I want to tell you a story, human. It’s a story about how alcohol and drugs destroyed my childhood. It’s the time my dad dropped me off at the library when I was in 5th grade so he could “grab a quick drink”…and didn’t come back. The library closed and I walked two miles back to our apartment by myself. I scrounged up something to eat in our bare fridge and I nervously waited. At 2:30am he came in, stinking of booze, and singing at the top of his lungs.
This wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last…because, as hard as it is to say this, my dad was a severe alcoholic. Looking back on my childhood, he always was. Every night was a party, whether he was by himself or surrounded by friends. Every night he drank and drank and drank until he stumbled to bed or passed out on a couch or forgot that I even existed.
I was left at friend’s houses for days, or forgotten at school, while he drank his life away. I remember going to sleep so many nights wondering why he chose alcohol over me. Was I not good enough? Was he in that much pain? When would it end?
At one of my birthday parties he didn’t show up for hours, and when he did, he was hammered. He had forgotten to grab the birthday cake, so he ordered pizza instead, stuck a candle in it, and yelled at me when I cried in embarrassment in front of my friends.
At another point in my childhood, he went on a binge so bad that a friend’s parents came to our apartment to get me after hearing I’d been there alone for a few days and threatened to call CPS. The drinking never stopped and it not only impacted my life, but it destroyed his.
My dad killed himself in 2011, after almost an entire lifetime lost to alcoholism. He’d been struggling hard the previous year with his health – his internal organs just weren’t working right, and he was in more pain than he could handle. Receiving that call was one of the most painful moments I’ve experienced because he was gone forever, not just for a few week binge.
I’m not sharing this because I want your pity. I’m sharing it because I’ve been that kid that wished on everything that their parent would choose them over alcohol or drugs. I’ve also been that teenager that grew up, partied, and made the same horrible mistakes. The one who drank night after night to wash away the feeling of being alone. I get how easy it is to want to cast aside reality and go throw a few back, but I’m determined not to follow the same path as my dad. Sure, I’ll have a night every few months where I drink and have fun, but I’m determined to live fully and I know that takes me being here for it.