‘I knew the terror of lost time’: how my father’s dementia echoed my own alcoholism

In our different ways, my father and I were both suffering from diseases of forgetfulness. Though I didn’t yet have a name for what was happening to him, there was some comfort in the thought that I understood a little of what he suffered. I knew the terror of lost time, and I wanted to protect him from it.

In my experience, addiction is rooted in the will to forget. And if addiction is about forgetting, recovery is an act of remembering – a slow reconnection with the parts of yourself that have slipped out of reach. It was late spring in 2015 when it first became clear that, while I was trying to rebuild myself, my father was sliding in the opposite direction. The edifice of his mind had begun to dismantle itself brick by brick. My mother and I knew it and did not want to know it, so we became forgetful, too, complicit in the cover-up.

At first, it felt like a game, to be swapping roles. I’d always loved my father’s playful side, his rebellious streak and deep love of the absurd, and these were things the changes in him brought to the surface. But he had also always been a steadying presence in my life, and I was afraid of losing my anchor.

Read more in The Guardian.

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