Natalie’s story

My Dad has been an alcoholic for the last 25 years, for the majority of my life. He was a functioning alcoholic up until 8 years ago when everything spiralled, and he ended up going to prison for domestic abuse towards my mum. Since being released from prison he is no longer functioning and he has now lost everything. We are now waiting for his addiction to take his life as he has too many demons from the things he has done that he doesn’t want to get better.

I strongly believe if as a family we knew more about alcoholism and if mental health was spoken about more when I was a child we would be in a very different situation today. I really believe my Dad’s addiction is a product of a number of traumas not being dealt with and those feeling being supressed. Instead he turned to alcohol to get him through and now because of that he has lost everything. He was one of the cleverest men I knew and as a young child I was a total Daddies girl, that person no longer exists.

As a family I believe we were in denial about his drinking for a long time we were aware he “drank too much” but we weren’t equipped to deal with it on our own and because of this he has been enabled to drink by those who loved him for the last 25 years. I myself was enabling him only until a few years ago, and saying that I have probably still enabled him in some way up until a few weeks ago when I have had to take the heart breaking decision of cutting him from my life completely. His addiction started to feel like my own it became all consuming and completely suffocating and was taking over my life.

The main reason I have got to a place in which I have made that decision is through attending an amazing local support group. Learning from others going through the same thing has been so important for me. The main thing I’ve taken from the group is learning about enabling and how it is such a massive part of someone’s addiction yet as a loved one it goes against every grain in your body to not enable them as naturally you want to help them. It took a while for me to completely grasp it and a lot of trial and error but the ‘tough love’ approach in most cases is the only way for a successful recovery for a lot of people it seems. All the things I thought would help my Dad get his life on track, sorting his debts, moving him from the house he was evicted from, organising doctors appointments, mental health appointments, trying to find him volunteering opportunities all enabled him to drink.

For a long time I felt I wasn’t doing enough, there must be something else I could do, I had so much guilt. It’s taken a long time and doing a lot of work on myself but I am finally rid of that and I now know I cannot make my Dad want to get better. Sadly the addiction is more important than us in his current state and I can’t do anything to help him until he wants to help himself. All I can do now is look after myself and those in my life that give to me as much as I give to them. I want to use this experience to help others and turn the trauma into something positive. If my Dad does get clean, I will always be here with open arms.