of this sad tale which remind me of one of the bad times in my life.

Some people in my real life know bits of my story but I guess my mother is the only one who knows most of it and even so I didn’t divulge some of my truth until many years later.

When i was 20 I had been engaged for 2 years to M. After a falling out with his mother I was treated more like his mistress/dirty secret than his fiancé. Eventually I had had enough and broke it off. Some months later I began seeing A. He was an older man but we got on really well and he treated me so much better. He was serving in the army but we spent as much time as we could together. We had mutual friend that he stayed with at weekends.

At the time I had joined the Territorial Army in my spare time. I remember once being embarrassed when A had dropped me off for my weekly training. Someone commented about my dad dropping me off. Anyway it was t few days after my 21st birthday that I had been away on a weekend training exercise on Salisbury Plain. When I got back on Sunday night A met me at the barracks to take me home. He took me to our friend’s flat.

He wanted sex. I was tired, battered and bruised. I wanted nothing more than to sleep. He forced himself on me. I made it clear I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or body for sex. That didn’t stop him. I don’t remember how I got home, I guess A drove me. The following Saturday he came to see me. I told him we were finished. He was not happy. He raped me in my parents living room. I never saw him again for which I was glad. I never told anyone what had happened.

At that time police were not sympathetic and I knew that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, after all he was my boyfriend and this was years before domestic rape was recognised. Later I. The year I got back together with M. It didn’t work out, I had changed. Not only that but I found being alone with him difficult. I couldn’t cope with intimacy, I would always see the face of A looming over me. After several months I broke off my relationship again.

I found an ad in the local paper for a week in Austria traveling by coach. By this time I was 22 and in need of a break. I was travelling alone. Being one of the last passengers to catch the coach I had a seat behind the driver. During the long drive I got chatting to both drivers. Once in Austria we were split up around the village. If memory serves me right there were three of us staying in the house where I was staying.

Through out our stay there were events and trips each day. Most of the group were couples or groups. I was just me and often found myself with the drivers and our tour rep. Looking back I know that was a mistake. I was beginning to feel an attachment to the taller of the drivers C. We were spending more and more of our spare time together. Until I ended up spending the night with him. C was an older man (apparently I prefer older men), but younger than A. Amazingly when I was with C I didn’t see A’s face.

By the time I returned home we had swapped phone numbers. He had my home number and my work number. Whenever he was between trips I would catch a train to London where we would stay in cheap hotels. He told me he wouldn’t marry me but he wanted us to live together. I spent a few days with him staying with a friend of his. I applied for a job at his local airport.

Then the unthinkable happened. I hit a call from an older woman claiming to be his wife. S was 14 years older than him and he was 14 years older than me. I guess I will never know the real truth. C told me that he had married S to help her and her two daughters (my age). Every time he tried to leave her she cut her wrists or some other cry for attention.

For months I had to have my calls screened both at home and at work. S or her daughter would call me saying nasty things. I stopped seeing C. Then one night he arrived at my home saying he had left her. He couldn’t take it anymore. The next day we found a bedsit near to my work. That first week it was great coming back every evening to my meal cooked for me. The two of us together making plans. It wasn’t so great for C, he wasn’t used to being in a strange town alone all day with no work. It was his off season.

He told me that he had a friend in Norfolk who could give him work as a taxi driver Monday to Friday. He would be back at the weekends. He never came back. I refused to get upset. I couldn’t phone him, we didn’t have mobile phones in those days. After a few weeks I had a phone call from the Samaritans supposedly searching for C on S’s behalf.

I stayed at the bedsit until the end of our 3 month contract then moved back to my parents. While I was at the bedsit I didn’t see anyone outside of work and a few visits to my parents in the next town. I couldn’t give up on C, I couldn’t forget about him and move on. I needed to know where he was and what had happened. I kept my grief tucked inside me. I never cried, my health began to suffer.

I remember one day phoning my mother at work in a panic. I felt as though my life had collapsed, I didn’t know how I would get through the next minute let alone the next hour. I don’t remember what happened next but I got through the day. My work was suffering, eventually I handed in my notice. I knew I couldn’t carry on with my job in the state I was in.

I managed to persuade my Dr that I needed help but I didn’t want pills. He arranged for a councillor to visit me at home. Unfortunately he was about to change jobs so I only saw him the once. He told me that I was clinically depressed. We went through everything in my life that was making me feel so bad. That helped, just breaking it all down into different problems.

About a month later I got a job working in a bar then a job as an hotel receptionist. One afternoon on my way home I stopped at our local supermarket. On the way out I saw a face I never expected to see again. It was C. He waited for me to walk me home. As soon as I was home I ran to the bathroom to be sick.

It was 11 months since he had left me. He thought he could pick up where he left me. He explained that he had gone to Norfolk as planned but he had phoned home to check how S was. She was in hospital after another suicide attempt. So he went back to look after her. Now she was well and he was able to leave. I saw him a few times over the next couple of months.

I became pregnant, he said he was decorating the flat for S then we would be together. I lost the baby. Suddenly he was unavailable again. He did arrange to see me over the August bank holiday. Bizarrely I stayed with his younger step daughter and partner. We had become friends over the phone. She didn’t agree with how her mother and sister had been towards me. Anyway when I was supposed to see C it was S who turned up. I was suddenly very ill in the bathroom. Later we spoke and found that neither if us were the bitch we had thought.

Over the years I have wondered what happened to C and S. I moved on with my life. I met the man who gave me my four sons.

Abbie’s book was nothing like my story but it did get me thinking about it. I just remembered that one of my colleagues way back then once said to me. ” Your live life might not be happy but it’s interesting” . Thinking back on that comment I don’t know why she thought it was interesting.