Children of alcoholics
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Louise · 10 Apr 2006Dear Livian,
You can go to Al Anon meetings. I don't know where you live, but if you ring the Al Anon head office number (I think in Capel Street in Dublin) they will be able to guide you to meetings near you. Al Anon helps people to come to terms with - and recover from - the havoc an alcoholic plays or played in their lives. It will help you to deal with the anger, and to be free of it in future relationships. If you get this very valuable help, I can guarantee you will in turn help your daughter deal with it. When she is a teenager, if you feel she is damaged by it, she could attend Alateen, for teenagers affected by alcoholism.
I hear what you're saying about relationships being badly effected by your difficulties in the past, and 'punishing the wrong person'. It's hard to trust again. Also, in Ireland it is definitely hard to find a man who doesn't drink too much! They're out there alright, but as we are less likely to meet them in the pub it can be hard to meet them at all!! I've considered rock climbing, scuba diving, hanging upsidedown from the ceiling for charity... WHERE can a nice woman meet a nice man?!!! But as I can't see myself rock climbing, scuba diving or hanging from a ceiling long term, what's the point?
A friend of mine once said to me, "I'm going to haunt the Leeson Street Nite Clubs until I find myself a husband!" To which I replied, "Leeson Street if FULL of husbands!"
But do try Al Anon and see if it helps. I've a feeling it will. Remember not to judge it on one or two meetings, but to give it time.
Livian · 10 Apr 2006Thanks Louise,
I know im better off without him, to be honest when you live for 6 years with someone like this...you finally fall out of love. It does not hurt me when i think of it, is just past and gone well....life is like this.
Your comment about when the sun comes out in ireland, made me laugh coz is sooo true!!!!!!!!
And yes he has a serious problem.
What I really think is also a problem is that we, de "victims" of drink, dont have anywhere to go or to rely on. What I mean is that i had to get over that mess alone, and that obviously has brought some "traumas" into my life, as for starting new relation ships, being much selfish, less tolerant and some times a bit more possesive that ever before, and way too independent for men to handle that!!!! Sometimes i feel like i hurt someone free of charge, and he may did not deserved it, and then i realize even i still have anger towards him.And evethough i hate the kind of women who put men into the same box, if im honest to myself, im afraid i sort of do the same!!!
But what about my daughter?? As I said, i´ve tried to cover him up with that, but she is 9, she will see, she will remember a few occassions, im sure... and then what!?? will she have to carry a trauma of a father like him?? who will help her!!? How can i protect her from that?
Louise · 08 Apr 2006Dear Livian,
An alcoholic isn't necessarily someone who drinks every day! There are two very good questions that I find indicate if someone is (a) an alcoholic or (b) has a serious drink problem. I'm not sure if there's a difference! I just don't like to label people. The two questions are: 1. If you start drinking, can you stop? 2. Do you lie about your drinking? (and that includes telling yourself lies!).
I think if someone's drinking makes them an irresponsible parent, then it's very serious. Your daughter probably already knows she can't rely on her father, but thankfully she has you to rely on. It's good you don't live with her father! It means her home is a safe and loving place.
I agree with you that the attitude to drinking in Ireland is very unhealthy. Being completely drunk in public is accepted as 'normal'. If you REALLY think about this, it is crazy. Grown men and women staggering around the street, being sick on the street, falling down, getting sick in taxis... and so on. If someone does that during the daytime, we think badly of them. What is the difference at nighttime? I dislike Christmas very much in Ireland because of all the drinking; it goes on for WEEKS. And like you say: weddings, funerals, St Patrick's Day. And guess what? If the sun comes out... well, it's time to GO DRINKING to celebrate!! If it rains, guess what? There's nothing to do except... DRINK!
I smoke some of the time, and agree with you that as a poison, nicotine is less harmful by far to other people than drinking to excess. The 'ripple effect' of serious drinking is HUGE. It includes the person themselves, all of their loved ones, their employer/job, admissions to hospitals, road accidents, other accidents (falling down etc.)... in fact, the list is probably endless. Yet we ban cigarettes! I figure I could drop dead at my table in a pub late at night in Ireland, and nobody would notice; but light up a cigarette!! I could be fined a small fortune for smoking in a pub, but if I smash someones face in with a broken bottle, I'd be hard pushed to get a prison sentence as my solicitor would get me off on 'diminished responsibility' due to... guess what? Drink!! It's so mad.
Finally. I do believe your ex has a serious drink problem... not a little one, a big one. You are so much better off living without that.
Livian · 06 Apr 2006I am not the daughter of any alcoholic. Im just a woman who at the age of 17 meet an irish guy an felt inlove with with him. After 3 years we had a child, a beautiful baby girl. I would not say he was mad into drinking, but he was the kind of person who could not just have one.... the day my (our) daugther was born i was lucky my mum was around, otherwise i would have been left at the door of the hospital in a foreing country( we lived in germany then)waiting for him ( he had a hard night and had past out from drinking).I guess we can all go on and on, explaining stories like this, i personally have hundreds. But in resume, what the bad habit from drinking brought to my life was a few years of loneliness, desppair and debts all over the place. A child that was lucky to have me, not that he was or is a bad Father, is just that is not capable of looking after himself even less a kid.I obviously broke up with him. And now after 5 years i try to be a friend to him, even though he has a big problem with maintenaince ( i dont understand why men think that money is for us, and can get into their heads is for their child!!).I try not to hold any regrets or resentment againts him, but i cant help to think that my daughter now 9, will some day realize she cant count on him.And that is what makes me mad, and angry at him, at times. As i said i would not call him an alcoholic as such, coz he can go days and days without drinking, but when a pint falls into his hand, then he looses all senses and just drinks till he drops. The years i lived in Ireland, made me realize, the amount of this type of "alcoholics" are walking in your streets, i would not dare to critizice your culture, but you do promote the drinking habits into your society. St. Patricks day, Christmas eve,the Funerals are a drinking event.....is a raise for drinking. Everything is reduce to the pub, i accept your climatology does not invite to go for walks, but....i dont think is got anything to do with the climate, but more to do with tradition.You have ban smoking in your country. But my daughter has not gone one day without nappies due to my smoking habits, or my rent has not been paid either coz of that, and my relationship has not broke coz a cigarreta, it has because of DRINK. I dont know how goverments work but im sure is all got to do with money and taxes and honestly i do not think is because all our governtments ( irish, spanish ( im spanish)germany, italian, etc..)worry about our health!!!
Louise · 04 Apr 2006Dear Eireyes85,
Have you ever heard of Al Anon? Al Anon hold meetings where people affected by alcoholism can meet, and it includes many tools that can help you to deal with the aftermath of growing up with an alcoholic parent; also, on how to deal with living with him still. They hold meeting nationwide, and if you phone the head office number in the Directory they can tell you about the nearest meeting to where you live.
Also, if you live near Dublin, the Hanley Centre in Dun Laoghaire run excellent evening courses to help Adult Children of Alcholics (ACOA) recover from the experience. Remember, an alcoholic will make everyone who lives with them as sick as themselves; it becomes a family illness. You didn't choose to be a part of your father's illness, but you can choose to go for help to deal with where it has left you emotionally. I'd highly recommend you do!
My mother was the alcoholic in my family. It's very tough. I'm now a mother myself in my middle forties, and I really feel for what you're going through. You're still so very young. I wish I'd gotten help at your age (or younger!). I'd have saved myself a lot of hardship in life. So please consider it well.
Eireyes85 · 03 Apr 2006I live with an alcoholic father and I have to say I find it so difficult at times. There is a blase attitude to drinking if it concerns an Irish Male. "this is normal, irish men drink" this maybe true but not to the case where they are so drunk they walk past there own children in the street not recognising, the pain is inimaginable! the man when soba that makes everyone laugh with his sense of humour and funny jokes but then theres the other man the man who is not your dad, the man who dreams eat sleeps craves drink! I am 20 years old and it doesnt appear to get any easier as im older only harder! worrying what week he chooses to spend all times in bed or even travel to the shop with no shoes on because he has no time to look for a pair of shoes, all i think of is i wish he was so desperate to come to events at school, college and now even university. Thank You Dad "you'll always be my little" is what he said to me. Now I will never be your little girl anymore because im afraid this little girl had to grow up along time ago>
anne (yorkshire) · 08 Sep 2002my dad is an alcoholic and i'm a recovering alkie plus smoker. my husband would rather smoke passively than see me back on booze. if you go on the internet there are many on-line support groups for acoa, as we are products of our past and even if asi was only one to become alcoholic, my sister is a gambler, my one brother cant tell the truth, and the other is a miserable perfectionist, who has driven even his own son away. the characteristics of an alcoholic are found in the acoa, in fact they use the same 12 step recovery programme, which is spiritually founded. i know i waste money etc on ciggies and could well do with giving up, but just as the alcoholic doesn't one day pick up a drink and say now i choose to be an alcoholic, neither did i pick up a cigarette and decide to get hooked on my crutch. i'm glad i'm in ireland now which seems to be a lot more tolerant of smokers than sa.from what i've observed here is too many kids with nothing to do but always have money for booze and ciggies. its got to come from someone, so maybe parents should play more active role in what kids are up to? anyway sorry if i've rambled, but low self esteem is common factor in alcoholics, cof alkies gamblers and all other forms of addiction, so do visit one of the many support groups, mainly usa as u will find them a great help
Anonymous · 31 Aug 2002I find it interesting that there are no ACOA meetings in Ireland( adult children of alcoholics). I think that these will come in time, as the Celtic Tiger juggernaut ends its rampage through the country and leaves the messes in its wake. I think it's important to learn as much as you can about what life is like for children of alcoholics. I think the common name given, i.e. adult children, is very appropriate cause that has been my experience. My parents are adult children of alcoholics and they are in their 70's but with the maturity of two 8 year olds. I realise that they never got help for themselves so that they are not aware of how their need to control and manipulate everything is the result of the inevitable fear of living with alcoholism. I highly recommend any 12 step recovery programme, especially Al-Anon, in the absence of ACOA meetings. The understanding that alcoholics are suffering from a disease does help to ease the anger. That's not to say that alcoholics can't stop drinking- they can- but they need the support of other sober alcoholics to do this. Just like children of alcoholics need the support of others who know what life is like living with alcoholism.
Anonymous · 29 Aug 2002Message to the previous reader, you are so right about anger only hurting ourselves at the end of the day. I too am the daughter of an alcoholic, and I cannot say that I spent years but rather WASTED years of my life feeling bitter and sorry for myself, my father left when I was 14 thankfully, as he was extremely violent and abusive when drunk (although a lovely man when sober - yeah, the street angel/house devel syndrome ! where no-one outside the family sees the real him) but I spent years of my life hurting over past issues, and it really and truly isn't worth it, because alot of the time the person you waste all that energy on hating and resenting doesn't know it, or doesn't care, so whats the point. I remember talking to a Priest once when I was at school and feeling really hard done by, and he told me that in order for me to truly love another human being fully, then I needed to release the hurt and hatred that was clogging up my heart, and to even say the words to myself "I forgive you for ......" would help me heal, and it has taken me more than 15 years later to realise how right that Priest was, and I have been doing that every time I feel the past creeping up on me. Your life is only what YOU make it, so we need to give ourselves the best lives possible, to compensate for the childhood. One other comment before I get down off my soap box and that is a comment I read when I was a teenager that I told my father in the only letter I ever sent after he left was that "parents of alcoholics will reap the seeds of loneliness that they sow in their children's youth". Our childhoods might have been terrible, but thank god they are over !
Anonymous · 27 Aug 2002i really feel that some of the people who left messages about " Children Of Alcoholics" haven't actually got help with their anger..its not your fault that they are alcoholics.. as the eldest daughter of an alcoholic mother,i had to grow up fast with younger siblings and after all the rows and anger,i realised that none of it was my doing, i couldn't stop the drinking (as much as i wanted to break her neck). the money that was spent and the love that wasn't shown is all in the past, try and start afresh cause buying that house will make you happy, and thats your future.. sorry for sounding like an american tv show but all that crap kinda works.
ciaral · 23 Aug 2002my heart goes out to the last person to post (I was the previous postee - adult child of an alcoholic). Just a few tips - you cannot change or fix the past you must accept this as fact! I suggest you read the book I mentioned. I read this before my dad finally went into recovery, when I was still very angry and scared too of what I might be facing. The book showed me I was not alone & helped me to accept that his drinking problem was not my fault. Just like your dad's problem is not your or your siblings fault. There are people out there to help you too. Groups like Al-Anon meet regularly (it's for those affected by drinkers). While I do not go to meetings myself, I have worked through a lot of the issues through talking with my mother & some friends who are also children of alcoholics and when dad went into recovery I took part in his therapy. There are a lot of people in teh same situation out there. Talking helps ! Especially if you are scared to tackle the issue head on. Try reading the book I recommended, and talking to a close friend who you trust about it (ask them to read it too so they can discuss the issues raised).
Remember to have the strength to change the things we can, and accept those we cannot. ( ie. you don't have to like a situation but you can still accept it and learn to live with it)
Anonymous · 22 Aug 2002As a daughter of wealthy heavy drinker and post tripple bipass father who still drinks bottles of whiskey per day, but runs a business and carries on as if all is okay. His children lived in fear and embarrasement of him out socially as he would usually slag them off in public. None of them had the benefit of an education he could afford to have given them. He spent years not speaking to several children which leaves them scared , thinking they have done some thing wrong. I don't have anysort of relationship with him, I see him once ayear , he seems genuinaly pleased to see his 3 children then, but our realtionship is gone. His ex wife and daughters discuss his will etc in cold morbid terms. I feel sad but I don't have the energy to fix the past and I am not very brave any.
Anonymous · 21 Aug 2002as a child of a recovered alcoholic, I have to say I empathise with the person above - there is always a lot of hurt caused by alcoholics to the entire family. It is not the same as smoking. when someone has a smoke it does not change their personality - but drink does that. My father was an alcoholic for all of my life, up until 2 years ago when he hit rock bottom and went for help. Before this he never admitted there was a problem, but I knew from very young that we were not a normal family. When growing up there is a terrible stigma attached to having an alcoholic in the family - not wanting anyone to see them, not letting anyone too close. Please be aware that the feelings you have are shared by many children of alcoholics. I am often accused of being old before my time (I had to understand adult problems at a very young age). There is a very good book called 'Adult Children of Alcoholics' (I cannot remember the author). It helped me to understand where the feelings were coming from, and when my father was in recovery, I gave him what support I could & I forgave him his failures. He never stopped loving us, we never wanted for anything (thankfully) he just couldn't cope without the drink. He died suddenly in May this year from a heart attack, and I am so happy that he was in recovery before that, and I could help him in his recovery. (Thank you to all those at St John of Gods)
Anonymous · 20 Aug 2002To anonymous (01/07/02)--your advice to the person trying to buy a house (whose father has probably literally pissed away thousands of euro) shows your complete lack of understanding of the profound effects a parent with a drink problem can have on their children. But let me just say this, I can guarantee you that person doesn't 'depend' on their father--in fact they are probably more independent than most because living with alcoholism makes people grow up damn fast. They are simply expressing their anger at the waste of money--one of the many, many consequences of alcoholism...
Anonymous · 14 Aug 2002The issue of parental drinking will be addressed by the NWHB Mental health service at an international conference on "Alcohol and the family Challenging the impact" on Oct. 9th and 10th 2002in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. Further details Alcohol.firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary (maryal) · 09 Jul 2001EXCUSE ME???? I DON'T drink.
Oh, and I don't see why I should live in a coccoon to avoid smoky environments.
And, no, we are not all in the same boat. You have no idea what kind of a situation I am in. Others do have similar problems but not the same.
Jees, you are making it seem as if I am the alcoholic.
Anonymous · 01 Jul 2001No, I am not a smoker and yes I have heard of passive smoking, but it is easily avoided, don't visit pubs etc where smoking is prevalent. Drinking definitely affects more people. Maybe if you are trying to buy a house, then you should not drink and stop depending on your father. We are all in the same boat my friend, we all know someone affected by alcohol but no one else cares, it is seen as an embarrassing problem.
Anonymous · 25 Jun 2001Obviously the last poster is a smoker, since they imply the smoking doesn't effect other people, just the smoker. Heard of passive smoking then? NO?
I don't think theres many children in Ireland who don't have an alcoholic father - probably the majority do. I had, and I had other problems to deal with FAR bigger than my fathers drinking, it didn't help that he was never there, but the thing that most annoys me is all the wasted money - I'm trying to buy a house, and my father has always had a good job, yet theres not a penny there to help me and as always I have to fend for myself.
Like smokers, alcoholics are selfish. I couldn't care less if its a drug, they can see all the wrong they are doing to those around them and they still won't make an effort to give up.
Anonymous · 14 Jun 2001Ireland in general has a disgraceful attittude to alcohol and the problems it can cause. Advertising concentates on smoking and its problems where as drink can affect many people, not just the drinker. Go to other countries and alcohol is socialable, 1 or 2 drinks with a meal, not 14 pints and a bag of chips. The government do not address the problem enough, probably cause they are part of it.
Where does one go in this country if they have a problem, or a family member who does not realise they have a problem, go?
Anonymous · 25 May 2001I am currently engaged in writing a thesis on the above topic. During my research, I have discovered that there seems to be no specific recovery programme in place for adolescent and adult children of alcoholics anywhere in Ireland. Certainly in the East Coast Health Board Area, none exists. Such individuals can be referred by GPs, social workers, etc. to various alcohol-problems counselling bodies but here again there are huge anomalies : 7 trained counsellors for the whole of the North Leinster Health Board Area - population 475,000. 5 trained counsellors for all of Tallaght - population 500,000 .. Strange to hear the present Minister mention, at a recent Alcohol Awareness Press conference that abuse of alcohol was costing the country, i.e. all the plebs paying tax, £1.7 million per year. 12 counsellors for a population of nearly 1 million people of whom a large number are undoubtedly affected by alcohol abuse,either in the home or as practicing addicts.
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