From the beginning…

I first posted this on Soberistas in February, I left the site the following day and I haven’t felt up to writing the next part yet. I will do soon I hope.

This is going to be a long story so I apologise in advance…it may seem totally irrelevant in parts but I’ve had all this in my head for so long I need to get it out…if you do try to read, I apologise for the way I write it…its just going down as it comes to mind. Some parts may not make sense I think and I am sure the chronological order of everything may not be perfect.

My mum was born into a dysfunction family…her father left when she was only a baby and my Irish grandmother was left a single mother of three young children, in the late 40’s this was frowned upon an as such my mother grew up as a social outcast, I remember her telling me she never felt she fitted in and was always thought of as odd, they were very poor and the church helped them out often. Throughout my mothers childhood my grandmother drank, at a constant level. My mother had two older brothers who my grandmother struggled to keep under control, when they got to their teens they both went into the film industry and started earning a lot of money. They bought a sports car and used to go to parties and casinos in London, this was in the late 50s…they partied hard and drank a lot. On the way home one morning my eldest uncle lost control and crashed the car, killing his brother. He was arrested and was charged, the court case was long and drawn out, but he avoided prison. This propelled my grandmother into a severe depression and her drinking increased, my mother found her with her head in the gas oven a number of times.
Around this time, my mother went into nursing…she left home and moved to the training hospital in central London, this gave her the opportunity to just be who she wanted, she told me she loved to go to parties but rarely drank.
When she completed her training she carried on working at the hospital…she met my dad in 69/70 he was 10 years older than her and seemed very grown up. They married in the early 70’s and my mother was unaware of his chronic alcoholism at this stage. He worked, he was well liked, he never drank at parties. But the house was held up by his empty litre whiskey bottles…apparently they were everywhere in every possible space. I was born in 75 my sister in 76…my dad was a doting father, but the pressure of living with an alcoholic was too much for my mother…they separated on a number of occasions as well as my dad trying various in and out patient treatments. Finally in the early 80’s they parted company…my dad moved to another town and we moved too. We lost contact with him for a few years as his drinking continued, but finally my mother found him in a mental hospital, we visited him there on a few occasions and when he left he moved to a halfway house then a small flat.
So, as for me…I always felt like I was different, I never fitted in and was a bit odd. Having to keep family secrets is a lot to bear for a child. I was also very bright…my mother was obsessed with taking me to places to get my IQ tested! At 3 I had the reading age of a 12 yr old…but I hated school with a passion. I was always in trouble for being obstinate. I went to a convent school with French nuns and they were wicked…I was regularly caned and had my mouth washed out with soap on a number of occasions. I don’t remember anything happy or fun about these years, my mother was a hard woman and I didn’t like her. We spent weekends with my dad and he always had a bottle of ‘coke’ with him…that was out of bounds for us!! The weekends with my dad were full of fun, I realise now that my mum had the usual family stuff to deal with and had to keep a roof over our head and pay school fees all on her own, so my dad got the easy bit of just providing us with lots of good times!
I think it was probably when I was about 8 that I remember my mum starting to go out drinking with her friends…the overwhelming smell of her perfume, Opium turns my stomach now. My grandma was with us a lot during these years and we spent the whole of the summer holidays with her, miles from home as my mother worked full time. I wouldn’t see my dad for the whole of the holidays. During my primary school years I saw child psychiatrists regularly…I had a problem with not talking, I could just shut myself off. I remember the head teacher shouting at me…she really lost it, I expect I was a very frustrating child! I wet the bed every single night till I was 11, soaked from head to toe, I remember shivery nights being stripped off and put back to bed three or four times. I spent a lot of time in hospital having all sorts of investigative operations. Phew think that’s enough for now.

3 thoughts on “From the beginning…”

  1. Wow and phew indeed, ( I have a mental picture of your tense shoulders dropping a little!! ) but better out, I hope for you, and when you are ready let the rest out and give your head the space to look at the past muddle and disruption in black and white. A very brave, articulate and excellent start, I think, to looking at and getting a perspective on how to live your life in the now.
    Its huge what you and your family have been through and I hope your sobriety is standing you in a good place to look to a better future for you. Don’t be alone with this I am sure there are many people who can empathise and support you along the way here. Lots of luck and love, Janey xx

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  2. Hello dear sober sister and thank you for sharing so bravely, what you write and how you say it will be helping so many people and I hope yourself. Writing is such a therapeutic process and like Janey I can almost visibly see the sigh of relief as you get this out your system. Like many in reocvery you are finding that writing helps straighten stuff out. Big hugs xxx

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  3. I think you are very brave to share this. My story is very different but I certainly know how it feels to grow up with the burden of family secrets. I hope it has helped in some way and at least in some way you are no longer alone with this xxxx

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