Drugs and alcohol

When it comes to alcoholism and drugs, it should be a different issue. They’re self-inflicted and shouldn’t be an issue. They’re not real disabilities“.

I was talking to my mother about the government debate on mental health earlier. She seemed pretty uninterested, which disappointed me; it’s a subject painfully close to my heart, and it’s the government who decide my fate, after all. My mother is always panicking over my DLA, convinced that when I get called into the inevitable assessment my benefits will be either dramatically cut, or removed entirely. Personally, I try not to think about it. I am scared, but worrying about something which might not happen doesn’t seem the best way to deal with that fear.

While I was trying to speak to her and attempting to explain how I’m dubious about any changes being made. I said, “I’ll believe it when they stop taking innocent people off benefits”, and she replied with the quote above.

Considering my own problems with addiction, I took the comment quite personally. It took me a long time to understand why my mother was so biased against those who rely on substances; now I know the extent of my father’s alcoholism and my auntie’s spiral into days spent in bed with a bottle while my cousins raised themselves, and I get it somewhat. However, I can’t entirely comprehend her prejudice. My mother doesn’t know much about my past – I’ve purposely kept it that way to protect her because I don’t think she could cope with it – and certainly doesn’t know I still take drugs. She doesn’t know I’ve ever touched them, as far as I’m aware.

My father hit her. He pushed her down the stairs and tried to throw my sister E out of the bedroom window whilst high on something. He still drinks, and shouts abuse at her when he visits. I totally understand why she’d have such a bias against alcoholics; my dad is an idiot. My aunt is a sanctimonious woman who judged my mother for leaving my father and raising myself and my three siblings on her own, yet she drank and didn’t look after her children until they were older, and she had been in a violent relationship herself. Neither of those relations were great adverts for those struggling with addiction. They don’t exactly make themselves likeable.

However, I just wish she’d understand. I wish she’d see what’s right under her own nose; her own daughter is struggling with painkiller addiction. The girl she gave birth to has used alcohol to block out feelings.

Alcoholism runs in my family. I’m unsure if there’s a genetic link, or whether we’re just copying the behaviour of relatives. My father left before I was born so I don’t know how much of his violence and drinking I got to see. Sometimes I’d stay over at his tiny, cramped bedsit in Liverpool and he’d drink constantly from a plastic water bottle. Once, I tasted it; it was disgusting, like it had gone off. With hindsight I recognise the taste of cheap wine.

I loved staying with him. The house his bedsit was in felt huge, like a massive labyrith. My father lived right at the top, in a bedsit not much bigger than my mother’s living room, with a wonky ceiling and old sash windows, a mahogany wardrobe, sofa and table in front of an old two-bar gas fire, a tiny black-and-white tv and a double bed tucked in a corner. At night, I’d lie in that bed under a floral duvet and listen to the police sirens in the night.

We’d sit and watch Casualty in monochrome and eat spring rolls with soy sauce. Sometimes, he cooked chicken legs and wrapped them in foil with garlic and we’d have a picnic in the nearby park. I’d sit with my feet in the lake, watching men throwing fishing poles into the water and groups of teenagers smoking on the benches, and I’d think how much cooler my father was than my mother.

Dad let me swear. Only words like “arse” and “bloody” but, to my pre-teen self, it felt like a delicious freedom. He let me stay up late, and often took me on midnight walks around the area he lived in. We’d amble past graffiti’d walls and late-night takeaways, alleyways filled with rubbish and an abandoned nightclub. I loved that club; the walls were smooth with fake-marble tiles which were always cold to the touch and shone under the dim light from the old concrete lamp posts. Or we’d walk through the park, avoiding the teens smoking dope, drug-dealings, couples looking for somewhere private and lone men, just standing around, and we’d go to the lake. Together, we’d sit on a bench and talk about the strangest things. Time-travel. Cannabilism. Space-travel. Ghost stories. Indian food.

Once we were talking by the lake at 2am on a Saturday night and my father told me that if we were ever stranded at sea, I could eat him to survive.

I think it was the nicest thing he’s ever said to me.

Sometimes, I want to confess everything to my mother. How I once vomited from snorting too much coke. How I kept a bottle of gin under my bed when I was fourteen, and used to take a Pepsi bottle full of vodka with me to college when I was seventeen. I want to tell her about the day I realised I was addicted to morphine, and how I only stopped taking it because J prevented me from getting any. I want to explain why I once took twenty co-codamol pills in a day; not because I wanted to die, but because I was so reliant on them that it took huge amounts to get any feeling from it.

I can’t tell her any of these things. Because she just wouldn’t understand.

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39 Comments

  1. Love from a warm Maine evening 8-) I am so sorry about you not being able to tell your mom. I was 49 before I even started telling my mom about my history. She took it much better than I expected — but she doesn’t have the history your mom does. Still, a time may come when you want to tell her, and I have a suggestion for then: You don’t have to tell her everything at once — limit your vulnerability, and you’ll feel much safer. I am thinking of you, and you have a place in my morning ritual.

  2. ever heard of white crosses, it is speed in a pill form, which was my drug of choice and it was easy to get, you could get it from any local convience store on any corner in the city, I would get a bottle of 500 and as I was walking out the store I would open the bottle and fill my hand with the small white pills and not counting I would slam them in my mouth and swallow them with mountain dew, and be gone for days at a time. I wasnt around my family when I started these but returned to my mother after awhile and was still popping the pills even then and but I kept this from her, not wanting her to know about my little secret. I hid it from everyone including my boss who thought I was superman, working late shifts and coming right back in morning never realizing that it took more and more to achieve the same high that I was used to, I fully understand,

  3. Alcoholic grandmother,alcoholic and self destructive mother – is it any wonder I was a borderline alcoholic by the time I was 15? Luckily I was never into drugs even though I was constantly surrounded by them with the people I associated with.I told my mother about my version of my childhood when I was in my mid 20′s but I did it to hurt her..spiteful I know but I felt that she deserved to have her little bubble burst about my “perfect and normal” childhood.She had no idea of half the things I told her about which shows how absent she was,even when it concerned her and her drinking.Why should I let her walk around thinking she was mother of the year when I was walking around with all this pain and resentment?We are better now,having found a neutral ground based on,I hurt you,you hurt me…

    Hey,Ive nominated you right back :)

    http://myinnervoiceislaughingatme.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/im-still-blush…igure-this-out/

    • Thanks Anna :D It is surprising, I just don’t understand why addicts are so looked down on. Anyone who thinks nothing terrible could ever happen to them has very rose-tinted glasses on, I think.

      I’ll always treasure those memories with my dad. I’ve all but disowned him now; his shouting and violence towards my mother pushed me too far. Still, I adored him once, and nothing can change that.

      Hugs right back x

  4. Ah sounds a lot like my family. Your mother knows. Maybe not the extent of it all, but she knows. Sometimes it hard to verbalize these things to people because it makes it all too real. I am sorry you have had such a hard struggle. Thank you for sharing!

  5. And that’s exactly why, as their children, we don’t tell them. Because they’ll never understand. They live by “Do as I say, not as I do” approach. Do this day I’ll never confess half the shit I did as a teenager to my father. Some things are just best left unsaid. And it doesn’t hurt anyone. Why bother telling them? Why bother trying to justify it all….”I did it because…..”. They’ll either just become disappointed in you or just shake their head and blame themselves. So it better to leave it as a memory and know that you know better now and have matured. We all do amazing things to ourselves when we young. Looking back you wonder how you survived! “OMG, that was so fucked up!” How many times have you said that looking back on something you did? Parents have an idea, but it’s best to keep the details to yourself. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.

    You and your family have been through so much! It’s hard to forget, but you learn from the past. You don’t need a family meeting to sit and discuss what went wrong. Move forward and know what is right now. Concentrate on today.

    Aside from his drinking, dad seemed pretty cool. Very realistic. No My Pretty Pony or frilly dresses and tea parties. He wanted you to know what life was really about! He seemed to care in his own way!

    • “And it doesn’t hurt anyone. Why bother telling them? Why bother trying to justify it all….”I did it because…..”. They’ll either just become disappointed in you or just shake their head and blame themselves. So it better to leave it as a memory and know that you know better now and have matured. ”

      Exactly. Thanks for understanding what I’m thinking. Telling my mother would only cause pain; and do I want that? No, of course not. I can’t see any positives ever coming from telling her these things, only anger and resentment. After all, a lot of how I’ve reacted in the past seems to be down to her overprotecting me, how could I ever tell her that without hurting her? She did the best she could.

      I really do wonder how I survived at times. I put myself in so many dangerous situations, and again… I can’t tell her that. I can’t explain to her that, at the time, it’s what I needed. She wouldn’t understand.

      My dad was pretty cool when I was a kid. In truth, I adored him, he was my parent of choice. My mother told me what to do, whereas he told me how to think. I really cherish those memories of him, because as I got older I learned a lot of what I believed was a lie, and I can’t respect him anymore.

  6. Im lucky in a way as i can tell my mum everything she knows about my drug taking etc! My dad is an alcoholic too but more of a binger so i had that whilst growing up and it scares me that im becoming like him and the addicted personality! But i love him so very much too! Hope your ok and thankyou for your honesty once again xxx

  7. See, I agree with your mom here. I do think turning to substance abuse is just escapism. But it’s not something one can control, I guess. For you, drugs might be a coping mechanism, for me, I turn to something else, which is less harmful to me and to others close to me. But maybe your tolerance is also lower, so my coping mechanism may not necessarily work with you. I dunno :/

    • Oh, I agree that it’s escapism. But I just think that implying that people who use drugs to escape don’t have ‘real’ problems… eh, I can’t go along with that. I’ve known too many people who’ve been kicked out of the mental health system and turned to drugs, or been denied the right medications and had to break the law to get pain relief. I may be way off the mark here, but I know from my experience that the drug taking comes after a spiral of uncontrollable events; it’s not something you just do for a laugh. Well, I don’t anyway. I know some do, but that’s never been my style.

      I’d be interested in hearing about your coping mechanism. I’ll try anything once!

      • I’ve seen both kinds of people. Those who smoke/drink/do drugs to cope with something, and those who do it for recreation. Smokers for example, I know girls who took up smoking for weight loss. I guess, once it becomes a habit, you don’t need a reason to do it.

        Of course, you can say that weight loss is a real problem. But it’s really not. It’s the underlying mentality, that they can take on the health risks associated with smoking, just for a slimmer body, that’s the problem. And when it comes to what you Think, it takes a huge effort to shake one off their inertia.

        Sometimes the short-term problems and their solutions are such a big deal, that the long term effects of alcoholism and drugs take a back seat. But sometimes, future problems just seem so far away, that the present high takes precedence, and that, I think is stupidity.

  8. You are so strong! To keep this from your Mother must take huge amounts of strength. Think tho, how freeing it would be to let her know about your struggles. How it would take so much pressure off of you; off of your relationship with her. Just a thought, hon. I am 3 1/2 years sober; I’ve been there. ((hugs))

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