TO MY ALCOHOLIC FATHER, (WHO DIED WHILE I WAS GIVING BIRTH)

EMOTIONAL, HEALTH, THOUGHT-PROVOKING

Life is mad isn’t it? The older I get the more I know that to be true. Where I once thought that’ happiness’ was a place you aimed for, I now ‘get’ that more likely there are sad times tinged with joy and good times with more complex or tricky bits thrown in. This list by Megan Ace is testament to the highs and lows sometimes colliding at once, in this case the death of her Father while her son was being born.

 

  • Dear Dad,

  • Your drug and alcohol addiction, which lead you to your final destination and ‘great escape’, for me, made the arrival of my son, terribly hard to comprehend.

  • After a very long and complicated birth, I too, was to experience the all-consuming drug, one similar to which had been your consumer, your master for so many years.

  • I thought about you and for the first time, understood how it must have instantly transported you into what you thought was a happier place. 

  • After my adoring, doting husband and my incredible mother, your ex-wife, had gone home, I embraced my son with the warmth of a thousand suns and I thought of you.

  • How proud you’d be of your only ‘darling daughter’ and your brand new grandson, merely hours’ old.

  • In the face of sheer exhaustion and an overwhelming feeling of love, so raw, it’s painful, I decided to share my news with you.

  • Having not seen you since very early on in my pregnancy, I compose my message and send you the text. A text which you would never receive. A text which when your phone bleeps beside my mother’s bed, she once again, would have to absorb my hope. 

  • Unbeknown to me, you went into hospital as I did, during the early hours.

  • My fatherly-like bothers and mum had asked my husband if he thought I should know of your situation and he, quite wisely, said no.

  • Yet another impossible decision your addiction has made one of my loved ones make. 

  • I learned that you were upstairs on life support after I had given birth. 

  • You had previously left a note in that ICU reading ‘do not resuscitate’.

  • The wonderful NHS nurses and midwives gave me the option of them taking me up on my bed to say my goodbyes and to hold your hand, for one last time.

  • What devoted angels. I felt so lucky to be in their overwhelmingly precious and selfless care. 

  • Sadly, my youngest of two brothers, your second son, was not to be so fortunate in finding his peace with you. Travel, timings and the fact that his wife had given birth to their second son, your forth grandson, a mere four weeks’ earlier, made it an impossible task for him to say goodbye.

  • As my biggest brother, your eldest son, on his broadest of shoulders wheeled me to your bedside, I cannot for the life of me recall what I said to you.

  • Only how I wish you could have met our King of a son, or at least known that he had arrived safely. I know you would have cared deep down inside, even if those battled demons wouldn’t have allowed you to show us. 

  • There was of course humour too in that moment. How we find that in the most surreal situations, never ceases to amaze me.

  • I’m sorry that you have missed out on so much – your three children, five grandsons and most recently, your granddaughter.  

  • I witness such wonderful qualities of yours in all of your grandchildren and I know how much they all would have been just as absorbed in your magical stories as the three of us were, and how richer their lives would be if you could have played a role in them. 

  • I wish that you could know of your inheritance track which has been passed to my children and of the ‘angels guarding them while they sleep’, just as you promised they always did for me.

  • I wish you were alive

  • I’m sorry I couldn’t have saved you.

  • Even more than that, I wish you hadn’t been an addict. 

  • I am thankful that when I gave birth for the second time to my daughter, Aurelia I didn’t have to endure the emotional ordeal of your death again. It felt utterly euphoric, actually.  

  • I also, for the first time understood how much pain your death caused, and how hugely it effected both my son and me.

  • As a new born baby, Arthur soaked up so much of our family’s pain. Relatives coming into my hospital room and unwittingly, using him as a tool, a prop to channel their hurt from losing you. I still feel guilty for allowing that.

  • My milk didn’t come in and Arthur lost a dangerous amount of weight. The stress of your death, evidently creating a dam-like lake of liquid gold inside me; my body too busy giving me strength, rather than being able to offer it to my new born in the most natural way, in the rawest form.

  • After three days of being at home, we were readmitted back to hospital where we were told to receive no visitors.

  • The matron gave the three of us a private room and for 72 hours, we cocooned ourselves, bonded, and saw no one. It was the best thing we ever did. That liquid gold eventually made it’s way out to our boy.

  • Even through so many years of turmoil, manipulation, guilt and pain, I have no blame, for what now would be the point in that?

  • I’m confident that none of it was your fault. Not really, anyway.

  • As my family grows, I feel your absence more greatly and as I find myself having more time to think, I miss your presence, your ability to hold a room full of people, more and more.

  • Is it possible for my children to miss you, even though they’ve never met you? They often look up to the dusk sky and pick you out as the very brightest of stars. That makes my throat ache.

  • The part which would always, and still feels gutting is that you would always intellectualise your drug addiction. You were so naturally wise, bright, almost genius-like and this would just baffle me.

  • The time your told me that taking heroine for the first time was part of an ‘intellectual experiment’ left me with an anger I had never felt before. How could you actually string those words together into a sentence and relay them to me. Did you actually believe it? Were you belittling it? Was it actually you talking?

  • Why were you always looking for escapism from the real world? Real love?

  • You told me that all of your morals would go out of the window, and all that you’d be chasing was your next hit. I respected your honesty.

  • But how about the hit of love?

  • The family hit?

  • The loyal hit?

  • The father/ daughter hit? 

  • It would be easy for me to still feel anger towards you, however, I recognise that it would be me who suffered now.

  • I had to let it go, flip my anger into a positive and try and use my experiences to help others. Speaking openly has certainly aided this.

  • Alcohol devastates

  • Alcohol isolates

  • According to NHS statistics on alcohol, there were 5,843 deaths related to alcohol in 2017, 6% higher than 2016 and more frighteningly, a16% increase than 2007.

  • I believe alcoholism is an illness. A disease. Not a choice.

  • ‘The illness is perverse. It’s the secret, the shameful secret that keeps people locked up in their disease’. Jamie Lee Curtis.

  • That’s how addiction can become cancerous and impact on everyone around them. 

  • I am certain that we can be pre-disposed to addiction.

  • It’s also learnt behavior of course.

  • I now enjoy a glass of wine or two, however I am never out of control. 

  • I suffer from anxiety and I wonder if this is related to my childhood experiences of growing up with an addict. The uncertainty of an addictive parent actually ever turning up, the horrible memories of money being taken from my piggy bank to name a few.

  • I know that alcohol increases my anxiety hugely.

  • Addicts must battle with this emotion all of the time. A constant, aching game of catch-up between high, low, anxiety and guilt.

  • I believe we all have the chance of falling into addiction

  • I am truly shocked at how taboo the subject of addiction still is. I’m too aware that addiction, and in particular, alcohol dependency is not uncommon

  • Most people reading this will have been effected in one way or another. Whether you’re an addict, you know one, you’re living with one, or you have been one, please know, you are not on your own.

  • My mum was fiercely protective and managed to shield my brothers and me from my dad’s lies, addictive tendencies.

  • Not once has she spoken ill of him. What a testament to motherhood. She will forever be my hero.

  • Writing a letter allowed me to have a little closure and speak to the man my Dad once was, and the man I once knew, the man I loved and the man who has shaped the woman I am today.

  • I am currently, and finally, receiving counseling to help come to terms with my Dad’s death – having only ever spoken about my experiences in a somewhat positive way, and somewhat intellectualising my experiences, I hadn’t ever quite allowed the sadness for my dad’s death, and of his addiction to be felt.

  • I thought that someone always needed me more than my sadness; someone else was more important that the acknowledgement. Perhaps at the time, yes, but now I’m allowing myself to explore and make sense of my feelings. Make sense of the pain, which I worked out how to bury many years ago.

  • I sobbed whilst on a run yesterday thinking of my dad. My councilor sad that this had the potential of happening and he was right. Like an erupting volcano, out of nowhere, I sobbed. And I can’t actually remember a single time I have given my tears to him, since he died.

  • I felt relief, and in writing these lists too.

  • Dad, know that your love of writing has been passed onto me, I treasure the letters and the stories we shared through the years that you were well, with all of my heart. The children delight in the stories of the ‘larvin’ and of the ‘silver penny’ – perhaps one day many other children can relish in your stories, creativity and words too. You live on healthily through my brothers, your grandchildren and of course, me. You will forever be loved and forever missed.  

  • Angels guard you, Dad. Rest, rest and rest again x

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply Amy September 6, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I’m sorry you have had to encounter all the trauma that comes with being a child of an addict. My story is similar. My mother was and is no longer with us. The pain, the relief and finding joy. The circle of life maybe. Thank you again. Wishing you and your family all the best. xxx

  • Reply Jessica September 7, 2020 at 11:09 am

    This is so strong, raw and beautiful. I am a recovering addict, mum of three and I will eternally be grateful that I stopped in time for my children to experience any of this. Your story moved me. It makes me stand even more firm in my decision to not drink again and the reasons I do not do it. I will give my children the best there is to give of m e, a healthy and anxiety and hangover-free me. Thank you. 💕

  • Reply Char September 8, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you for putting into words what is in my heart.

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