“I would cycle to a local hilly area to dump countless vodka bottles because if daddy found them it would be a reason to beat her.”


I grew up in a household with two chronic alcoholics. Both were violent when drinking. My mother’s alcoholism was the secret one – the one no one ever talked about – the reason I would cycle to a local hilly area to dump countless vodka bottles because if daddy found them it would be a reason to beat her. My father’s alcoholism was the socially acceptable one – to the pub every night after work till midnight when he would come in and wake us all – sometimes by pulling mammy out of the bed by the hair. He would be violent if she was drunk or sober. He attacked her so violently one night she lost her eye – after that she wore a false eye and when drunk often lost it or would forget to put it in which was hugely upsetting for me – I often had to find her eye before school.

The predominant feelings of living with alcoholics are shame, fear, grief and anxiety at such a level its hard to put into words. Coming home from school I would inherently know before the door was opened if my mother was drunk – when she was, the feelings of sadness and fear of what was to come would be all consuming – we may not eat , no clothes would be washed – I knew I would have to look after myself and binges could go on for days – when she stopped it would be back to normal and I would help her polishing the furniture and clean the house back up and act normal. There were 5 children – we were all impacted differently. My brother died in a drowning incident at 21 with his friend – there were awful incidents in the home when he tried to protect my mother from daddy’s beatings. Most of my family are estranged. My father is still alive. I ran out of home at 18 and never spoke to him again.

My mother and father eventually separated – my mothers life spiralled more out of control – she was never sober – lived then with another alcoholic and had more violence – she burned half her face lighting a cigarette drunk in bed. I was a mother myself with two children at the time visiting her in St James where she told me she was not an alcoholic and had no problem with drink. She died a couple of years later from alcoholic toxicity and I found her dead I wasn’t sad when she died. I only felt relief for my beautiful mother who was lost in alcoholism- I only mourned all I lost and could have had with her and still do. The hardest thing for me growing up was the thoughts anyone would know what went on in my house – I would regularly get up early before school to clean blood off walls and dinners off floors if a friend was due home to my house. Meetings / church communions were so fraught as once she attended drunk and had wet herself – I coped by pretending no one noticed. Police were often at our house at weekends – I would hide in the wardrobe. They would find you and ask was all OK even though they were both drunk and had been very violent – they would then just leave.

Never once growing up did I experience any support from anyone outside even though it was well known. We grew up in a lovely house -nice neighbourhood- good school, it wasn’t talked about but to be honest that suited me as my coping mechanism was denial. I have so many stories/ incidents I could write for hours. The impact it has had on me is monumental. I know that and try to cope as best I can – it upsets me greatly that still in this country children go to school with no underwear or clean clothes or lunch due to an alcoholic mother as I did. Where are the supports for these children – the ones in better backgrounds who hide it all – the house is nice but there’s no food or care in the home. My mother at times went into treatment – where was the social care for the children at home? I live really in a constant state of anxiety as I always worry something bad is about to happen and feel I have to make sure it doesn’t – but nobody knows.