Familial Alcohol Misuse

Familial Alcohol Misuse
I’m a 22-year-old Punjabi-Sikh and my father is an alcoholic.

I have reasons for sharing my story. Firstly, constant overthinking about the nature of my relationship with my Dad due to his alcohol addiction has been a source of worry, anxiety, and sadness for me. I needed an outlet to write somewhere about my own lived experience, and thankfully, Taraki holds that place for people like me. Secondly, I’m very much aware of the glamourization of alcohol within the Punjabi community, and I want to at least do my bit for others to see the effects of alcohol abuse so they can peek behind the curtain.

If it helps someone in a similar boat, great. If not, it’s helped me, and that’s enough.

Let me paint a picture for you. Week after week, I’d see over 50+ cans of his beloved Stella Artois consumed and chucked in the recycling bag next to where he drinks. That, too, accompanied by the occasional whiskey. The scent of alcohol never leaves that room. I’d hear the sound of the first can opening at 4pm on weekdays and 1pm on weekends. The effect alcohol has on him is a sad sight to see. His eyes become much heavier, his speech more slurred, and his walking more stumbled.  

These are just the daily things I’ve witnessed growing up.

But, see, alcohol has made my Dad into a ticking time bomb of raw emotions waiting to detonate until a major incident occurs. Over the years, that has ranged from consistent verbal onslaughts, destruction of household property, and physical assault of my brother and I.

These explosive outrages that he’s prone to have led to us calling the police on him twice and him being arrested once. The result? A forever fractured relationship between himself and his children.

Conversations concerning his drinking behaviour have fallen on deaf ears. If lucky, we’d get an acknowledgment that he is an alcoholic but never a commitment to change his ways. At times it’d feel like banging your head against the wall. I used to struggle and probably still struggle to understand why my Dad doesn’t seek help. On one side, I feel like the only person who can control whether he seeks help is himself. But, the other part of me acknowledges that, unfortunately, addiction doesn’t work exactly like that. It’s a difficult situation.

As much as I am a victim throughout all this, I’m also empathetic toward my Dad’ struggles. During my postgraduate, I learned that everyone who goes through trauma doesn’t become an alcoholic, but every alcoholic is a victim of trauma. That is certainly the case regarding my Dad because his Dad was an abusive alcoholic too. That saying about abused becomes the abuser rings true here, which is why, along with being a Sikh, has informed my decision to never drink a drop of alcohol. I want to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma, so the generation after me doesn’t experience what I have experienced. I want that generation to experience true and authentic love. A love so pure that it nurtures their spiritual growth. Because I’ve learned that for true love to flourish, a true love full of trust, care, commitment, affection, honest and open communication, it cannot coexist with abuse. Shoutout, Bell Hooks.

To end this, I thought I’d share ways I’ve tried to help myself over the past few years. This has included having more open conversations with my support network, journaling more, and also listening to music in which artists detail their struggles with their estranged parent(s) far more eloquently than I am able to. It’s helped me channel my sadness and anxiety much more effectively than keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself.

Still, I am a work in progress who is trying to heal from the trauma they have experienced. Slowly but surely, I will rise up and heal.

Thank you for reading.

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