Daddy Will Get Better

These were then words I came to live by as a child.  Each and every day the words swirled in my head; I believed if I thought about it hard enough, maybe I was strong enough to make things change.

I wasn’t.

Things only became more destructive, harder, and more heartbreaking, and as my family and my child-like soul were torn to shreds, I lost myself.

Being the daughter of alcoholics can affect people in more way than one; I am living proof of that.   Constantly wondering why? Why me? Why can’t he get better? Why is my mother making excuses when he is two hours late picking up his eight year old daughter from dance class? Or when he throws up on the ride home from an anniversary dinner?

Those are questions I still do not have the answer for, even after my father joined Alcoholics Anonymous over two years ago.

As a child of alcoholic parents I am four times more likely to develop alcoholism or drug abuse issues than a child with non-alcoholic parents.  This I have already realized.  Following the death of my best friend and boyfriend, Joey, I found myself in a constant swirl of partying, alcohol, and drugs with kids much into their twenties.  However, after a month of being hung over almost every day and being put in terrible situations, I realized it was time to get my act in gear.  So I quit drinking for good, something my father still praises me for.

Although he was happy I cut alcohol out of my life, he knew he and my mother were partly to blame, due to the environment in which I was raised.  Unlike my codependent mother (Codependent is the term of someone in a dysfunctional family who constantly makes excuses) my father was able to admit the effects their alcoholism has had on me.

Children of alcoholics face many problems due to the hardships of not only being in a dysfunctional family, but they attempt to “fix” it and keep it together.  Children of alcoholics, (myself included) have trouble trying to determine what “normal” is and often find themselves in questionable situations.  Because they did not have positive role models (their parents) growing up, they end up trusting the wrong people.

I find myself constantly drawn to people I am trying to “fix,” or people living on the edge.  From drug-addicts, to homeless people, to party-goers, I am always lost in the wrong crowd.

We also judge ourselves without mercy and have low self-esteem.  Growing up, I was constantly screamed at and called vulgar names; I was always too stupid, too slutty, too cocky, for my parents to take seriously.  Now that I am at an age where I do not need to listen to their ruthless name-calling, and I am out on my own, there’s never a time when I feel good enough.  Those harsh words that seemed to define my childhood-self play over and over like a broken record in my mind.

Along with alcoholic parents come broken relationships, and with that comes difficulty to make new ones.  Children of alcoholics have trouble making intimate relationships with people.  At times, they are afraid of attaching themselves or being too open, for fear that it will get taken away or damaged.  I grew up this way as well.  In a household with parents who cannot stand the sight of each other, it is difficult to understand what love is and find people who will reciprocate the right kind of love back.

In relationships, I go for the “bad boys,” the older boys, the screw-ups and the drop outs; the birds with a broken wing that need to be “fixed” and nurtured, but yet are emotionally unavailable.  This often is called, confusing love with pity but, I guess, I just have Daddy issues.

I have also noticed my fears, and the relations those fears have to my parents.  I fear being alone, trusting others, angering people, losing control and overwhelming emotions.  I try to lock everything inside because it was never safe to let it out under my own roof.

But I have found outlets.  Therapy has helped me greatly not only dealing with my family, but living with myself and my guilt.  Another outlet has been Alateen:  An Alcoholics Anonymous group that not only helps children of alcoholics, but also teens that find themselves following their parents down a similar path.  (If you want more info about this group either approach me about it, or research online, it is at Lahey Clinic in Haverhill.)

Uncomfortable in my own skin, my mind, body, behavior, and mental health has suffered tremendously from my alcoholic parents.  However, it is now that I will attempt to rise above the statistics, change my bad habits, and move forward.

Only I can define my legacy.


If you suffer from these issues, need help, or just someone to talk to this hotline: