Not One Story, But a Series of Events With a Theme

That is how I view my life growing up with an alcoholic father.

There is not one moment when I suddenly realized my father had a drinking problem, it feels like something I was always aware of.

The first thing I can remember involving alcohol and my father was probably when I was 5 or 6 years old. We lived on Guam, a tiny island in the Pacific with a Navy base. I remember my father taking me, and sometimes my sister who was 15 months younger, with him to the "Club". This was basically a bar for military personnel with a pool table and shuffleboard. I would amuse myself playing around with shuffleboard, often the Guamanian cooks would come out from the kitchen to fawn over me and pinch my cheeks(I hated that). I would start telling my dad I wanted to go home. He would say, in just a minute, which was never less than 10 minutes.

I also recall, when I was not much older, my mom sending me into the club to get food money from my dad. Another thing I hated doing.

My father always drank. If he only drank so much, he was a happy drunk, but there was this invisible line that he sometimes crossed and you never knew when he had crossed it until it was too late. I have a very clear memory of one evening when we were all eating dinner on TV trays in the living room, I was about 11, and my mom called from the kitchen asking me to do something. I replied that I would in a minute. In a flash, my father jumped up throwing his food everywhere, grabbed me by the collar of my robe and threw me against the wall. He then told me not to tell my mom "in a minute", when she tells me to do something I do it now!

I was dumbfounded. I hadn't thought I was being disrespectful and it was such an over reaction. That was one of the worse things about my father's drinking, his unpredictability. You could never be quite sure how he was going to react.

Of course what I hated the most, what scared me more than anything, was when my parents fought. It wasn't physical fighting, it was a lot of yelling, cursing and sometimes crying. As I got older, I think what scared me the most about their fighting was how would we survive if my parents split. My mom hadn't really had a full-time job since she started having kids, and my dad was tight with a buck, so it was a very practical concern.

I forgave my father, his father was an alcoholic and a mean one from what I hear. His mother was just strange if you ask me. He did the best he could with the limited skills he had. A few years before he died, he admitted to me he was an alcoholic. I don't think he ever admitted that to another soul.


WittyOne WittyOne
46-50, F
6 Responses Aug 21, 2007

One of the bits of wisdom that got me through my rough times was: Forgiving someone doesn't mean you condone what he did, only that you give up the right to punish him.<br />
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My dad was an alcoholic, and he also sexually molested both myself and my sister, who is 14 years older than me.

In death, his soul knows how much you loved him. When he was alive he couldn't accept or return that love fully, because he felt unworthy of it; he didn't love himself, so he didn't know how you could really love him.<br />
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Though he is gone, you may want to seek out an Al=anon meeting to work on you. to provide you some tools and some peace from the scars left behind.

I always thought when I looked up codependency in the dictionary, I would see my mom's picture.<br />
Being the only daughter of an alcoholic father she adored, and then marrying an alcoholic, it was hard for her not to be codependent. Even after my parents divorced, she carried on her codependency need with my brother.<br />
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I was lucky enough to learn about codependency when I was still relatively young, and smart enough to stay away from men who drank. But I was always on the lookout for any codependent behaviour I might exhibit, still, when it did show up I didn't even recognize it at first.<br />
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It can be so hard to hold people you love accountable for their own actions at times. My codependency tendencies showed themselves with my oldest son. It wasn't about alcohol, it was about irresponsible, out-of-control behaviour. I finally woke up when I saw the negative effect he was having on his brothers.<br />
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According to my son, I didn't love him enough or was too lazy to do things for him or too cheap to bail him out of trouble. Now that that is behind us, I honestly think he respects me and knows I did what I did because it was best for all, including him, in the long run.<br />
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The vicious cycle is very hard to break.

Alcoholism is a family disease. My grand mother had 9 children and all the ones i knew were alc. including my mother.the effects it has on the entire family unit can be devastating, it creates chaos in all relationships, and the need to be addicted to being codependent, in other words THE DISEASE TO PLEASE, it can be very devastating. Denial is not a river. My grandmother out lived all of her children, they were all divorced and all died of liver failure due to the DRINK. WHAT YOU ACCEPT YOU TEACH. I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC BUT AM IN RECOVERY FOR CODEPENDENCY. AJOURNEY OF LEARNING!!!!!!!

There is no need to apologize.<br />
You say you don't think your father is an alcoholic, consider this clinical definition:<br />
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Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is a disease that includes four symptoms:<br />
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Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink. <br />
Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion. <br />
Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking. <br />
Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to “get high.” <br />
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My father put in 21 years with the Navy and worked for a number of years after he retired. The fact your father goes to work most days and provides for the family, does not mean he is not an alcoholic.<br />
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I'm glad you quit drinking. One day at a time.

Thanks for sharing that. My father has always been a borderline alcoholic but not quite full blown. He drinks a few every day but doesn't get drunk (not often at least) and never missed a day of work. His parents were both alcoholic though so I think it skipped a generation since I am certainly a full-blown alkie. <br />
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Your story about your father "blowing up" on you sounds like my dad. He always puts on a good face in public but let his anger explode at times in private. He took his anger out on his family. It was pretty unpredictable too. It was only once every few months that he would start screaming and yelling pretty much out of nowhere. About the most trivial of issues as well. He always handled big issues pretty well but would lose it at the strangest of times. And always after he'd had a few drinks. I learned to avoid him after 8 pm since that was when he was buzzed and likely to start trouble. <br />
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It's difficult because his problems are more psychological than alcohol related. It's just the alcohol that greases the wheels. I was always a happy drunk, a lush as they call them. And as far as I know I never exploded in anger on anyone while drunk. I know I did many stupid things and scared a few people through my intoxication, but I have never had violent tendencies throughout my drinking life which I feel is a blessing. I quit drinking for other reasons, because I could not stop drinking after I had one. I would drink till I dropped nearly every time. And drove while drunk a whole lot. It's a miracle that I never got a DWI. Sorry to leave such a long post, your story just got me thinking. Thanks again for sharing :-)