On the morning of the court, we arrived early to meet with the solicitor. He spoke with Sonny first, then with us.
The solicitor, Mr Fairfax, had found that Garda McMahon, had made a typographical error on the summons, this would be his trump card should all else fail.
Mr Fairfax didn’t need to do much that day to earn his fee, Sonny got off on the technicality. Sonny walked from the courthouse, proud as a peacock, rubbing his hands together.
Sonny walked across the road, jumped into his car, revved the engine until it growled like a tiger, took off at speed, hand out the window giving Garda McMahon the two fingers
We were relieved on one hand and yet horrified on the other. What lesson had he learned? What had we taught him? We were all gathered outside the courtroom, including Garda McMahon who said what a lucky young man Sonny was.
Sonny walked across the road, jumped into his car, revved the engine until it growled like a tiger, took off at speed, hand out the window giving Garda McMahon the two fingers.
What had we done? We had bailed him out, we were his get-out-of-jail card.
We know now that from that day forward, Sonny knew we were his crutch, we now understand only too well how we enabled his dysfunctional behaviour. This incident was merely the beginning of things to come.
If we thought the first 17 years of Sonny’s life were eventful... the next 10 years were like living on an emotional roller coaster! Alcoholism is an insidious disease as is any other addiction, it affects and infects everyone involved with the addict. We loved Sonny, but hated his disease.
According to Sonny, he had no problem. His only problem was us, we were the ones holding him back
We pleaded with him on so many occasions to seek help, usually after another catastrophe.
According to Sonny, he had no problem. His only problem was us, we were the ones holding him back, particularly his father Jack, for not signing the land over to him. Sonny resented Jack for this, making that crystal clear at every opportunity. Sonny’s sense of entitlement was at the root of his resentment for his father.
The problem snowballs
By this time Sonny had become a pathological liar, a thief and had developed narcissistic tendencies. Using our landline, he ran up enormous telephone bills contacting call girls advertised on the TV, which he denied emphatically. His ego was bigger than himself. He was an intimidating bully.
Jack paid off bar tabs, gambling bills, and the local taxi man on numerous occasions, just to save face
He stole our credit card on one occasion, went missing for a week, arrived home snapping the credit card in two laughing, while telling us we would want to increase our credit card limit.
He knew we wouldn’t report him; the shame would be too much for us to bear.
Jack paid off bar tabs, gambling bills, and the local taxi man on numerous occasions, just to save face. It was like walking on eggshells while Sonny was around. His demeanour had become so unbearable, that we feared every time he went out it might be the last time we saw him, yet at the same time dreaded his return.
It all comes around again
Sonny thought he was invincible, but one night he fell on his own sword, crashing his car into a ditch on the way home. The gardaí arrived on the scene. Garda McMahon took great pleasure in charging him, delivering the summons in person. This time he lost his licence for three years, during which time he made our lives hell.
He constantly told Jack if he signed over the place to him, as it was his birthright, he would run the place properly
It was lambing season again; Jack and I took turns at night in the “maternity ward” as we called it. Under no circumstances would Sonny help. He constantly told Jack if he signed over the place to him, as it was his birthright, he would run the place properly.
One night after Jack and I pulled twin lambs, I went up to the house to make tea. I took off my wedding and engagement rings and left them soaking in soapy water. The next morning the rings were gone and so was Sonny. I was heartbroken, but more so for Jack as my engagement ring had been his mother’s, it was all he had left of her.
I could see Jack’s face turning purple with temper
Sonny stumbled through the door a month later. Jack was sitting at the island eating his dinner. Sonny took a lamb chop from the plate, bit the meat off the chop then threw the bone back onto the plate, I could see Jack’s face turning purple with temper, as he stood up fists clenched white knuckled, he roared like a bull: “ENOUGH.” With that he gripped his chest and hit the floor with a thud, gasping for breath. I dialled 999 requesting an ambulance ASAP as I thought Jack was having a heart attack. Sonny sobered up instantly, his face ashen, as he bent over Jack pleading with him not to die. The ambulance arrived within minutes; Sonny looked on as his father was carried away on a stretcher. That was the first time I ever saw remorse on Sonny’s face.
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, please contact the HSE drugs & alcohol helpline. It is a confidential service has both a freephone helpline (1800 459 459) and an email support service (firstname.lastname@example.org). Alternatively, click here.