If I look at the history of my family and my dad’s alcoholism throughout time, I can literally put a line between the years 1989 and 1990 to distinguish when things changed from B.D. to A.D.
1978-1989= These were the good years. Ahhh, yes, the “before dad was an alcoholic” years. It is ironic now, considering my relationship with him, that I was definitely a daddy’s little girl. Most of my best childhood memories included him. Cannonballs in the pool, him attempting to ride a tricycle, squeezing into the backseat of his sportscar while he blasted “Addicted to Love”…he was THE COOLEST. All my friends loved him. He was fun and youthful and silly and made my sister and I unique gifts. I was young so my memory is fuzzy, but I don’t remember alcohol in our house at all. My parents were very social, so I recollect many loud, energetic parties (where I am sure cocktails were served) where adults shooed us kids into a back bedroom to play. My parents never argued that I can think of. I ask my mom about it now and she says that he was always a “social drinker” but she never thought he had a problem. Life was good.
1989= My father was promoted in his company and my family had to move across the country. It was an adventure! It was sad to leave friends behind, but it was exciting. My parents designed and were building their dream house. Because the house was taking longer than expected, my father had to move before us to start working. One month turned into two, turned into six, etc. and it was almost a year and a half before we were reunited. His company flew him home every weekend or so and my sister and I eagerly anticipated his return every time.
1990…on= I was in sixth grade when we moved to our new house and it was in seventh grade that I noticed things were different. My parents fought, my dad started being mean and belligerent. It took a while for it all to make sense…in that year or so of being alone and stressed, my father developed a drinking problem. The good years were OVER. Things never went back to “normal”. I yearned to move back, thinking that it would fix everything. Needless to say, my parents are still in their “dream home”, which turned into more of a nightmare as my father’s drinking escalated. By the time I entered high school, my dad was a full-blown alcoholic and had become emotionally, verbally and physically abusive towards my mother and towards me (and later, towards my younger sister).
I often wonder if we had never moved, would this all have happened? I guess I will never know. I do know that there are many alcoholics in my family, so perhaps my dad would have found his way to that vodka bottle regardless. Even though I am 34 and only see glimpses of him here and there, I still really, really miss my “Before” Dad.