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A brilliant guest blog on Children of Alcoholics Week

Posted on 14 February 2013 | 8:02am

A while back I posted a guest blog from Lucy Rocca, who with a friend had set up a website aimed at helping people like her, who had had a drink problem, and were now trying to stay dry by celebrating being dry. Today I post another brilliant piece from Lucy on life with and without the bottle.

‘This week is Children of Alcoholics Week.

For many people the image of an alcoholic is a down and out, someone swigging from a bottle of cheap, blow-your-head-off cider in the local park, a lost cause. Or perhaps it’s a stressed out mother on a council estate who has to reach for the vodka bottle before she can make it downstairs to give the kids their breakfast. Maybe the word ‘alcoholic’ conjures up images of lost souls, people with nobody to care for but themselves, who shuffle down to the local Spar each evening to pick up their next bottle, cheeks flushed with broken capillaries and hair unkempt.

I know a girl who spent much of her childhood living with a mother who drank too much. Her mum functioned expertly on a hangover, managing to make the school run on time each day, never missing a day’s work and always finding time to walk the dog/feed the cat/clean out the rabbit hutch (the pets changed over the years; the drinking did not). For a long time the little girl didn’t know that Mummy drank too much wine, the first bottle always being cracked after the bedtime story had been read and she was tucked up in bed, safely removed from the emotional mayhem downstairs.

The weekend mornings threw up evidence of excessive alcohol binges, with the coffee table always laden with empty wine bottles and CD cases strewn all over the floor, their contents being played late into the night as the wine sparked off memories, and a nostalgic melancholy led to a desire to hear music from the good old days. The little girl’s mum would often be discovered by her daughter early in the morning lying on the settee, mascara streaked down her cheeks, still fully dressed in yesterday’s clothes. It never occurred to the mother that this might make her little girl feel uncomfortable and slightly anxious.

The mother was suffering from depression and struggling to fight her way through an acrimonious divorce from the girl’s dad, and was prone to mood swings and lethargy. The alcohol served to numb the pain momentarily, but it intensified the darkness of her emotions during the day and she was unpredictable and snappy. There were many occasions when the little girl didn’t know quite how to approach her mother, unsure as to what reaction she would be met with. Black moods gave way to over the top alcohol-fuelled joyfulness, fake and loud and frightening.

The mother didn’t pour vodka on her cornflakes and nobody thought for a minute that her daughter should be put into care. She never missed a mortgage payment or a bedtime story, the clothes were always ironed and the beds made. No tragedies ever occurred, no house fires caused by the careless depositing of a cigarette end whilst drunk, no terrible drunk driving incidents with the innocent little girl sitting unawares in the back of a car, her reckless mother at the wheel. But despite this, the little girl was affected by her mother’s alcohol abuse, as there were countless times when she did not have the full emotional presence of her mother due to that mother being drunk or hungover.

Many weekends slipped by with the mother too tired, depressed and suffering the consequences of excessive booze to be bothered with going for a bike ride, helping with homework or making fairy cakes. Too much of that little girl’s childhood was spent in the shadows of an insidious alcohol dependence that she was completely oblivious of, whilst simultaneously being scarred by it.

The girl is now 14, and her mother is teetotal. It’s impossible to know for sure but the girl’s mum thinks, hopes, that she has made up for her less-than-perfect parenting during the drinking years since she gave up alcohol two years ago. She has talked for hours to her daughter about why she drank too much, how sorry she is, how she wishes she could turn back the clock; the daughter tells her she has forgiven her and that she bears no resentment.

As the months have gone by, the closeness has resumed and a strong bond has been forged once again between mum and daughter. The mother has lasting regrets, permanently etched into a memory tainted by alcohol abuse, but she desperately hopes that by recognising she was never in control whilst stuck in the midst of all that booze and subsequently making the decision to never drink it again, she has managed to claw back a healthy relationship with her remarkable daughter.

What seemed like a fondness for an innocuous bottle of wine each evening eventually manifested itself in a powerful dependency upon alcohol – a dependency that was tenacious and difficult to break. Today the mother is happy and grateful that there were no tragedies as a result of all that alcohol abuse, but she will forever carry with her the wish that she could turn back the clock and fully appreciate her daughter’s childhood without the fog that drinking created all around her, giving her little girl her full attention as a parent who is not dependent on alcohol. I do know that the lives of the mother and daughter continue to improve with each alcohol-free day that passes; I know that because the mother is me.’

  • Anonymous

    Oh good god Alastair, heard this yet???

    What the buggering hell? Puts fight the non-fittest in perspective, you could say. Always have been very uncomfortable watching paras being bulit up into some fantasyland. Come what may, if you are not capable of being on the frontline, then you should not be there.

    MK1 sad true human lesson. That is how it goes, always. But rest will care – well, some of us will, non-tory.

    By the way Alastair, this is a corollary to your above post – people in power play games to care for those that don’t need it, while the run of the mill on the streets get neglected, because it does not make good publicity, for such. They just call them wastrels.

  • Anonymous

    Alastair, whenever I see a couple of hours or more between your tweets during the day from you, sneaking a look, or some might say stalking, a look, it makes me believe you are flying.

    Coming back from La France again is it, for a change?


  • Anonymous

    With your appearance on the Culture Show the other night, Alastair, with ref, Lincoln, don’t you think the US of A is the most hypocritical nation that ever existed what with their Washington 1776 declared constitution put in writing on a piece of paper?

    Always thought it, but seems there is few that agree with me. Seems the rest of the World is pants down totally afraid of the US, and won’t point out how bullyboy they actually are. And Speilberg the jew and that irish actor can shove that in their cinematic pipe and try smoke it.

    There, I have had my say. Don’t care for Speilberg, never have, I am a more kosher Mel Brooks man, me.

    But I better not say about natives being shot, or I will really stir the pot, he says…

  • Anonymous

    This is very reflective. My heart goes out to the daughter, and may the bond grow for both mother and daughter and may sobriety be serene in their daily lives.

  • Anonymous

    Think Quentin T should do the third part of his alternative history trilogy on native americans, if he dares, and forget europe WWII that is in his thoughts again.

  • Anonymous

    And yes Alastair, looks like we are all still here after our Earth close shave, 17,000km asteroid, that passed between us and the moon – bet Sheldon Cooper of the Big Bang Theory will be telling everyone “I told you so”, after he got back on level land from his bunker. Troubling thought is though, what if it bumped into the moon, if not us?

    But amazing coincidence with what happened from the otherside of the Urals yesterday morning? It was in fact, extremely disturbing and spooky, one could say. This vid was the best from it, I think, what with the meteorite’s sonic “break the sound barrier” booms when it entered Earth’s airspace,

    And by the way, an asteroid and a meteorite is the same – the only difference is an asteroid becomes a meteorite when it enters Earth’s atmosphere, I do believe.

  • Anonymous

    By the way all, my side is playing sport tonight, ko 6:30pm, Scarlets against Munster in the celt RaboDirect rugger league.

    Live on welsh telly channel S4C, and also live online anywhere in the UK here at this link,

    at said time.

    Song for Scarlets and Munster players, with hopefully a good display for us, at the sides screaming, as us and do – may the best team win, and all that shite, ey paddies?

    via Canada O-O : )

  • Anonymous

    Oh gawd Alastair, why are you tweeting to that bollox chancer Guido Fawkes – already told you already Alastair he is a here today, gone like that tomorrow gone phenominomeinomom, especially now he is in Ruppie Murdoch’s back pocket now – trust him as far as you can spit, is my advice Alastair.

    And if Guido has a problem with what I have just said, all I have to say is TWLL DY IWERDDON DYN, fachgen. He’s a sellout.

  • Anonymous

    ..furthermore, vid for Guido, o Nghymru,

    Stick that in your clay pipe and smoke it, Guido.

  • I am very impressed by this.

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