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

Responses: 596

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Updated September 22, 2012

my heart hurts

As I read these posts, I think of the period of time when my mom was an alcoholic. It seemingly happened quite suddenly. We were teenagers. We would come home and she would be passed out or start harrassing us. It does something to the soul of child to watch your parent out of control. My dad was a functional alcoholic and would go out and get drunk and return. He was just unavailable. Today, I am married to a man who is a functional alcoholic. I hate it! I maintain my life, but I hate to see my daughter witness such an unavailable father. I am a Christian and as I write an planning to join a support group and begin to actively participate in intercessory prayer. WE ALL NEED IT and I will remember you guys in prayer too!
—Guest WRA

Parents who Drink, I'm 14

I'm currently 14, and I'm reading these and thinking how similar this is. Both my parents drink, dad leaves early in the morning, and comes home late and argues, and sometimes physically abuses my mom. He was in the Marines, and I think is mad in his own way. My brother is 11, and my dad always calls him fat, and emotionally abuses both of us. My mom told me last week she thought of suicide. I'm a great student. All A's, advanced, 5 sports, I'm doing great. This is my normal life now, I know what to watch for, fear, and I don't know the feeling of desperation of anything else but this. I use to cut myself, and I stopped. I tried to be in a relationship (Maybe I'm too young?) But it's hard, because my parents only stay together for financial issues. They don't even sleep in the same bed. My older brother, 28, hates my dad, and they always fight, physically. Dad also does illegal things, and well, I guess I'm just saying it's not over.
—Guest No One

Incredibly difficult trusting others

My father was totally emotionally unavailable, excessively critical, and a bully. What a combination. I question my self worth every day. My mother is a habitual liar and could be physically abusive at times. More than anything, growing up with 2 alcoholic parents made me feel different than others. I just knew things were wrong growing up in their household and yet that became my definition of normal. At age 48, I still don't trust people, feel unloved and life doesn't interest me much although I'm not suicidal. Haven't dated in 26 years and I'm not sure I know how. Other than that, everything is wonderful :-). As someone else pointed out, this is all a cathartic exercise and a chance to express things I've never shared before. Good luck everyone.
—Guest mantra

A way of fighting

My father started drinking a lot of alcohol when I was 10 years old, I grew up also with my my mother and two older sisters. I was an outstanding student in primary school, but in the last year my performance started to low down as my father started drinking a lot, my fears of being like increased from that time, also for the reason that he tried to affect me saying to me that I would fail and suffer in my life. My family was dysfunctional, my mother didn´t play her role as mother, but my oldest sister play it, and she tried to persuade my to play the role of father. Along my adolescence and early years of adult life I experienced a lot of illnesses coming from my mental problems. At the age of 22 I experienced a depression, when studying abroad, after that I have started to change many things that had carried out from my childhood. I believe that the problems of growing up in such a family can be overcome through courage and consciousness of what was left.
—Guest Alberto

Iniquity of the fathers (3)

. Over the course of my life, my feelings for her have swung upon a wild pendulum: from adoration to fear; from fear to resentment; from resentment to outright hatred; and sporadically, back to love. She played me like a yo-yo. She demanded my full attention -- to the point of sheer exasperation on my part; yet she physically rebuffed me every time I attempt to show her affection. It was this hideous, never-ending little carousel ride. And I have spattered the detritus and debris of my pain, confusion, shame, and guilt onto my children, who have, in turn, begun to sow the tares of dysfunction into the lives of their own kids. The awful effects of alcoholism are far-reaching, contaminating one generation after the next. It’s time to stop the madness.
—OrphelineTeterouge

Iniquity of the fathers (2)

My “legal guardian’s” father was an alcoholic. I never knew him; he died long before I was born. My “legal guardian” never got over all the pain that he caused her. And so, for the rest of her life, she remained a bitter, vindictive soul who held me in contempt for my inability/unwillingness to bear the burden of responsibility that she saddled me with -- for as far back as I can remember -- of recompense for all the injustice/indignity heaped upon her during her youth. All throughout my childhood, I thought something was wrong with ME because I could never ever manage to please her. For God’s Sake, I was a child!! Why on earth is a child supposed to be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a parent’s moods and emotions?? While the physical assaults finally ended once I became a young adult, I still endured relentless character assassination and brain-breaking head-games.
—OrphelineTeterouge

Iniquity of the fathers . . .

I am an ACoA "by proxy". The father of my "legal guardian" was an alcoholic. He wrought a great deal of havoc upon his family. My "legal guardian" was profoundly scarred by the negative experiences of her childhood & became mentally disturbed. (Of course we always put on what I refer to as the "Leave It To Beaver" Syndrome in front of company, or out in public.) And even though she was a "teetotaler", her behavior was textbook characteristic of an alcoholic personality. When I read Dr. Janet Woititz's book, ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS, it totally blew me away, because it was as if Dr. Jan had documented my own childhood experiences, and also because I pegged all 14 points (except for #8) on the Laundry List!! Sadly, I must admit that in my own brokenness, I too have dished out a lot of bad karma, hurting MY kids & grandkids. Hurt people hurt people. The cycle has got to end.
—OrphelineTeterouge

Lost Found

I grew up with a alcoholic father, since birth. My first conception of home/life was that it is a unsafe, lonely, shameful and scary place. We lived from crises to crises. Afraid of night time when dad come home, the fights, the screaming etc. I hated my dad and wish daily he would die. My childhood was stolen from me, my father love the bottle more than us! Deep down I decided that this will end one day, I will be free. As a teenager and adult I drank at parties but luckily decided to stop before it became problematic. I knew I was deeply scarred as a person, I felt like I was living in my own prison. I decided to seek help because my childhood was already stolen from me and it is enough. I made an effort to confront my fears and issues and get help often. I have learn not to trust my feelings and not give in to destructiveness. I have brokeness, but it doesn't rule me. God and I hold the key to my life, not the alcoholic. To heal is a journey, it's never to late to start healing
—Guest Liana

Getting back a childhood you lost

I had an alcoholic father from before I was born, He was an offshore diver in the late sixties which was a really dangerous job and like 80 percent of the guys doing that line of work had drink problems.. All I can remember of my child hood .. was always parties at ours! It was full of the billy big times and big spenders all with children, we got put up stairs while they partied.. and you began having relationships with other kids like brothers and sisters it was our only family... He use to come home after being on the drink for days on end... and shout and smash things up... when he was home I rarely seen him. Never once seen him at a sports day, or a school concert... I have no joy from childhood. He has been dry for 16 years now.. And I'm finally getting to know him.. he constantly tries to make up for the bits in my life he's missed. And it breaks his heart to see me... also working in oil and gas, doing the same things as he done and I also heavily drink.. I don't know why I do i
—Guest rob

No Title

At this writing I'm looking at numbers. 1-15 of 481. That's a lot of pain. It's amazing what we ACOA's have endured, huh? But, there is hope. Hope is a good thing.
—Guest No Name

Rejection and Abandoment

I was left alone as a baby with an alcoholic mother, who continually told me I ruined her life by being born. This rejection continued up until her death. She tried to prove to herself with my children, that she was a good person, she never accepted me, although I sought her approval throughout 35 years. I have now learned the answers and the truth, and am presently writing a book on my life story, which is about the inheritance my mother left me, which was only my life story. I am writing this book to help others. I have a great story to tell: strength comes through tribulation. Having lived the life I was given has given me the opportunity to relate and show others how to overcome the unhappiness.
—Guest Roxybaby

He's dead now - so I must move on

My Dad's alcoholism and my mom's denial sapped my self confidence and self belief because Dad was never there for me emotionally. But he's long dead now and I have to take responsibility for my actions today and not play victim. He was sick and he's gone now but playing victim is a losing recipe. Get help and move on.
—Guest ozeeboy

The effects of Alcoholism

I grew up with an alcoholic dad. He used to be the greatest dad in the world and was always there for me and my sisters. When I turned 11 is when I started noticing that he was drinking a lot. I have a hard time remembering that part of my childhood because of it. One thing i remember the most is waking up in the middle of the night because my dad was trying to cook while he was drunk. Then in the morning he'd be passed out at the kitchen table. No child should have to witness anything like that. I am 22 and still suffer from being a child of an alcoholic. Another thing that kills me is that my son's father is also an alcoholic along with being a drug addict. But from what I've experienced I never want my son to witness anything I have when I was a child. So I do my best to make sure he knows that he has at least 1 parent he will always be able to count on and I got out of that relationship so my son would never have to see anything I have.
—megmarie105

Change is good

I grew up with an alcoholic father, but he functioned. Always being there attending my school functions, he was always the one to take care of us. I followed in those footsteps meeting someone in high school getting married 17 years later 3 children it only got worse. Through Al-AnonI learned to care for myself. Three attempts at rehab later with my husband, I decided to leave. Two years later a foreclosure, a divorce. I'm still learning how to love and take the good with the bad. Unfortunately the husband hasn't changed. His bottom was quite different, now possibly facing jail time. Two of the three kids want nothing to do with him. At times I still blame myself, but understand we all do the best we can with what we have, we go through challenges to make us become the people we were meant to be.
—Guest Smile

Don't blame anyone except yourself.

I am 52. It started too with me. Beatings (back then they were brutal). Now you can complain and services will help you. Alcoholism, is much deeper. It is addiction. A horrible addiction. It is both biologically deep and chemically deep. Bottom line. If you are reaching out and seeking advice when you are younger. Trust me when I say, I never thought in a million years that I would follow that path. But, I still do it. Fight it everyday. Now , I see my children doing it. It breaks my heart to see them follow my path. But, I see it. Do not do drugs or drink when you are younger. Especially in a family that has a history. Even, one drink or one thing will ultimately change your brain function. Don't believe this? Well, take the first glass of wine. Take that first drug. Go through some stress with it. See were it takes you. Now, I would have never gone down that path. Two roads. I chose the bad turn. Everything since has been fighting uphill very slowly very tough road.
—Guest Purelife1.

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