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Alcohol, my Dad and me(20 Posts)
I will try to keep this concise...
Up until a year ago I had a problem with alcohol. So did DH.
It took us quite a few years of drinking far too much wine most nights to really see/accept that we were drinking too much. I was easily drinking a bottle of wine most night, DH could drink two or more (though didn't drink as often as me, and didn't drink when I did, if that makes sense).
Anyway...DH and I realised that we each had a problem. Luckily we realised this at around the same time as each other. So we stopped drinking. That part was weirdly easy - far simpler than we had both feared.
Anyway...fast forward a year, we are healthier, fitter, happier, richer. Our lives have improved immeasurably. It was a huge think to me that the DC didn't see what we could put away, I didn't want them to grow up thinking that that was normal.
Anyway..onto my Father. He's a BIG drinker. He doesn't drink every night, but when he does, he just doesn't stop. DH is a big bloke and when he was drinking he could keep up with my Dad. They'd stay up til 3 in the morning putting away bottles of wine. My Mum is concerned about the way he binge drinks, but he doesn't care, says he'll live his life how he chooses etc etc.
Anyway..since we've given up drinking (this is actually really hurting me to say this) it's like my Dad has just completely lost interest in us. It's like the only thing he got out of our relationship was some kind of drinking buddy status, and now that that's gone he kind of looks on us with disdain.
I don't think my Dad knows how bad things were with us (we were very much functioning alcoholics - no daytime drinking etc) and we've not explained really why we've given up. Other than that we're on a health kick and wanting to focus more on sport (we were already both quite sporty before, ironic though it may seem!) I don't necessarily want to tell the world about our issues, and I'm not close enough to my Dad that I'd share my woes with him anyway..
Um...I don't really know what I'm looking for by posting this, I realise my Dad has his own issues with alcohol. But it is SO hard not to feel hurt and rejected. I guess when it comes to parents it's difficult to view their actions objectively..
Your dad is in complete denial, that is why he no longer wants to be in you and your OH's company, it's normal, most binge drinkers or alcoholics only want to hang out with likewise people, you two are now the opposite of him.
Your dad won't change unless he wants to, he clearly doesn't. This is the consequence of someone with a drink problem, it's usually the loved ones who are left hurt and angry.
The only people who will have a problem with you not drinking are people that have a problem with it themselves. Normal people don't care what you drink.
Good for you for stopping. It is his disease that is the barrier, hopefully he will get to the point you got to and decide to turn things around.
Have you tried AA? You will understand what is going on much more if you do.
I know you're both right. But it helps to see it written down and coming from someone else, IYSWIM?
DH and I both gave up using Allan Carr's book. It seemed to press all the right buttons for both of us. I haven't been to AA, and I don't think it's right for me (though I appreciate it's great for some), so it's not something I really want to get into.
He's lost interest in you because he's wedded to denial and your renunciation of alcohol has made him feel insecure about his own drinking.
Alcoholics surround themselves with people who drink as much as they do so that their drinking is validated. We all know the definition of an alcoholic: someone who drinks more than me. Well now you're not someone who drinks more than him (or even as much as) he's got no-one to validate his drinking and you've let him down - that was your role in his drinking and now your role is completely the opposite - instead of validating it, you're reminding him that his drinking is dysfunctional.
Deep down he knows he has a drink problem and your actions remind him of that. By rejecting you he is rejecting the idea that he's an alcoholic. He's choosing drink over you, which is what alcoholics do. It's horrible and very sad.
Well done on giving up drinking.
Your dad thinks you and your husband are judging him.
Deep down he most likely does know he has a drink problem and you/your dh declining a dirnk touches a very dangerous, frightening nerve - you are making him feel how he's trying very hard not to feel.
There's quite a lot of food for thought here, thank you.
I guess I've been so busy thinking about how alcohol has affected me in the past, held me back, really that I've never really looked around at how it affects anybody else?
I should say, I think there are and have been quite a few members of my family on my Dad's side with alcohol issues. I don't know if there's a genetic pre-disposition to it (I'm not trying to make excuses for myself here).
I do worry about the DC, I'd dearly love for them not to go down that road.
From what you say you don't seem to be an alcoholic. You drank too much, certainly, but when it came to it you were able to recognise the problem and rectify it without too much difficulty.
Do you think Cailin? It took me 17 years of drinking practically every day (bar pregnancies - I was teetotal for those) to realise I needed to stop.
I do wonder if I'm an alcoholic in the sense that I can never touch it again. I mean, could I drink once or twice a year? I don't know...
I would say you definitely had an unhealthy relationship with drink and you believed you were dependent on it, which in essence isn't much different to actually being an alcoholic. But you weren't actually dependent on it - with a bit of help you were able to cut it out in spite of strong negative signals from your dad.
Now, I would never say to start drinking again because of course I can't say for certain that you won't slip back into old ways. But to me it seems your drinking was more habit than anything. Overall though it seems stopping drinking has been a really positive thing (apart from the situation with your dad) so I would say staying teetotal is a good idea.
Cailin, that's a really positive thing to hear, thank you.
I know I was the stereotypical middle class at-home drinker. It was totally habit, and I can't see myself in that place again - a whole world has opened up for me in the evenings now I've stopped. I started reading again - I did nothing but read magazines and surf the net every evening for about 10 years and now I read books, study, do all sorts of stuff.
A part of me wonders if I can introduce alcohol on birthdays/christmas/nights out only (I go on nights out about twice a year!) without slipping back into problem drinking.
But the stakes are high, very high if I want to test that out.
I know it's not a simple decision because being teetotal is difficult in British society. Plus feeling restricted is never nice. I'm sure it would feel much more "normal" and pleasant to be able to have the odd drink and even get drunk now and again.
Is there an element of "punishment" in being teetotal? Do you have a sense of shame around your drinking?
I'm ashamed of how much I drunk in the past, certainly. Remember that horrible feeling of putting out the recycling box every week and it being the most full on the street. Every. Single. Week.
But mostly it's fear - that I'll go back to that.
I really, really want to model a relationship with alcohol to my children that isn't harmful. If that's by being teetotal, then so be it.
But I think, yes, you're right it is about teetotal being 'weird' and I know DH won't drink again at all (he was kind of the opposite to me - he could go for days not drinking but once he started he couldn't stop) whereas I could moderate pretty well (e.g. very strict on limits if I knew I was driving in the morning) but just found it (very) hard to not drink every day.
I think with alcohol I've always envied people who can take it or leave it - that's how I want to be. But having got this far, I'd rather be teetotal than risk being how I was.
Then I think teetotal is the way to go. I don't think you should feel any shame, on the contrary I think you should feel very proud of yourself and your dh of kicking the drinking before it became a serious issue and making being teetotal a positive thing in terms of new interests etc.
It's such a shame about your dad but there's nothing you can do about it sadly.
Thanks cailin, it's been really helpful to talk some of this through, I appreciate you taking the time to do that.
Thanks to everyone else who replied too.
"A part of me wonders if I can introduce alcohol on birthdays/christmas/nights out only (I go on nights out about twice a year!) without slipping back into problem drinking."
Really really dangerous, and not worth the risk - what made me a drunk for 20 years was a complete inability to see the point of having "a drink or two" rather than 5 or 6 or 7 or...
I read somewhere that if you want to re introduce drinking like this its best not to do it in contexts where you used to have a good time, and to avoid the drinks you used to like - so, go to Halifax and have a warm, flat Babycham if you must - but really, what is the point?
It is threads such as these that brings me to mn, the fab support and words from others, surrounding the op with positivity and excellent points.
Op I am so sorry that your father has distanced himself from you, regection is a really hard thing to feel and come to terms with, it is good that you and your dh have released yourselves from negative drinking habits, well done you two!
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