I always felt when I was younger I had the most picture-perfect family. Two very loving parents, and an amazing big brother. We had family vacations and lots of love. Only that wasn’t really the case. There was a lot of hiding and lying. I can understand it, it was to protect me, but sometimes I wish I was more prepared because when shit hit the fan I felt like my whole world had stopped.
My picture-perfect family was just a dream, something I thought I had but didn’t. I’ll never forget the day I felt my life come to a halt. Rushing down the stairs my mother yelling for me to quickly down into the basement with my dog Strider. I asked “Why?” My mom’s response was that my dad was dehydrated, and he needed to go to the hospital and that an ambulance was coming. Now I had to be right around 13 going on 14 and I was scared. Why was it so bad an ambulance needed to come? But I did what I was told.
The next day my mom and brother said they were going to visit my dad in the hospital. Naturally, I wanted to see him too but was told I couldn’t go. I didn’t understand it, but I also didn’t question it. That was until I heard my Grandma on the answering machine saying they got the earliest flight they could and that they’d be here as soon as they could. The reason this was so strange was they had stopped flying because they couldn’t handle the three-hour plane rides from Florida to Connecticut anymore. That’s when I really knew something was wrong.
I paced my kitchen back and forth going through all the worst-case scenarios in my head. When my mom and brother finally came home I was waiting. I demanded to know what was really happening. They sat me down and explained to me that father was an alcoholic. At first, I didn’t really understand (again at this time I was a young naive teen) but the more they told me the more I cried. I knew everything was about to change.
The night my dad had been taken away by the ambulance wasn’t because he was “dehydrated”, but because he was so desperate for a drink that he ended up drinking our bottle of rubbing alcohol. He almost died that night, thank goodness he got brought in when he did. That my mom had even noticed what he had done and called 911 so quickly.
The only saving grace that night was my brother. We talked for hours as he explained more to me about Dad. He let me sleep in his room that night. The poor guy I was so hysterical that I even developed bronchitis overnight. He was my rock that night, he never complained. Sometimes I wonder if he felt relieved he didn’t have to hide so many things anymore. I recently asked him, and he told me that really, he had only found around the same time i was too. Our mother had done such a good job at hiding it, it took a while for Austin to figure it out on his own.
It all came clear, the business trips he took were code for detoxing or maybe even rehab which was rare. It had never occurred to me when I was younger that always having a drink in your hand wasn’t normal. And I mean always. Whether it was a beer or straight up liquor, it just never clicked that wasn’t the norm.
That day was when my “picture-perfect” shattered and a whole new world would come into play, because this… this was only the beginning.