Where are you from? Do you have any siblings? How old are they? What about pets… do you have any? What grades did you get in A Levels? What subjects did you take?
These are the sorts of questions that people ask to get to know you when you first go to university. Obviously everyone is keen to meet people, and make friends as these are potentially the people that they will live with for the next three or four years of their lives. But some things stay hidden, people may not want to know about that one uncle who killed himself by doing drugs; or about that cousin who lost their big toe in a fight with a squirrel; and that means that they definitely don’t want to know about your mother, who is an alcoholic.
This is the story of me before going to university. The story of how I handled growing up with an alcoholic mother.
I’ve always found it hard to fit in. I’ve never been one to go out to clubs, or to get drunk in general. I’ve always been quite level headed, and easy going. But people find it weird if as an 19 year old, you’ve only been clubbing once or twice and don’t really enjoy it. They may ask why, but I assure you, they don’t want the real answer.
My mum has been drinking for pretty much my entire life. I think that my earliest memory of the goings on was when I was about 5 or 6. However, I never really knew what was going on, and no one ever told me either. I didn’t realise that it wasn’t normal until the start of year 7, when I became more open too it and people actually started talking to me about it.
Now 19 years of age, I’m at university. I don’t really drink, I don’t go out clubbing. What went so wrong? I mean my brothers go out all the time… am I just not normal? Is there something wrong with me?
The real reason? I’m scared.
I know it sounds ridiculous but, I’m terrified that if I drink too much that I will become addicted. I would never want to put my family through the sort of things that my mum has inflicted on me and my siblings.
I remember, in May 2013, I was on my own with her. She had lost her job, so she didn’t have anything to motivate her during the day. My dad had to go away for work, we had just go a new puppy (Marley) at the end of April, my oldest brother had moved out and was never around, and the other one was completely useless and was never in. At this time it was GCSE month. So on top of revision, I was looking after mum who quite frankly wasn’t sober for a day for that whole month, a puppy, and looking after the house, myself and the other pets that we have. It was… stressful? That’s most definitely not the right word for it.
It was at this time that I started to feel depressed. The stress of it all had gotten too much, but little did I know that this would just be the start of a long struggle. Amazingly, I passed my GCSE’s! Granted they weren’t high grades but I mean, what do you expect? Anyway, I was thrilled that I ended up with: 1 A*, 1 A, 2 B’s + 5 C’s.
I got in to college, and started studying photography, business and health and social care. When I started there they didn’t know about mum, and my past. Which was good, because I definitely had had enough of teachers knowing about that part of my life. However that all changed after Christmas, in January 2014.
Mum had got arrested just before Christmas, on the 23rd. She was in jail for the night, and was then put up in a hotel, supposedly till the 27th, when she would have to go to the council and declare herself homeless. She was put on bail and wasn’t allowed to come home, or be in contact with either myself or my dad. On the 26th (Boxing Day) she was arrested again. Not for being violent, but because she was passed out drunk in the corridor in the middle of this hotel. So yet again, she spent another night in jail. On the 27th she went to court, as she had breached bail by ringing home numerous amounts of times.
So for the month of January, she lived between my auntie and uncle’s house and my grandparents. She had stopped drinking. On, I think it was the 28th January, the bail ended and she was allowed home full time.
I have to admit this didn’t make me happy. I didn’t trust that she had given up because it wasn’t the first time she had tried. However, I was told to shut up and get on with life, because as per usual, everyone else was right. She had “stopped” however, by March 2014, she started again. I remember one night having suspicions that she may have been drinking again by the way that she had been acting. All this time she had been trying to disguise it as juice, by putting it in a different glass. Well the glass may have been great to disguise the liquid but what was going to disguise the way she looked when she drank? The way she spoke? I couldn’t believe that she had started drinking again. Just when I was beginning to think that maybe she had changed. I couldn’t believe that my dad at let her start drinking again. After everything that had happened. I dont know why it took me so long to realise that she was drinking again, i guess i just didnt want to believe any of it.
This started up the depression and the stress again. But this time it was worse, I’m not happy about it, and I hate to say that I started self-harming. Not in the usual way that, I cut. But I scratched my arm instead. The mark was harder to hide. It was bigger, it had scabbed and it bled a lot. But I tried to cope with it, keeping all this secret from my family and friends. I felt lonely.
At this time, my best friend had started hanging out with a new group of people, for reasons that im not going to include. I felt left out, no one in my friendship group really talked to me after that. I ended up sitting in a corridor outside my health and social care classroom every break and lunch time. I felt so isolated.
I started working a lot more over the summer. I forgot to mention previously that I started my first proper job in February of 2014, at a local hotel. I was a waitress, granted I wasn’t very good at it, in fact I’m still not. But I do try my best.
Just a disclaimer now: if you ever go to the hotel that I work in and I drop a piece of cutlery on you, then I am very deeply sorry! I didn’t mean it… I promise!
I finished my AS levels, and I know that they don’t really count for anything but I got an A*, an A, and a B. The first time that I had ever really had good grades, and people (teachers) weren’t putting me down because I was stupid.
A lot had happened that year and continued to happen in the second year of college too, but I picked myself up and achieved more than what I needed to get, in order to get in to university.
People are always saying that it’s amazing that I’ve done so well, and got as far in life as I have. But what they don’t realise is that the only reason I’ve done so well is because I worked harder to get out of the position that I was in at home. Yes, there were definitely struggles, but if you want something badly enough then you will do whatever it takes to get there. If you work hard, life will reward you.
That pretty much leads up to now. I’m in university, living away from home like I’ve always wanted. Studying Business Management and struggling on with my work (I definitely took the wrong course, I wasn’t cut out for this much maths!) but I am enjoying it. Even if I don’t fit in because im not the life and soul of the party.
So that’s it, my life up until university. A lot more has happened since I have moved here, however as the word count for this blog is currently longer then it was for my last essay, I will leave it here.
If anyone is going through struggles like this, if they’re in the same position as I was in, or am in. You aren’t alone, you can make it through this, you are stronger then you think. Don’t give up, because you are so close to achieving what you’ve always wanted.
Over and out.