Campaigns Alcohol Awareness Week Growing up with an alcohol dependent parent: Jo’s story My name is Jo Huey, I’m 42, and I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. I lived with an alcoholic father up to the age of 16, when he kicked me out of the house. From an early age I remember that things in the house were a little edgy. My Dad was ex-military so I felt our home was full of rules and he was very strict with my sister and me. I can’t recall many times where I felt like we were a family. Rarely did Dad come out with Mum, my older sister and I. He segregated himself from us: he had his space and we had ours. This created a disconnection between him and me. Still, I longed for his love, affection and acceptance. I wanted to know that he loved me, but he just wasn’t like that. He was, however, very good at expressing his anger, disappointment and frustrations. The apprehension over the years grew. I would wait for the door to open to see what mood he was in. I went to greet him, would he shout or welcome me? I never knew, so I learnt not to take the risk. Dad would stop us going to any social school events, having fun or being ourselves. It felt like a prison and I just wanted to escape. No one outside of the house knew what was going on. Leaving the house at 16 was a shock but it also brought with it a sense of freedom. After my step-brother died in a tragic accident at the age of 29 (I was 17), things went downhill for my family. Dad’s drinking worsened, Mum and Dad got divorced and my father moved out of the family home. Two months before my 21st birthday my father passed away due to his alcoholism. It was a massive shock and I just went into auto-pilot to cope. After two years of grieving and adjusting to my father’s death, and years of issues with friends and relationship problems, I decided I needed help. I knew something wasn’t right and that I upset people. I had a lot of anger and so many questions with no answers. I had no idea who I was, how I felt or really much about myself. There was a lot of denial and naivety. I was in my early twenties but at times I acted like a child. Visiting my first counsellor was an interesting experience, and one that hasn’t really stopped 20 years later. I’ve experienced over 20 years of self-development in one form or another and tried a myriad of different therapies, each time learning something new, growing and experiencing so much more out of life. I am now qualified as a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner and trained as an Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner. My journey will continue until the day I die. Living in a home with addiction and trauma is complex and it impacts on your life as an adult in so many ways. Investment in myself and my wellbeing is paramount and I want to encourage others who have had similar experiences to do the same. Read our blogs about alcohol and families.