A Violent, Alcoholic Father
Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. The events of the day raised some very painful memories of my childhood.
As an 8-year old child I made a commitment to avoid alcohol. I made this commitment while I was hiding behind the curtains of my parents’ bedroom.
I remember that day so clearly. I was in absolute terror. I was petrified.
My father was a drunk. And when he was drunk, he lost control. He became a violent and angry man. On this particular day, as an 8-year old child, I did something to annoy him. I’m not sure what. Really, I lived in complete fear of this man. I did not even talk to him for fear of being verbally and physically abused.
Whatever it was I did, or said, he became very angry and he took a knife from the kitchen and he started chasing me around the house.
I was able to outrun him up the stairs. I dashed in to my parents’ bedroom and I hid behind the curtains. I listened to this man scream and curse and threaten to kill me. I tried so hard not to make a sound. I tried so hard to control my fear and my tears. I could not understand why this person, my father, hated me so much that he wanted to kill me with a knife.
And I vowed then and there that I would never, ever drink.
Yesterday I was reminded that alcohol can cause people to do the most inappropriate things. As a child, I witnessed the destructive power of alcohol.
I made a decision to just say no to drinking. I have never regretted that decision.
One day I arrived home from a sleepover to find my Mother’s clothes covered in blood in the garbage can. It seems my little brother had lost the knob to the TV set while I was away and Mom flew into a rage and threw him down the stairs. His head hit the wall and he was taken to the hospital to have it stiched up. Luckily he was going to be OK but I felt so guilty. I thought that if I would have stayed home maybe I could have protected him. That was only one of many violent episodes. She threatened to kill us many times. Alcohol was not to blame, my Mother was diagnosed as a Manic-Depressive. Anything could set her off at anytime. I would come home from school and be afraid to open the door to go into the house. This is why my main objective as a parent has been to insure that our home is a safe place. Thanks Richard.
These types of events can have a positive impact. A deliberate focus on what it means to be a good parent.
I have truly enjoyed being a father to my children. I love them with all of my heart and I care for them. And, looking back to my own childhood, those bleak memories served to break a cycle.
You chose to break a similar cycle. Good can come out of such difficult events.
Richard and Ann ..your descriptions struck a chord. My dad was/is also an alcooholic and I remember sitting at the top of the stairs, taking it in turns with my sister to sleep for an hour and then listen out for an hour. We knew that when he came home in the early hours he would hurt my mum and us. But more scary was being asleep and the possibility of him killing her and us not at at least trying to stop this. We could hear him strangling her and her saying please mum where are you as she became more and more desperate and thought she was going to die. Weighing up the risk of shouting out and us getting hurt too or keeping quiet and him ending her life – That responsibilty for a child is so wrong. We listened to him rape her and all the horrible things he said and did. He held me by my neck up against the wall and I thought on several occassions my cards were numbered. I try hard not to re-live these times but sometimes its out of my hands and the pain is still crushing. Why did he hate us?
As an adult…I have bipolar II but unlike your mum Ann I am a very good parent. I dont have the same anger as my dad and I like to think I am nothing like him. My children know that I have suffered with depression and highs and lows but they are not in the firing line as I was. Early on I made the decision to be the best mum I could be and my three boys are all bright and musical and happy. Although my childhood has affected me there is a lot of laughter in this house and they know how much they are loved every day. You can write your own rules as a parent and with thought it does not have to be a cycle. I am anti smacking (and I know the difference between this and being beaten black and blue as I was) but my boys have never been smacked. Distraction is better. They know the word no. They dont live in a bubble but they understand the importance of kindness and caring. I am very lucky in that now I have these wonderful young men in my life, a great partner who adores me and a good relationship with my mum. I see my dad very rarely and never alone because there is still no trust there and he is still a big drinker so never meet after lunchtime. I try to think of him as two different people…this old man who can hardly remember the past and the younger him who was full of hatred and abused his power. My mum was a victim too but she did say to me that it shouldnt be like this, that not all families live like this.