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Relationship with dad- alcoholism, cancer.

(10 Posts)
GuybrushThreepwoodMP Fri 14-Aug-15 21:14:03

Long post- sorry.

So to give a bit of background, my dad's lifestyle of smoking heavily and drinking led to a throat cancer diagnosis a few months ago. It was very advanced. The only possible treatment was drastic- complete removal of voice box and wind pipe. He now has no voice and breathes through a hole in his neck.

I have known for years that he smoked but he has always been very secretive about it and if it was ever mentioned, he became angry and defensive. What I didn't know was how much he was drinking. He's not a 'get really drunk' alcoholic and he's not abusive (actually he's lovely and gentle and kind). But he does drink every single day, often for a large proportion of the day and it is another thing he has been secretive about. I do know that he drives himself to the pub and back every day. I also know that he came to a family party at our house last year, had three beers and three glasses of wine and then drove him and my mum 200 miles home. I had assumed my teetotal mum was driving.
So this suggests to me that he either a) drinks so much that he has an incredibly high tolerance and probably is safe to drive after that much or b) has lost all sense of judgement about whether he is safe to drive. Either way, he shouldn't be driving at all.

Following his diagnosis and treatment, he stopped smoking and improved his nutrition. I believe he reduced his drinking but he does still drink and if I mention it he will become defensive and angry any then end the conversation. He is an alcoholic and as such, I don't believe he can drink moderately.

I realise that this is further complicated by my own emotional response to his diagnosis which was many things, but mostly anger that he didn't love us enough to look after himself.

Now the problem. I am furious that he drives after drinking but I can't do anything because he immediately cuts off from any conversation about it.
But I need to put my foot down about him ever driving my child anywhere. Dd stays with them for weekends sometimes and they stay with us to help out with dd during my current pregnancy. I have told my mum that this is the rule (she and I have a good relationship and have talked at length about his problems) but I need to make absolutely sure that this rule is enforced. She says she will but it seems like a lot of pressure on her to explain it to him if he questions it. Should I approach it with him, knowing that it will cause a dramatic fall out and a lot of anger from him? Frankly, he can either think I'm being unreasonable and overprotective or he can sit down and think about why his beloved daughter might feel this way about him- I don't care. I just need to know that he will never be driving my child anywhere.
Or should I just make it clear to my mum and trust that she will make sure?

Incidentally despite his many mistakes which have resulted in hurting us through hurting himself, he is a good man and a good dad. He loves us and cares for us and protects us. He just didn't love himself and didn't realise how much that would end up hurting us.

something2say Fri 14-Aug-15 21:28:17

I think....yes do approach it with him. and it matters not what he says. Put your foot down with a firm hand.mmit won't need explaining. Then, ensure he is not in a position to drive with your child. Foresee and head off at the pass.

Re his condition, I am sorry. You have the right to be angry. But many alcoholic never change, they merely pay the price. One of the hardest things in life I believe is to watch those we love suffer, and worse, at their own hand. But if it is so, then it is so, and he may not ever change that. Love as well as you can from afar, and get plenty of support.


ChrisQuean Fri 14-Aug-15 21:50:46

Ah, can't post much now as am super busy, but I have also had to deal with alcoholic dad with cancer. Like your father, mine is basically a "harmless drunk" type, ie totally non violent, rather helpless and self pitying who doesn't like himself much, sentimental about family and awfully secretive. Yes also to the stonewalling any suggestion for drink problem or issues and regular drink driving and how to deal with that. Completely get your emotions.

Will come back again in a day or so it PM me. You have to remember that they have to help them self - you can't do it for them. Nature of alcoholism I suppose.

Smilingforth Fri 14-Aug-15 21:59:03

Very hard but you have to be very very careful for your DD

category1 Fri 14-Aug-15 22:14:34

Tbh, I wouldn't count on your mum to enforce it. She may be very much aware of the problems, but it didn't/doesn't stop her being a passenger knowing how much he drinks? Either she talks a good talk but feels unable to back it up, or she is in denial while giving lip-service to your concerns. She has to live with him and if you're put off confronting him by his anger and stonewalling, how much stronger than you would she have to be? She is likely an enabler.

Personally I would be dubious about leaving your dc with them for weekends and imagining he won't drive them all drunk.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 07:05:25

My mum has been beaten down by 40 years of loving someone who is determined to kill themselves. I feel the need to defend her because she's the only reason he is not dead. The day after that party, she walked out and refused to return until he went to a doctor. He had been getting more and more ill but refusing to admit it and for months they had been arguing daily. He went to the doctor because he loves her. He would have been dead within weeks due to the tennis ball sized tumour in his throat. He is now cancer free. She doesn't love him anymore but she stays to care for him.

So she is strong actually. I don't think I could have stayed.

But you're right, she did get in a car with him. I asked her why and she just said she didn't want an arguement because she was exhausted.

She wouldn't have let me in a car with him then, or my children because when it comes to protecting us, she is a lioness of a woman and always has been. Honest.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 07:11:37

I guess I'm reluctant to talk to him about it because it has always been an unspoken and very rapeseed thing. He smoked until he had that tumour on his neck but you know what? He has never ever smoked in front of me. I have never seen him smoke. And we were a close family with holidays and weekend walks etc. He just managed to do it in secret all this time.
The reason is because my mum had told him she hated it and wanted him to stop in their early years. Instead of stopping, he just got more ashamed and it got more secretive. God, it's so unhealthy. If I've tried to mention it in recent years, he has flipped and walked out.
Even after his surgery, I tried to talk to him about it all. Even with no fucking voice box he managed to show how upset he was that I'd mentioned it and he kicked me out of his hospital room.

Shame like that is an impossible barrier and sooner or later, you just give up. We have always been able to talk about anything else- he taught me so much when I was a child and was so open about talking about politics, feminism, sex education, you name it. But this is just impossible.

Tooooooohot Sat 15-Aug-15 07:15:24

I'm afraid I wouldn't have much faith in your mum enforcing this. You've got to make it clear to them and your dd.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 07:23:18

Actually it's only a problem when they come here. Mum usually comes here on her own every couple of weeks but he's coming too in September for a week. I guess I can just enforce it without saying why unless he insists on knowing.
When dd stays there, dad doesn't do any driving with dd because the car seat they have doesn't fit in his car, only in my mum's car (which he isn't insured on). Plus he stays in all the time because he's still ill from chemo.

But if they come here in his car, I'll just make it clear to mum but also not let her out with them unless they're walking! And make sure our car seat is unavailable.
I wish I could just talk to him. I'll think about it but it's so hard. I hate that I feel this way. He loves me and my dd so much but I can't trust him to keep her safe. I hate it.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Sat 15-Aug-15 07:23:58

Dd isn't even 3 yet so too young to explain this too.

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