Maybe you can help me

Old 05-21-2013, 05:11 AM
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now's the time
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fantail's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Maybe you can help me

Hi there,

This is kind of an odd question but I've received so much great support on SR that it was my first thought to come here.

So I'm an alcoholic, sober three months. My dad was sober throughout my life, now drinks on very rare occasions but is largely sober. The reason for that wasn't his own alcoholism but his father's, who was a functioning but violent alcoholic. My mother's drinking was normal to rare.

The complicating factor is my sister. For various reasons, relating to her health at birth, she had a lot of emotional issues as a kid. Still does but she's become a mostly stable adult. But as a kid, she had a lot of trouble understanding people around her and would frequently get overwhelmed and go into these crazy rages. I've since then been around raging drunks and it was pretty similar. When she gets like this, it's like she isn't there. It's just the wall of pain and anger flying at you at full volume. Usually without much warning. I had cracks in my bedroom door from her trying to break it down. Babysitters would quit, friends would go away, etc.

Well, for a reason totally unrelated to my family, I looked today at an article about adult children of alcoholics. And it was this little checklist about common traits, and it described me. Like, pretty much every single item.

I've known for a long time that growing up with her damaged me on some level, because I've dated many emotionally abusive men and one physically abusive man and I just don't seem to realize it until it's too late. And also, my father and I seem to have the same cocktail of issues... I mostly attributed it to genetics, but sometimes he would specifically point out things that he thought came from being around his dad, and I would realize I felt the same from my sister.

But... now I'm just totally shaken. It was kind of similar, now that I think about it. We were constantly on eggshells. Out of nowhere everything would go wrong and everyone would be fighting or crying etc. I could never predict when it was going to happen or in front of who. It's still kind of like that and unfortunately it's usually at times that are stressful for her, so probably stressful for me as well (e.g. reblended family events). I have to drop everything and keep her from hurting herself or lashing out at people in ways that she'll regret. Or I get angry and fight back which makes everything worse, and then I feel horribly guilty afterwards for the things that I say.

Sorry this is so long. I know this isn't about a parent. But I guess I don't know what to do. It's so complicated because it isn't her fault. She's not a bad person. She's not even an addict. She was born this way and I know she suffers for it.

How do you put your life together when your internal compass is off? Reading that article just opened up this floodgate in me. I'm so sorry for the long post... but please if anyone has any advice about where I go from here, I would really appreciate it.
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Old 05-21-2013, 06:09 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
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reset the compass--counseling therapy and a support group---basically just like getting sober
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Old 05-21-2013, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by fantail View Post
How do you put your life together when your internal compass is off?
Find the right group (don't be afraid to try several).

Learn the steps and start working them.

Observe yourself and how you react to things. When you react in a way that bothers you, dig underneath, understand why you acted that way, and why it bothers you.

A good therapist can help you in this self observation. But it can be done without one.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:11 AM
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My sister, that I lived with on weekends to escape my abusive alcoholic father, was eventually diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Very stressful, I understand. We mistakenly thought she was just drunk most of the time because she did drink but it was much more than that. It took decades to get her committed and cared for in a group home, where she continues to slowly go downhill. It is very similar to alcoholic behavior and consequences to those around her.

Awareness is key to healing. Continue your search to find support. It also helps to know that she is safe finally.
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:47 PM
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Hello fantail, and pleased to "meet" you

Originally Posted by fantail View Post
... I know this isn't about a parent. But I guess I don't know what to do....
No worries, you are welcome here just the same

The word "alcoholics" in the title of ACoA is there because when they put the program together 30 some years ago that was the only cause they understood. Since then they've figured out that it is not the _alcoholism_ that does the damage, it's the _dysfunction_.

Maybe someday they will change the name to Adult Children of Dysfunction.

Also note that it does not matter _where_ the dysfunction comes from, it only matters that a child is raised in the middle of it. That's it, that is the only requirement. From what you describe it seems clear to me that your family was thrown into chaos and dysfunction. Not because it was anybody's fault, as you said, but because there was not any kind of appropriate medical facility for your sister. Nor was there appropriate support for your parents in terms of training, education, etc.

Since the "description" of an ACoA fits you well I would suggest you pick up some books on the subject and see if the _healing_ techniques also fit you. If they do, then you are one of us, and you have a "web family" right here on SR

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Old 05-22-2013, 03:36 AM
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now's the time
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Thank you so much everyone.

thank you Mike. I will get some books. It's given me a lot to think about already. I guess I kind of feel like I was in denial about how much all that affected me... and then to read a description of myself on!!! It just knocked me out of my chair.
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