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

Responses: 580


Updated September 22, 2012

Using my mother's drinking as a force

I grew up the only daughter to a single mother. We lived in a beautiful home in a well-off neighborhood. My mother worked hard and always did her best. She sacrificed everything she had for me, the problem was her drinking. She instilled a lot of anxiety in me, at a very young age. Unknowingly, she complained about bills and money problems, she would become very distressed whenever the smallest thing happened. She was raised with alcoholics and therefore had very strong social anxieties. She led me believe, time and time again, that the man she was with was my father. Ever ytime, without fail they left and I was the one picking up all the broken pieces, never being able to truly be a child; for a child does not mend a broken heart or pay bills. I now live in a beautiful apartment with a beautiful dog. I have an amazing job, and am truly happy inside. I am in my final phase of psychology and promise to specialize in anyone who grew up with a parent who suffered with addiction.
—Guest Mich!!

Protect children from abuse

I used to wish I had a mother who was not abusive. I used to wish I had a good grandmother for my son. I used to wish my father would've protected us. He didn't. But I can protect my son. If you think someone will harm your child, don't let them play the "family card". I made it through that childhood by the Grace of God only. I broke that cycle of abuse that had gone on for generations. Think about the children, they don't need a grandma. They need to be safe and nurtured. This is a parent's job. Period. I will take any blame for this non-decision. God knows the truth and I do too. I love my son enough to be the bad guy. God blessed me with the strength to protect my child.
—Guest fish

Growing up with an alcoholic

I find it really hard to make friends and trust people.

With child of my own...

My father is an alcoholic. I'm 28, married and have a perfect little boy. I still see my father and he loves my child, but I don't want him to hurt my son the way he hurt me... being cold, selfish, and distracted. Always living in stress that there would be another fight, yelling, slamming of doors, etc... Should my son be allowed to be subjected to that? Will it hurt him? Would keeping him from his grandfather hurt him more? I struggle with this all the time. I want my son to have a healthy, loving relationship with his Grandfather, but I don't know that it's even a possibility with my father still being an alcoholic. It's just a matter of time before my perfect little boy is hurt and damaged. What do I do?
—Guest Amy

Adult child of Alcoholic Mom in coma

Long story short, my Mom's alcoholism and drug abuse lead to her being in a car accident that put her in a coma. This happened when I was 13 and 16 years later, she's still in a coma. Growing up with her as a single Mom and the issues that were going on with alcohol and drug abuse have effected me a lot. Of course her accident led me to extremely deep feelings of abandonment and to this day I deal a lot with not being able to be consistent in my habits and my personality (due to constant chaos in the home). I've been to a few different social workers/counselors/psychologist and psychoanalysts in my life which have helped somewhat, but I still have really down spells when things don't go well and tend to spiral out of control. Not all is bad though, they could have been a lot worse. I was close to becoming an addict myself but decided to choose a healthy life instead, I have a wonderful partner that is loving and supportive and patient with my issues. I have a good life that I am proud of.
—Guest deeraspberry

Nightmares returned

I tried in my childhood and beyond to help my mother, she said she has no problems. Reading this adult child of alcoholics stuff opens a lot of wounds I started having the nightmares again. They are actually memories. I don't see the good of this. You can't change history.
—Guest fish


It wasn't until I started battling my own alcohol problem at 16 that I realized how deep the effects of my parents drinking ran my life. I was always socially awkward and it was my inability to partake in simple social interactions that lead to the uninhibited ruse that is alcohol. I never knew this feeling of displacement amongst the people I know who grew up with stable parents, and who have never had to experience the degrading comments, or unavoidable confrontation when you know your parents are going to be piss drunk when you get home. I blame myself for everything and I am always taking responsibility for problems that aren't my own. I put so much into relationships that are undeserving and try to maintain my own happiness by insuring that I can make those around me happy. It's just now that I recognize how much it will effect the rest of my life where do I begin to fix it?
—Guest 19

In Every Way Possible

I looked at the list of birth defects due to an alcoholic mother. I have scoliosis, heart murmer and most distressing to me, webbed extra long toes that are actually joined at the bone. I have always hidden these feet. I view them as a source of humility, which is actually a good thing. They are strong and work well. My childhood was not a childhood at all. I was the parent and the mother to both my parents and my siblings. This made me very strong, so I can't really feel that badly about it. I am the caretaker and that is my personality. I feel I am blessed in my view. I always knew my parents constant (sometimes violent) fights were not about me. This is better than my siblings, who viewed it to be their fault somehow. I always knew they were too wrapped up in themelves to care about us. It's not that great to know you didn't matter in your life. But it is better than thinking it's your fault. My siblings have no self esteem at all. I get my self esteem from helping others still.
—Guest fish

Looking in the mirror

Growing up in an alcoholic home left me "not knowing who I am". Looking in a mirrior and it is blank. I do not know who I am. I used fixing others' problems as my excuse. I do not feel emotions, I was not allowed to react when beaten with the belt. I feel I am never good enough, smart enough or do enough. I feel extremely uncomfortable in social situations and do not have many friends. I have a husband who had an affair and child and we are still together. I have used food, stealing cookies, as a child to exist and not feel. By the grace of God, I found OA released 78 pounds. I will be 59 in a few days and now want to look at and release my past. I think this is a good start. I thank everyone for their courage and honesty in sharing their stories. I saw myself in so many of your lives.
—Guest SSD

Alcoholic Mom

Memories of my childhood are very vague. And the ones that I do remember I'd rather forget. I can recall opening the fridge only to find beer and thinking to myself, what are we going to eat? My mother has battled depression and addiction since some of my earliest memories. She has since moved on from alcohol to prescription drugs. I am 28 now and only recently when speaking to a marriage counselor realized that perhaps my mother's drinking has affected me. I have forgiven her. I've always been the "shy" girl and have had such a tough time making friends and keeping friends. It takes me years to be completely comfortable with people and even then I'm not 100% myself. People mistake me for being "stuck-up", but it's just that I have no idea what to say or how to act. However, my mom has taught me a few things for which I am proud of; how to survive on very little; true compassion for others and forgiveness. Thanks Mom, I love you!
—Guest Robyn

Trying to sort my life out

I am 50 years old and trying to make sense of my life, I have 2 failed marriages and 3 gorgeous kids. I have spent most of my kid's life as a single parent, as I have trust issues. I grew up with my mother and father binge drinking, I find this very hard as the only memories I have as a child tend to be centered round alcohol. I have been trying to do some work on my inner wounded child but am finding it very hard to remember a lot of when I was young. I think I have tried to pretend that I did not grow up in that life. I have sheltered my kids from the life I had until now. My brother is an alcoholic , me i am always helping and fixing everyone elses problems i really dont know who i am . My brother is in rehab. I helped him all the way to get the help, now I just feel completely lost and alone. Both my parents are dead, my kids have grown u , I thought that I would start to live life, instead I am the one everyone still depends on. Any ideas on how I can try to enjoy life.

Adult Child of an alcoholic mom

I honestly thought that my mom's drinking didn't affect my life. What was I thinking? I don't have a vivid memory of my childhood. Just flash backs of different things. I do know that I have a trust issue. Not so much about being cheated on, but that I can really count on someone. I was ashamed of my mom, feeling that somehow my friends would think "I'm weird", due to her behavior, when she was drinking. I do remember keeping my emotions hidden from my mom, at most times. I'd never let her know I was hurt by her remarks, or her negative thoughts, etc. I realize that I still carry that burden of not being able to express my true inner feelings. I hate to cry in front of people, like it's some kind of weakness. I'm in therapy AGAIN, and never really gave much thought that my troubles have to due with my mom being an alcoholic. I'm so glad I found this site. Even though each of us have a different experience with our alcoholic, we all suffer inside. I hope to heal and find inner peace.

56 and still healing

My first memory as a child was sitting in the dark in the car with my two sisters waiting for my mom to get my dad from the bar. I was 3 years old and terrified. I suffer from feelings of abandonment, spent most of my life rescuing and taking care of everyone else except myself. I was in a 27 year abusive marriage, and kept taking him back. I am now divorced and in graduate school, doing well. I still struggle, however, with feelings of fear that those I love will reject me or abandon me and I struggle with self-worth. I constantly feel that I need to be doing MORE in order to feel worthy. I work too hard, sacrifice too much, and have unrealistic fears. I have attended Al Anon and found understanding, acceptance, and learned what I was feeling was common. I have been to many counselors, but they all just glossed over the fact that I grew up in an alcoholic home. As a future counselor, that is one element I will not ignore in my clients.


I suppose I've only just admitted to myself recently that my Dad is, and has been for as long as I can remember, an alcoholic. In a way it is a relief because I can now put a name to the big black cloud I've felt hanging over me since I was about 5 years old. I've always felt different and alone. I've always found it difficult to make friends. I am a perfectionist and the slightest hint of criticism makes me crumble. I can just about tick off everything off the list. I'm 27 and I've now been in a relationship with an alcoholic, who has three children from a previous relationship, for 8 years. I now realise I sought to rescue them. I have just become aware of the existence of Al-Anon and ACOA and my hope for the future is that I can now find peace for myself instead of always trying to fix other people.
—Guest Cat

Always A Challenge

Growing up with a violent, drinking dad has made me distrustful, ineffective in relationships, feeling different, detached, depressed and unfocused in my life. My brother started to drink very early and has dealt with this all his life. Now with the onset of retirement, he is drinking again with more time on his hands. He is angry, feels entitled, and is abusive to those who love him. At middle age with my parents passed, I am now faced with this family issue once again! I pursued a degree in Psychology with classes in crisis and drug management trying to "fix" myself. It has been helpful but counseling and ACOA meetings have helped over the years. And even today it rears its ugly head from time to time still in the form of depression, poor self esteem and a lack of purpose. I don't drink but there are times when I feel so bad, I could! I know it runs in the family! I thank God for His Love, strong family and friends, and a belief alcoholism does not define ME and who I am.
—Guest Donna

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