*Clare’s life was affected by her parent’s drinking when she was very young, she says her father still prefers alcohol to his family now, over 30 years later.
“My memories of alcohol started so long ago I can’t even remember. My mam and dad used to drink all the time. In the house, in the garden in summer, in the pub. There were four of us. I remember me and my sisters would be taken to the pub by our parents whilst they went inside to drink, but we had to play outside while they were inside drinking. We’d have to amuse ourselves. I can’t remember feeling unhappy as a child as this was normal for us. It was what we did.
Our parents did have problems. They split when I was 13....... Mum got a new boyfriend and he drank too, a lot, and he would be violent to my mum often, and to us kids too, and only if he’d been drinking. He would hit us, he’d throw things at us. He put me in hospital with concussion when he threw a table at me, this was because I was protecting my sisters from being hit him, again after he’d been drinking. Eventually social services found out and it looked as though we’d have to go into care, but instead we went to live with my older sister. I was 16. But I became difficult, I started to get very aggressive and violent, both to my sisters and to others on occasions. This is what I’d seen at home, aggression. My sister couldn’t look after me. I was again faced with being taken into care long term. I decided to go back to my mum and her partner instead, and so the situation continued.
As I’ve got older I’ve had problems with anger. I don’t know how much is down to what I saw but I’ve always found it difficult to be loving with people, I’ve always felt emotionally cold, and selfish too. All of us agree that we have all grown up like this, all the sisters. I get so frustrated when I can’t control something, when I struggle with something I find difficult. This frustration turns to anger and I would hit walls. I’ve self harmed many times. I’ve always had a problem trusting people and dealing with my emotions. I never learned to deal with my emotions when I was younger, the only emotion I saw was anger. I never felt able to go to my parents to talk about normal things that other kids could go to their parents about. I think if my parent’s had been more loving then maybe I wouldn’t have had some of the problems I have had. My dad still drinks, too much and too often. I’ve tried to have a relationship with him but he prefers the alcohol to his family. I think he always will. He will lie to us all the time, even now, and always to get his own way. He’ll tell us he has no money but he always has enough to buy beer. He prefers the pub rather than spend time with his family, and that hurts.
I have a child of my own now, he sees little of her, it hurts to see her not have a proper relationship with her granddad. Couldn’t he quit his drinking for the sake of his grandchildren? I still love my dad, I shouldn’t but I do. It would be easier if I didn’t. Alcohol spoiled my childhood and I‘d say is still spoiling things now I’m grown up. My dad doesn’t think he has a problem so of course he doesn’t think he needs help. All the rest of the family do. So he does what he wants to do and the rest of us still have to suffer that he wants alcohol more than his family.”
*Clare has requested that her name is changed to protect her families anonymity.