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A "functioning" alcoholic...

Old 12-14-2006, 06:56 PM
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A "functioning" alcoholic...

Hi everyone...

So, first I have to say that I am so grateful to have found this site today. On the verge of a breakdown - thinking there was no one to turn to who would understand - here you all are. And so grateful to Google.... LOL.

Ok - I am going to spill a little of my story in the hopes that someone can give me a little advice:

My father is an abusive alcoholic. I don't know when I first knew this, but I know that my diaries from elementary school have drawings of my dad with claw-like hands and crayon scribblings of "Why is my dad so mean??? Today he called me an idiot..." . I remember at 16 keeping a record of every beer cracking open, every day, for weeks to justify the sense that I had that something wasn't normal with his drinking. I was counting (back then) a beer every 15-20 minutes usually totalling 8-10 beers a night. When I came to grips with his illness at around 18 or so, I became angry with my mom for continuing the beer runs everyday, ignoring the abuse, and turning the cheek. One day at dinner I was especially angry (my dad had a short stint of "quitting drinking" and I was never so happy. This lasted all of a few days - although time is fuzzy now. I was livid when I saw my mom make that first beer run after that "quitting period". I copped an attitude (as teens do) at the dinner table, sulking, etc. and when my father asked what the hell my problem was I simply stated in a calm voice (that I still don't know from whenst it came inside me) that I was mad he had started drinking again. He told me that if I didnt like it i could pack my bags and leave. Of course he was drunk, of course he didnt mean it, but I left. I threw as much as i could in a trash bag and left that night. I lived with my grandparents for 3 years and the rest is history....

Whew... if you are still reading (thank you!) this is what follows:

Years of my dad's abuse, phone calls while drunk, berating me, my husband, etc. and then empty apologies the next morning. This continues until 6 months or so ago when I cut him out of my life after one of his drunken phone calls. I explained to him that I couldn't have him in my or my children's lives as he stands, not wanting help or thinking he has a problem. He told me to have a nice life. Then - of course proceeds to harass me every two weeks or so - asking why I haven't called him, pretending to not know why or what happened.

I want to remain detached. It is healthy for me and my wonderful husband and kids (and better for my mental health). But my guilt is so bad because he IS a functional alcoholc.

Is it just me or does this make it harder to justify not tolerating an alcoholic's behavior - if they are a functional alchoholic???

Ok - I am sooooo sorry this was so long but I have been holding this in for 6 months!!

Thanks!
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Old 12-14-2006, 07:11 PM
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Welcome to SR .... Im thankful for google too, especially if it brought you to us.

No sweetie, it is not just you and you dont have to work through this alone anymore.... You have nothing to be sorry for, Please post as long and often as you need to. You have no idea how important to us you are....

I totally understand the guilt, but you have to understand that is an inside feeling... maybe something your carrying over from the childhood. There is nothing wrong with protecting not only your self but your family if you feel that the Alcoholic in your life is abusive. It does not matter one whit if they are functional or not.

The bottom line is ... you have a problem with his drinking. You feel your abused by this person. You have the need to protect not only yourself but your family from this abuse.... I would say you are more healthy then many of us.

Sometimes when these feelings get to me, I have to kick up my Al-anon meeting and get the focus back on me.... Sounds to me like you have set up some boundries that are healthy for you, that is healthy hon.

I look forward to getting to know you, keep posting and reading the boards... lots to learn
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Old 12-14-2006, 07:49 PM
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Thank you Cynay!

I have been sitting here reading posts and waiting for someone to read mine and reply. That is how much this has been bothering me! I knew I needed one person to tell me it was ok before I could sleep tonight.... so thank you.

The guilt sucks. I know my dad will likely never get help. I know his manipulation and verbal abuse tears me down and makes me fall into that pit of depression that I have come to fear. I know my crying after his phone calls and my 3 year old daughter innocently offering me her blankie to "make me feel better" is not healthy for me - or my daughter.

HOWEVER... this all said, I still feel bad that he calls me sober during the day, leaves me voicemail (while I sit and wonder what he is saying to my voicemail, staring at the phone - hating that ring, not wanting to check the voicemail and hear his voice) and asks what he can get the kids for Xmas, as if it isn't obvious that we have not spoken in 6 months. As if he doesn't remember or want to remember the fact that I asked him out of my life. I feeel bad. I feel like the worst, most evil person in the world. It is his manipulation again - I know this. He KNOWS what to say and how to say it. " I know you usually help me with picking out the kids gifts and I need you to help me again this year. If I don't hear from you soon I will have to get them gift cards. I know you must be really busy with Xmas and two small kids. I miss you a lot."

UGGGGGHHHH! I feel awful because:

1. I don't miss you
2. I hate who you have become
3. You won't get to know the beauty that is my children
4. You will likely die from your disease surrounded by family who supported/hid/enabled your drinking
5. When you aren't drunk you can be nice... but those times are becoming few
6. No one else in our family will stand up with me and say you have a problem. They'd rather beg the cops to let off the hook for your second DUI and promise that cop if he does (let you off the hook) they'll stay with you all night to make sure you don't leave again. Then, when the cops leave... so does your family.

Ugh ugh ugh....
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Old 12-14-2006, 10:39 PM
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Welcome!

Hi, new member! I'm relatively new myself, just joined a week ago and I've already got at least 20 threads! It's hard not to talk, not listen, not to write in these forums. I suppose you just really never know how much you've got on your heart until you have the opportunity to let it all out. Anyway enough of that. . .LOL.

As for your situation, BRAVO for keeping yourself and your family away from your abusive AH. It IS the right thing to do and I know the guilt is killing you because he's your father but you have a responsibility to yourself and your children to maintain a healthy, happy, stable home for them. No it's not easy; it's not easy for any of us to walk away from our AH or AD but by staying we weren't just losing the fight, we were losing ourselves.

The AD in my life was my EXGF. She's a coke user and yes she did some terrible things to me while she used and yes everytime she would come off her high she too would act as if nothing had happened. She would have all these sweet, positive things to say and then she would use again and rip my world apart. I had to learn to separate fantasy from reality. I couldn't continue forgiving her and giving her countless chances. I couldn't continue getting my hopes up and pleading with her to change. I had to save myself and get out fast!

It's an everyday struggle because I still love her and am concerned for her and although I know you have a great understanding of what your father is and perhaps some resentment for what he's become your love for him will never really die. I even think there's a small glimmer of hope in you that he'll get treatment and sober up. It's all so very human what your feeling. Keep up the good work. Don't give in to your guilt or him. He has to make a serious change before he's earned his way back into your life and you're entitled to have your expectations met especially if they're expectations you yourself are capable of achieving.

Last edited by newblue82; 12-14-2006 at 10:41 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 12-15-2006, 03:44 AM
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Welcome,

My mother is my functioning "A", she has been drinking for 60 years, yes, 60 long miserable years. She is 81 and still drinks.

I have gone through several times in my life that I had to cut the ties that bound me. One for 4 years and once for 10 years. They were the most peaceful years of my life. I re-united with her 5 years ago, and off to the races I went.

I set my bounderies, if she steps over them, I retreat and retrench. She is better with me, as she knows, if she pushes too far, I'll close the door again.
And, I will.

I agree with others, don't let the guilt consume you, or, lead you to making a
bad decision.

He has lived his life as he has chosen, so must you.

My Best,
Dolly
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Old 12-15-2006, 05:47 AM
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Thank you all so much for listening and offering your kind words, advice.

NewBlu.... Thanks so much for your strength and encouragement. One thing you said rings in my ears and that is something that so many say to me: "I know you love him" But, really, in my hearts of hearts I knbow that I have lost my love for him. His words to me, name calling, telling me I can rot in hell with my mother, calling me when I was 8 months pregnant at 10 pm on the night after Thanksgiving (last year) to tell me he was committing suicide and then the next morning acting as if nothing happened and refusing to apologize (endangering my pregnancy as I was hysterical), no regard to my needs, no regard to the effects his drinking has on me, memories of his abuse... etc etc All of these things make me hate him, not love him. I know no one believes me, but truly I do not feel like I love my father. Am I evil? Does anyone agree with me? I think the only reason I feel bad when I ignore his calls is guilt - not because I love him. Is this making sense????

Dollydo.... thanks so much for your relating your story. Continued strenth to you!

Ok, so here is my question: Do I continue to ignore his calls and let the voicemail get them? Or do I call him back and remind him of my boundaries. I ask because I feel like if I don't call he will get my kids gifts and I really dont want to have to be in the position of returning things or explaining to my kids why gifts were on the porch and why they can't have them. You know?
If I do call I know he will get angry at my words and might leave me alone for the holidays. Weak on my part? I just dont know anymore....

Thanks again!
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Old 12-15-2006, 09:22 AM
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You know what's cool... you get to decide whether you want to return his call or let the voicemail take a message.

Personally, I could never completely "detach" from my addicted mother. Thankfully, I have a very close nuclear family and we collectively decided to basically back her into a corner and "force" her to go to rehab by promising to take away everything we could if she refused. She went, and she's been sober for two years.

If you don't think that rehab is ever going to be a possibility for your dad, who knows - it really might be best for you to stay away. You shouldn't feel guilty if you choose that path - he is sick, but he is refusing to help himself, and you have your own family to take care of.

I also think that there is a way to detach and still be a part of his life, if the guilt is too much. It takes a lot of time to sit down and determine what your boundaries, are, etc., so there's nothing wrong with completely cutting his negative influence out during stressful times, such as the holidays.

Maybe after New Year's, you can sit down and figure out a plan, if you really want to keep him in your and your kids' lives. You can always change your mind, too. We are allowed to do that.
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Old 12-15-2006, 10:18 AM
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Thanks Trying....

You said a lot of true things. I think what i have to learn is to not feel like I have to make everyone happy. I worry that my actions will make people think I am a horrible person. How could I do that? How could someone just desert an alcoholic? Things like this. It worries me that people might think this. I dont know why. I wish I could care less about others and more about myself! LOL.
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Old 12-15-2006, 11:31 AM
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All of us Codi's wish that.

I use Therapy, Al-anon, Open AA meetings, SR and a heck of a lot of reading....

What your feeling and going through right now is our disease. Codependence
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Old 12-15-2006, 07:19 PM
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I wish I could give you more help as well but I am in the same situation. I agree with another poster that I am not sure I can ever fully detach and am not sure I want to. I think it is up to you how you want to handle it...I just wish I could give more advice.
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Old 12-15-2006, 09:16 PM
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Okay, I can accept that you may truly deeply dislike your father, but "hate" is a dangerous word to use to describe any feelings of animosity. The thing about "hate" besides the fact that it's a sin is that it eats away at YOU not your father whom is usually so delirious as to not give a [email protected]#* as to whether you love him or not. Don't carry hate around in your heart and remember at any given time your father may very well recover and see the error of his ways. Then what? I mean God works miracles every day, honey! Nobody's perfect though some of us get more seriously into imperfection than others we all have our ways of coping with our pain or problems; we all have our unhealthy habits, for him he found alcohol. For you, you've probably become obsessively devoted to your family. No matter what form coping takes it's a fixation for us because it's effective. No mattter what he does or what you do to counteract what he does he's still your FATHER. You sound like an intelligent woman to me who's learned to remain detached from all this just don't let your strength for preserving your peace of mind and your family's stability turn into a disease. Don't let this make you bitter. Find yourself above such ignorance and pettiness. I wish you luck!
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Old 12-16-2006, 08:26 AM
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Welcome aboard LilGirl.

I just thought I'd chime in. Both my parents were "functional" alcoholics. My father had an exceedingly successful career, he's now retired. My mom was a stay at home mom who managed to make things seem outwardly that we were the model of the Cleaver's.

You stated in your first post that your life is better without your father coming in and creating a destructive swath through your heart. And that you'd told him you weren't going to speak to him again. Well, I say it's time to defend that boundary.

He calls and leaves voicemails. If possible, I say delete them without listening to them. He has the right to behave as he feels appropriate. You have the right to refuse his treatment of you. You have the ability to walk away, to not listen to the voicemails, to move forward with your life.

ACoAs are very good at feeling guilty. My husband once asked me if I felt guilty when it rained. I said "sometimes". Yeah. Do I have any control over the rain? No. Do you have any control over your father? No. Feeling guilty about removing yourself from his toxic ways makes about as much sense as feeling guilty about carrying an umbrella when it's raining.

You need to protect you. You also need to protect your children and stop the cycle if you possibly can.

I have not fully detached from my parents, but I don't talk to them when they're drunk either. I tell them I have to go and I'll call them later (usually early enough that they haven't started drinking yet). I interact via email. I make sure that, if I do visit them, I have set up an 'escape plan'.

While most who know me would say I am kind and giving and generous, when it comes to my parents, I am very very selfish. I am finally learning how to be selfish. I will not tolerate the crap anymore. I will not deal with the lies and falsehoods. I hang up on them when they call drunk. I don't believe them when they say positive things. I can now (after much therapy and the support of a wonderful husband) laugh at the ludicrousness of the situations. It's not a funny laugh, more of a pathetic one, but I see there's humor in the insanity that is my parents. Gallows humor, but humor still.

I don't know if any of this early morning rambling will help you or not. Suffice to say you're not alone. Everyone takes their own path to healing, some need to completely detach, some learn to set and defend boundaries, some learn to put up an emotional shield and let it roll off.

It's okay to be selfish when being selfish protects you. If it helps, I not only give you my permission to be selfish, but strongly encourage you to do so. You can't take good care of anyone else if you, yourself, are not taken care of. So put yourself where you should be - in that number 1 spot. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. Take care of yourself so you can be there for your husband. Let your father take care of himself in whatever style he chooses, but try not to get sucked into his demented world. It's not a world you want to live in, and you're a grownup now. You don't have to live in his world anymore.
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Old 12-16-2006, 08:48 AM
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GingerM.... I love you. LMAO. Seriously though.... thank you so much for your kind early morning, nonjudgemental words. I needed them and you are a wonderful human for taking the time to write. Thank you thank you thank you...

NewBlue... thank you again for your advice and sharing! Please keep writing and helping me... I love love love love love it! It helps tremendously! And I will take your advice and try not to become a victim of my childhood - whether that means becoming an A myself or becoming bitter! Thanks!

Everyone here is soooo awesome! I am so glad I found this site!
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Old 12-16-2006, 08:58 AM
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I just have to say again that i really really really really really appreciate everyone taking the time to "listen" to me and talk to me. People come into your lives for a reason and i am so glad I found this site!

Hearing everyone's different views is really eye-opening! And helpful. I am sure you all know this already!!! LOL.

Anyhow, I am feeling the love right now and wanted to show my gratitude!

Ginger, NewBlue, Mcerrra, Trying, Cynay and Dollydo.... thanks so much for everythng - you have no idea how much better you have made me feel!~

Ok, enough of my slobber-fest! Carry on!
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Old 12-16-2006, 05:18 PM
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you have no idea how much better you have made me feel!~
We've all been where you are. I bet we do know

I feel like that everytime I come here and read posts. Just knowing that I'm not a freak, and being reminded that I'm the adult now and I get to make my own decisions now. It sounds so simple, but I do need to be reminded on a fairly regular basis.
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Old 12-25-2006, 03:07 PM
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I dont think there is such a thing as a functioning alcoholic... The function they perform is being an alcoholic... Abusive, self centered, and there life revovles around drinking, not their families. You are correct in trying to keep this out of your immediate familys lives because one alcoholic can cause a negative impact on everybody they come in contact with.. There is only one kind of alcoholic.. The kind that has to have alcohol.. I will be praying for a positive change in your situation God Bless you
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