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I have thought long and hard about posting this review and I do hope that it does not make anybody uncomfortable, my intention is to show that there is life after living with an alcoholic, albeit incomplete.
I am able to clearly recall memories as far back as just before my 1st birthday, no doubt because they were quite traumatic and I was 12 before I realised that the way my father behaved was not right. I was very frightened of men and if I am being honest, still feel a certain amount of anxiety around men, although I realise that these are my feelings and nothing to do with the behaviour of men, most of whom are lovely, I'm sure.
I do not want to linger over the abuse that I suffered at the hands of my father, but I wlil say that whilst I have learned strategies to cope with the aftershock, I can never see a full recovery taking place.
Strangely enough, as a child I coped with the beatings and the humiliation far better than the emotional and psychological damage that was taking place. You grow up feeling that you have an awful secret to hide and I felt that something far worse would happen if this secret got out. I recall at the age of 14 standing in my headteachers office being questioned by a Social Worker as to why I was so badly bruised and cut, my father had thrown me down the stairs and pushed me through a window. I somehow managed to convince them that these injuries were due to my own clumsiness. That is how it had always been and as far as I was concerned there was no other way. As an adult I realise that I was let down very badly by the authorities.
I never had a single friend visit because I could not expose anybody to my father as I was convinced that he would become violent. Apart from that the house was destroyed with no piece of furniture left unbroken, there were holes punched in the walls, doors ripped of hinges and broken windows.
When recalling my childhood, which is infrequent, I think the worst type of fear was not the physical abuse but the fear whilst waiting in an abnormally quiet house for the pubs to close and knowing that within a few moments all sorts of unthinkable things could happen to you. If I was lucky I would simply be dragged from my bed and kept up until the early hours with screaming and shouting. I recall that these were the times when the most hurtful and destroying things were said and these are the things that I have carried into adulthood.
It is not all doom and gloom. I left home at 20, not wanting to leave my mother at the hands of my father as I felt I had to protect her. I realise that the anxieties and uncertainties I feel at times are solely due to my childhood experiences but I am naturally a positive person and having trained as a nurse, I then moved into teaching and work with children who are permanently excluded from school.
My advice to anyone living with an alcoholic. You are dealing with an addiction and a mental illness and trying to reason them into rational behaviour is not likely to work. Grab help where you can and do not be afraid to ask for it. I wish I could offer more constructive advice but often simply finding a way to survive is the only way through, be strong.
I now have three wonderful children of my own, two of whom are at University and the third still at High School. The legacy I took into my adulthood was to ensure that what happened to me never happened to them and I have never spoken to them of my life before I had them. They are lovely, successful young men with a sensitivity and kindness that I am so proud of. I have made sure that they have wonderful childhood memories and I have probably gone a bit over the top. I have their futures to look forward to and for me that is wonderful.