Dealing with recovering father?

Old 07-27-2010, 04:38 PM
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Dealing with recovering father?

Hi, I'm new here and I was wondering for some possible advice.

My father has been drinking my entire life but his drinking became far more dangerous when my mother became terminally ill/at the time of her death. Ever since then he has been a full-on alcoholic (about 7 years now.) This has, of course, negatively affected basically every aspect of his and our lives--we went in and out homelessness and semi-homelessness (me having to crash on family/friends' couches) for years. Only recently did he finally give up and seek one of his sisters for real help. I have been living in her (my aunt's basement) for the past 6 months or so while he has been in rehab. He came back to stay with me here about three months ago and things have been going great. He finally got a stable job (menial labor, but better than nothing), and has been behaving in a far more positive way. I have finally gotten back the father that I used to know and love, and for the first time in my life I have been happy on a regular basis.

He has done so well that my aunt and uncle even trusted him to stay in their basement with me while they are on vacation. A week into it (last night) I came home with a friend and he was blasting music very loudly and was drunk. He kept yelling obscenities at my friend and me. I felt absolutely humiliated and ashamed. I was very upset but I tried to hide it until my friend left. I looked through the pantry and noticed that he'd bought cases of beer and hard lemonade--which clearly isn't nearly as bad as the obscene hard liquour that he used to drink, but still REALLY alarmed me.

Today I confronted him about it and he promised that he'd "stop forever after the last case was done". I kept asking him to throw it away but he kept saying "I just wanted to check something. I just want to see what happens." I asked him to explain but he said that he couldn't and that I wouldn't understand. Is this the alcoholic in him talking? I know that addiction is very difficult to describe to someone who hasn't fully gone through it, but I really wanted to understand.

I really don't know what to do. This is the first time it's happened since he got out of rehab, but I have a feeling that the only reason that it didn't happen earlier was because my aunt and uncle were in the house watching over him very cautiously. I feel that if he ever does rehabilitate himself to the point of getting us to move out of their house, he will just fall into the same old cycle because he won't have anyone keeping him in check. Or maybe he will start sneaking it behind their backs when they return?

Sorry if this is lengthy, but I have nobody to really turn to. I feel awful about this. Does anyone have any advice/clarification for what my dad's going through? (particularly when he said he was doing it to "check something")
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Old 07-27-2010, 04:46 PM
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Hi waken, and welcome to SR.

I'm sorry for the circumstances that brought you here, but I am glad you found us.

Your father has gone through rehab. He has the tools to stay sober if he has the desire.

Obviously he doesn't have the desire anymore.

Alcohol is cunning, baffling, and powerful.

There are 3 C's to remember:
You didn't cause his alcoholism.
You can't control his alcoholism.
You can't cure his alcoholism.

Please check into Alanon meetings in your area for face-to-face support among those who understand. Alanon was a lifesaver for me.

If any other family members would like to go too, please encourage them to do so.

You father is no longer recovering. He made the conscious decision to drink again.

You have no control over that.

What you do have control over is you, and seeking recovery for yourself. Those of us who have loved an alcoholic have a lot of wounds to heal.

I hope you continue to post, and know you are among friends.
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Old 07-27-2010, 05:42 PM
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Red face Dealing with recovering father?

My father & mother did some drinking for about a three year period then quit because my Mom felt it was getting out of hand. My Grandmother (My Mom's Mother) lived with us from our grade school years on through highschool & the year I graduated from High School she upped & stopped.

My Dad always had a six pack of beer on the back porch but only had one or two before supper. He didn't get into alcoholic drinking until we were out on our own & married. I know he started drinking at work & his supervisor came to talk to my Mom about it. He was ready to lose his job & was close to his retirement.

So Mom & my brother talked to him about it and they sent him to a hospital type setting due to his heart disease. He had one heart attack already and did have another one when he quit drinking. He never took a drink after his treatment. Mom & I went through the family program with him & she stayed with us the month he was in treatment.

There is a lot of information on the Internet & of course Alanon & Alateen for family members of the alcoholic. But as was said before, he is the only one that can decide he needs help & follows through with it through his doctor or even AA Meetings. He must feel scared & angry at himself because he can't help but know what he is doing to you and the rest of the family helping you.

The disease of Alcoholism is just that & most of the time this person has to do this for himself...recognize that he has a problem & needs help.

I didn't catch your age but you are lucky you have an Aunt & Uncle to help you. My brother & I eventually became alcoholics & I quit 22 years ago. My Brother quit before my Dad & stayed sober 14 years but had a 10 year suspended prison sentence over his head. He started drinking again & got into a crowd of friends that used drugs so he has been trying to stay sober & is off the meth....but he is 68 & I will be 70 in two months.

I have Chronic Depression/Anxiety so have to take care to keep myself balanced out & keep my stress level as low as I can manage.

I am so sad about your must be lonely for you. I am glad you have your aunt to help you. Life is so scary when things are different...I loved my Grandma so much & didn't want to be like her but I did become like her until I got the guts to ask for help.

During my childhood I couldn't invite friends over because we never knew what would be happening next. Later I learned that my best girlfriend's Mom drank daily so you just never know how many friends & family members one alcoholic can affect.

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Old 07-27-2010, 06:06 PM
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Thank you both for the responses. The objective side of my mind has always strongly believed that it was not my fault. As many probably know, however, it is very hard to sometimes control the emotional side of one's mind as well. My attachment to my father has made it all the more difficult to deal with the effects of his drinking--because I love him very much.

Kelsh--I'm very happy for your recovery. It is very inspiring to hear of people who have been sober for long periods of time. It makes me feel as though there may be hope for my father as well.

I was actually thinking about alanon meetings but I am somewhat intimidated to be honest. I do realize that it's confidential and that there is no logical reason for me to be afraid to go, but dealing with his alcoholism has been a completely solo thing throughout my whole life. Even my closest friends and family haven't heard a peep about it from me until he actually checked into rehab. Even then I didn't say much and would quickly reply, "he's in rehab" and change the subject. It would be VERY emotionally overwhelming to actually share my feelings with a group of people. (I'm sure you all know what I mean.)

I am also trying to deal with my feelings towards him as I grow up. I am very confused as to what our relationship will be like later in life. At this point I'm fairly certain that I do not want to live alone with him. I have three years of high school left until I can hopefully go off to college and not have to deal with his problems. At the same time I feel selfish for feeling this way. After all, what if something were to happen with his health while I was gone?

This is obviously opposing any rational ideas I have that tell me that I should not take on this burden of his. I guess I'm just thinking out loud at this point, but it is most definitely confusing.
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Old 07-27-2010, 06:15 PM
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I know it's confusing, and that's all the more reason you would get a lot out of Al-Anon. People in Al-Anon "get it". They understand, they will help you sort out your feelings, and you will feel less scared and confused and alone.

Once you start to share a little of what you are dealing with, it won't feel as emotionally overwhelming--trust me on that. You've been carrying a lot of emotional responsibility alone. In Al-Anon you won't be alone anymore.
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:26 PM
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You don't have to share at Alanon if you don't want to, hon.

The disease of alcoholism thrives in secrecy. There is a long line of alcoholics on both sides of my family, and no one ever talked about it. I was the first in the family to break the chains of alcoholism.

My dad lost his father and mother both within a year of each other due to alcohol-related deaths. His mother had advanced cirrhosis of the liver and had a heart attack at 42. His father died drunk in a fire at the club he owned. My dad was left to raise two younger brothers by himself, and he was still in high school.

I know that had to be incredibly painful. He never talks about it.

You are carrying such a big burden that isn't yours to carry. I didn't realize you were so young, but please know I will keep you and your dad in my prayers.
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:32 AM
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Hi hun,
sorry you're going through this. I strongly suggest you go to AlAnon and read here as much as you can. Also maybe you'd like to check the subforum Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) on SR.
My dad was also an A, he passed away 11 years ago at the age of 53 due to alcohol related illness. I guess living with him I pretty much felt the same way you're feeling now. I never spoke about it to anyone. I don't know if I felt deep down it was somehow my fault, but I know I felt it was my job to make it right and put up with it. I guess like you I mistook our roles, I was considering myself to be a parent and not the other way around. I minimized what he was doing and I rationalized it with it's not too bad and he can't do any better. Today too I know he couldn't do any better but today that knowing comes from the different place, the place I've reached after working on myself and all my emotions, and not by surpressing them and not knowing how to deal with them as it was when I was your age.
I think it is crucial for you that you educate yourself on the disease of alcoholism. Not only for this point in time of your life, but for your future too. Because hon, you're bacoming the person you're be until the rest of your life, and living under these circumstances can prove dangerous for you in the long run. You're larning to live your life in the way that you taking care of someone who seems unable to care for himself. You're creating a pattern of a bahaviour that you'll take as normal in your life to come. Thus it is likely in life you'll be searching for partners that will give you this same kind of life, the only one you know how to live.
You're really young, and I don't know if any of this makes sense to you. So I will not talk more about it, I just hope you'll start working on yourself and educate yourself about this disease and the way it affects people how are living with it.
Your dad had a relapse, maybe he'll seek help and continue working on his recovery or he'll continue drinking. No one can know that. This is not about his love for you, his drinking doesn't mean he doesn't love you enough, but maybe he doesn't love himself enough, maybe he's not strong enough, whatever the reason it is not your job to save him, bacause you can't save him, no one can but himself. That's the nature of this disease.
And aslo a big issue: Shame. There is nothing you need to feel shamed about. Don't feel ashamed for what your dad is doing. His doings don't say anything about you, it is not your job to hide it, as by doing that you're only making things harder for yourself.

Again, I'm so sorry you're going through this.
You seem like a really smart young girl, and even though I don't know you I feel proud of you.
I'd really like to help as much as I can. You can PM me if you like.

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Old 07-28-2010, 02:53 AM
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Hi waken.
It is NOT selfish to think about your school and college. That is precisely what your focus should be.. your life and your future... enjoying your friends and the stage in life you are in...

Unfortunately many alcoholics relapse. Only rehab,AA can help him, not you.
Many times I went to AA as it was closer to home. They welcomed me when I said I knew an A, although I am not an A. That was all I said. You can just go there, listen.

Sometimes I felt close to someone and stayed and talked to them 1 on 1. It never failed to make me feel better. Everybody gets how its like. Everybody lends you their hand.

I will never understand addiction but talking to alcoholics in AA made it very clear to me that it is a journey they have to travel alone and has NOTHING to do with me. Also that I had options that protect me and my sanity :ghug3
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:10 PM
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Hi, waken, and welcome to SR. I'm sorry that you're having to experience his relapse when you're basically on your own. I'm glad you found SR. It's a wonderful group with a lot of experience, hope and support to share.

Originally Posted by waken View Post
I looked through the pantry and noticed that he'd bought cases of beer and hard lemonade--which clearly isn't nearly as bad as the obscene hard liquour that he used to drink, but still REALLY alarmed me.
I can completely understand your alarm. My STBXAH went through one in-patient recovery program, came back still denying that he had problem. He tried to say that it was always the hard stuff, vodka, that was the problem, that beer was OK. It was an all out blatant denial of his alcoholism. (There were plenty of times where our living room was littered with empty beer bottles - not vodka bottles - and he was passed out on the couch.) There is no alcohol that is OK for an alcoholic. It all carries the same risks and dangers for the alcoholic.

Thinking that there is a 'safe' type of alcohol or drinking to just check on something are not signs of actively working recovery.

I'm sorry.

As the others have pointed out there is nothing you can do to make your father get back into his recovery program. You can express your concern, you can voice your support of his recovery, but you can't make him work his recovery. Your focus needs to be on you and your life; you have every right to focus your energies on your well-being. There is a lot of great information in the stickies (the threads at the top of the Friends and Family Forum) - especially (but not only) the "About Recovery" thread (great info on detaching, setting boundaries, excerpts from Under the Influence, etc.).

Welcome, waken, and hugs. Keep reading and posting, we're here to support each other.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:51 PM
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hi waken and welcome-

i want to address your father's "just wanting to check something" reason for drinking again. many alcoholics are in denial that they have this disease. it's part of the sickness. they believe they can go from full-blown alcoholism to just drinking now and then. it appears he isn't finished drinking yet.

it would be good if you could have someone to speak to, face to face. i'm wondering if there is a teacher you trust? or a counselor at your high school?

also, there is alateen as well as alanon.

it would be good if you could have someone to speak to confidentially. also, you don't have to speak in the alanon meetings. you can just listen if you want.

we are here and we are listening. if you are uncomfortable going to a meeting, you can always come here. we have all lived with alcoholics too, so we understand.

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