A young mans struggle after the deterioration of his family.
I was just any other 15 year old, at the time it seemed like such an insignificant moment; little did I know it would be one of my favourite and last memories of my father as I properly remember him before my family slowly fell to pieces. We were on holiday. Me, my mom, dad, brother, auntie, uncle and both my cousins. We were staying at a small cottage in the countryside just outside Great Yarmouth. Just seemed like any other holiday at the time, how could I possibly know then that it would be our last holiday as an entire family? We’d been speaking for days about how there was supposed to be a meteor shower on the night time, I’d never seen one before, I was so interested, so excited, just an excited teenager waiting to see something so amazing and scientific happen. The night came and me, my dad, my brother, both cousins and my uncle made our way outside. Not much happened to start with, I only caught a glimpse of one meteor every couple of minutes or so and they were gone so quickly it was like they were never even there, part of me had to wonder if my mind was just tricking me into thinking I saw them when it was just my imagination. I remember being stood outside on the grass in nothing but a t shirt and some shorts, ready for bed, I was freezing, I wanted to go back inside for a jacket but I didn’t want to miss a single minute of the shower. For the first few minutes we all stood there, staring into the dark abyss of the sky fully immersed in what was one of the most amazing things we’d ever witnessed. After a while people started to make their way back inside but not me, I couldn’t move, I would of stayed out there all night just watching if I could and that’s when he did it. Just as I was thinking about how cold I was, my dad put his jacket round my shoulders to keep me warm and then walked back inside. Such a simple gesture had such a big impact on me; it’s still one of my most vivid memories of a happy time. I remember the way I felt, I didn’t want to move from the spot I was in anyway due to watching the shower, but after that moment I felt frozen in the spot. Like I couldn’t move in case my father saw it as me being ungrateful for his gesture, I knew he wouldn’t mind if I’d made my way inside but I felt like I was frozen in time, the perfect moment.
Not long after that my parent’s marriage slowly deteriorated along with half of my family and 98% of my life. I didn’t really notice to start with, strange really considering how close I was with my dad. He and my mom slowly started speaking less and less and less as the months went on. It never even dawned on me that I hadn’t seen them sit in the same room together or have a proper conversation until later on. Until one night, he just left. I didn’t see it coming, it was a complete shock, so I coped the only way I knew how: I got pissed up. It was a Tuesday night, I still remember, I was with about 12 of my friends, none of them drinking, of course, who would be on a Tuesday? The most alarming thing is that no one thought it was odd me getting smashed on a week night, even though everyone knew I had college the next day. I only told 2 of the people that were out that night and even then I spent the night making jokes of it, maybe some kind of way of trying to protect myself? To most people divorced parents is just a casual occurrence nowadays but I always saw my family as perfect, unbreakable, guess I was wrong. To start with they said they were working on things, this stage lasted for months while I was slowly breaking down. I missed more and more time at college and fell further and further behind with work. My parents continued to go out on “dates”, it lasted for what felt like forever but it was only a few months. I remember the Christmas he spent with us that year; we were like a family again, although it was the last one we did spend together. We spent the day watching films that we’d had as presents, eating and drinking. It felt like any other Christmas, maybe a bit more cosy than usual. Then he went home and the reality sank back in that he was in fact gone. It carried on, my father made less and less effort as things progressed. February came, that was the month it all changed. Me, my dad and my brother went to a concert. My brother was suspicious of my dads recent withdrawn behaviour and started asking questions, it was that night we found out he was already seeing someone else. For the entire night my heart just sat in my stomach and it showed no sign of moving any time soon. I remember coming home, breaking the news to my mom, she pretended to take it well at first and went to sleep. I remember just lying in bed for hours and hours that night wondering what the fuck had became of our once perfect family and what the future held for me. It was hard to start with; we all seemed to just be stuck in a dark spiral of depression with no light at the end. Eventually things settled, seemingly.
Although things seemed to calm down, I still couldn’t deal with it. I missed more and more time from college and as I did my alcohol intake grew higher and higher. I was drunk every weekend without fail, sometime it even ate into the week. I remember one week we missed college nearly every day and I began drinking at 10am with friends present. I remember the weather was perfect that week so no one thought twice about my behaviour. The week after I had a meeting with the senior tutor, there were threats of expulsion from college. Although this idea scared me, in some ways it just pushed me further down the rabbit hole, the drinking carried on, I also took up heavily smoking cigarettes. Eventually I managed to get a quarter of the course done and get some pathetic qualification for my efforts then summer came. I spent a lot of my time sending letters to double glazing companies in the hope of getting some work, I thought a more practical job would distract my attention from how fucked up everything felt. I heard nothing back and eventually gave up and enjoyed the rest of my summer. Then college grew closer and the daunting thought of returning shook me into another excessive job hunt which was seemingly hopeless again. I returned to college for 2 days. It brought back all the memories of the year before, my suicidal attitude and the darkness I felt. Luckily, after those 2 days, I finally succeeded in my job search. The week after I started training as a window fitter. To start with I loved it, I was always busy, working hard and I got to speak to a variety of different people every day which meant that no day was the same, no day left me long enough to dwell on the past. I was earning money and spending money, my drinking habits didn’t die but I was now restricted to the weekends and my drunken states were for pleasure rather than to escape reality. Although, this breakthrough didn’t last long, I apologise if that short burst of hope made you think this was a story with some sort of happy ending, a story of struggle and progress. I’m still working on the struggle, not sure if this progress is coming along any time soon, hopefully by the time I finish this story I’ll be at a different point in life.