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Alcoholic Dad

(18 Posts)
Gangie Thu 07-Nov-13 09:18:57

I don't want to give my whole life story but the basic facts are: alcoholic father who was abusive both verbally and physically violent to me, my siblings & mum. Functioning alcoholic, always went to work etc and as DM is fond of saying 'we never went hungry'. No violence for years now (stopped for me when I was 18 and finally stood up to him) sporadic violence towards mum, but not in the last few years.

Anyway he got sick last year and we had a bit of a
breakthrough. For first time ever he admitted he had a problem and started counselling and was dry for 8 months. Left counselling, started drinkin again and now
is very bad again. We are all
trying to get him help. He
said he will think about it.

Here's my dilemma: when he's drinking I hate him. But
when he's sober he's great.
When he's drinking I remember what a bastard he was when we were kids, especially to me as I was the 'scapegoat' and was a very angry teenager. I want him to get help but I am struggling forget or forgive without some acknowledgement. However, this will be met with much hostility by DM and DS's they will see it that I am making things worse by bringing it up and making it out to be worse than it was.

I'm sorry about typos am on phone and I hope this makes sense to someone: I don't know what I am asking really, do I just get on with it now or do I make this the time to air all my grievances and move on. Ideally I want us as a family to go to counselling/mediation so we can thrash it all out but I think pigs will fly sooner winkby the way DM is very passive, very much an enabler and won't stick up for herself never mind us!

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 07-Nov-13 09:35:02

You can't change this person, make him say or do things, make him apologise or express remorse. It's frustrating, but if anyone could have done that, it would have happened already. 'Thrashing it out' is really not on the cards from what you describe of the family dynamic. You can, however, express yourself. It may have to be enough to say to him that you want him to know it was bad for you and leave it at that. He knows what happened.

Gangie

I would walk away now whilst you still can. Your birth family will just drag you down with them if you maintain any sort of relationship with them. Your Dad has plenty of enablers around him and they also contribute to his alcoholism, do not get yourself further dragged into their games.

Counselling and or mediation will never work so that idea of yours needs to be put to bed as of now. You instead need to yourself grieve for the nice birth family you deserved and should have had but did not.

Basically you cannot help someone who does not want to be rescued and or saved. You cannot and must never act as either a rescuer and or saviour.in these situations.

I would also talk to Al-anon as they are helpful to family members of problem drinkers. You may also want to read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward as this further goes into the dynamics that is taking place within your own birth family.

Gangie Thu 07-Nov-13 10:59:01

The thing is I'm actually very close to my family, does that sound weird? Especially close to my sisters & mum whom I love very much even thought I have some resentment that she didn't stop him hitting us or herself and wish she left him so many times.

But I also love my dad, I would love for us to have a better relationship. Is that crazy? He's great when not drinking and can be very thoughtful &kid and is much loved by my DC.

I could never go no contact with them.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 07-Nov-13 11:03:43

It's not crazy to want a better relationship with your Dad but it is unrealistic to expect anything as constructive as truth and reconciliation from something as self-absorbed as an alcoholic. That's the circle to square... your own response rather than his behaviour.

Gangie Thu 07-Nov-13 11:10:14

Yes I know I can't change him but I can change my responses to him. I don't answer the phone if he has been drinking and recently decided that he is not allowed to drink in my home (which was met with much Agro from mum & sisters). I am due to ring him now and tell him he is loved that we want him to get better and that I am there for him, that he is a great grandad (under sisters orders) half of me wants to do that and hope grin but other half wants to push him off a cliff!

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 07-Nov-13 11:18:52

That's fine. As long as you recognise that in yourself, as long as your expectations are low/realistic and as long as you don't put yourself in a position where you are dependent on either him or his approval then I think that's called 'coping'. Aggro from mums and sisters just needs swatting...

NothingsLeft Thu 07-Nov-13 11:54:27

I could have written your post. My mum is an alcoholic and has health problems. She is a vile drunk and I was the scapegoat.

I also thought we were a close family but realised we were enmeshed. Once I stopped towing the family line...not answering the phone after 6pm, no alcohol at mine, objecting to her drunk driving etc, I fell out of favour. Not instantly, it took a few years.

I have been bullied and ridiculed by everyone. You cannot change how your family behave, just as they can't change how you feel. Your dad is an abusive alcoholic and it's ok to not be fine with that.

Others may not get it but they probably weren't the scapegoat. My sister is happy to overlook a lot more as she gets free childcare and favours from them. I don't want child around that. You need to do what you feel is right.

NothingsLeft Thu 07-Nov-13 11:54:30

I could have written your post. My mum is an alcoholic and has health problems. She is a vile drunk and I was the scapegoat.

I also thought we were a close family but realised we were enmeshed. Once I stopped towing the family line...not answering the phone after 6pm, no alcohol at mine, objecting to her drunk driving etc, I fell out of favour. Not instantly, it took a few years.

I have been bullied and ridiculed by everyone. You cannot change how your family behave, just as they can't change how you feel. Your dad is an abusive alcoholic and it's ok to not be fine with that.

Others may not get it but they probably weren't the scapegoat. My sister is happy to overlook a lot more as she gets free childcare and favours from them. I don't want child around that. You need to do what you feel is right.

NothingsLeft Thu 07-Nov-13 12:17:52

Oops...sorry for double post

Your parents utterly failed you and your siblings and still continue to do so.

They are not going to change and I would also agree with the other respondent that you are infact enmeshed within this dysfunctional family unit. You do not need their approval any more, not that they would ever freely give it anyway. I think a way forward for you would be ultimately to grieve the loss of this family as they were and remain dysfunctional. It is not your fault they are like this.

If you are designated as their scapegoat they will do everything in their power to keep you as that. People from such dysfunctional families end up playing roles and you have all sorts here.

If they are too difficult for you to deal with then I would consider whether I would want any of them around my children.

Why is no contact not actually an option for you?. Genuine question.

It is in your family's interest to keep this charade of togetherness going because they will have no-one to scapegoat if you disengage from them.

my dad is an alcoholic too hi has been for about 20 years I understand your post it could have been me writing it.

my dad went to rehab privately (11k!!) and he is the most wonderful man sober however he started drinking again within 2 weeks of being out.
he had a heart attack and spent 10 weeks in hospital and came home and started drinking again sad

I dont have any answers for you although please feel free to message me.
I feel like I am waiting for him to die which is truly awful but I know it will happen sooner or later x

wontletmesignin Thu 07-Nov-13 13:20:54

I also could have written your message. Only it was my mother.

She still is an alcoholic, although she claims she only drinks one bottle on a night. But, nevermind.

I have also been in your position, many times.
Like you, sometimes when dm is sober, i look and thonk ahh shes not that bad, why do i get so upset. Then i see when shes drunk and think why do i bother with her when she is sober.

I found that I, myself was the one keeping the family together.
How thay had happened, i dont know.
I think it was down to the fact my dm treat me so bad as a child, i was forver trying to prove my worth. I was the peacekeeper whenever my older sisters had a humdinger with her.

I felt like i was losing the plot not sl long ago. The pressure of my EA ex partner constantly reminding me how bad my childhood was.
I wrote letters, i confronted, i blocked off all contact. Not just with dm. With my whole family.

I guess thats what my ex partners plan was. But regardless of him, my problems around that issue were still there.

My point is, when i broke contact i thought it may kick start some action.

My mother became a recluse. My sisters no longer bother with her. They phone and speak to her at times - but they phone to speak to my dad...just talk tk her during passing the phone.

My dm never spoke to people. My dad claimed she had cut her drinking right down.

It didnt change the way she was with me though. Nor was she intending on changing.
I am back in their life now.
I have learnt to just try and get on with it.
Not knkw her at all with drink in her system and tolerate her when she is sober.

She is and always will be a bitter, cold hearted woman. At least i can say to myself that i have tried to help her on every single level. She just isnt willing to help herself.

Sorry, dont know if any of that may help you. But i hope at least it lets you see you arent alone

stickysausages Thu 07-Nov-13 13:39:27

http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/about

Al anon might be helpful.

I too am the child of an alcoholic, so can sympathise with the jekyll & hide, the disappointment when they fall off the wagon. I've not spoken to my father for Christ, 8 years sad just realised it's been that long.

For me, it became self preservation & I just wasn't strong enough to cope any more with it all.

Do what is right for you & your life. You've been let down by a parent, who rather than look after you, he has basically ruined many aspects of your life.

It's so sad that so any people go through this sad it's also hard to talk about sometimes, as people who haven't suffered as a result of alcoholic parents are usually quick to point out its a disease and are shocked when you say you've walked away. But there's only so much you can take, before you have to put yourself first!

Gangie Thu 07-Nov-13 14:55:40

Thank you everyone for your replies. I feel a little less alone now. It has helped just to talk about it and the fact that someone else knows how I feel is very very helpful.

To the poster who asked why i can't go no contact (sorry but I'm on phone and could t remember the name) I would consider it for my dad only. My mum has some blame at her feet but I feel sorry for her more than anything. She has lived with this all her life and she did try to protect us in some ways and was/is a very loving mother. I want her to be happy more than anything, but I am beginning to understand that I can't force her into helping herself and I am not responsible for her happiness or my Dads drinking.

I am goin to go to alanon. Also I think I might write him a letter getting everything out in the open and suggesting that he apologises for the way he treated me. For much my benefit as his ad I believe that he will never be in successful recovery unless all these bubbles are burst. Does that make sence? Does anyone have any thoughts on the letter idea?

I would write a letter to him but do not send it.

I think a letter could be used against you if you were to send it and such a man like your Dad would never apologise for his actions nor even take any responsibility for same. He has not done so to date so what has really changed here?.

You feel sorry for your mother but she had a choice here and she chose to remain with her H and put him before you and your siblings. She put up with his crap therefore you all had to, she abjectly failed to protect you from your drunk and violent dad. She still continues to be with him and enable him for her own selfish reasons. Your mother is also deep in denial and codependent with it; two very unhealthy states. Small wonder therefore your own birth family is dysfunctional; she is also a part of that overall dysfunction.

Again it is NOT your fault they are this way, you did not cause that to happen.

"I want her to be happy more than anything"

But she will never be happy, she has chosen this life for her own self for her own reasons.

"but I am beginning to understand that I can't force her into helping herself and I am not responsible for her happiness or my Dads drinking"

Yes!!!. Hold that thought!!!

wontletmesignin Thu 07-Nov-13 16:23:03

I wrote the letter and i sent it. My dad read it and kept it away from my mother(alcoholic). I went snd fully confronted them.
The rage i felt for her denying things she knew she did, was too much for me.
Yet, it done nothing.
I damaged nobody but myself and my dad.
My mother is empty because of the alcohol. I swear she has no soul.

So, maybe think about the strength and energy it would take for you to send the letter and confront them. Maybe its not worth it!
I found writing the letter done nothkng but hurt me also.
It left me with more questions. As the more i wrote, the more i could see how bad it was. The more i wondered why me and what i had ever done to deserve such shit.

It really done me no favours. It might do you, only you can decide that one.

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