The letter you always wanted to write
I can’t remember a period before you drank. As children, we quickly learned to spot the signs. You would become progressively louder and more polemical before taking offence at some perceived slight and losing your temper. I have no idea if you remember all the awful happens you have said and done while drunk. If you do, you have never apologised. The hurt and the sadness is for the rest of us to bear, while you carry on as if everything is fine.
It is harming your health. No one can drink as much as you do and be OK. But the first heart attack didn’t registry, and neither did the next. Stress, “youve said”. I need to relax. As soon as you got home from research hospitals, you saw yourself a guzzle. We let you. How do you stop a grown-up person boozing? We must have spouted away gallons of whisky over the years, but you merely buy more. Besides, you have made quite clear: either we accept your alcoholism, or we lose you. If it ever comes down to it, you will always pick the bottle. It is what alcoholics do.
I sometimes wonder if I will look back after you are extended and wish I had tried harder to help. But what more assist can I make? You react to every suggest, every insinuation that you drink too much , no matter how well-meaning, with indignation, denial and yet more drinking.
Stealth doesn’t work: with alcohol, “you think youre” way ahead of us. You can spot specific activities planned to minimise your drinking at 50 paces. If there is no chance of a swift half, which grows six or seven, you won’t join us. Family phenomena are fraught with feeling- don’t you realise this, or do you merely not care?
I had a dry wed because of you, a small, register-office happen with a receipt in a scout hut, the only place I could find without a saloon. You went to the pub firstly, anyway. Years subsequently, I please I had said something, but as others with alcoholic family members will know, there is never a good time to talk about someone’s drinking. Return it up when the alcoholic is sober, and they are likely to go off on a binge; return it up when they are drunk, and you risk a harangue of semi-coherent defamation. I have expended more than 30 times looking for a compromise. There doesn’t seem to be one.
It’s an addiction, you used to tell us, when we still sometimes spoke about these situations. It’s a disease. I can’t help it. I know how seductive that mindset is. And it makes happens easier for us, their own families, to bear. All the tendernes you have caused- nothing of it was personal. But addicts can, and do, seek help. You get round this by claiming they were never truly addicted in the first place. It is more maddening than I can describe.
Drinking is killing you. But you seem to think fatality is a price worth paying. I don’t know how I am going to explain your choices to my children, who will be ravaged to lose a grandparent, but I can tell you this: I am not impeding your secrets for you. When they are old enough, I will tell them what alcohol did to you. I am sad, disappointed and furious, but I am not ashamed, and the last happen I crave is for them to build the same mistakes as you.
People ask me why I don’t just cut all contact. But when you are sober, I interpret the father I recollect, the amusing, mesmerizing mortal with a lane with words and a knack for telling a fib. I suppose you think you are funnier after a brew or six. You are not. Everyone knows it. Except you.
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