Our Story Of Addiction – Part 1 | The Beginnings
My husband Dave and I began our lives in very different places, in different eras and in different family environments and for most of our lives, were very different people.
Addiction though does not differentiate with who it affects.
This is the story of the addictions in our lives, and our recovery from their affects.
Dave was born and raised in England. I was shuffled around from town to town in New Zealand before I finally settled back in my city of birth.
Dave was a swinging 60s baby. Me? I was born the year after Elvis died (which does nothing to explain why I went crazy over him when I was 14 while other kids were getting into the new bands for the 90s).
Dave was the 2nd child and only boy in the perfect 1 boy 1 girl mix for two doting parents. I was the 1st child between a couple who already had 3 children between them and would go on to have 1 more.
Dave was sporty and aimed with passion to play football for his country. I was bookish and introverted, play acting at running libraries and offices with paperwork and filing cards.
While we were both living different lives, at different stages and in totally different ways, what we did have in common was that addiction entered both of our lives at very young ages, and didn’t leave us for the longest time.
First Dance With The Devil Of Addiction
Dave was 7 years old when he got his first taste of what would become his primary addiction ?gambling.
Although he had spent his childhood, until that point, surrounded by encouragement to gamble with gaming machines and horse races, he hadn? yet been lured into the demons grasp by his own compulsion. His participation was always led by a family member giving him money to place a bet, to put into the fruit machines. He was blindly following the hobbies and habits of the people the trusted and respected.
That all changed when he was on holiday with his parents and was given 5 pounds to take to the amusement arcade to change for pennies for a family game of cards. A pretty simple request from a child when the streets seemed safer and children were sent on errands with barely a thought for any evil that could be waiting.
Unfortunately evil was waiting for Dave though and he found his way straight to it. Near the store where he was to change the pound for coins was a penny arcade. Lured by thrill of the lights and sounds he cashed the 5 pound note he held in his hand for pennies and proceeded to feed them into the machines 1 by 1. His clutch full of coins disappeared slowly and surely as he chased the lights and the win and eventually he was left with nothing.
Now there was the minor detail to consider of how to explain to his Mum where the money had gone and why there were no pennies for the card game.
At 7 years old children become a little notorious for lying as they learn the art of manipulation, and avoiding trouble for themselves. Dave put this newly learnt skill to use as he told his mother that he had been mugged and lost all of the money. Although she likely knew the truth, Dave? mother brushed the lie away and ignored what was obviously a cover up for some kind of other loss. Maybe she assumed he? simply dropped it and lost it and made the story up to cover that clumsiness? Or maybe she thought he had spent it on snacks and lollies and eaten them all with pleasure before having to return guiltily without the pennies he should have had?
Either way, he got away with that first lie about his real actions and a pattern began.
One that would haunt him for many years to come.
Addiction for me manifested in my step fathers drinking. There isn’t a single time in my life when he wasn’t an alcoholic. Itwas there from day one. In fact the day I was born (he was in my life before I was even in this world) he left my Mum at the hospital and went and got drunk.
At my naming party he was so drunk that there are photos of him lolling all over some women that wasn? my mother and when I was still only a baby, my step father suffered a near fatal stabbing that left him critically ill and on police guard. He was extremely drunk that night and the police reported that they believe he abused someone who responded in turn with a knife.
My mother cared for us on her own for 4 months while he recovered in hospital and police guarded our home.
My step father being drunk was just part of life for me as a child. I can? recall any family occasions that didn? involve him getting absolutely written off. I remember weddings where he would pass out in the car and wet himself, I remember Christmas days when he would get abusive and threatening and tell my Mum he was leaving and taking us kids with him, I remember having to leave parties quickly because he had got too intoxicated and offended our hosts.
It wasn? unusual for me and my brother and sister to lie in bed listening to my parents having a roaring party, with people falling over drunk and disorderly and hoping we would get enough sleep so we didn? fall asleep at school in the morning or that one of the scary and drunk men didn’t come into our room again and act all weird.
My step father drank every night and we learnt to work around him. My friends would come over and he would fall asleep in his dinner, or he would be passed out on the porch after my Mum wouldn? let him in because he was so drunk. He would pass out on the toilet so we couldn? use it and would have to go outside or he would fall over somewhere and we would step over him and all go to bed just hoping that his slumber would last until the morning so we didn? get woken up by him.
Addiction came early for both Dave and I but it would take us down quite different paths.
Check back soon to read the next installment of Our Story.
Also, it would be great to share YOUR story on RecoveringYou.
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Photo credit:) 2008Andre Chinn