When your parents never drank....

Old 10-25-2009, 10:55 PM
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When your parents never drank....

For many years I've heard that ACA and ACOA are for abuse victims too, but the names of these groups imply they're for children of alcoholics. I've never gotten involved, because i never felt like I fit in. Yall tell stories about your parents being drunk and wasted and I cannot comment or identify. I have no basis for offering any ESH.

Neither of my parents has so much as tasted a drop of alcohol (or drugs) in their entire lives. Neither of them has even smoked a cigarette. But my father beat me, berated me and threatened my life for 18 years. My mother stood by and let him do it. And she berated me all those years as well, even to this day. There was no love or affection in our home. NEVER a hug or an "I love you". Ever. This abuse warped my sense of self, my ability to function in society, my ability to have meaningful relationships. I became an addict, bulimic and racked up a long list of mental health diagnoses. I have worked tirelessly to better myself and to overcome the effects of physical, emotional and religious abuse, and neglect. But at almost 42 years old, I am still struggling alone with it. Still having nightmares. Still struggling with self doubt ("ie it wasn't that bad, maybe they are right and I'm just crazy, maybe i am so stupid I can't even understand why I drove them to do it, etc) I am no longer in therapy as I cannot afford it, even with insurance the copayments are more than I can afford. Periodically I search online for abuse support groups and find none that are very active. I don't understand it. Abuse is prevalent, but support groups are not. There seems to be nowhere to go. I've found only a few, mostly inactive, support boards. If anyone knows of any truly active abuse recovery communities, please let me know. Even here on SR, there is no category for it although there seems to be a category for everything else.
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Old 10-25-2009, 11:17 PM
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I'm sorry to hear about your story. You know, there are lots of different types of abuse. My parents, thankfully, never physically harmed me or threatened me, but they did drink all the time. Abuse obviously doesn't have to involve alcohol.

Just out of curiosity, have you ever done a family history of alcohol? Maybe your father never drank, but maybe he has a long history in his family. Maybe his father drank and beat him. Oftentimes ACOAs pass on traits of the alcoholic family even if they themselves never drink. For instance, my aunt (mom's sister) never drinks, but she still grew up in an alcoholic/dysfunctional family, and so even without the alcohol present, she still passed on dysfunction to her children. Which means that my cousins, who never dealt with alcoholic parents first-hand, can probably still relate to many things that ACOAs say.

It might be revealing to do some family research, if you haven't already. Especially if you feel you can relate to many of the things said here.
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Old 10-25-2009, 11:30 PM
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Nope, no alcoholism in our family until me. My father's side are all of a religion that doesn't believe in drinking, even casually. Mother's side I have a few cousins who have had drug problems, but my maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, are all abstinant. And neither of my parents were abused in any way.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:25 PM
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Hi daydream, the 13 ACOA characteristics officially extend to all adult children of dysfunctional families. If there was abuse in your childhood (verbal, emotional, and physical as you've described) then you may very well fall into our category. It's been my experience that alcohol is not absolutely present in a dysfunctional home. Many people in my AF's family tree have their own kind of dysfunction associated with their families (mental illness, religious tyrant, etc.). Alcohol is just one factor that can drive the dysfunction.

Have you read Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck? If you're looking for some supportive reading, this book talks about all kinds of abuse and is not just focussed on alcohol. Welcome to our corner, BTW!
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:05 PM
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Hello there daydream, and pleased to "meet" you.

Originally Posted by daydream View Post
For many years I've heard that ACA and ACOA are for abuse victims too, but the names of these groups imply they're for children of alcoholics....
The ACA groups got started in the early 80's. Back then there was a lot of research being done into alcoholism, and therefore funding for research into families and children was readily available. A therapist by the name of Claudia Black wrapped up all the research into one excellent book ( "It will never happen to me" ) and overnight there were ACA groups springing up everywhere.

Those were exciting times.

Once there was awareness of the effects alcoholism had on children research spread out in all directions. We very quickly realized that it wasn't the _alcohol_ that caused the damage. It was the abuse. The term "toxic family" was created to try and cover all the different types of crazy families.

Except that by then ACA had become a worldwide movement. It was simply too late, and too expensive to try and change the name. In fact, it's the same problem that al-anon and Overeaters Anonymous struggled with when they had explosive growth; the name didn't keep up with the research.

In the larger cities you will find ACA groups that specialize on just physical abuse, or just sexual abuse, etc. In the rest of the world we just all hang out together because it's the _pain_ inside that makes us all the same. Not the details of our parents insanity.

My father and mother were alcholics. My father was physically abusive but my mother was not. My grandfather never drank, but he was a pedophile. I find that the 12 steps of ACA work just fine for me, because they help me deal with the "toxic environment" regardles of which adult had which insanity.

By the way. _Yes_, it was that bad. No you are not crazy. No you did not drive them to do it. I can answer those cuz it's the same answers that I had to work out for me.

Stick around awhile, look for the similarities in our _emotions_, not in the details of our parents. Recovery is not about _them_, it's about _us_ and how _we_ overcome the damage and brainwashing that was forced upon us.

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Old 10-27-2009, 08:27 AM
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Hiya daydream and welcome

The book Dothi recommends is a good one - she beat me to recommending it . As Mike says, it isn't the alcohol that causes the damage it is your parents behaviour and the way they interact with each other and you that causes the damage.

I'm 44, with an AF who died 21 years ago and a chronic, hardcore codependent mother. My brother is alcoholic. I am not an addict but I have lots of ACOA / codependent qualities that I am working on. I too was abused, I suffered physical, verbal and emotional abuse and neglect. I came within a hairs-breadth of suffering sexual abuse.

I understand your doubt and denial - yes, it was that bad. For me, once I fully accepted my past and grieved for it, I found I was able to validate it and to start to move forward.

I hope you stick around - I post about all-sorts.

Take care, IWTHxxx

PS I love your pugs!!
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