Drink Away the Pain

By , Denton, TX
I don’t know when my dad started drinking. I assume it started pretty early in his life. It started pretty early in mine, too. I’m not sure my first memory of my dad drinking, for the most part he tried to hide it, I think. Even as a child I wasn’t blind. I always knew when something was wrong. I knew my parents were getting a divorce. I knew my mom was going to leave. I just knew. So how his “habit” slipped past my overly active mind I do not know. I just know it did.
It wasn’t always bad, though.
I guess it all started with my brother. He and my dad are much too similar. They argue. They fight. It isn’t hard to miss. They would just start arguing, my brother never being good enough to fit into my dad’s unreasonable expectations.
I just listened. It isn’t like I could have actually said anything. He was my father, what was I supposed to do? And anyway, I was safe. I never got yelled at. I was the prized child. Or in my eyes I was. I don’t really know how my dad saw it in his alcohol-influenced haze.
But somehow things got better.
And then took a drastic turn for the worse.
My brother was gone even more than usual, if that is even possible. My dad and step-mom fought. I hid in my room, listening to music as it drowned out the yelling. Sometimes I would read. Often I would write.
But I couldn’t always hide. I couldn’t just live in my room. I had to leave at some point. When I did he would strike like a lion going after the injured deer, going straight for my emotions. I was helpless and weak, susceptible to his attacks. The way he pounced on my vulnerability was like a cat, the way his venomous words seeped into my skin like a snake. His poison rushed through my veins, paralyzing me with fear.
Once I cried.
Strike one.
“Crying is weakness,” he would tell me. “Crying gets you nowhere in life,” he said every time he saw the hint of a tear gleaming at the corner of my eye. I’d wipe away the tears and inhale deep, shaky breaths as I took the verbal beating.
Once I beat back.
Strike two.
It just got worse. He’d scream and yell, all the while holding a can of beer. Usually he was on his fifteenth or sixteenth by the time he really started yelling. I guess he just built up a high immunity to the effects of alcohol. Each year of my life he seemed to grow worse, the number of alcoholic drinks he drank growing with my age.
I remember when he used to drink milk with dinner.
Now he drinks Absolut Grapefruit. Extra vodka. Hold the ice.
Once I asked him why.
Strike three. I’m out.
He didn’t have an answer for me. He just yelled some more. Said even if he drank if I were a good child like my step-sister he wouldn’t need to yell. He hinted at my worthlessness. But I didn’t cry. I just ran to my room and hid. He came and found me, though. Always. And it started over again. Every night.
Sometimes I wonder why he even had children. Why did he decide to do this? I've wondered what it would be like on the days he doesn’t drink himself stupid, but it's hard for me to even fathom. I don't hate him, I never could, but I don't get it. I don't get why he does this to not only himself, but to us. I heard that he’s a sweet person when he isn’t drunk.
But I'll probably never get to see it.





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