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Adult Children of Alcoholic Parents

(123 Posts)
hogmanure Fri 28-Dec-12 14:01:14

I had an alcoholic mother who steadily drank herself into oblivion over 30 years. I did not suffer any abuse and actually had a very happy early childhood provided by my very forward thinking generous parents who also provided me with a good education and nice home.
Thing started to become difficult in my preteen and teenage years with lots of secret drinking by my mother going on with bottles hidden around the house, daytime naps and lots of drinks parties. My mum didn't have any particular mental health issues but just drank to excess and carried on. and on. and on.
No one spoke about it. No one went to the GP about it.
Later on when I was in my 20s she drank more and more losing her memory and her health. I tackled her about it several times and she said she would try to stop, but wouldn't go to the GP or detox or go to counselling.
As we were all wondering if she had cancer and what to do my father collapsed and had a cardiac arrest at home while my mum was busy drinking in the utility room.
Passers by tried to revive him and called an ambulance but he could not be resuscitated and died at the hospital that day.
Following this my mum went on a huge grief driven binge and had to be hospitalised although she kept self discharging or refused to let people in the house and eventually she was put under section for treatment... sadly although she survived she had extensive brain damage by now due to the alcohol and has never recovered.

This is just my story. Everyone with an alcoholic parent will have their own story and history, but some things we may all have in common.
There are difficulties that Adult children tend to have... not necessarily all of the ones described by NACOA. In my case I mainly lack social confidence and feel empty and lonely sometimes. However I think therapy might help me and I intend to look into this
I'd like to hear from anyone in a similar position so we can have a space to express ourselves.
There are particular issues many children of alcoholics face ... the deceit, the lies, the knowledge something isn't right, the selfishness of addiction, the choice of alcohol over loved ones and children, the grandiose gestures and false laughter, the smell of alcohol in the morning, the dirty dishes, the stubborn insistence of drinking despite everything, the safety / fire issues, the lack of security, the haphazard driving, the shame, the inability to put something right that can't be fixed as it is a choice and coming to terms with that.

[I would prefer it if those ACOA who are themselves addicted do not join this thread as I have too much anger inside me to tolerate and help alcoholics [sorry]]

StuffezLaBouche Fri 28-Dec-12 15:17:01

What a sad post. I was considering posting something myself along these lines at some point, but I always bottle out because I don't want to open Pandora's box, if you get me.

My mum is an alcoholic (god the utility room drinking and hidden bottles in your post rang so many bells). One of my most horrible memories is her comnig to pick me and 2 other girls up from school absolutely hammered, with a mug of wine in the cupholder next to her. I can't even go into the horribleness of my teenage years.
Now, she is an entrepreneur in a particular sector and getting awards and accolade left right and centre. I am pleased for her, but I HATE her at the same time. She still drinks but it is generally more controlled. I also cannot relax when I see her with an alcoholic drink.

Had a short course of counselling a couple of years ago which didn't even scratch the surface.

Sorry for the disjointed ramble, but I can't go really into detail without exploring areas I'm just not ready to go yet.

In my case I mainly lack social confidence and feel empty and lonely sometimes. This is me! I live alone and am single, which I do genuinely enjoy, but I know I have chosen solitude and lack of friends to avoid future hurt. Ironically, my one female friend, who is a genuine soulmate, is a functioning alcoholic closer to my mum's age than mine.

I hope Christmas has been kind to you

hogmanure Fri 28-Dec-12 16:02:49

I hate her too though I hate alcohol more. I took on the role of looking after her for a while but no longer, I can't do that and am NC.

Hi Stuffez... hope you had a good Christmas too. I am happy now but I do think I could be happier and more confident... is the lack of confidence down to feeling embarrassed by her I don't know?

I am quite old now, and feel I have the space and time to work through counselling although only an hour per month or two as I have a very demanding job.

Like you, I am really not into discussing all the events and bad things, I am only interested in ways of seeing how my upbringing may have caused certain traits and overcoming those.

hogmanure Fri 28-Dec-12 17:55:36


SmellsLikeTeenStrop Fri 28-Dec-12 18:08:05

My mum was an alcoholic. She drank herself to death about 6 years ago.

Childhood wasn't all that bad really, I don't remember her drinking much when I was young, but teenage years and onwards she started to drink heavily, her binges would last longer and the gap between them would be shorter.

What hurts is that she used to say she was deliberately drinking herself to death. She had polio as a child and it left her with a weakened leg, as she aged the weakness became greater and she was told she would end up wheelchair bound, so she said she'd rather die than be in a wheelchair. She had 4 kids, and before she died she had 5 grandchildren. We weren't enough to live for.

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Fri 28-Dec-12 18:09:29

god, how screwed up is that, telling your own children that you were deliberately trying to kill yourself.

ilovewoody Fri 28-Dec-12 19:33:08

My dad is an alcoholic. Told me to F* off on Christmas day for trying to get him to slow down before the rest of the family arrived. He got more and more drunk and was a total pain in the a**e. then he fell asleep and missed Christmas dinner.
I am humiliated by him, angry, sad and worried for my DM who has to put up with him on a daily basis.
I know it is awful to say but I wish him dead.
It's the only way we will be free of him.

Muminwestlondon Fri 28-Dec-12 20:00:12

Some sad stories here already. I also am the adult child of a (thankfully dead) alcoholic. ilovewoody I totally understand how you feel. Unfortunately although my father died when I was 17, 30 years ago, I still feel unhappy on a daily basis and don't think I will ever be free.

In my case my father was an alcoholic before I was born. My childhood was characterised by the usual social embarassments. My friends would overhear the rows - the neighbours even got a petition to evict us at one point; everything of value was pawned (including my mum's rings and my and my sisters jewellery, the sewing machine etc); not being able to tell my first boyfriend the reason I couldn't bring him home was not just because of the holes in the carpet and the shabby furniture but my drunken father snoring in a chair or ranting and raving in his less unconscious moments.

My father would give my mother the housekeeping money on payday each week and then spend the rest of the week demanding it back. Every night they would row. I would lie in my bed in fear hearing them row, imagining them going to the kitchen to get knives to murder each other.

Finally, after many years of refusing to leave him, my Mum finally got a divorce and we moved into social housing a few months later (I still remember my joy at the age of 16 at actually having hot water and carpets without holes!). My father died from a cardiac arrest a few months later - no doubt he had no purpose in life apart from abusing us.

The effects are still with me. By my teens I had no social confidence and had a phobia about crowds. I can still never relax and enjoy myself wholeheartedly. I had many unhappy relationships with nasty controlling men until I met DH in my 30s, been married 17 years and have two lovely daughters. I was lucky to get a good career fairly late in life but have always been held back by lack of confidence.

When I become a parent myself, I realise how much he must have hated us, I would always put my kids first; or perhaps his addiction was so severe that I cannot understand it. Anyway I don't think I will ever be free. My whole childhood was dominated by it. Christmas is time of joy but I just remember him breaking open the gas meter so he could go to the pub (gas and electricity were continually cut off as well).

ilovewoody Fri 28-Dec-12 20:09:11

Muminwestlondon glad to hear you have a successful marriage and daughters. No matter what you have been through you have made a success of your life and should feel proud.
Unfortunately I married a man very like my father which almost ruined me. I have divorced him now but find myself at 40 single and childless. That is the legacy I have to carry.
It makes me sad to think that so may years after your fathers death you are still sad. I think like you that my dad must hate us. Why else would you treat your family like that? If he was to stop drinking and change his ways I could totally forgive him but I know this will never happen.

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Fri 28-Dec-12 20:28:17

My mother was a happy drunk, my friends actually really liked her and used to love coming round to our house.

I don't think she hated us, she tried to give up for us on countless occasions. Every binge was the last one and I think she really believed it, but something would always happen that would send her rushing back to the bottle.

After she died I was really angry with my dad. DM sent the last year of her life in and out of hospital. She'd be in hospital, get sorted out and sobered up, and then on the way home dad would stop by the supermarket and pick her up some alcohol. There was no way my mother could have got to the shops on her own, she was too ill, he could have refused but he didn't because he wanted an easy life.

drizzlecake Fri 28-Dec-12 21:53:12

I am humiliated by him, angry, sad and worried for my DM who has to put up with him on a daily basis

But, ilovewoody she doesn't have to put up with him.

Imo it is the responsibility that you feel for sorting all the problems in the family that can cause you probs in the future. You have this false mask that you wear. You look like you can deal with anything and know best. This makes it v hard to make friends, as you appear a know-all. Plus you can hide your emotions completely (as you deal with daily stress and upset) so seem cold and the mask of 'everything's fine' means you don't open up to people.

So it's hard to make friends.
I liked this book

and this one

ilovewoody Fri 28-Dec-12 22:19:08

Drizzle cake you just made me cry. Don't know how you can see right through me when you don't even know me. But you've hit the nail on the head.
I do feel like its my responsibility to sort this problem out. Don't want my mum or my sister to worry about it.
And I am very closed off emotionally. I had a miscarriage and didn't tell anyone about it as I didn't want them to worry or be upset (I have told my family since though)
I am divorced and very hardened against life. Don't think I would ever meet a man I can trust so am resigned to a life alone. But I'm happy that way. Or so I thought.
I will check out the oops you recommended

ilovewoody Fri 28-Dec-12 22:22:20

Meant to type books not oops smile

FranTan Fri 28-Dec-12 23:38:35

Hi OP,
Have you considered al anon? I know many people who have benefitted from going along to a meeting or picking up the phone to the help line.
Fran x

ihatethecold Sat 29-Dec-12 10:05:40

my adoptive parents are both alcoholics, im estranged from them now which is sad cos i really miss my mum.
its my dads drinking thats caused so much upset to me over the years.
he is a functioning alcoholic who always managed to hold down a high powered job.

in my teenage years i got away with anything because they were to drunk or asleep to notice what i was up too, with dire consequences for me.
i ended up having a child at 16 with an abusive twat, who bullied me for 5 years.
i now don't see my son(22) as my father has done so much damage to our relationship.

it wouldn't bother me if i never saw my dad again and i wish my mum would leave the narcissistic bully, but she just enables him all the time. its such a waste of her life.

but im happy now, i have a lovely dh and 2 lovely kids but there is always a lingering sadness in the background.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Sat 29-Dec-12 10:20:21

My mum was an alcoholic. I ended up distancing myself to try and protect myself. I have loads of posts on here under various names moaning and despairing about her latest behaviour.

She didn't have anyone else and treated me like an adult from when I was about 8 years old. I had to look after her a lot. Though as an adult and a mother myself now, I can see how much she did or tried to do for us. I didn't see it when I was child and didn't appreciate it. At the same time though, I have to remember that she put me through hell many times. I just wanted her to look after herself, stop drinking, eat properly, but she never had the motivation to.

She died very suddenly in November and it's like someone has literally pulled the ground from beneath my feet.

GeordieCherry Sat 29-Dec-12 10:52:33

I second Al-Anon
My DM is still alive & still drinks. My life is so much better for attending meetings though
I haven't lived with her since I was 18 (35 now) but the effects remain. And they continue after the person dies or has stopped drinking
There are a lot of similar patterns of feelings & behaviour with adult children of alcoholics - anything for a quiet life/ wishing them dead/ putting them to bed/ diluting the drink/ not causing waves/ rescuing people...
My sister hasn't found Al-Anon yet & she still suffers unfortunately.
Teen & pre-teen years in our house were horrible. Always enough money as parents had good jobs & she managed to hold it together for work. But burned dinners, broken promises, inability to be there for us.
I put her to bed most of the time & it was all the most cowardly cover up with friends & family (they all lived very long drives away)
At family gatherings it's still the pissed elephant in the room. But I distance myself from it & manage up have a good time & not make things my responsibility
Sorry, longer than I intended!
I truly believe it has saved my life & that of my ex who is also an alcoholic. I knew I could get away with pushing him down the stairs & him breaking his neck. But I didn't. He's sober for today
Still hoping my Mum finds sobriety. But if she doesn't I know I'm ok
More than happy to be PM'd about this
Good luck all smile

ilovewoody Sat 29-Dec-12 11:42:34

Such sad stories. What I'm picking up from all your posts is that the effects of our parents drinking will always be with us whether they pass away or stop drinking.
I am waiting for my dad to die before my life will change but even if he lives till 90 things aren't going to be different unless I change my outlook. So I have ordered one of the books mentioned on an earlier post and going to put my energy into changing what's going on in my head.
Thanks for sharing your stories because it has really helped me

hogmanure Sat 29-Dec-12 12:18:30

I agree ..thanks very much to you all, such snapshots of reality with an alcohol dependent parent
I have distanced myself too, both physically and emotionally.. I used to forgive her and try to help but at some point that changed and I really do feel she made her choice and lost me in the process. This is horrible but I feel some contempt for the way alcohol has degraded her.
I am ready to be happy, ready to learn how to be more assertive and have fun.. although not by drinking obviously!
i would really like it if some of us travelled that journey together.

btw I apologise for my horrible namechange... my usual name is much nicer but I didn't want to go too far in outing myself more than I already have

hogmanure Sun 30-Dec-12 10:18:18

Loving "pissed elephant in the room"
And yes to diluting the drink and burnt dinners.
Anyone elses mum drive over the lawn instead of down the drive? Lol
I used to beg my mum to go to bed in case she caused a fire staying up smoking and drinking.. It really makes you into a character like the daughter from Ab Fab ( whose name I have suddenly forgotten !)

drizzlecake Sun 30-Dec-12 14:26:34

The responsibility side of things really came home to me over the last few years.

My very elderly mother was unable to manage on her own any longer. My alcy DF had died a few years earlier (huge weight like a grey cloud lifted off my shoulders then even though I had left home 30 odd years before!). I felt duty bound to have DM live with me but just got sort of panic attacks whenever I thought about it.

She went into a care home where I visited her regularly. But I gradually realised the reason I couldn't bear living with her was because I had always put on the 'I"m fine' / 'don't worry about me' / 'I can cope with anything' act when with her, due to the dire circumstances of DF's drinking throughout my childhood, and me not wanting to cause her any more worry or problems than she already had.

The upshot was that I would have felt I had to be 'fine' and 'ok' 24/7 if she lived with me (to perpetuate the false mask i wore when with her) and that that would have been too difficult, I felt I would never ever be able to just be myself, to be angry with someone, to be upset about someting, whilst she was with me and that was what caused the panic feelings.

It's sad that although we always got on well we never had a real mother/daughter relationship, I never ever turned to her for help or encouragement, it was always the other way round. I hope this makes sense, it's hard to explain these things. She passed away in September, by the way, and I am still only now getting my head round these emotions.

ilovewoody Sun 30-Dec-12 17:47:40

Drizzlecake I understand your feelings of sadness about never having a proper mother/daughter relationship. I feel like that about my dad.

I wish I had a lovely dad, the kind that other people have. Someone to go to for advice, spend quality time with etc. We both love movies so a few months ago I invited him to cinema with me as he never goes alone. First time was fine but next time he was drunk (11am!) so we will not be doing that again.

I wish I had a dad to look up to but instead I have a stupid drunk who can't be taken out in public

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Sun 30-Dec-12 17:56:23

My mum used to call me Saffy (the daughter from Ab Fab).

JuliaScurr Sun 30-Dec-12 19:05:30
JuliaScurr Sun 30-Dec-12 19:14:02

I went to some meetings of this and the one above. The immediate sense of recognition is astonishing. Wish I'd gone for longer.

I don't think I ever grew up properly; I was like forced rhubarb - too much too soon, not strong enough. Always felt I couldn't cope with adult responsibility like career, mortgage, driving, motherhood etc.

Wasted potential. Always want someone to look after me somehow, but also push them away because I can cope.

Sound familiar?

goodenuffmum Sun 30-Dec-12 19:37:36

Both of my parents are alcoholics and I was the carer for both (and my younger brother) from about the age of 7. Mum is also a narcissist.

I finally accepted that my dh has a problem with drink (they say we have a 60% chance of being alcoholics ourselves or marrying one!) and I joined Al Anon 8 weeks ago. It is making such a difference to my life. I now understand why I am so controlling, never feel like I fit in anywhere, never open up totally, always trying to sort out everyones life and such a damn perfectionist sad

Dont get me wrong, Im still REALLY angry at the damage they caused me and my db both physically and mentally but Im trying to not let them effect me for the next 40 years smile

greeneyed Sun 30-Dec-12 19:57:16

Sorry for everyone posting here and what you've been through. My father is an alcoholic. Fwiw the adult children who are also addicted have perhaps been left the most tragic legacy of all. Wish all well in coming to terms with and making sense of their experiences x

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Mon 31-Dec-12 05:57:03

I now understand why I am so controlling, never feel like I fit in anywhere, never open up totally, always trying to sort out everyones life and such a damn perfectionist

It's quite scary how you have just desribed me to a tee.

MummyPig24 Mon 31-Dec-12 08:45:31

Sorry to read everyones sad stories. My dad is an alcoholic. He has had a problem with alcohol for as long as I can remember.

My mum died nearly 10yrs ago and that os when the drinking became out of control but I didn't realise until about a year ago.

Recently dad was very ill, admitted alcoholism and received hospital treatment. He seemed determined to get sober. He is drinking again. It is only a matter of time before it is at the stage where he becomes very ill again. He has a job but who will continue to employ an alcoholic who is becoming increasingly unable to function. I truly believe he will drink himself to death.

Dads alcoholism has definitely affected me, and more so my brother. It's very difficult to come to terms with when we can clearly see what is going to happen. I wish I could just walk away from it all. Being honest with him doesn't work, ignoring it doesn't work.

I just can't understand the selfishness of it all. It's quite sickening really.

hogmanure Mon 31-Dec-12 12:57:41

also sorry to hear everyones stories sad

but at the same time we are a stoical lot smile

am going to buy that book

apologies am exhausted just home from a night shift

goodenuffmum Mon 31-Dec-12 15:16:48

everyone I have met at AlAnon share the same characteristics. I recognised a bit of myself with every story they told sad

The thing I hate the most about myself is that I dont know how to let go and have FUN: not think about what others think; or tomorrow, or how I will cope with a hangover...blah, blah.

My friend and neighbour is in the same situation and we have set ourselves the target of being able to be have a bottle of wine together and be totally relaxed. Sad or what?grin

hogmanure Mon 31-Dec-12 23:21:14

Happy New Year to you all
Be kind to yourselves, accept the past and work towards an emotionally healthy future... not fixing people who don't want to be fixed, but looking after yourselves xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

ilovewoody Mon 31-Dec-12 23:33:32

Thanks hogmanure
Happy new year to you too.
Have definetly decided to make some changes to me this year. Hope to stop worrying about what other people do and work on making myself happy.
Onwards and upwards for us all x

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 31-Dec-12 23:48:18

I absolutely HATE that the legacy of growing up in an alcoholic home endures throughout adulthood. I thought leaving home when I went to uni meant I was free from it all.

I'm 33 and realise how my life is still limited by my childhood. I want to be free of it. So much lost potential. So much sadness. So much damage.

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 00:29:12

changed my name smile

Feel a lot of sadness for everyone on here.. but feel better since reading about the likely legacy of my childhood, like its not my fault I am sad sometimes and am always trying to make everything normal and perfect. That I lack confidence and am easily disheartened .

CanI.. we can be free of it by understanding it and with counselling I hope

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 00:36:33

Are any of you religious?

Mayisout Tue 01-Jan-13 11:46:16

CanIhaveaPetGiraffePlease if you are 33 you have a great chance of recovering from the negative effects, or certainly a chance of understanding how your childhood affected you and to develop ways to work round these. I only started discussing the issues when I was 50 but feel I am vastly better now, 7 years later, and I assume that nowadays children of alcoholics are able to find support online that was never there in my day. So hopefully it is much less of a problem nowadays.
I think it was never discussed within the family, or not within we children's hearing, as an attempt to protect us or just because of embarrassment, when in fact that made it seem a huge, shameful thing which must never be acknowledged. So much of the damage done was inadvertant, by that I mean inadvertant by the other adults involved, not the alcy.

JuliaScurr Tue 01-Jan-13 12:30:02

It's very hard to work out what is my original personality and what is a reaction to being ACOA
it forms our character to some extent

traipsingalong Tue 01-Jan-13 12:55:59

My father was an alcoholic.

I tend to put up with things that I think a lot of other people wouldn't, partly because I've had so much practice, and partly because I'm not really sure what's normal.

I am also extremely good at hiding what I feel. So as someone said earlier, people think I'm cold sometimes. My default reaction to everything is to show...... nothing (because if you let them know how you feel then they know your weakness I suppose is how it started when I was a little girl). Then I have a 'delayed' reaction, perhaps days later.

I have made a few bad mistakes in life which have had their basis in me putting other people's needs/wants massively before my own.

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 14:28:19

Some thoughts

Another effect of the dysfunctional family is lack of family support and family get mother could never help with the babies or family as she couldn't be trusted with her drinking... she thought she was fine, of course. Not only do you not get support, you have to support them.

What does that do to us, that the person you looked to to trust their judgement can't be trusted to be sensible?! No wonder we have to be ultra sensible and responsible... We also struggle to be heard shouting "No , everything is NOT fine, but we are apparently pretending it is " So no outside agencies are called in to help us... we just coped with it all on our own.

RedRosie Tue 01-Jan-13 14:38:36

Happy New Year all. I'm sad to read these stories also.

I am the middle-aged child of two alcoholic parents, both of whom - after huge effort on their part and after I left home very young to escape - have now been sober for twenty years. They are elderly now.

Both my brother and I have some awful memories from our teenage years. Both of us moved as far away as possible, soon as we could.

I have completely forgiven them and am proud of their will to overcome their problems, but forgotten nothing if that makes any sense. I recently told my father that I had had a miserable and traumatic childhood - he knows that of course, and said he was sorry. He really is, and offered no excuses.

It has had a profound impact on my whole life, which I'm not really ready to discuss in detail, although some of what you say rings bells - particularly the distancing of oneself. And it has not made me a better or a stronger person. Because they overcame their problems, I lack sympathy for others who won't. I see it as won't/a choice, NOT can't/because it is something out of their control. I'm impatient with people that won't take responsibility for themselves. I'm not proud of this or saying it is the right way to feel.

I'm so sorry for those of you who remain in the thick of it. It is not your fault or your responsibility, although I'm sure many people see it that way.

LindaMcCartneySausage Tue 01-Jan-13 15:09:00

My father's an alcoholic and even though I moved out at 18 (am 37 now) and he lives 400 miles away, I still seem to be picking up the pieces and putting things right.

Had a relatively stable childhood as DM held everything together for the family as she juggled a full time professional job and 3 kids while my Dad went AWOL (not sure how she did it tbh!). DF was/is almost a functioning alcoholic and had a professional job too, so money wasn't a huge issue growing up, but even then, his grandiose gestures of buying drinks for whole pubs of strangers (i.e. his new best friends) meant the electricity was cut off. He didn't turn up at my 18th birthday party, even though he'd gone to collect the booze for the party an hour before and was gone for 2 days.

He's since had affairs with "people who understand me" (fellow alcoholics who legitimise his drinking), committed fraud, been done for professional negligence and run up massive debts in my blameless DM's name, but plays the happy chappy clown who "likes a drink" to his friends. He called me "cold and mean" when I asked for money back that I'd lent him and cries to friends that his children are distant.

My Dad is still alive and merrily drinking like it's Hogmanay every day, despite, over the last few years, suffering from prostate cancer (radiotherapy, operations), having 2 heart attacks (hospitalisations, stents) and a major hip replacement. None of that, on top of his debts, proved to be a wake up call. He lies to Drs and everyone about how much he drinks and my stepmother enables him by joining him at the pub (my DM never did) and saying "but he's so sociable!"

Another perfectionist here! I realised very early that I couldn't rely on my parents to help me, so i over achieved at school and decided that i could take being unpopular and got the hell out of Dodge! (plus had my DM as good role model)

ilovewoody Tue 01-Jan-13 15:19:04

I am going out shortly to have new years dinner at my parents house. Dad will no doubt be drunk and a pain in the arse. I'm not going for his sake but for my DMs
Then going on to visit some relatives with them. Would rather stick pins in my eyes but again, going to support DM.
Wish me luck

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 15:59:57

For example

I like chocolate. I get a bit down sometimes and comfort eat when exhausted..
I don't think I should eat too much chocolate as have sl high cholesterol so I limit it, while recognising I am responsible for my own health.
Am I a chocolate addict with the disease of chocolate addiction which is not my fault...No ! Its my fault if I eat it and I watch my weight and may give it up now in the New Year. I may not but then I might get fat.

Drinking to excess is a choice and it is not a disease, that is just an excuse and misleading. Continuing to be alcohol dependent is also a choice... You pays your money and you take your chance.
Alcoholics lie about their drinking to the world and to themselves. We do not have to excuse it or accept it... People want to be drunks or take drugs then ruin their lives, fine get on with it but on top of everything else don't make us excuse you as well and try to help you. Fine to offer a dry out or alcohol service once or twice... but thats the limit, its their party let them get on with it.

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 16:00:46

ilovewoody..hope all goes well. Your dm does not have to stay with him.

RedRosie Tue 01-Jan-13 16:15:07

I hear what you say hogmanyay. And indeed said something similar.

However, I don't want anyone reading this who has issues with alcohol to be hurt... They are, I'm sure, often angry enough with themselves without any anger we feel based on our own experiences.

It must be very hard to go ahead with a choice to recover. I admire hugely anyone who does.

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 16:37:35

I don't want to enter into a big debate about it but this is a thread where I can express my view imo.

I am not criticising unduly, am not calling names or being offensive but am hopefully putting that opinion out there to help family members of alcoholics realise they cannot approach this like any other problem and certainly not like a disease they can cure.

It is a lifestyle choice not a medical illness or psychiatric illness..substance misuse does not fall into either of those categories.

This thread is for ACOA to feel angry, to reflect and to resolve issues as best they can. They may have spent many many years trying to cure their alcoholic parent, I know I did, well wake up folks it can't be cured as the person doing it does it of their own free will and choice.

Unpalatable but true.

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 20:13:17

Good luck and Best Wishes to all of those who have been alcohol dependent and have given up.. Keep strong it is more that worth it . There is a very good reason why I don't drink.. I have seen what it can do .

Whocansay Tue 01-Jan-13 22:17:48

Marking my place. I'm not really sure what I want to say, other than I'm still really ANGRY with my mother. I can't believe that she chose vodka over her children.

I love her, but I have no real idea how to deal with her.

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 22:55:58

Sorry to hear that whocansay
As you can hear I am also angry with a capital A
In my case, gin

I am so sorry it does hurt and causes other problems which I am just trying to deal with now

goodenuffmum Tue 01-Jan-13 23:11:21

RedRosie I am so Happy jealous that your dad took the opportunity to apologise. I once tried to tell my parents how bad my childhood had stated he couldn't remember anything (his drinking brought on life threatening stokes) and mum called me a liar, a bitch and jealous of her great life. I gave up sad

I'm working through a lot of their legacy...the one thing I don't think I'll get over is the sadness I feel when I see mums and daughters out together laughing and having a great time.

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 23:21:23

I agree, but It feels bloody brilliant to do that with my own daughter as I did this week when she was home from uni.. We had a great time a meal out and boyfriend / putting world to rights chat.

Also, I went to visit her in uni two months ago, she was so worried about me getting to my hotel and back home ( no need ) but I have never had that feeling of being worried about, it warmed the cockles of my heart.
The cycle can be broken.

ilovewoody Tue 01-Jan-13 23:28:36

I survived the night. F was drunk and did try to pick a fight but I didn't rise to it and don't feel as wound up as I usually would after spending time with him.

As to the whole disease/ lifestyle choice debate..... I definetly believe in a genetic predisposition. My paternal grandfather and my dads 2 brothers and 2 sisters were all alcoholics. But there is definetly a choice to be made about whether to give in to it or battle against it. I read the Brave Babes thread on here for a different perspective and that thread exists because of people who want to do something about their behaviour and the impact they are having on their families. I greatly admire that.......admitting you have a problem and trying to do something about it is to be commended.

However, it seems that many of us here have been the victims of those who have little desire to change

We are allowed to be angry but we cannot let it define our lives

hogmanyay Tue 01-Jan-13 23:47:11

Glad it went ok ilovewoody

We all make mistakes and can suffer problems, and should have adequate medical and psychological support.

I am beyond the worry and largely beyond the anger, but I don't have much sympathy for long term addicts I admit. Going thru what I have has diminished my pool of hope and sympathy.

Now my interest lies in assertiveness training increasing social confidence and talking thru why I feel less positive and less empathetic than I did. When lots of bad things happen, you eventually lose your idealism and happy outlook. I want to refind my inner child.

AlmostHadItAll Tue 01-Jan-13 23:55:13

My dad was an alcoholic. He died young when I was only 21. His death certificate said "chronic alcoholism"

singalong your post is me ((hugs to you)) I'm quiet. Very rarely speak up for myself. I've gone on to have a good career and have a lovely DH and 2 children. But my marriage has gone through difficult times because of my inability to show emotion. Throughout my whole childhood I was never able to show sadness because I was being strong for my mum.

In the middle of the most awful screaming matchs between my mum and dad, my dad would shout upstairs for me to come down because 'I understood him' Baring in mind that I was 8 years old, it was 1am and I had school the next day! I used to sit on the sofa shivering with tiredness and listen to them shout at each other some more.

I have a fairly good relationship with my mum. But I've never gone to her for advice. She's never been a shoulder to cry on. I think because of all that I saw and heard as a child, I thought she was weak. I was the strong one. I've never needed anyone. My DH was the first person who allowed me to cry and tell the whole story. He cried when I told him too.

The things I saw, heard. No child should have to go through that. It's sad. I have extremely high expectations regarding my parenting. If DH as much as raises his voice to me in front of the kids, I have to walk away. He knows why. I avoid confrontations of any kind.

It's why I don't have the close relationship with my mum. How could she have stayed in such a destructive relationship? Where was her pride? How could she have done that to me? I would never, ever, ever, let my children go through what I did sad

hogmanyay Wed 02-Jan-13 00:03:31

I am so glad you have a lovely dh , imagine someone crying for you that is wonderful.

AlmostHadItAll Wed 02-Jan-13 00:07:16

I know hogmanyay we both bawled our eyes out then kissed smile I met DH the year my dad died. At the time I thought it was my dad doing one good deed for me. Sending me a 'good guy'

ChristmasNamechangeBridezilla Wed 02-Jan-13 00:13:52

JuliaScurr What you described is how I've felt for so much of my life.

Both my parents are alcoholics, my father slightly less so and more functioning than my mother who walked out on us and completely lost it for several years. She is married again now to a man who also has alcohol problems and while she holds down a job and doesn't drink every day anymore (due to him having sclerosis of the liver), when they do drink, they fight horribly as my mum and dad used to. She will often ring me and become abusive at any perceived slight just because she is drunk but when sober she is a lovely, very sensitive person.

My father was violent and abusive in drink, not to me but to my mother and he cheated on her a lot. They were constantly breaking up and getting back together although my dad has been married to someone else for several years and is better but still a conplete pain in the neck when he has had a drink. he has a sharp tongue which scares me to this day.

My homelife was actually very difficult at times but I don't seem to remember that side of it, perhaps I have detatched/blocked it out a little and I hate this "blame your problems on your parents" school of thought so I never really visit it of think about it a lot but I am a very unconfident person in a lot of ways.

I struggle with the enormities of my responsibilities (parenthood, job, mortgage etc) although I always live up to them, they seem huge to me and I married a man who is a fixer, who is willing and able to step in for me financially and emotionally and who makes it his business to solve all my problems (cheesy I know). Part of me loves this, part of me fights against it to keep an illusion of independence which seems to be important to me. I suffer from anxiety but have nevee really got help for it and spend a lot of time wishing I could be different or better when on the surface of things, I probably look as though I have it all. I don't like myself a lot of the time.

ChristmasNamechangeBridezilla Wed 02-Jan-13 00:19:13

Wow I have gone on about myself for a long time. grin

hogmanyay Wed 02-Jan-13 00:29:12

What an eloquent account Christmas , and well done for making such a success of your life.

I always felt Ihadn't been affected since I have a good career and did well at school etc and was always the good one, but just now am seeing therapy might help me. I always felt I lacked the resilience to cope with some of the bad things later life threw at me... I coped, but it has affected me.

I too cope with my responsibilities but I carry them heavily

I hope this thread will help

Beaverfeaver Wed 02-Jan-13 00:57:13

DF is alcoholic. Has been since before my parents were married over 35 years ago.
His parents were both alcoholics and both died in their early 50's from it, and I never knew them.

I love my DF and feel bad for him.
He is a highly respected and clever man.

I want him to be around to see his GC grow up and for him to be a good influence on them.

His drinking got really bad at one stage by which time I had already moved out, so all I knew of it was the upset phone calls I got from DM.

Unfortunatly my younger siblings still live at home and saw him at his worse and now one won't be I'm the same room as him.

I feel sorry for both of them, as he doesn't deserve that, but sibling shouldn't have had to see what they did.

He now is doing much better since the first GC came along.

hogmanyay Wed 02-Jan-13 01:07:16

I think the younger ones cn be more affected .. Could he seek help or could he leave while he gets it under control.

Beaverfeaver Wed 02-Jan-13 01:10:04

He isn't in the country a lot due to work. When he is back he has taken the trip to the odd AA meeting but hates it.

He is t-total (has been for about 6 months with just a few slip ups)

Younger sibling not at all forgiving

hogmanyay Wed 02-Jan-13 01:14:50

Ah I see, good on him for giving up ( depending on how bad we're the slip ups)
I am not forgiving either and I am the youngest. It's too much to expect to lose a parent, cope with trauma and then have to forgive and be the better person too.

hogmanyay Wed 02-Jan-13 01:16:02

I actually also feel my older siblings never listened and abandoned me too.

GeordieCherry Wed 02-Jan-13 23:09:22

We're off down to the DPs in a couple of weeks. Want to take my DF to a local Al-Anon meeting but no idea how to do that without telling DM. The fallout would be very unpleasant. For him. I know he'd get a lot of benefit though...
Might just go for myself as I'll miss my meeting with being at theirs. See if the mood is right for him to tag along

Hope everyone has peaceful Xmas & NYE stuff smile

hogmanyay Wed 02-Jan-13 23:36:18

Just bought the book Adult children of alcoholics on iPad kindle (smile)

hogmanyay Thu 03-Jan-13 22:52:18

Just deleted half of my 200 Facebook friends.. If I had not heard from them or they hadn't liked anything of mine for 3 months ( and weren't from the past such as school etc ) I have deleted.... It's all about control but in a good way

hogmanyay Fri 04-Jan-13 23:26:25

Sometimes I would like to shut down, get rid of all my possessions and be alone. This isn't practical or possible right but it feels attractive

domesticsloven Tue 05-Feb-13 23:54:36

How are things now hog?

alwaysaclown Thu 28-Feb-13 15:45:26

Hi everyone

Just wanted to say hi. I am so pleased I found this thread. I have been looking for a forum or chat room for al anon or similar but apart from one website that I can't look at on my ipad and another one thats a bit too "let's all thank the lord" for me, there isn't really much out there. Perhaps we should start our own?!

My mother was an alcoholic from when I was 10 years old (when my parents divorced) until 2009 when she 'apparently' gave up after having yet another breakdown & seeing counsellors etc. There were police incidents, I ran away from home, I helped her buy the alcohol, hid it, shouted, stopped contact, you name it, I've been there, as we all have by the sounds of it. Now, i'm approaching 40 & am married with a 3 year old son & what really really makes my blood boil at the moment is when she says to me "I wasn't a bad mother you know" !!!??!!! I am sooooo tempted to remind her of her "great mothering skills" when she got so drunk she ran out of our flat naked screaming at me, an 11 year old, & I ran to a neighbours terrified & the police got called out; or I want to remind her of the time I left school with a friend & we were walking down the local high street as 13 year olds & my mother & her revolting boyfriend were sitting on a bench in broad daylight drinking whiskey out of a bottle - I pretended I didn't know them; and so on & so on. But then I wonder who would really benefit from me reminding her of these incidents. She is obviously in denial.

Look forward to chatting with you all some more.

Take care xxxx

belagh Thu 28-Feb-13 17:21:03

My mother was an alcoholic. Took her years to kill herself but she did, slowly!
I found a draw of bottles... She stayed up all night drinking, then slept most of the day. I cring when I think of how many times she will have driven over the limit. Childhood was ok, although we were kind of left to our own devices and we ate at mad times at night.
Teens were horrible, would get back from being out with friends and she'd be slurring. She had a brain anyeurism (sic) in my early 20 and never recovered, 6 years later she died of cancer. She was in and out of hospital during that time... They had alcohol for her on the ward as it would have been worse to stop it.

I am angry with her still after all these years, she's missed out on so much

TweedSlacks Thu 28-Feb-13 20:15:03

My father was an alcoholic. He drank every day , mon - fri lunch at work in the pub , then in the club after work for an hour or so . we were left in the pub garden for hours , or in the back of the car . Got brought out cokes or crisps every half hour or so . Sat / Sun was pretty much an all dayer

He used to go out of his way to ruin special occaisions like birthdays or christmas. As kids we used to see him fall over alot , into the gutter or into hedges .

The amount of money he must have spent on alcohol must have been huge . We didnt have a car alot of the time either or even a colour tv.

He used to 'borrow' my bothers paper round money to buy beer . Mum constantly put up with him being drunk .I think it has effected my brothers ability to function with other people. Both brothers are permanently single, relatively successful . I think they have only ever had 1 short term relationship each and never mention g/f's.

We all used to walk on eggshells permanently and he used to fly into a rage over something insignificant . Poor Dm put up with him for years till he died , although its impossible to say whether alcohol was a factor in his death.

belagh Sat 02-Mar-13 10:54:13

Does anyone have any experience of al anon?

alwaysaclown Sat 02-Mar-13 11:49:29

hi belagh, i have never been to al anon but i have been advised to go. I'm not sure whether to or not though....where are you based?

belagh Sat 02-Mar-13 19:20:33

Manchester... I have been thinking about going but I don't know how useful it would be now

belagh Sat 02-Mar-13 19:21:30

Manchester... I have been thinking about going but I don't know how useful it would be now

appletarts Sat 02-Mar-13 20:16:57

My father is an alcoholic. I have had 15 years worth of psychotherapy and my life is functioning and mostly happy. If I hadn't had the therapy I wouldn't have got married, finished anything, had friends, had babies...the list goes on. I know therapy saved me and transformed my life or should I say I saved me and transformed my life. I have been determined to make my life different and it is. I find my siblings almost unbearable because they are still so hooked into the dance of it all. My mum is the typical wife of an alcoholic and is full to the brim with denial and manipulations and my dad clings onto life in a home. I too wish he were dead and have done since I was about 11 years old. I used to feel bad saying that until I realised how hurt I must have been to wish that, I can now say it and not feel guilty. I have my family in my life but with very firm boundaries and I would really prefer to never see any of them again but somehow I feel I have to be in touch. Thanks for starting this post. x

Happynewlife2013 Sun 03-Mar-13 12:36:31

I've just stumbled across this thread and felt compelled to comment. I am the adult child of alcoholic parents and have recently joined al anon as it was literally driving me mad. It's early days but does seem to be helping a lot showing how to look at alcoholism in a different way.

I'm consumed by guilt about my parents alcoholism although it wasn't our fault, having children was something they couldn't cope with. My mother died years ago in horrifying circumstances whilst my father was passed out drunk and the sadness thing is had she tried to call us, no one would have answered the phone assuming she was calling for her usual drunk talk. Although I saw my mother regularly, I stopped answering the phone to her years before she died and feel so guilty about this.

For me, al anon is a way of coping with this horrible illness and finding a way to support my alcoholic father as he drinks himself to death because there is nothing I can do to change it- I can only change the way I react to his illness. When he is abusive to me, I now understand it is not him talking- it's the alcoholic talking and they are very different things. My alcoholic parents often do/did hate me however I have no doubt from the occassional glimpses that the sober parents did/ do love me even if they rarely show it.

Good luck to you all, looking after yourselves and your mental well being xx

Happynewlife2013 Sun 03-Mar-13 12:39:22

Belaugh, I am finding it helpful. Just as much in relation to my mother who has passed away. There's no harm in trying it to see if it helps you. Everyone goes there with a common cause and the support you feel is immense.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 20-Mar-13 00:57:46

I have just read the thread, and thank you for starting it, Hogmanyay, and to everyone who has taken time to post.

My mother was a bipolar alcoholic, df in denial, and deaf so not much spontaneous conversation from him anyway. Up until 5 or 6 years ago (ahem, coincidentally when I found MN and the Stately Homes folks wink ), I had thought I had had a good childhood. Swim team, horses, martial arts lessons, and a job lifeguarding kept me out of the house most of the time. But these activities, mainly sports-all not associated with school-were a form of self-therapy that may have mitigated the damage to the degree that I can now objectively assess my own behavior and hold myself accountable, iyswim. One sister can not.

I am 51, been married 23 years and have 3 children.
I do not drink, nor does my dh. I might have an Irish Coffee on Christmas, but that is it. But I know the feeling-like a surge of adrenaline washing through my body-I know why people drink.

Mother died suddenly when I was 18 of heart failure, although the death certificate listed manic depressive. I was so emotionally numb, I cried for the 5 min my df cried the day it happened and that was pretty much it.

Many of the behaviors shared here ring bells for me.
Lack of personal confidence (even with horses & martial arts!) made my chosen profession impossible. I was toast in office politics. Gave it up to be a sahm in a heart beat.
I am ok with solitude...I can convince myself it is a good thing...but I do get lonely. Identifying feelings is a feel nothing. Cry, and I cry alone. (Perhaps Dr. Spock is to be blamed for that one-he can rot in the hot place.)

Growing up I learned to be silent or be shamed/ I learned to want very little if anything at all. In never giving an opinion, it came to be that I wouldn't bother having one-so expressing myself is an issue. My brain scatters when I try to anticipate how my words will be misunderstood and attempt to speak to each possibility at once. Counselling is helping.

The delayed reactions mentioned is me too.

How are you at returning things to a store? I can do it now, but for years I wouldn't dare.
Sorry these thoughts are so scattered.
I will order the Big Red Book. Thanks, JuliaScurr, for sharing that link.

Llareggub Wed 20-Mar-13 01:07:17

I don't really belong here, but wondered if I could pick your collective brains? My exH is an alcoholic and is pretty bad. He attempts suicide on a regular basis. A year ago I left him and now I am on my own with our two children, who are 6 and 3. I am interested in knowing how I can best protect my children from the effects of his alcoholism. Currently, he has no contact with them, mainly because I moved a significant distance away but also partly because he does not attempt any telephone contact.

As the adult children of alcoholic parents, what is the best advice you can give from your perspective? Any advice welcome!

Pilgit Wed 20-Mar-13 14:08:33

i miss the dad i should have had. When we were growing up he wasn't an excessive drinker - well not by the standards of city lawyers anyway! But he was always a happy drunk so it was ok. Then he started having an affair with a drinker and it all spiralled from there. The paranoia, the memory loss, the aggression, the teeth. He used to care about his appearance (total peacock) he now gets mistaken for a tramp. He used to be house proud, his house is now worse than an episode of a life of grime (15+cats will do that). He won't stop - DC in care temporarily changed him for a bit but when DC came back it slid again. I could go on

goodenuffmum Sun 24-Mar-13 15:53:10

Al Anon was set up to support the family and friends of alcoholics. You think you werent affected by your exH's drinking but you would be suprised.

The fact that you posted asking for advice tells me that your dc will be fine smile
If you would like some reading matter why don't you give your local Al Anon office a call. They can recommend some reading and if your ex is still drinking when your dc are older there is a group for them called Al Ateen which will help them.

The biggest thing for me was the secrecy. I was never told that I couldnt talk about the drinking and the craziness that goes with it...I just knew.

I learned not to trust my feelings becuase I could see they were drunk but would be told not to "be silly" etc etc. hmm

I wish someone had saved me from that madness (which you have done for your dc). I wish someone had explained that it is an illness and that I had had someone who I could talk to about it.

It is ok to put safety plans in place so that the dc know the signs which mean that contact will not take place, but will be rearranged for when D hasnt been drinking.

Stay matter of fact. Al Anon explained it to me in terms of an illness like diabetes (Im struggling with that btw) : you wouldnt leave your kids with their D if he was experiencing a hypo incident so its the same when a drinker is drinking.

The important message is the 3 c's: that you did not cause it, you cant control it and you cant cure it. Keep telling your dc that there is NO connection between them and D's drinking.

Good luck x

appletarts Sun 24-Mar-13 17:00:48

Llareggub my advice would be no contact. None. Ever. Unless serious progress with recovery and then for an hour in cafe supervised. I wish my mother had left my father and kept him away from us. An alcoholic father in my opinion is far worse than no father at all. They won't thank you for contact when older if it is disturbing, which it will be because he is seriously ill. Protect your children. My mother was a selfish facilitator who didn't protect us.

madonnawhore Sun 24-Mar-13 17:16:51

Wow only just stumbled on this thread.

I could've written most of your posts myself. I too had a very nice childhood and it was only when I was about 10 that mum started drinking and everything went tits up.

She died 5 years ago, by which time I was 27. While it wouldn't be true to say those 17 years of dealing with the shame, guilt, denial, disgust, anger and helplessness ruined my life, they changed the course of it irrevocably.

I really know what some posters mean when they talk of a feeling of loneliness and sadness that never goes away. Even though I have a great life now, filled with love and great friends, partner, etc, I still feel terribly sad about the whole thing with mum. And angry. I'm worried it's made me sightly bitter and has given a mean, defensive edge to my character that can hurt others sometimes. I don't like this about myself but can't see it ever changing. Because I'll never get over my own hurt IYSWIM?

I've achieved a lot in my life. Been quite a high achiever, good career, etc. But I will never, ever feel good enough. The damage that an alcoholic parent can do to your self esteem is irreparable I think.

JuliaScurr Sun 24-Mar-13 17:36:35

I've been to Al-anon. IMO it's nowhere near as good as NACOA, because it serves a different group. Our chances of continuing ongoing recovery are pretty good once we're out of the original situation with a bit of perspective on it.

Lovely but also painful to hear you all here. Every thing each of us says seems to me to speak for us all, even if superficially different

Keep coming back; it works if you work it (as they say)
Apparently! - I never did it long enough with enough focus and dedication.

I feel guilty and sad for letting down that little girl I was, with so many dreams. It's up to me to help her make them come true and it makes me feel so tired. Anyone else escape through sleep? Resent non-alcoholic parent sleeping through the chaos? Reading? Something else?

EarthtoMajorTom Sun 24-Mar-13 21:57:36

I've been going to Al-Anon for a few years now. DF died of alcoholism; DH is in recovery. I'd recommend Al-Anon... you don't have to 'get' the whole program right away to benefit from the meetings. Simply being in a room with people who know what you've gone through is a massive boost to your self-esteem and sanity. They understand the craziness, the sadness and the difficulty involved in living with alcoholism.

goodenuffmum Mon 25-Mar-13 23:37:43

Me too EarthtoMajorTom

The AlAnon meeting was the first place I had ever said "My parents are alcoholics" out loud.

I was still ashamed of admitting it...but, when I looked around people were smiling and nodding at me. I left that meeting feeling loads lighter.

I've been going for 4 months now and still a newbie but I always take at least 1 helpful thing away from a meeting.

We dont seem to have a NACOA near us sad

Grinkly Tue 26-Mar-13 02:14:57

NACOA meetings are very thin on the ground in the UK.
I spose it's up to us to set them up and keep them going. It's such a big commitment though.

I always think talking about it is the best thing for children of acloholics, even if the info isn't good. We never talked about it ever in my childhood home.

MrRected Tue 26-Mar-13 03:09:29

I now understand why I am so controlling, never feel like I fit in anywhere, never open up totally, always trying to sort out everyones life and such a damn perfectionist

This could be me too! At 38 years of age I still have trouble openly admitting my mother was an alcoholic. Here is my story:

In my very early years, my mother and father drank heavily, mostly on weekends. It often resulted in terrifying rows and my father hitting my mother. Things usually resolved after my mother spent a few days in isolation in her bedroom. Everything was swept under the carpet.

The more this happened, the worse their marriage became, the more my mother drank. She was an angry, angry drunk, who had no ability to think of anybody but herself. She would start drinking, then become hostile, then pick a fight with whomever was nearest, then it would descend into all sorts of horrendous events. She would listen to music at top volume till the early hours of the morning on school nights. To this day, my DH cannot understand why I cannot listen to any sort of music near bed time.

My mother tried to commit suicide - I was forced to slap her face and keep her awake whilst my father called an ambulance. After release from hospital she left my father and made my life a living hell. I was 10 years old. They got back together and it was ok for a few years. Then it all started again.

My mother had some sort of breakdown, was sent to a mental instituation and when released left my father again - this time I was 13 years old. I elected to stay with my father. It was horrendous.

They got back together and for a few years it was ok. My mother was drinking every day but would, for the most part just pass out each night. By this point, they were fully co-dependent, my father being a bit older was a little more mellow and stopped hitting my mother.

My mother continued to drink though. She tried to commit suicide again, when I was 27 years old. In her note, she didn't mention me or my brother, she just asked whomever found the note to care for her little dog. She very nearly succeeded but the medical team managed to revive her. After spending 3 weeks in hospital - and us having to make a mercy dash in the middle of the night to see her attached to a ventilator and a thousand wires in an ICU, she was released and guess what? She left my father again.

At this point, I couldn't take anymore and started distancing myself. I didn't speak to my parents for years. To this day I don't speak to my Dad. I blame him. He hit her and made her worse. He hit me and was cruel to me.

My mother cannot go day without drinking a bottle of wine. The older she becomes, the less she needs to hit the spot. The great shame, is that when she's sober she's absolutely lovely. I grieve for her and for my life. I cry at night because I so wish I could have had a normal childhood.

This thread is one of the first times I have ever said it out loud.

MrRected Tue 26-Mar-13 11:28:17

Sorry if m last post was a bit too depressing.

EarthtoMajorTom Tue 26-Mar-13 12:49:10

MrRected no need to apologise. It is what it is.

june2013 Tue 26-Mar-13 15:23:19

My dad is an alcoholic, functioning, but still drinks.

My post should be short because you all describe what my childhood was like. My mum moved us abroad one day very suddenly and my dad didn't know where we were for ages. He doesn't recognise he is an alcoholic, so believes he is the victim of my mum's decisions. While I can understand that loosing us that way must have been horrendous for him, I can see that my mum didn't feel she had a choice. And I feel like I escaped a far worse childhood than I actually had...

Anyway, I went to therapy for years from the age of about 12 but never felt I made any progress until I went to Al-Anon. It can become a bit cultish for some people, but I benefited a lot without feeling that it became an addiction in itself. It is based on the twelve steps so there's a lot of talk of spirituality but as an agnostic, I didn't find it difficult to reflect on spirituality and higher powers. In fact, I owe my happy life and good relationship with my father to my 2 years in al-anon. I am happily married and I've sorted through most of my crap. Mostly I am able to talk openly to my husband and others about what I want, set boundaries, love without conditions, etc. I have moved from London where my local (amazing) al-anon group was and often thinking of checking out the one where I am now, just for a refresher.

Llareggub al-anon also run alateen for those who are still children and young people...

Good luck everyone & thanks for starting the post!

Oopla Tue 26-Mar-13 18:42:37

Hi everyone, lots of your posts resonating with me. Thankyou for sharing, I'll be back later when kids in bed x

Hugglepuff Tue 26-Mar-13 19:57:39

Hi. Just found this post. My DM had alcohol problems ( still struggle to call it alcoholic, cos she sort of functioned ) throughout my teens and twenties. Guess I am lucky that she now has it under control - but I still get nervous around social gatherings where my MIL ( who does not know the background ) finds it hilarious to get my DM to drink "just another " glass . Still remember the half empty whiskey bottles behind the towel rack and holding her head over the toilet. I have never drunk because I have been too nervous about the consequences. Really grateful that my DM seems to have come through it relatively ok - although that drunk elephant in the corner is never mentioned or acknowledged by my parents.

bigTillyMint Tue 26-Mar-13 20:44:40

Just found this thread too. What a lot of sad stories. I feel like I was quite lucky compared to many of you. And so interesting to hear that so many of you feel ashamed - I felt like that until I met someone whose mother was an alcoholic and then I realised that it was a much more common problem than I had thought. My mother was so shamed and hurt by it all that she wouldn't/still won't talk about that period of her life at all. Which means that much of my childhood is pretty much erased from her memory.

My father was an alcoholic. Probably all his adult life, but he was a pretty much functioning alcoholic to the outside world, even close friends. He was not physically abusive, though I do remember rows and beligerence and he was probably quite emotionally abusive to my mother, but I just saw her as very weak and foolish. As a small child, I adored him - he was affectionate and fun and gregarious. As I got older, I began to realise (and his drinking/drunkenness got worse) what was going on and I begged him to stop/looked for and poured bottles of whiskey away/began to hate him for loving the alcohol more than me.

I also couldn't understand why my mother didn't divorce him. She eventually did, when I was about 10. I decided I didn't want to see him again as it was too painful for me to see the dad I idolised develop into a dishevelled waste of talent. I didn't even go to his funeral (aged 30)

Oopla Tue 26-Mar-13 23:29:42

andthebandplayedon my heart skipped when I read what you wrote about your brain scattering trying to anticipate what words would be misunderstood. I do that too, but actually have never realised that's what it was.

Remember being utterly amazed to find out that other people's parents didn't go out all weekend every weekend. Mum has never been a hiding bottles in the house type of drinker, she was more of a 'get dolled up and go shag some random strangers' type of drinker hmm

applefalls Wed 27-Mar-13 07:56:51

The great shame, is that when [they are] sober she's absolutely lovely. I grieve for her and for my life. I cry at night because I so wish I could have had a normal childhood.


And, like Oopla, amazed the first time I went to supper at a friend's house and her parents drank water, got up from the table and watched TV, chatted to us then went to bed.

Sadly, at that time I thought it made them dull; after years of therapy and becoming teetotal myself, I hope that my own DCs will feel that same sense of (boring? Safe?) ordinariness as I potter about doing dishes and chatting in the evening, not roaring and opening more bottles and picking obscure emotional and nasty fights because I am wankered and a drunken arsehole.

Thanks OP for a great and brave thread. I hope those who do have a drink problem read it.

Did anyone else here drink stupidly as a result? My sister never touched a drop, I'm a reformed pisshead, my brother shakes and stinks of booze but I never see him with a drink.

With a therapist's help, I forbad my parents to drink when my kids were there. It worked and has been so liberating from all that destructive worry. They rarely drink now. But the damage is done, deep and long-lasting.

Forgiveness seems beyond me most days.

bigTillyMint Wed 27-Mar-13 08:05:56

applefalls, yes I have gone through that process of realising how far from happy and normal my childhood was and how happy I am that my own DC have had a totally different experience. I feel so sad for the child/teen that I was. I spent most of my childhood at my friend's house trying to be part of a normal family.

And I drank very heavily in my teens/twenties, but now drink much less than all of my friends!

Muchadoaboutnuthing Wed 27-Mar-13 12:02:11

My mum is an alcoholic. My teenage years were the worst. My dad played in a band and worked 5/6 nights a week which gave her the opportunity to drink as much as she liked. He hated her drinking and it caused terrible rows between them so she rarely did it in front of him. Throughout my childhood I assumed he never knew how much she drank. She used to threaten my brother and I that if we ever told him he would kick her out and we'd be breaking up the family. Stupidly we listened to her. But in hindsight I think he must have had some idea. Dads quite good at just burying his head in the sand and ignoring any problem he doesn't want to acknowledge.

I left that house as soon as I could, I was 17, had done my last school exams, got a job the following week and just moved out. I hate her for what she did, for ruining my childhood, but most of all for not taking any responsibility for it. All through my childhood she blamed other people for her drinking. It was my dads fault for going out to work and leaving her at home on her own, it was my fault... not sure why but it often was apparently. And now she talks about our childhood as if we were the waltons. I dont know if she genuinely cant remember a lot of what went on or she's purposely pretending not to but it drives me mad.

I posted on here a couple of months ago asking whether I should confront her and the general opinion was that I shouldn't, that she would never apologise and probably deny it/accuse me of over reacting which would upset me even more. This is all true so I have left things alone for now.

I find social situations difficult, I have little self confidence. I find building and maintaining friendships hard and I actively seek relationships/friendships with older women. I don't know how much of this is down to my early life and how much of it would have been me anyway if that makes sense but I resent her for it.
On a positive note I believe it has made me a better parent and foster parent than I may otherwise have been. I will NEVER allow my children to go through any of the crap I had to put up with. The irony of it is she hardly drinks at all now. Shame she couldn't have managed that 20 years ago when we needed her to.

applefalls Wed 27-Mar-13 17:07:31

BigTilly, yes and the thing I really resent about that is constantly second-guessing at normal behaviour. I look at my teens and worry all the time that they might feel that futile depressed sadness and while I know that they aren't me with my experiences, I do find myself having a thousand thought processes about simple exchanges.

Teen: can I go out with x?

Mesadthinks) fuck, are you desperate to leave, can you not talk to me about it, have I failed you? Do you hate your life like I did, are you jn constant hellish torment, are you ashamed to bring people home? Can you see how much I love you and don't want to smother you but I need to he a perfect mum who keeps you safe... Ad nauseum
(says) Course you can, do you need a lift?

It's exhausting! I also have furious conversations with my DPs in my head. Learning to stop that is liberating.

DocBrown Wed 27-Mar-13 20:40:05

My father was/is an alcoholic. I've not spoken to him in twenty years. I'm not sure if he is even alive. I don't really care.

For me it was the torture of not knowing what I was going home to. Once found him on the street just up from the school bus stop. He was so drunk that he was slouched against a lamp post and I had to somehow get him home by half dragging him along the ground. Once I got him inside I got him in the recovery position as he was known to be sick/wet himself whilst in the drunken coma. I was 13 at the time. I've found him walking home from the pub with blood dripping from his face. He was an easy target for fisty cuff fights. Sometimes go home to find him in smart shirt and tie - soon learnt what that meant - he had been caught doing something and he had obviously been to court that day.

The most scary incident was when I was at home with my best friend and armed police men turned up at our house. We were bundled out - police found a fire arm in the house. But by far the worst was walking home from school to find the fire brigade leaving - my father had barricaded himself into his bedroom - nailed planks of wood over the door and took an overdose. My mother found him and alerted the authorities. Soon after this she (finally) had enough of him (took her nearly 25 years) and in the end he was sectioned and taken away.

I am angry and upset that I didn't have a normal childhood. I was made to do things (help him drive a car when his arm was broken) that my friends didn't have to do. I am upset that I couldn't bring friends home on a whim (see above). I am angry that we were the talk of the town and nobody did anything to help us (the children) and my mother (dv).

I have never told anyone any of the above and new friends will never know my history as I am ashamed. But I thank god every day that my children will never know this man and they will never have to deal with what I had to.

Thank you for starting this thread - I will never get over the damage alcohol has done to my family. I wish I could scream that sometimes I need looking after to but I have had to deal with so much that I don't even know if I could be looked after.

PS sorry about the length of the post

bigTillyMint Wed 27-Mar-13 21:27:53

applefalls, it must have been (and continue to be) doubly worse for yousad


I am also glad that my father died before I even met DH and that neither he nor my DC had to witness the shame I would have felt if they had met him. I only have photos of him taken when I was a baby and was still the man I adored.

It took me years to stop going for men who were like my father.

MrRected Wed 27-Mar-13 22:40:57

DocBrown - I really can identify with the feeling of being terrified about what I was coming home to, or if mum was having a "wobbler" - the term my dad used when my mum was so beaten, hungover and able to cope that she could get out of bed for days on end. During these times, we'd get fed very basic food - beans on toast or breakfast cereal and be expected to keep very quiet so as not to "disturb" my mother. My father would be cheery and act as if nothing had happened. It was lonely and scary.

My parents had a drink fuelled fight when I was about 9. They smashed up a lot of our furniture and I was terrified. After my Dad punched my mum in the face and up-ended the glass dining room table with it shattering everywhere I became so frightened, I crept into my parents bedroom (where there was a second telephone on my mum's bedside table). I rang a friend's parents and begged them to come over to help me and my little brother - who was 4/5 at that time. I was so ashamed and scared. They called the police and arrived to find my brother and I hiding in our rooms. My mother was bleeding, bruised and wailing hysterically and my father had passed out in bed. I wish I could say this was a one off but things like this would happen at least every six weeks from the time I can remember until I was about 16. I left home at 17, I couldn't take any more.

Sorry for rambling on here. It's proving quite cathartic to say the things I have held inside and been so ashamed of for so long.

MrRected Wed 27-Mar-13 22:47:39

Why do I feel so guilty that I can't forgive them?

My father doesn't acknowledge that any of this should be a problem for me - he acts like I am a drama queen and have made up what went on. My mother has apologised but it feels hollow.

How do I walk away entirely and just forget this hideous part of my life and let go of this awful guilt. The feeling that I am being disrespectful and a troublemaker by shutting them out of my life entirely. What if they get sick and need me? What if they die and we didn't make our peace? What if? What if? What if?

bigTillyMint Thu 28-Mar-13 06:58:40

MrRectedsad You had a horriffic time. I am not surprised that you feel angry and hurt, etc - it is normal to feel like that. And is some guilt due to thinking that society might judge you badly if you don't act the dutiful daughter?

I felt angry with my father from when I realised he would never put me before the drink, till he died. I don't feel guilty about that. I think I am over being angry with my mother for putting up with it so long, but I still feel immensely frustrated by her at times - that's just her personality, I guess.

Would it help you to have some counselling or join a children of AlAnon group? I know a friend of mine did that and it helped her.

JustinBsMum Thu 28-Mar-13 17:03:55

Why do I feel so guilty that I can't forgive them

I think you are so wrapped up in other people and their lives and feelings that you lose a sense of yourself.

Read self hlep books, there are loads on Amazon. this is a good one.

You have to learn to put yourself first (this is NORMAL for human beings, by the way, not you being selfish). But counselling and al-anon should help, an acoa group would be best but they are few and far between.

DocBrown Thu 28-Mar-13 20:22:09

I walked away from my father when, after rehab, he had supposedly got himself together and we had just began speaking again then when I made one of my weekly telephone calls to him he could hardly string two words together because he had been on the vodka again. I then realised that the vodka was more important to him than me. I chose to end our relationship then and there.

He sent me a letter on my eighteenth birthday begging for forgiveness. He sent me a cheque which I tore up. I can't find it anywhere in me to forgive him and I don't feel guilty about that. Father or no father a human being can sometimes hurt you soooo much that the relationship cannot be repaired.

MrRected Thu 28-Mar-13 22:52:48

Thanks for that link Justinb..

I seem to be unlucky to have two alcoholic parents. My father is high functioning but is not able to go a day without a drink. Doc you put it so well - they care more about the booze than me. Add a touch of narcissism, a sprinkle of domestic violence and a low functioning alcoholic mother to the mix, I guess it was a disaster in waiting.

DocBrown Fri 29-Mar-13 07:21:52

MrRected - I think I have found someone who understands how I feel - thank you for that x My father was a high functioning alcoholic as well and on the outside everything was hunky dory but I would dread Sunday afternoons after he had been to the pub. My friends would be spending time with their family whilst my sister and I would be up in our room listening to him beating and rowing with mum. Later my mum would be smiling and happy pretending nothing had happened. We were warned not to interupt because it would make it worse for her sad

My mum has never told me she loves me, is proud of me and has never hugged me or my children. I don't think she can bring herself to physically touch another human being sad For this reason, I hug my boys and tell them I love them everyday.

JustinB - I have ordered that book. I think the time has come for me to get some help for myself xx

Springdiva Fri 29-Mar-13 13:18:39

This is the link to ACOA meetings, there are a few and they would be great if you could join one. I have just started going to one now as I am overseas, it is lovely to have people who are in the same boat, though they are anonymous so not really support groups, more 'find your own answer' groups.

Not sure if the link will work but click on meetings and search on United Kingom.

learningtoheal Sat 21-Sep-13 14:38:29

I am in my mid 20's and grew up in an alcoholic household. Both my parents were highly effective alcoholics who worked during the day and drank during the night. My mother was aggressive my father not. I was a loner with few friends who was bullied and very much misunderstood.
I ended in rehab myself for drug addiction and was removed from my home at 17.... unfortunately, it didn't happen earlier. I ran away and built a life abroad. Later I returned to the UK to study and get a job. I finally feel semi content.
My father passed away but I have been in touch with my mother over the last years. Sometimes she's lovely and sometimes just plain vicious due to the horrific mood swings. She'd rather die than give up drinking. I don't want to give up on her but I'm emotionally drained. I can't bare any more emotional abuse.... It's just too painful and I've lost my strength.

NamelessMcNally Sun 22-Sep-13 07:01:08

Learn, I think this thread has fallen off people's radar. Would you be able to start your own? Someone here will be able to offer you good advice and I would hate you to feel your post was unanswered.

Wellwobbly Sun 22-Sep-13 10:53:17

Al anon and ACOA are such a tremendous support and reassurance. I really cannot recommend them enough.

You go in and you are understood. You are not alone. You can share your experiences, and someone will know exactly what you are saying, have experienced. Someone talks about their anger and their shame, and the whole room exhales, 'it's not just me!'

Then, in that space of support, you are gently opened to the 12 steps which help you with the fear anxiety and pain (one day at a time), to accept and let go (the serenity prayer), focus on yourself and your own healing.

It is free.

'Keep coming back, it works if you work it, and you're worth it!'

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 23-Sep-13 21:01:07

Hi Learn,
I had an alcoholic mom and a workaholic dad so my experience was not at all like yours. Yet I totally get the being misunderstood part. And never quite fitting in, or ever having a true close friend.
I have read a out ACOA but have not attended the meetings -none nearby. However, I have just ordered the big red book from the ACA/WS0 website...
There are also some books available. Studying up can be very helpful, even though it may be painful to remember a lot of the history.
If your Mom is making your recovery and healing impossible, then you need to take a break from the relationship. Putting yourself first is a perfectly ok thing to do. If you can not avoid being in her company, it might help to try to be emotionally disconnected from her dynamic in the way of dismissing anything and everything in the moment. It might be better explained as giving yourself permission to NOT listen to her if she gets negative.
Congratulations on your career.

goodenuffmum Sat 28-Sep-13 20:00:56

Has anyone gone to counselling about their childhood experiences?

I went for 10 sessions at the start of this year to help come to terms with stbxh leaving and it really helped.

Is there anything to be gained from rehashing the past? Al Anon is helping me move on from all the crap, so do I need to look back?

IllJustHaveAnotherOneHere Sat 28-Sep-13 21:06:48

My dad is a functioning alcoholic, by which I mean he mostly held down a job. Because of that, most outsiders refused to believe that he had a problem, and he never accepted it either - he just "liked a drink".

He liked a drink at 6 am. He liked a drink as soon as he finished work. He liked a drink to the point he was incapable of speech every single night. He liked a drink to the point that every family activity was governed by how close it was to the nearest pub, and if there was no pub nearby then then we could not go. He had endless affairs with women from the pub. He spent every spare minute, and all his money, in the pub, which send us children an unambiguous message about how important we were to him. My mother refused to leave him, "for the sake of the kids."

Even now if I call and ask how his day has been, his response is "I went to the Dog and Duck and had a few in there, then walked over to the King's Head for a few. Then I had couple in Paddy Malone's, one in The Coach and Horses ... " ... that is literally all he does, and all he thinks about.

Thing is, he is actually a nice man and does love me. He just loves booze more, and since I accepted that I've been a lot less angry. I have learned not to expect more.

(sorry for splurge)

something2say Sun 29-Sep-13 07:46:37

Here, you are welcome to splurge because you do count xxxxx
Massive hug for you all on this thread xxxxx

IllJustHaveAnotherOneHere Sun 29-Sep-13 13:23:47

Thanks something2say

It's so nice to have a place to feel validated, after years of no-one believing how hard it was. I'm sure everything looked normal from the outside.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sun 29-Sep-13 13:56:01

Hi Goodenuffmum
I think it does help to rehash the past for yourself to be able to perhaps finally process the events with the intelligence of an adult's perspective. To understand the dynamic of what was going on, even if years/decades after the fact, can make it possible to finally understand and resolve an issue (and the resulting effects)...and then it becomes possible to truly get beond it, leave it behind, and change, iyswim.

Not dealing with it can work as well...just ignore it and it will go away is kind of a superficial patch. But Imho, I do not think one can heal without the full understanding of:
1) "it was not you, it was them" and
2) what ever social/emotional dynamic was being modeled to you in those formative years which you may find presents you with struggles in the present.

I found counselling to be very helpful too, especially with a counsellor that can focus on family disfunction. A book that was helpful (to me) is Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. And you might look into the series of books written by John Bradshaw about healing from the past , Homecoming is one.

goodenuffmum Tue 01-Oct-13 22:44:06

Thanks AndTheBand
You make a lot of sense....I guess when I look back on incidents I'm seeing them still as a child with no control or options.

I would love to know what Normal is blush so I can get some personal boundaries.

I need to pluck up the courage to make that call tomorrow and get started smile

I'm also popping over to amazon to have a gander at those books you suggested.


EBearhug Tue 01-Oct-13 23:37:59

Has anyone gone to counselling about their childhood experiences?

Yes, been going for 4 years - actually a lot of it has been about work stuff, but my mother, my reason for initially going (started some time after she died), she keeps coming up.

And I completely identify with those who talk about never quite fitting in and all the rest of it.

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