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|04-15-2012, 06:56 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2011
The Effects of Alcohol in my Family
Hello. I am a recovering alcoholic with over 5 months of sobriety. I've been working a 12 step program and realizing how alcohol and my upbringing and current relationship with my parents have affected me (and I can better react to it). I thought I would share here and I welcome any perspective.
Growing up, alcohol wasn't an issue in my house, except that I was constantly told that it (along with other things like pre-marital sex, and drugs and dating too young and secular movies and music and "wordliness" etc.) was a sin and that it was forbidden. My parents were strict fundamental evangelical Christians. I felt over-protected and smothered, and never worthy of my parents' approval or unconditional love, and always having to try to put on some image of some perfect Christian daughter (and I was the oldest kid, which made it particularly rough!) (I should add here that both of my parents were from dysfunctional families with problems of addiction, alcoholism, neglect and poverty-- so it's amazing they made it out, and I do understand that they clung to religion as the thing that had saved them, and what made them different from their families, and so they had this strict belief system to follow/pretend to follow?, and this image to uphold-, even if it meant living a double life- which I later learned how to do oh so well.) At the same time, I enjoyed youth group and church activies, I was a teenage missionary, and while I had conflicts about my true beliefs and questions/doubts, I was happy with my social life and, looking back, I am blessed that I didn't drink or do drugs in high school, that I had more positive outlets and friends.
My mother always said that her father was an alcoholic, and she therefore had a personal reason for not only abstaining from alcohol but also completely abhoring it. I do have early memories of my grandfather drinking and doing stupid stuff because of it, including meanness and belittling (to everyone, including us kids, but especially to my grandmoter) and violence (against my father). But I guess I always thought my mom was exaggerating a bit because she was so against alcohol that I thought she thought everyone was an alcoholic (later I began to see that her suspicions were usually dead-on-- including those that she had about me!) I more recently learned that my mother used to wait up late as a child, with her mom, until her dad got home drunk from the bars, and sometimes he would physically abuse my grandmother while my mother hid under the table because she didn't want to get in trouble for being up/there, but she also didn't want her mother to be alone. No wonder she is so against alcohol!!!
My mother is a really hard person to live with/be close to... she has a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality and at times I've wondered if she's bi-polar (she is diagnosed with and takes medication for severe depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, borderline diabetes and has had a lot of hormonal/early and long-lasting menopause issues, but not bi-polar that I know of). One minute she is full of live and genuinely laughing and being silly-- you would think she was drunk or tipsy if you didn't know her!!!- and the next she is so mean and hateful, for no real reason. She has no schedule of her own but if she does make plans and someone breaks them in the slightest degree, she flies off the handle and the day/plan is completely ruined. She does extra nice things for other people but then gets bitter and mean when people don't do enough for her... and it seems like nothing is ever good enough for her. she gets spiteful and vengeful, and downright nasty, for no rational reason. This started (as far as I can tell) when I was in high school and she had a miscarriage... I think she was sad that I was growing up/leaving home, and also bitter that no one else carried around the loss of her miscarriage like she did. To this day she continues to be bitter and mad-- She is mad at me for having moved away, mad at my sister for not coming to visit enough even though she lives half an hour away, mad at my brother and his wife over the fact that they got married and that my brother's wife is more important than her... even though they live in the same town I grew up in. (My sister and brother visit frequently, and I fly home very often-- no one here can believe how often I make a point to see my family [because I love them!!!] and my mom has been out to see me twice in 8 years, yet I don't go home and see her enough, and neither do my siblings... and worst of all, she is mad and bitter at my dad, and seems to aim most of her hatred at him. They admit they pretty much hate each other but stay married because divorce is against their religion and also because I have two younger siblings still living at home/ in elementary school and they don't want them to come from a "broken home" (although I would argue that it's been shattered into a million pieces for years now!!!).
My mom will admit that she "puts walls up" and "doesn't let people get close" because she's "been hurt." She's even admit that there's nothing I (or whoever) can do to make things better, or that she knows she should let go of past hurts but she just can't-- it's not like there's something in particular she's been asking me about that I haven't apologized for or made right, etc., she just, I don't know, finds reasons, real or imaginery or from long ago I guess, to be mad at me and stay mad at me (and everyone... although at other times she's very loving and nice... it's weird.) She's very isolating and depressed and self-destructive in her behavior. When I first read descriptions of an alcoholic personaliy, it sounded a lot like my mom, and I thought "that's weird, because she doesn't drink." I then learned that you don't have to deal with your emotional issues by drinking in order to have emotional issues!! Sometimes I have thought that my mother is a "dry drunk" who has never drunk! (Apparently she drank beer in high school with her dad... but nothing major/long-lasting). But now that I am reading up on co-dependency and realizing my own co-dependent issues, I realize that my mom is probably severely co-dependent.
My dad... that is a whole other story (I always used to think I had such big dad issues, until I realized I had even bigger mom issues! :-/ ) But right now my issues with my dad relate pretty directly to alcohol. He didn't drink while we were growing up but once my younger brother got to college, he started drinking beer with him at a local brewery when he visited him on campus. Then he started drinking wine, rationalizing that it wasn't that bad, because it was just wine, and it was the only thing my mom would (grudgingly) allow in the house (basement) so now he drinks lots of wine every night while watching old sitcoms until he dozes off in his recliner. It's also like he's going through some late-blooming college kid/frat boy stage (which he's been stuck in ever since he started drinking, eight years or so ago). Any time he's "free"... i.e., away from my mom and youngest siblings, around alcohol/people who drink... he goes obnoxiously crazy, saying and doing things that I consider inappropriate and embarrassing, and getting overly drunk... one time he was so drunk that he was driving down the wrong side of the road, but he refused to let me drive, because he always insists that he's "not drunk" and that he "never gets drunk/ has never been drunk," only that he likes to have a glass or two of wine or beer. (That's quite an understatement, plus whenever my friends/boyfriend/myself in the past are drinking hard alcohol, he eagerly joins, so it's clearly a delusion).
I don't know, with my dad a big part of me feels guilty, like he didn't used to drink and I aided him in his starting-to-drink career, although I do know rationally that I was 23 and he was my very grown father who could make his own decisions. But he never judged me for drinking and was always happy to join in, we were (dysfunctional) drinking buddies of sorts, and co-enablers for sure. So now when I'm out there visiting him, or he's out here visiting me, he is very disappointed that I don't drink, and he in fact gets beligerent about it and pressures me to drink with him. A month or so ago, he was visiting and he ordered me a drink and when I politely refused it, he badgered me and belittled me!!! My sister yelled at him (over text) to stop it and to support me in not drinking, so then he was better about it, except he kept making a big deal out of announcing to everyone everywhere we went that I don't drink anymore and I can only order water or a soda, while he bought all of my friends rounds of alcohol.
(I should add that my long post only covers the surface of a bunch of problems and some things I later learned about in my family, but, I am trying not to write a novel, so, that's my story in a nutshell, as it relates to my parents, although of course I have my own recovery story.) Sorry to be so long-winded, especially for my very first post in this section. I think I just needed to get this out there because I am trying to sort through the different layers of all of this. The good and the bad thing is that I can see now how alcohol effects families-- even when for quite a long period of time, no one in the family drinks! The other parts are just trying to figure out how to relate to my family members and stay close to them and love them while I'm also trying to do what's best for myself and focus on my recovery and sobriety. Thanks everyone for listening, and I look forward to reading more in this section of SR.
|04-15-2012, 07:43 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2011
Blog Entries: 20
Welcome. I'm glad you can now see how alcohol affects families, and yourself. I drank as a teen -a lot- and haven't had a drink since. Your story sounds a bit like mine in that like your Mom I clung to the church which saved me from a horrible family of origin life. I raised my daughter with the same mantra of no drinking, drugs etc. I am at a loss as how to correctly get it across. I think I did a good job of it. She didn't have any wild times that I know of and she is now 23.
From your vantage point now how would have rather had her deliver that message that would have resulted in success and kept you from the problem you are now digging your way out of? (Congrats on that!)
I don't know if there is any acceptable way to deliver a message that goes against the grain of society. You know, I don't think any of us are perfect and especially parents. Your Mom sounds like she had a lot of baggage to handle and didn't always react perfectly (the rage) but is also sounds like underneath it all she loves you. I'm sorry your Dad is having a hard time with alcohol. I hope he can work it out.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
|04-15-2012, 09:22 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2011
Now I see how and why people look to religion for community, support, values and beliefs. I think what would have helped is to have just been accepted and loved unconditionally for who I was or whatever I thought or felt. Instead I was shamed and repressed for thinking anything different than what my parents did. They would humiliate me in front of my younger siblings to make an example out of me. I really think it was normal kid/teenage stuff... exploring my own sexualty, creatively writing down my angst, but they would act like I was the worst sinner on the planet. In retrospect if they would have just told me they love me however I am, I might have had a better idea of who I was. Instead I was lost and felt like a robot or puppet, or a puppet who was rebelling against the puppet master, but not like my own person. Now I'm learning to love myself for who I am and exactly where I'm at in my life and my journey. And I do see the method to my parents' madness. it didn't help that my dad was rather sexist and had a double standard when it came to me and my brother. I have let that go more than my mm has ha ha.
|04-16-2012, 02:44 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2011
Blog Entries: 20
Thanks for the insight. I'm sorry you didn't feel loved. I know that as a parent who has made mistakes it didn't mean I didn't love my child. The saying that there are no perfect people also applies to church. God knows that and its just part of our never ending journey.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
|The Following User Says Thank You to Kialua For This Useful Post:|| |
|04-16-2012, 05:11 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Columbia MO
Blog Entries: 3
I have been through many of the same issues you have, through therapy I am starting to get a grip on how I was raised and how to deal with my parents dysfunction.
In the stickies at the top there are some worksheets and graphs that my therapist gave me that I shared with everyone, there is also a list of books she recommended. In addition if you go to photobucket.com and search under sober recovery there are some additional things that might be of interest to you.
I wish I could say that we had the magic wand to make things right but alas we cannot. What I can tell you is that we will be here if you need us, if you want to talk, if you need a "virtual" hug.
This is a much smaller group than the others, we suffer from a different set of traumas.
There is less drama here than in other groups, we are in my opinion, more of a family.
Please share as much as you feel like, your posts are not "too long" and you are not "too new".
I would suggest going back and reading some of the old threads, we have had some really interesting discussions and it will give you some insight into this group.
I left church many years ago because of the hypocrisy, but I never abandoned my faith in a HP. The church was created and run by men and IMHO is inherently flawed.
I am rambling, I do that often when I am trying to think of what I am trying to say.
Anyhoo, I am glad you are here, we are a good bunch of folks, I hope you stay and share.
|04-16-2012, 05:18 PM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2011
Welcome and thank you for sharing. I find for me that telling my stories releases shame and confusion and lets healing sunshine come in.
"Sobriety is action. We must live a sober life, not think a sober life!"
March 1, 2011 ~ Proud to Be a Marcher
|The Following User Says Thank You to frances2011 For This Useful Post:|| |
|04-17-2012, 03:19 PM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2011
Thanks everyone, and thanks for the tips and stickies, Willybluedog. I feel like I'm starting to heal even more just from writing down/thinking about my story, sharing it and just sitting with it.
Right now my grandma is dying and I am planning a trip home to either see her one last time and/or attend her funeral. :-/ So that puts an interesting twist on things.
I appreciate everyone's input and support. Thank you.
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