This is an interview that I had with my friend, whose dad has been an alcoholic since he was 16 years old himself. My friend has a lot of courage and strength allowing me to do this interview and courage overcoming being an alcoholic at such a young age himself. For his protection we will refer to him as “Dave.” This is an in depth interview and made me learn a lot!
What was it like growing up with you Dad?
My dad was never around. After he got done working, he would stop at a local bar and drink until he couldn’t drink anymore. He was never around for anything important that happened in my life. He was a stranger to me when I was little. I have very few pictures with him. If there is a picture of us together, he can’t remember taking it.
How did that make you feel?
It hurt a lot. I watched my friends with their dads at soccer and football games. They would give their sons advice and congratulate them when they made a good play. When I looked out in the crowd all I saw was my mom, whom I love, cheering for me. But I wish my dad was there for me.
What memory stands out in your mind the most about your Dad when you were young?
He bought me a football for my 7th birthday. Or I should say I thought he did. When I was older I found out my mom bought it and said it was from him. He promised me the day after my birthday he would come home and play catch with me. When he came home the next day, it was late and he was drunk. I ran to my room to get the football and held it and asked him if he was ready to play catch. He grabbed a knife from the drawer, stabbed the football, and threw it in the garbage. He told me he didn’t have time to waste for stupid things like playing catch.
How did that incident make you feel?
I was hurt. I became more distant from him and gave up on believing in him. When my friends would ask me where my dad is I told them that my parents were getting a divorce. I learned what a divorce was at age 7 from my cousin. It seemed like a great way to avoid telling people about my dad.
How did your Mom deal with your dad?
She cried a lot. She would put his dinner on the table as soon as he got home to prevent problems. Then she would hide out in a different room than he was in. They fought a lot. I remember her yelling about money problems and to stay out of the bar.
What was the worst thing that your Dad did when he was drunk?
Wow, tough question. At least he didn’t hit me or my mom when he was drunk. But when I was 15 my dad got in a car accident leaving the bar. I did not know this until I saw it on the news and realized it was my dad’s truck on tv. I was sad and embarrassed someone else would recognize his vehicle and ask me about it.
This is hard to talk about. (long sigh and pause) He left the bar drunk one day and pulled out without stopping. He hit another oncoming car. It was on the highway so that car was said to be doing at least 50 miles per hour. The car was thrown across the street and started on fire. The people in the vehicle, all 4 of them, couldn’t get out. The fire department came with the jaws of life and got 1 out of the 4 out of the car alive. They were between the ages of 17 to 22 years old. My dad killed 3 people. Two guys and a girl. He left one girl with a memory that would ruin her life forever.
Besides the memory of it was the girl ok?
No. She lost an arm and was paralyzed from the waist down. I saw pictures before the accident and she was beautiful. Only 17 years old. Afterwards her face was burnt and she had some bad scars.
What happened to your dad?
He walked away with scraps and a few bruises. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want him to get hurt more but it sucked that 3 died and 1 was in bad shape and he just walked away. He got sent to jail for only 5 years. That was hard to watch the trial. Not because he was going to jail, it was hard to watch the family members of the victims react about the whole situation. I felt like I was to blame too, cause he was my dad. I felt like people were looking at me different now and talking about me behind my back.
So what did you do?
What he would have done unfortunately. I started drinking to forget. I fell into the trap that he did. It made me feel good. I could see why he did it. I forgot about everything and it felt like alcohol would never let me down.
After seeing what your dad was going through, how could you do the same thing by drinking?
I felt like I had to. It was like it was in my blood and natural to do as weird as that sounds. I found a new group of friends, not a good group, but a new group that shared in my interest of drinking and then later doing drugs.
How long did you continue on that path for?
I was 15 when I started drinking. When I was 18 I met a great girl that wanted to be my girlfriend and I thought I could change my ways for her, but I couldn’t. I got in trouble with the law and was put on probation. But that still didn’t stop me. I drank without my girlfriend knowing most of the time.
How could she not know?
I hid it well. I had a high tolerance level with alcohol at this point. So I could drink a lot and still appear sober. When I got to the point where I over did it I wouldn’t call her. She didn’t know I had a problem. She thought I was just a typical male teenage boy having fun.
At what point did you realize you had to quit?
When I was 22 years old, my girlfriend and I were living together already for a year already and I proposed to her and she said yes. I was so happy I went out to celebrate. I partied too much and didn’t come home for 2 days. She was upset. When she asked me where I was I yelled at her. I told her I was old enough to do whatever and come home whenever I wanted to. A week later, she moved out. I lost my everything.
Did you talk to her before she left?
Yes, she threw her ring at me and moved in with her parents. She said we were over. I told her I would quit and she didn’t believe me. I remember looking in the mirror and seeing my dad. I punched the mirror and curled up in a ball in the corner of my room. I had to get her back.
What did you do?
Knocked off all contact with my friends. I moved somewhere else so no one knew where I lived and I changed my phone number. I sweat it out by myself. I remember shaking, going through mood swings, and being angry at the world for no reason. I wanted to end things until I looked at my girl’s picture on the wall. Then I knew she was worth fighting for. I needed her back.
Did you slip up?
Yes. It was inevitable I would slip up a few times. But nothing too major. On my 23 birthday, this was 6 months after my girlfriend left me, my dad stopped over with a gift for my birthday. He was drunk and asked me to go out with him for a drink. Yeah he still drank after jail and the accident. That was my gift. Seeing him on the front stairs of my house, and me basically looking into my future at myself, really hit home for me. This was my life changing moment. As they say here’s your sign.
Have you drank since that day?
No way! I kept that image imprinted in my memory and every time I thought about drinking I closed my eyes tight and thought about that image. I probably sound stupid right now, but it worked for me.
I don’t think you sound stupid at all. How did you get your girlfriend back?
A lot of tears, begging, and flowers from me! And I proved myself to her day by day. Had my parole officer give me random urine tests to show her I wasn’t lying to her anymore. One long year later she moved back in with me. I am happy to have her back!
How long have you been sober now?
Wow! I am so excited to answer this one. Three whole years! I enjoy my root BEER (laughs) and that is it for beer and me.
Is it hard to stay away from?
Yes and no. I see my friends drinking and having fun and it is hard. But I can have fun with them yet to a point. Until they start to get drunk I will stick around. After that I leave. I always remember what my dad is like and that keeps me straight. I don’t want that to be me.
Where is your dad now?
I haven’t seen or talked to him since that day on my porch. My guess would be still in the bars. I don’t care about him anymore. The only thing I have to thank him for is for showing up on my stairs that day and letting me know without words this will be you if you continue on this path.
Has this made you stronger?
It has made me see the worst in myself. I don’t ever want to see that again. It shows that I am a fighter and people can over come things. It is hard, believe me. I thought I was going crazy at times. It was either alcohol or my sweetheart. I will choose my baby girl any day! I am proud of myself now, and so is my mom. I had her worried for awhile.
“Dave” you know I am proud of you too! I was with you through most of it and you scared me and a lot of other people. I truly look at you as a huge inspiration to many. I am glad you are back to somewhat normal! J
I am not an inspiration. An inspirational person wouldn’t have gotten themselves in that situation in the first place. But thanks for that! Somewhat normal? Yeah I guess you are right. I hope my interview can help someone else realize their wrongs.
Any last words of advice from you?
Be true to yourself. Talk to friends, true friends, about what is going on with you. They will help. Stay away from drugs and over doing it with alcohol. It is fun at the time, but in the long run you are just hurting yourself. An occasion drink is ok once and awhile but don’t over due it. I thought I would never hear myself saying that out loud!
I then thanked “Dave” for the interview. I could tell a lot of the questions I asked were hard for him to answer and were bringing up some bad memories for him. But like I told him I couldn’t be prouder of him! I hope this interview can help someone else reflect on their life. Thanks to “Dave” for giving me an in depth look into his life.