Alcoholic Parents and an Abusive Government

Boris Johnson – the face of abusive government? – Source: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

I am the child of alcoholic parents. You have no idea how hard it is for someone to be able to admit such a thing. It fills you with shame, guilt, doubt and anxiety to accept that the very people who brought you into the world and who you rely on for care are not like other parents. I know that many of my friends – even to this day – would feign surprise to hear my confession, despite the fact they know my father was treated in a well-known home for alcoholics and that he eventually died in 1998, like many alcoholics, in a tragic accident – a house fire.

The reason for this is twofold: my parents were lovely people and immensely popular with the community, but the alcohol meant that behind closed doors things had the habit of becoming crazy. Always after episodes, there’d be some form of an apology, usually mixed with blame which I’d always accept in the hope things would improve. But things only ever got worse.

It wasn’t until after my mother died of cancer in 2012, that my sister and I have been able to delve back over the years and confirm our shared realities of what happened and deal with the aftermath and accept we lived through what many would call abuse. Don’t misunderstand me, my parents provided a great life for us, we were loved and enjoyed many privileges of my father’s successful business acumen, but we lived with a deep, dark secret that stayed largely hidden until I was fifty years of age.

No one really wants to talk about these types of problems, let’s be honest, most of us use cover-up to hide a pimple, so why would you yell from the rooftops, guess what my parents’ drinking is making our lives hell?  Besides, this kind of talk makes people feel uncomfortable and repression usually wins the day. Repression is a psychological defence mechanism that involves keeping certain thoughts, feelings, or urges out of conscious awareness. The goal of this form of defence is to keep thoughts out of the conscious mind in order to prevent or minimise feelings of anxiety.

One of the consequences of my growing up with alcoholic parents is that my brain has learnt to handle information which others find uncomfortable. I will concede that it drives my husband (and some friends) around the bend when I try to share some of what I call my ‘creative thinking’. Repression makes him shout out and dismiss/trivialise/block/gaslight the reality of what I am saying. It’s much easier for his brain to dismiss me as a lunatic than accept that what I am saying may be true. This has been happening much more frequently since the blaggard, Boris Johnson, won a majority and Coronavirus has turned our lives upside down.

In many ways, Government is like a giant parent to us all. One wants to feel secure and embrace the feelings of optimism and lust for life, but events continue to make me feel anxious and unsafe. The connotations of Boris’s boosterism are so familiar, with the public’s reaction of wanting to defend him, just as I did my parents. His government is abusing us like my parents mistreated me.

It is beyond doubt that good old defence mechanisms are protecting lots of brains from experiencing the anxiety of seeing what is happening – but we need anxiety levels to rise up and challenge this regime in order to save lives. 

So, will you join me in sharing my reality by repeating after me:
I am a citizen of an abusive government”?


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