Families are KNOWN for dirty little secrets. All families. No family is without secrets of some sorts. My family by far was and is THE. WORST. Before anyone thinks I am going to post anything awful….put your pistols away and read with a VERY open mind.
I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic.
What the hell does that mean to you? My dad is an alcoholic. Was an alcoholic. Probably always will be an alcoholic. For the families that hold secrets they called their dads or moms or whomever the family member is and was, “a drinker.” The “drinker” was the socially acceptable term for the alcoholic, because everyone is/was in denial. Which is A-OK, I was in denial, I was clueless, I also suffered from the secrets, the disease and the illnesses that accompany alcoholism.
My dad is/was like any other dad. He was good hearted, loving, smiling, a provider. But his nasty illness to binge on alcohol, drugs, women, everything is/was addicting to him. My mom, she was/is like any other mother. Heart of gold, will do anything for her kids, loving, happy, a provider. But my mom did a very good job of hiding what my dad was doing. His late nights. His hangovers where he was ill and puking from mixing booze with drugs. His illness because he is probably intolerant altogether to alcohol causing him migraines and physical illness. His cheating on my mother. His lack of concern for his children.
These behaviors went on for MANY years. So many years so that I began to be the caretaker in my family. My dad checked out after the birth of my brother, was unseen with my sister, and my mother began working full time to help pay the bills that my father racked up from unnecessary purchases. Oh and did I mention his bipolar disorder too? Friendly combination, addiction and mental illness. The behaviors went on. I became Mom. At the ripe age of EIGHT. I was dressing my siblings for school, feeding them, and caring for myself because my father was still passed out drunk from nights before, or flat out failed to come home. My mother worked nights as a nurse, her ability to be there full time for us kids was obviously limited as my parents were a two parent income household, they both had to work. Finally after two years of the continued misery of my fathers black hole spiral my mother threw in the towel and they got divorced.
Lots of parents get divorced. But I never knew why. I thought, they just don’t get along anymore. Not until I was old enough did the Big Pink Elephant finally receive recognition for being in my life. My dad is an alcoholic. His illness and failure to accept his illness killed my family. A lot of my family was lost because of his illness. My siblings, we rarely speak. Because of so many hurts within a dysfunctional alcoholic or addiction ridden family. We have pains from the family unit and so we turned in on each other, we would fend for ourselves. Not full time, but when we would visit my dad we would. I remember a time when his first wife, whom he began seeing while still married to my mother, came to visit. My father locked myself and my younger siblings out of his apartment with just a few dollars so that we could walk a mile or so to the local Circle K to buy candy and a Thirstbuster. Because he needed a fix.
I am 100 times more likely to become an alcoholic. I choose not to be. I watched my father tear me to pieces like a lion to a lamb. I was called every curse word you could think of…..I can recall and cite verbatum those words, those comments. They sting. They pain. That the one man in my life who should have been my TRUE knight in shining armor was the root of all evil. His secret. His illness. The illness that would tear me to pieces name by name, inch by inch, until my self-worth lay in a puddle of tears. The illness that led me to believe I was the fattest and ugliest person on Earth. The illness that led me to believe I would never be smart enough. His illness, his drinking said those horrible things. The illness he once attested to having. He came to grips with his addiction, his illness. He was sober….for a year. I lived with him during that time. I got to know a bit of my dad. I had someone I could talk to without being called names, without the condescending tone, the belittling, the pain, the sting. But it all changed. I moved out because I was 19, I had a boyfriend (the now hubs), and his divorce became final.
My Dad died to me that year when he began drinking again. He still calls me to this day and I resent him. I am indifferent to his “love” and affection because he sacrificed his sobriety for a woman, for lack of control over a situation. A woman that will never love him again. Will never marry him. Will never speak to him casually. That woman was not my mother. He even told me once that he only truly loved this woman, as if he had forsaken the other woman he was once married to, my mother. My family still does not talk about my dad, his addiction, the pain he causes our family because he chooses to drink, the destruction he causes emotionally and at once physically because of the alcohol. Because his drink means more than the love and respect of his children. His drink is more important that to live his life sober, for him, to enjoy that natural high of life. He is so fully operational as a round the clock drunk that he is delusional, half demented, and quite literally the saddest person ever. I never talk about the truth of my dad because dirty little secrets suck. They are painful. They are damaging.Â But I talk about them because alcohol touches all families, somehow, someway, with someone they love. Secrets hurt families, and so we talk about them to put an end to the cycle of hurt.
What I do know is that no matter how damaging and painful those secrets may be, I want my kids to know.
I want my kids to know that I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. I had the worst teachers for dealing with pain, emotion, anger, rage, hurt, disappointment, fear, sadness, jealousy. These feelings were never dealt with in my family because we could never show people that anything was wrong with our family. That we had a secret to keep. So we kept up the perfect front, the perfect life, perfect feelings. I want my kids to know that being sad, mad, jealous, angry, feeling rage for a short moment is great! Embrace it.Â I want my kids to know that I drink once in a blue moon. Having an alcoholic beverage is okay. Having one everyday is not okay. Feeling you need one everyday, every few hours, ALL day, is not okay. The same can be said with drugs. I have had my bout with addiction, its not pretty. I will also share with my kids this bout. I want them to know that they will make choices on their own. I will always love them, just as I do my father. But I will not follow that path. I will share with them that I do not blame my parents, I blame the illness, the lack of knowledge about how to work through the illness, I blame the lack of will.
On the outside you would never have known my family was sick. That we had secrets to keep. That the secrets were killing our family and little bits of our souls. In the end…I turned out to be a stronger, knowledgeable, more compassionate and empathetic person with the drive stronger than anything a human can describe, and a will and spirit that will never be broken.