independent advocate reducing alcohol harm

Martina

We walked in the rain with just the clothes on our back for 3 miles to stay with a relation.

I am a daughter of an alcoholic father. My parents ran a pub in our local town and everyone knew us. Everyone thought that he was great fun, but little did people know what went on when it was closing time. He brought the party upstairs. Talk about “street angel house devil”. I remember being 8 years old. My mam had dragged him upstairs to put him to bed (which was a difficult task as he was a big man). She crawled into bed next to me at 5AM. I begged her could we leave. I couldn’t take the hypocrisy of it anymore. She told me that everything was in his name and that we had nowhere to go, so we stayed. The worst incident that happened was Christmas time when I was 10. (I have never spoken about this to anyone). Mam closed the bar on St. Stephen’s night. An old customer was drinking downstairs all day and he stayed on with dad for a lock in. A fight broke out between them and dad kicked the customer out. Dad then turned on my mam. I was upstairs in bed trembling. I knew that the screams were louder than usual so I packed a bag. Mam ran up the stairs to tell me that we were leaving. As we came downstairs, dad tried to trap us to stop us from leaving. It was extremely scary. We managed to burst our way past him and out the front door. We walked in the rain with just the clothes on our back for 3 miles to stay with a relation. She had no idea of our situation. People didn’t believe us. We stayed away from the house for a week but Mam had to return to open the business. It was horrific. There are other parts to this story, but it would take too long to write. Dad never believed he was an alcoholic or that he had a problem. “Ah shur everyone likes a drink”, that’s what I grew up listening to. As a result of all of this, I do not drink. I am the only one in my family who doesn’t drink and they think I’m a freak. Ireland really has a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol. I am in my forties now and happily married with 2 beautiful children. Unfortunately, they never got to meet their granddad, as he died at Christmas when I was 16. He cut short his life by his own selfish behaviour. He chose alcohol above his own family. I know people will say “oh it’s a disease, he was an addict and he couldn’t help it”. I don’t buy into that mindset after what he put me through as a child. I hope part of my story may help someone to realise that they’re not alone, that trauma happens behind closed doors. Thank you for reading.