Living with Alcoholism

by Anon

THE PATIENT - "Living with Alcoholism"

Back from school - I open the door. House seems quiet. That familiar air of 'abandonment' - here we go again. Maybe I'm wrong, won't let the panic rise until I know for sure. I call out - "Mum, are you home?" No reply. She's in the kitchen. Face down on the table. Glass in hand. Half lit cigarette in the other. I snub out the smouldering butt. Jesus - she could have burned the house down. She grunts. Smell of wine and whatever else. "You make me sick!" - I want to shout, "What are you doing, what's your reason this time? Jesus Christ you're pathetic. Look at you - you can't even stand up!"
I don't say anything. There's no point. I've been there before and she's too drunk to notice. She'll call me a 'bitch' and 'an ungrateful child'. I throw the remains in the glass down the sink - wash it away - don't want to see it.

"Come on Mum, I'm bringing you to bed. Watch the step. Here's you room. No, you can't have another cigarette - just go to sleep". A stream of abuse floods back at me. I walk out. She can do what she likes - she always has done. How can she care? How can she care about us and do this again and again? Why Mum, why?

I leave her on the bed - can't bear to look at her anymore. Come back ten minutes later - heavy snoring means she's asleep. That's the best thing. At least she's safe. Please God let her sleep til morning. I can't deal with this.

House is so quiet. All alone with my thoughts. Nervous and on edge, afraid I'll wake her and have to listen to drunken slurs.
Next morning she comes downstairs. I want to get out before she sees me. Can't bear to look her in the face. She's riddled with guilt. I know the signs by now. "Hi love". Pretends like nothing happened. I can't face her. She breaks down in tears. "Don't be like that love. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. You're all such good children. I'll never do it again". "Yeah Mum, until the next time. You're an alcoholic, you need help". Then the addict steps in - "Well you're no angel. I'm not an alcoholic " And on, and on.
No, Mum, you never were. Funny how everyone else has a problem though. My stomach knots up. Another cycle started. Should have seen it coming. Here we go again on the merry-go-round.

Reflection

Writing this piece was a therapeutic experience for me. It helped me to identify my feelings and I thought it was appropriate for this exercise as not all 'patients' have a somatic disorder and may appear to the outside world as normal healthy people for the most part. In my personal experience, psychiatric and addictive disorders can be as detrimental and destructive as physical disorders. I would describe alcoholism as a cancer. It eats away at families, at lives and at its 'victims'. I find it hard to accept the word 'victim' - they have a choice. We don't.

This is not an extract of a once-off experience. It's a ritual. That's why I know exactly how it happens, how it feels, how it starts and how it ends. More importantly - how it continues. I also know it's not just my experience, but that of many families. There's not just one 'patient' - not just one person affected.