Adfam's Family Voices Competition 2021

Entries are now open for the 2021 edition of Adfam's annual Family Voices Competition. This is a poetry and creative writing competition for anyone affected by the drinking, drug use or gambling of a family friend, to share their story in a creative way. Find out more about how to enter here.

Last year's competition was won by Cathy Wilson, for her poem 'I Sit Here Opposite You, My Heart Sinks', which you can read below.

Cathy will also be reading her piece at an online event on Tuesday 16 November along with other esteemed authors who have written about addiction: Bryony Gordon, author of Glorious Rock Bottom,  Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain and Booker Prize 2020 winner, and Lisa Harding, author of Bright Burning Things. Tickets can be purchased here, all proceeds are donated to Adfam. 


I sit here opposite you, my heart sinks, By Cathy Wilson.

I sit here opposite you, my heart sinks.

Your silence and remorse is screaming at me.

It tells me that even though it has been months, not one single sip was enjoyed.

I cannot even begin to imagine how you feel about yourself and what you have done to us, again.

I cry as you promise us this is the last time no more chances.

Not believing you for a second but wondering how you can truly believe that yourself.

Despite all the lies and pain you cause, please listen to my words they are from the heart.

Your disease is our disease, we choose to stand by you.

Don’t say sorry, this is not your fault.

It was always going to be when not if.

Understand You have not failed, this wasn’t about failing.

This is about living and if you want to, you can choose to live!

We cannot choose that for you!

We cannot control your thoughts or your behaviour but trying to control us just shows how out of control you have become.

But don’t forget, you do have the tools to control the beast, so look up and look forward please do not stay in the dark twisted past.

Please give us time to mourn, to breathe, to heal!

How can you mourn someone when they aren’t gone?

Because you mourn the person everyone loved and respected.

The person who you lost all those years ago!

You mourn the person who you can still see deep beneath the surface, within the pools of sadness as you look into their eyes.

I wonder why this happened to you, my favourite person in the entire world.

Each day is different, but each day is the same!

Each day we hold our breath.

Is today the day the never-ending suffocating grip squeezes a little harder as you fight not to let it pull you under again?

The anxiety beating in my chest.

My heart breaking again.

The sadness, the tears, the overwhelming need to just breathe fresh air, clean air, fresh hope!

We believe in you please believe in yourself.

How different our lives could be.

How different our focus should be.

But we cannot live a life full of what ifs or maybes.

You made us our strongest when we were feeling our weakest.

You raised two children who despite everything have not broken.

It has united us as a family in a bond that is so special, that we lift each other up even when we feel like breaking.

Shall we choose to be happy?

Shall we choose hope and not anger?

Shall we not let the disease rot our souls.

Let us live in the light and not in the dark.

Take my hand, please.

Hold it tight.

Never forget we are still here, still by your side.

Still fighting this battle with you.

Even if you feel that we are fighting you, we are not.

We are fighting to save you!

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