While most people have loving and stable family lives, mine was not. The fact is that both my parents are alcoholics. My father is the worst, drinking anything that contains alcohol. Then there are his bouts of exhibitionism. However, unlike my siblings I did not grow up with them. There are four children in my family, including me, but I actually grew up with my grandparents on Vancouver Island, B.C. When I did eventually come to Toronto I was thrown into a lifestyle and culture shock that was devastating to me. I was just a young girl from the country, I had never seen this kind of addiction. It became a nightmare. My parents are what you would call “binge drinkers.” They maintained their lives for months at a time, going to work and acting like they were just like everyone else, sometimes better. Then something would affect one of them and the drinking would begin. This would go on for weeks at a time. My younger sister was also in the home. However, she grew up in this madness so it was all she knew. It was impossible for us to live like normal teenagers. We were kept up all night long with their drinking and sickness, so we could not attend school. There were many fights between them involving my sister and me. Finally, I had enough and decided to leave home.
My sister never forgave me for leaving her, which still pulls at my heartstrings to this day. However, I didn’t know where I was going, so I couldn’t drag her along. Eventually, I carved out a life for myself and vowed never to be like my parents. However, alcohol addiction, like other addictions, is powerful. It usually runs in families. I had a period where I fought those addictions myself. I kept in touch with my parents off and on through the years, but always hated my father. In the last few months my brother and I saved my mother’s life. My brother and I found her on the floor in her apartment with my father still drinking. My brother, sister and I tended to her for months at the hospital. My sister took her in when she was released and awaiting a home. Shortly after, she was put into a beautiful care facility where all her needs would be met. In the back of our minds we knew the addiction would win, but didn’t want to admit she would betray us. Eventually, she left the home, her family and everything she had to return to her addiction.