Adult child of an Alcoholic holding it together - then I burst

by pam
(Tempe, AZ, USA)

Wow i have to say this site has given me so much more information to what happened in my childhood. Picture this; Father goes to WWII, loses control in battle too long. kills fellow soldiers. placed in an "insane asylum in France for 1 -2 years.

I think he had what we now call PTSD. Anyway he sent home, my mother told me " He looked like he had Parkinson's disease. Was placed on 100% disability. mom has 3 children. When dad returned in this state of mind he looked at the first born and said " I didn't want any BOYS'. Fast forward 2nd child is a girl, Dad starts drinking but no big deal YET!!! he is happy with Child number 2!! Apple of his eye, places her on PEDESTAL", then comes child 3# female (me). Dad is full blown every - day drinking. Mother defends his abusive rants, calling my mother and myself IDIOT,stupid,prostitute,accusations abound. Then I don't understand what all this is about... I'm 6 years old. Until my mother says " oh Pam ignore this behavior he's sick DON'T ANSWER HIM, HE HAS shell shock from the war". Just listen don't say anything.

All of the fighting, arguing, drinking becomes more frequent, heavier, incoherent talk, mixes the alcohol with medications the VA psychiatrist gives him. Heavy tranquilizers is what Mom says. Pretty soon I'm 8. My siblings leave home get married go on with life and I'm stuck with this violent, racially charged lunatic because my Mother worked. I'm told "If you find him passed out DON'T CALL THE PARAMEDICS, he is there BOSS. Dad is a firefighter and moves up the ranks to captain by the time I'm ten. He comes homes early in the mornings starts drinking and by 8 am is fully out of it!!! I'm not sure why or who this man is??? I'm told wonderful, loving, sweet, kind but I see 2 people in this Dad..... find him flat - out on the floor passed -out not breathing... what do I do? I cannot call the fire department I'll get in trouble he'll fly into a rage again. he has already done it so any times once broke my Mothers ribs.
oh my GO I'm scared.... I can't talk about it. My sister doesn't believe it, brother is an alcoholic to now I have no one.

Best thing to do when he is screaming HIDE, RUN INTO the woods, build SNOW forts no one will find me. did this throughout a very traumatic child hood. Bursts of anger,confusion, the child turned into an ADULT no toys or fun fun emotionally tortured not sure what being a child is???? Now I'm 61 years old and all this torment is eating me up!

I'm broken, so much has happened almost died had multiple trauma, Dad dropped dead day I graduated from high School. mother shaped me into what she thought was best always the enabler rescuer. Now I have many issues. Relationships neurological disorder. I can't seem to HOLD it together. Lash -out, life is so unfair why why why.

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Feb 10, 2018
Peel the Onion!
by: Don Carter

Yep, recovery can be like peeling an onion... We take off one layer, then after a while go back and take off another layer.

But there's good news! You eventually do get to the core and find your True Self. Keep at it Pam!


Feb 10, 2018
Looking for help :)
by: pjAnonymous

Don, I appreciate your comments. I didn't know what it was the medical term called until now. I Loved my father deeply but didn't understand this man of course you know multiple personalities.

Funny I was talking with my brother concerning his experience. He is much older than I by 14 yrs. He said "Oh ya if it wasn't for Uncle George I would have lost my mind". I went further and told him what our mother said to me. "Your father didn't want any boys so I was Mother & FATHER to your brother". George was quiet for a minute then said "Why"? He had told mom I had 12 brothers I don't want any BOY's only girls. Hmmm makes sense now.

I told George you do not have any idea what it was like for ME growing up at home. You were married and starting your own disease of Alcoholism, I stayed away from you and Dad because you both fought screamed at one another. I know you been "dry" for many years but you are also the ACoA. He said "I guess I never thought about it before, your right'.

I asked how he treated his own children because he was was deeply into alcoholism when he was raising his OWN kids.His answer " I don't remember, I kicked and beat the dog". I said "oh no you didn't". Then I said I think I know why your oldest son wants nothing to do with you, please make amends. You are a victim of ABUSE too! You are an ADULT CHILD OF AN ALCOHOLIC just as much as me.

I'm searching the libraries, looking for help I have been to counseling many times in my LIFE. Need to go again and again and again because you see it is ingrained in our minds that little - child comes out afraid, lashes out at the things that NO ONE else does. I blow up for the silliest reason and I do not like that behavior it has to be stop.

Feb 04, 2018
by: Don Carter

Hi Pam,

You're right, your dad probably had PTSD. But he also had the disease of Alcoholism. Because you grew up in such a traumatizing and toxic environment you, too have a form of PTSD. It is known as Adult/Child of an Alcoholic Syndrome. But in clinical circles, they now refer to this as Complex-PTSD.

I picture a child growing up on a battlefield when I hear stories like yours (and yes there are lots of them sadly). When we are on a battlefield we go into survival mode -- aka Fight-or-Flight mode.

But children can escape (Flight) and they cannot Fight -- it's like they are prisoners of war (POWs) and are CONSTANTLY in survival mode. So the only way they can escape is through psychological defense mechanisms such as repression, fantasy, and dissociation. These are very creative survival SKILLS that help kids survive these things. -- But later, all thAT repressed trauma gets triggered and causes emotional regulation problems, relationship problems, depression, angry outbursts, etc.

There is hope, it is to get into therapy or recovery coaching with someone who understands these things, find an ACA or ACDF (Adult/Child of Alcoholic or Other Dysfunctional Family) meeting in your town, or nearby. If you cannot find one close by, check the Internet. Check back here often for the experience, strength, and hope of others who have found a way out.

Thanks for your courage to share!

Regards and Best Wishes,

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