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  1. #1
    Registered User. Cashregister's Avatar

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    Children of Alcoholics

    Hi All,

    Just thought i'd share my experience of being the child of an alcoholic mother. I was adopted, so anything I have is not genetically based but is purely a following of the behavioural patterns I grew up with - and they are destructive.

    Anyone who is an alcoholic or has a bad drinking problem and has children should understand that the children KNOW - and they don't have to be old. I was 6 when my mother started drinking heavily. I knew something was wrong, I didn't know she was drinking, but I knew something bad was happening.

    I assumed (as all children do as they are the centre of the universe for a while and good for them) that it was in some way my fault. Subconsciously I have felt like this for the rest of my life. I excelled at school, did everything right, never (well hardly) got into trouble, and still she drank. What a failure I felt...

    In my late teens I started to fight back at her - to return abuse for abuse. I never knew what I was coming home to. I had to call home to see if a friend could come home with me in case she was drunk.

    Every time I approached my front door I was scared.

    And then there was my father. He firmly believed she was drinking to get at him, so when she sobered up he punished her by not speaking to her for weeks. So it was my job to run between them, to comfort my mother and beg my father to forgive her so we could be "normal".

    At 15 I refused to do what I had been doing for years, answering her calls and saying that she was sick. I told a friend of hers that she could not come to the phone cause she was drunk. All hell broke loose - one parent angry that i'd betrayed her, the other that our family's "dirty little secret" was out. I never did it again.

    I begged with her to stop, I spent hours listening to her post-binge remorse and actually believing her, thinking that she would stop - oh the optimism of childhood.

    I grew up too fast, I was a little adult, they used to brag about that. I became the carer- or tried to be - the one to make everyone "happy" so it would all stop. In some ways childhood ended at 6 years of age.

    One counsellor I saw told me that growing up with an alcoholic is akin to growing up in Belfast (this was a while ago) - in other words you are always looking over you shoulder, you don't trust, you never know what's going to happen next.

    These days I crave certainty, i despise change, i feel guilty when i think i've failed at something, and unbelievably at 38 I am still trying to make my parents happy - I ring them to tell them when I get praise from my boss, I send them chapters of my thesis that my supervisor likes, I don't tell them (or at least try to hide from them) if I am sick, or not at work for some reason.

    For anyone who drinks and has children - and I am guilty (though never on my mother's spectacular scale) remember how you can harm them. You behaviour will harm them, your remorse will harm them, and your unpredictability will have them searching for stability all their lives and then not understanding when life changes that it is not all disaster.

    Children need parents, not to be parents.

    Cashy

  2. #2
    Registered User. lushy's Avatar

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    Children of Alcoholics

    Great thoughts Cash. I am sorry for all you had to go through. My biological dad was an abusive alcoholic but fortunately my parents got divorced when I was fairly young so I escaped the torture my older brothers endured. Very sad indeed.

  3. #3
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    Children of Alcoholics

    I guess I just posted this here to confirm to myself that I don't want alcohol in my life, to remind myself what it was like, and to let others know what it can be like.

    Life is one hell of a journey, let's make it as easy as possible for our children to get through it in one piece.

    Cashy
    xxx

  4. #4
    Registered User. Accountable for Me's Avatar

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    Children of Alcoholics

    I came from a home of mental, physical and drug abuse. My mother was completely insane. She didn't abuse alcohol back then but she did cocaine and pot. I was always scared coming home from school. She beat my sister and I so badly all of the time because she could not cope. It was sheer hell. Most of my teen's I would bounce from friend's house to friend's house. Once I ended up in a foster home.

    My father abused alcohol. My parents would fight violently. One day when I was 4 I came downstairs with my father holding a shot gun to my mother's head. All I remember was she said "go ahead". They were married for 7 years in total. That was my last memory of my parents being together. My parents are both alcoholics - but things have changed.

    I am glad my parents have apologized to both my sister and me. I am also glad my parents have mellowed out. Ultimately, I don't want to be that parent where my child is scared of me, or feels like she is to blame for my alcoholism. I have fought with her father, and a couple of times it did get out of hand. He broke my eye brow bone and is still serving probation for this. We both drank heavily, and started down the path of what I knew growing up. I don't have a violent bone in my body, but I did fight back. I am glad I phoned the police that day. My child was just an infant then. She does not deserve to be brought up in a home with two drunk parents, listening to the constant fighting and possibly witnessing violent behaviour. things for us did mellow out after that final outburst. But he wasn't committed to a life without the drinking - so it is over. For the sake of my daughter and myself.

    Anyway... my rant is over. Our children DO know what is going on in our homes from a very young age. It doesn't have to be a violent situation. They just know when something is not right.

  5. #5
    Registered User. Cashregister's Avatar

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    Children of Alcoholics

    Absolutely accountable - and they can end up blaming themselves, consciously or not. I never want my daughter to feel responsible for my behaviour, not ever.

    I am so sorry to hear about what you went through.I think you are marvellously strong to have turned you life around. I hope I have the courage and the stability do the same.

    Love
    Cashy
    xxx

  6. #6
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    Children of Alcoholics

    Thanks Cashy.

    I think we all are very strong just acknowledging our problems and making the efforts in wanting to change. You will do very well. You sound like you are in a great place now. I am very happy you have things sorted out with your diagnosis and meds. You will feel like a million bucks before long.

  7. #7
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    Children of Alcoholics

    Thanks so much, i needed that. This insomnia is killing me - it's 5.15am here and i'm wide awake - I am so glad this site, and great people like you, are here round the clock. It's keeping me sane.

    Love
    Cashy

  8. #8
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    Children of Alcoholics

    Insomnia sucks. Hang in there! Your body and mind will eventually get tired enough to sleep. This place keeps me sane quite a bit of the time too! :l

  9. #9
    Registered User. DidItForMe's Avatar

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    Children of Alcoholics

    I too grew up in a house with alcoholics. But in a much different environment than what you two are talking about. In my house no one talked about it. No one raised a voice and no one raised a hand. It was very apparent that my folks drank too much. They even let us drink as little kids, just a bit at their parties, or on "special" occasions. They finally ended up divorcing and none of us kids even knew it was happening. Dad just didn't live there anymore. What sucks is that is how I still am today. I don't talk about anything. When there is trouble, I keep it to myself. I don't let my kids near alcohol, ever. But I drink and I never talk about it. At least until I found this site. xo

  10. #10
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    Children of Alcoholics

    Ahhh, the pink elephant in the lounge room - it just sits there watching TV with you and everyone pretends it's not there.

    And the pattern of behaviour - it's like pass the parcel from one generation to the next.

    The trick is to break them so we don't repeat the cycle.

    Cashy
    xxx

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