My parents’ drinking created constant chaos and fear in our home.

My father was a ‘normal’ drinker, in the sense of what society defined normal to be during the 80’s and 90’s: pub most nights until late, and when he’d have a few drinks at social events he would often times get so drunk he couldn’t stand up and would need to be helped to bed. He still behaves like this, at times. My mother died from her alcoholism a few years ago. She suffered a ‘traditional’ (if you can call it that) addiction experience: periods of intense sobriety broken by periods of even more intense drinking. She wouldn’t eat but would consume mind boggling volumes of straight vodka. A typical routine for her during these periods would be something like this: wake up, be sick, drink vodka, fall asleep for half the day, repeat.

This behaviour brought the following: constant fighting between my parents, before and after their separation; guards and social workers occasionally showing up randomly to our house, screaming relatives showing up with threats to pull me and my sibling away from our home; no food at home, bills unpaid, threats arriving by post because of debts. But two things still haven’t left us, they are fear and shame.

I’m an adult now, settled, happily married and with a young child of my own. In the past year of being a parent, the reality of my childhood experience has hit me with such stark force that I’ve sought professional counselling to help process it. My ‘normal’ is not at all normal. I’m functioning on a shaky foundation of fear and self-loathing, but covering it up with the niceties of an education, job, relationship etc. A good counsellor is helping with all this. But what stings my heart is that none of my parents ever said sorry to me or my sibling. It never seemed important at all.