Anger, Guilt, & Responsibility

Old 05-10-2013, 08:47 PM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: MPLS
Posts: 2
Anger, Guilt, & Responsibility

Hi. First post here. I just joined because I'm completely overwhelmed with emotion.

I'm the 26 year old adult son of an alcoholic parent. He's 70, I'm the oldest child. He is divorced, has been for about 20 years now, lives alone, drinks alone, and has had health problems. He was always a functional alcoholic, a term I've heard him use. He went to work, came to my baseball games, answers the phone. He's generally been there for me. He definitely financially supported me - as I went to a private catholic high school and then a public university. The things he's done for me hang over my head. I feel like I owe him.

He's been an alcoholic since before I was born, and it was a big part of why my parents got divorced (I just learned this). His drinking became noticeably worse when I was in high school. He just wasn't really there after about 6pm. He was physically there, but not mentally. A lot of one word answers, obvious incoherence, and whatever else. My sister, a few years younger than I, and I confronted him about it more than once. I would find bottles in the car, in the basement, one time I drove down the street and he was parked at the end of the road drinking before he got home.

Pretty much since then I've avoided talking to him in the evening because it's just too depressing, there's no meaningful conversation, and he wouldn't remember anyway. It was easier when I was in college out of state. I graduated and moved home and it was extremely frustrating. It made me feel extremely guilty about my own drinking, which was occasionally irresponsible, but seemed about in line with my early 20's peers. I moved out 2 years ago and live about half an hour away. I see him every weekend. He expects me to come up to his place and 'help out' around the house. Do little chores, sometimes big chores, or projects. It's really not a ton of work, but it is a time commitment, and I really think he just wants a companion because he's lonely - not my fault. I feel like I'm not given the opportunity to want to see my dad, or want to help out with things, because it's expected of me. Now I resent it. I hate that none of my peers spend time with their parents. They moved out and at least seem to be able to live independent and free and I just feel trapped.

He went to treatment recently, he's tried AA classes multiple times. He was in these classes recently for 2 weeks. It surprised me how short it was. He fell off the wagon during those 2 weeks a couple of times and has numerous times since the sessions have been over. He called to apologize for it once. And it almost just makes me mad. I'm glad he's getting help. I just want so badly not to care, to not be involved with these problems. I feel like I should have nothing to do with them. Recently, he called me because he wanted to have lunch, and I declined because I had plans. I called him later, and he had been drinking. I think things like, "if i had spent time with him, would he have drank?" and I always think along that line whenever I leave his house after I"m done helping out on the weekends. Sometimes he'll want to do something else that isn't work and I decline because I have other plans, or because I have things I need to work on, because I too, have a f'ing life, and I just feel incredibly guilty leaving, like "well he's going to go drink now"

I feel directly responsible. I feel guilty for not wanting to be involved. I feel really really angry about it all right now, and my anger seems so unreasonable to me. When I write, "I'm mad that he's old, alone, and drunk" it makes me feel guilty, but that's very much how I feel right now. I just want to disappear. I have my own problems with depression and a million other things going on and this is just such a huge burden on my mind right now. I don't really know what to do. I'm jealous that my mom got to divorce him. I'm jealous my sister in 900 miles away in NY. I'm jealous of all my friends whose parents are together, or 20 years younger, or not alcoholics, or not alone, or not so old-fashioned. I'm completely ungrateful, unreasonable, bitter, and just pissed off.

I completely stopped drinking a few months ago because I never ever want to be my dad to someone else. I don't think he should have had children.
ctz is offline  
Old 05-10-2013, 10:30 PM
  # 2 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: MPLS
Posts: 2
Thanks for reading. If you have advice, I'd love it. I feel like I have to take care of someone else's problems by myself. It feels good to write some of this stuff, even though I don't like how negative it all is.
ctz is offline  
Old 05-11-2013, 06:35 AM
  # 3 (permalink)  
Reedling's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: it's complicated
Posts: 99
I relate and feel for you.

Daily stepwork Alanon/ACoA helps me with the anger and guilt and to keep my own life on track. Before I made that program my own recovery focus, when my family was doing what it sometimes does, I got overwhelmed and could not function. I tended to twist the anger against myself... I guess that is the guilt in part. Also I had damage that needed help to heal even if my family was magically instantly 100% better.

For the other parts, you seem like you are already figuring it out... schedule seeing him or calls early in the day so you never have to deal with the drinking.

Maybe figure out what you want to do for him (based on your own values) and structure that as much as possible 1) on your own terms and 2) so it is predictable. The predictability part is so your dad knows he will get your attention on certain days/times, it may cut down on some of his acting out.

You get to feel negative, but there wasn't really anything negative in what you wrote. Just hard stuff.
Reedling is offline  
Old 05-11-2013, 09:35 AM
  # 4 (permalink)  
Kialua's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,438
The "Three C's" is our lifeline:

You didn't Cause it
You can't Control it
You can't Cure it

No matter what you do or did, or don't do or didn't do. It's just beyond you, us.

Yes set up your own participation and adhere to it. He will get used to it, if he tries to guilt you know that it is not real, just a manipulation technique. Emotionally detaching is a big part of your succes in dealing with an alcoholic parent.
Kialua is offline  
Old 05-11-2013, 09:58 AM
  # 5 (permalink)  
tromboneliness's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Back East
Posts: 704
Can't help noting the MPLS location. What kind of financial situation is your Dad in? If he's got the money, Hazelden is only an hour away. My qualifier went there 17 years ago, stayed for 5 months (good thing she had some money!), and has been sober ever since.

Other than that, not much to add except to reiterate that none of this is your fault, and if your Dad drinks on any particular day, it has zero to do with whether you called, went out to lunch, talked nicely, or any of that. Drunks always blame it on us, so they can get us to do what they want (primarily, get off their case so they can be alone with the only one they really love -- that guy or gal named Smirnoff... or Smirnova?).

tromboneliness is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 06:47 AM
  # 6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 179
It's difficult when they are so functional. It's easy to think that reason and logic can get through because they seem normal from time to time. And normal people would notice how destructive they are being. Alcoholics are not normal. They are gripped by something that can't be logically explained or reasoned with.

It's difficult to watch a loved one slowly destroy themselves. But we are powerless over their addiction. What we can do, it take care of ourselves.
Mracoa is offline  
Old 05-13-2013, 05:24 PM
  # 7 (permalink)  
GingerM's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Under the Rainbow
Posts: 1,086
1. The only person in this entire world whom you can be responsible for is YOU. You cannot control his behavior, you cannot control his expectations, you cannot control his desires.

He wants you to come visit every weekend "to help out." Do you want to go? And if not, what is stopping you from saying "not this weekend, sorry."? I don't mean that question to be snarky, I am completely serious. ACoA's have a tendency to feel that it's their responsibility to look out for others because they often *did* have to look out for others - their siblings, a parent, or taking care of the alcoholic in their life.

What motivates you to continue to do something that you find distasteful? Is it the "dutiful son" thing? What would be the worst thing that would happen if you didn't go see him? He would be angry? Would you feel guilty? If you felt guilty, what would be underneath the guilt? A vague feeling that you "should" be doing these things?

A therapist I once had told me that there are no "shoulds" in life. There are "wishes," "wants," and "would be in my best interests". Do you wish to spend your weekends with your dad? Do you want to? Is it in your best interest? The first two, I think, you already answered in your post. That last one? "your best interest" does not include "I don't want to feel guilty." "your best interest" means "this will improve the quality of my life or make me a better person."

2. This is not your fault. You sound very typically ACoA - feeling that things are somehow under your control that are not. You are not responsible for your dad's yard/dishwasher/drywall/whatever. And it is not in your control to make HIM stop asking YOU to do these things. It is, however, in your control to change how YOU respond. You can set boundaries. Maybe you're not comfortable with walking away entirely - it's not a black/white thing. You could set a limit of one weekend per month simply by saying "Dad, I have my own life to lead, and I'm only going to be able to come help you out one weekend a month, the first weekend works best for me, will that work for you?" Repeat the first part as often as needed until you get your point across to him that you'll only be coming to see him one weekend per month. He can say "that's not enough" but what's the worst that will happen? Will he shrivel up and die? Probably not. He'll find some new way of existing, with or without you. You have the RIGHT to take responsibility for your own life and to run it how you see fit - he has the same RIGHT, but he does not have the right to decide how you run your life.

3. You will not change his behavior. You can only change your own. This statement is kind of like item 1, except that this has to do with all behaviors, not just the responsible ones. You cannot change his irresponsible behaviors. So what behaviors of YOURS do you need to change to be able to be at peace with your life? Perhaps setting limits would bring you some peace and serenity, perhaps going no-contact with him. I can't answer that question for you, but it is a good question to spend some time thinking about.

Kialua is right. You didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it. And you have the right to not participate in the crazy-making behaviors of your dad.

You're at the very beginning of recovery. This is the hardest part. It gets easier the more you practice it ("it" can be anything from setting boundaries to identifying and avoiding toxic people).

Come back. Post, ask, seek, share. If you continue the path you've just started, life becomes much more enjoyable.
GingerM is offline  

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:56 PM.