A daughter upset at her alcoholic father

“Finding Myself”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

I died when I was eight years old. When I discovered that my dad started drinking, a part of me left. That night, the person I admired the most was never the same to me. I was too young to understand the severity of the new predicament. Yet, my heart sank knowing that my hero participated in bad activities.

I was not prepared for the darkness that would follow.

I tried my best to pretend that everything was ordinary, but I could not deny the drastic shift I felt in my family. The late-night arguments, the random bursts of anger, his belligerent speeches, and verbal attacks became my new normal. Day by day, my idea of a family drifted.

There was a time when my parents’ love filled our tiny apartment with brightness and joy. They would smother each other in kisses, laughter, and gifts. Every Thursday, my dad and I visited the local market to purchase flowers for my mom. I recall running around the dimly lit store, picking up a bundle of pink tulips while he bought my favorite gum. Eventually, our time spent visiting the market became infrequent. The bright pink flowers that resided on our burgundy wood table wilted and were replaced with cases of beer. As a result, the beautiful connection between my parents eroded and was now perished forever.

Words wield the power to hurt, heal, shape our beliefs, and drive our behavior. The moment my former hero drunkenly stumbled towards me and called me a failure, his words leeched into my head and plummeted my mental health.

Drinking ate his soul away and took mine as well.

I cried every day. I could not fathom why I felt so sad and alone. I may have realized that my person was not there anymore. With a broken family and heart, I felt cornered with no one to confide in. I carried the weight of my death for years. In fact, I would not speak a word to anyone in fifth grade. It was my way of protecting myself from forming any new connections that may result in a painful termination.

I remember a time when I gazed into my eyes and gained a sudden understanding of how Alzheimer’s felt. At that moment, my eyes and my soul were familiar yet distant. I knew I loved them in the past, but I could not recognize them. It took me years to find love for that stranger.

All things must pass. The sun was about to shine and suppress the rainy period of my life.

My reincarnation began in ninth grade when I discovered my proficiency in math. After earning a “Student of the Week” award, the feeling of competence gradually stripped away my old beliefs. My mind became open to the possibility that I can be successful. My faith and confidence grew as much as my love for myself. I gained insight into how my value and self-worth were not tethered to the words of my parents. I developed a thick skin that enabled me to obliterate any negative assumptions formed by others from saturating my mind.

As time progressed, I focused on finding serenity by forgiving ones that hurt me in the past. I distanced myself from people that hindered my growth and formed new connections that encircled me with endless amounts of love. I established a new line of self respect that could not be modified. My eyes that were once distant and cold began to warm up and align with my soul.

Now relishing in my newfound bliss, I understand that the bump in my childhood was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

My perspective on addiction evolved ever since I learned that the addict is not entirely at fault for their addiction. There is always a story behind everything and one detrimental event can linger and tarnish their future. My dad’s traumatic childhood experiences continue to haunt him today. He carries the pain caused by his parents, divorce, and the death of his first son in his heart. Initially, I censured my father for his alcohol abuse and for tearing my family apart. Hence, I abstained from talking to him for a year or two. Eventually, I realized that people who are battling with addiction are struggling with the following: letting go, forgiving, accepting their past, or they have an addictive personality due to genetics.

Receiving this scholarship will fund my path towards success by helping with my tuition. This money will help ensure that I have enough money to stay in college. I will be able to maximize the college experience through service learning, volunteer opportunities, and business internships. I will be able to focus on my career and mental health.

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