I watched an episode of the amazing “This is us” earlier in the week and unexpectedly it brought up a whole host of uncomfortable feelings. They’ve stuck around with me all week, lurking in the shadows. So I thought I’d purge/share on here.
The episode was in series 5, examining the link of baseball between the father and sons in the series. In one scene, Jack’s dad comes to watch Jack play baseball and sinks a 6 pack whilst watching. Jack is probably aged around 13 years old.
When Jack comes off the pitch it is clear to him his dad is drunk. He is cruel to him and drunkenly drops his car keys on the floor as he tells Jack to get into the car to go home.
You can see the turmoil in Jack’s face. He knows his dad is not capable of driving safely and he is worried and fearful of the journey home. He is also fearful of his dad and confronting the issue in front of him.
He suggests why dont they hang about for a bit and the dad is straight on at him. What, you don’t think I’m capable of driving? I’ve only had a couple? Who are you to question me? He makes his young son drive them home.
You can see the concentration on Jack’s face whilst he’s trying to drive a car for the first time on main roads, under his drunk dads instruction. Believing its safer for him to drive with no training, than his dad. It made me cry.
It also brought memories flooding back of my childhood. My parents would always drink too much at Bbqs/parties and then squabble after who’s turn it was to drive. I remember anticipating the ride home, watching each parent drink and counting their drinks, feeling sick and out of control. Especially when going home came round. Remembering their squabbles as we were bundled into the car, then gripping tightly onto the side of the car. Breathing carefully and watching each turn. Feeling sick with anxiety.
I must’ve been under 10 years old as my father left on my 10th birthday.
One occasion I remember the squabble and my mum deciding she would drive. The route would’ve been a 15 minute journey, I can still see it in my head. My dad fought back, he was ok to drive he said. But my mum insisted.
Half way home, he was all over the place and couldn’t keep his head up. I remember my mum asking what he’d “really had to drink” and he replied whisky chasers. I can remember this as clear as day.
These memories are bumbling around in my head and make me feel so uncomfortable. I feel the anxiety again as if I’m in that moment.
But I also feel it’s an important reminder. My children will never know that fear. I will never be drunk infront of them, fumbling over seat belts whilst squabbling over who’s the least drunk. They will never feel the fear of getting into the car, knowing their parents have been reckless with their lives. That brings some relief and makes my resolve even stronger.