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Readers Respond: How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?

Responses: 587


Updated September 22, 2012

Can't move on

I am turning 30 next month and I haven't seen my alcoholic mother in 7 years, yet somehow my past with her continues to haunt me. I am new to the ACA community and have wondered for so many years why exactly I felt so miserable even when things were going right for me. Once I started to read the ACA literature it all started to make sense. For once in a really long time, I felt like I wasn't totally out of mind...or worse, alone. Three years ago I lost everything -my job, my home, the life I had built for myself,through a progressive (and aggessive) addiction to Xanax, alcohol, self-harm, and self-hatred. After I had worked so hard to get through college, get a job I was proud of, and friends that I adored-- I had a mental break, crashed my car and found myself 10 hours away from the life I loved-- back in my miserable childhood home, where it had all began. I am still trying to pick up the pieces. And still trying to come to terms with being the only child of an abusive alcoholic.

My Dad

My dad drinks very much. Before 3-4 years he was drinking in front of us, but now he is hiding. He makes huge problems when drinks. Now we must change our house, because he got in trouble with our neighbourhoods. I'm 16.. I have a sister. she's 15. Do you thing that this with my dad can affect my live when I grow up?
—Guest bojaaaa


Fear, my main issue with living with my alcoholic Mum was the fact that I didn't understand how severe and dangerous the environment I was brought up in happened to be. I took fists, kicks, cold weather and sleeping in a bath all as 'normal'. I've found that often alcoholics are unable to see the positives in life, which happens to be their children. I hated the time spent with Mum, just experiencing about the nights I spent without food and a warm house sends shivers up my spine. I'm currently 15 years old, really lean and dedicated to life. It just so happens that now living with my Dad I am able to fire the past and dreadful emotions and aim in the opposite direction. I find that although Mum meant a heck of a lot to me, life wasn't a bed of roses but I always found a way of hiding the facts that my life wasn't the one a young girl should be living! I'm thankful for the support I've received from my school and am now able to continue in my dreams path line! Don't be afraid to speak!
—Guest Emma Fulham

Gut wrenching fear and guilt

Guilt - that I was not enough,that her beautiful family,home and life were not enough to stop Mum drinking. Guilt - That somehow my behaviour made her drink even though it mattered not whether I was good or bad, she would still drink. Guilt - Maybe I could have gone more to make her stop even though I sometimes begged her on bended knees, left home at 17 in the hope that with me out of the way she would be happier and stop. Guilt - That my Mum died 2 years ago today and I wasn't there in her final moments,that she died alone without any of her family to tell her it was okay. Fear - That maybe I too would become an alcoholic and go on to be the worst kind of parent. Fear - Every day I came home from School she would be drunk and start ranting at me& attack me verbally and sometimes physically. Fear - that it would never stop, that this was the only life any of us would ever have. Fear - that it would kill her & there was nothing I could do to stop her. Sadly that happened - RIP Mum x
—Guest Emzzz


I was never physically abused. My father wasnt an alcoholic but my mother was. She would call me and my sister names and scream at us. We would hide in our rooms all the time. But what really got me is when my mom got cancer when i was 10 i always stood by her side, no matter how bad she treated me. Everyday after school i would walk up to see her. Help her in the bathroom, everything. But now, im 19, shes on dialysis 3 times a week and picking her drinking up back again. Im just thinking to myself, how could you do this to me? after all ive done? It makes me so angry. But after all of it, despite my low self esteem, thanks to my father being there and a great father at that. It just makes me want to fight for my future harder. I want to show that no matter how bad things can be, i can pull through. Show my dad that raising me and sheilding me was not a waste.
—Guest -MLS

Alcoholic household

Dad was violent alcoholic. Mom left n raised 4 kids on her own. We were poor n made fun of. Mom worked 2nd shift never saw her. Dad disappeared for 25 years and recently died. Never got a chance to know any other side of him other than alcohloc n violent etc. I feel so abnormal in adult life. Afraid of relationships n social settings. Always feel awkward. Always feel like running away. Or always work extra hard at things. Suffer from a weired type of depression I guess. I feel like no one understands me. Marriage I'm on now is pretty much all I've know as a relationship since high school. Her dad an alcoholic too. Not the healthiest relationship. But 3 kids and 20 years later. Very unhappy in life. But also very happy at times. We never got counseling or services when we were younger. Kinda left alone. I live in fear for the most part. Everyone's is out to get you. Very untrusting. Have a hard time understanding what normal is. Am I alone? Is it normal to feel like this?
—Guest D

Fear of anger

Had an alcoholic father, all of us kids were deathly afraid of him. i took that test have you been affected by a drinker i had most of em.fear of critism, isolate myself, fear of not being good enough, never believing if someone says i care, or youre pretty, and feel responsible for my siblings even though they are in their 40s, i still feel as if i got to protect them. the physical abuse was bad. dont want people close cause they may find out the secrets.fear authority figures afraid they will hurt me. til this test i didnt realize how much the drinking affected my childhood. i know since i was 8 yr old, ive always wanted to die, so the pain would end. and promised myself never to love another or let anyone close. i always thought i would die, but God still puts breath in my body. i feel like im living someone elses life and not living for myself but living a life other expect me to. i keep alot of stuff to myself and experience alot of loneliness and feel i should be somewhere else
—Guest edie

The Healing Process

My mother is and was an alcoholic and my father was abusive. This effected me by the feelings of being unloved, abandament, low self worth, shame, guilt, suicidal, dysfunctional in relationships, needy in every area, and always looking for a mother figure to meet my needs. feelings of helpless, hopless and being constantly overwhelmed by everything. I am now helping others and mentoring. It has been 2 years of wanting to get rid of pain of my past. I am now studying to be a counsellor to help others. It starts when you find someone to listen to you and who cares and forgiveness for your parents which sets you free from your pain. Jesus has healed me in every area of my life and it is a step by step process. Everybody gets triggers with people and it is usually goes back to your childhood where you have suffered hurt or pain and only Jesus can completely heal as I have experienced this a freedom from my past. Paula and John Sandford have good books available who are excellent.
—Guest Shelly77777

Alcoholic mum

My mums been a heavy drinker for pretty much my whole life. from a very young age I was forced into the role of adult looking after not only my mum but my 3 siblings. when drunk, she would verbally abuse me and tell me I was a worthless waste of space, unwanted, she didn't love me blah blah blah. I bore the brunt of all her abuse and would always put myself in the way if she started having a go at any of my siblings, they didn't need to hear the stuff she was saying and I'd heard it all before so it wouldn't affect me. I was their big sister and it was my job to protect them. Besides I loved her and knew it was the drink making her say these things. I'm 22 now and until reading this I had no idea how much her drinking had affected me. I knew I had problems getting close to people and opening up about my childhood, and that I had problems expressing my feelings. But the repercussions have not all been bad. How many 14 year olds do you know that can use a washing machine? :)
—Guest help

It drove me to want to be worthwhile

Growing up with my mother was exhausting and arguably stole large chunks of my formative years, leading to the cluster of psychological issues and poor inter-personal skills that simmer beneath my skin, but it also taught me at a very young age that regardless of how much power they held, adults were only older versions of children. I was told point-blank at five that I was more of a best friend than a child, and I went along with that because I loved my mother, wanted to spare my siblings, and it tended to start out as fun. The fact that I was treated like an intellectual equal made it easier to accept the responsibility that came with it. My mother made so many mistakes right in front of me, very few the sort of thing a child should probably have been subjected to, but those experiences made me who I am, and I -like- myself. I was lucky; my mother was more of an overgrown child than a monster, and although I DO exhibit a number of the ACoA traits, they aren't 100% due to her.
—Guest Rebekah

I cant move on

I am 41 and feel so damaged by my parents. Father was violent, abusive alcoholic/Mother Co-dependent, needy & damaged. The violence was awful, so many nights of it over 20 years. My earliest memories are of my mum having black eyes & head injuries, the house being smashed up & my mum just acted like a victim of violence and mental abuse. My school days are a bad memory and I was emotionally neglected by both parents, I was so messed up. She never protected us 5 kids, he even killed 2 dogs that were the family pets. The need for her man was more important than anything, but she used to tell me she would set fire to him in the bed. Feel she emotionally abused me from a young age, I have no friends is impossible for me to be close to people. I am severely depressed..had 10 years feeling suicidal, Isolate myself totally from people and stay home all day neglecting myself. I had 4 years of psychotherapy and this helped so much, but life is still so hard. I Am very grateful for this thread x
—Guest Jenny2

grown up early!

its made me more mature and caused me to grow up early and take on responsibilities of an adult.
—Guest confused

super angry

I can't remember a time in my childhood when my father wasn't a worthless drunk. I wish I didn't know him. He has been physically abusive towards my oldest brother and verbally abusive toward me. I'm sure he would of hit me too if he wasn't afraid that would of pressed charges on him, and contact social services. I constantly felt as though I needed to make threats to make him control him self and it worked. I was always to embarassed to invite people over and spent a good portion of my childhood extemely mad at everything. I left home the day of my 18th birthday and to this day refuse to have a relationship with him. I'm 22 now. I often feel like I served a 18 year prison sentence. Despite it all now that I'm on my own even at the worst of times its never as bad as my childhood and I now that I make it through. That I think is the only positive thing that came out of his drinking.
—Guest jennifer

only one person can help an addict

Growing up with an alcoholic Mother; I have a greater and personal understanding into those who are so helpless they cannot allow themselves to put there children first, these people need serious help. Through past experiences and this understanding i think it has enabled me to help others - personally and professionally - something has to be gained from the experience. I try my best everyday to stay positive and strong - some days are easier than others. My mother decided to have more children later on in life and is doing the same to them (drinking, emotional neglect, moods etc) - this has given my sister and i added strength (most of the time) to provide this void. My sister and i have a good Dad, much older than Mother, something the children lack. Their father has no time what so ever for them. The responsibility goes on and on. Their selfishness is impossible for me to understand when there are children involved I am emotionally attached. Nothing i can ever do will help he

Moving towards healing

I am 59 years old and have been struggling with the fact that my dad was an alcoholic and to see how his desease affected my mom, my sibblings and especially me. My mom was submitted to his desires and demands, my oldest brother followed his steps resulting in an alcoholic and homosexual, my sisters and me grew up with lots of fear, lack of self assurance, and trying to save the world. In 2000 I realized how bad I was and it was then when I decided to taje my lífe back. I decided to directly deal with this issue through professional help. I now know that lífe has much more to offer and I deserve to be happy and fulfilled, free from guilt and feelings of non-accomplishments and hurt. Like me there are others that are suffering. I refused to continue living a lífe that did not belong to me. I believe that there are better options out there that will make me whole.
—Guest Becoming whole

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