raised by an alcoholic

I was raised by an alcoholic.

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Raised by an alcoholic is from a contributor.  Being raised by an alcoholic is something that happens to many, many people so I thought that the experience should be included here. This is one persons experience. Not everyone raised by an alcoholic has the same story. I have heard some truly terrifying stories.  Anyway, I am trying to get some more personal stories on this site.

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My mother was the baby of sixteen children, all born, in turn, to an alcoholic.
I was lucky. My mother decided to go into recovery when I was eight. She told me it was because her childhood was such a nightmare, that she never wanted me to endure what she had. She suffered her entire childhood as the last daughter of a woman who had borne sixteen children, who drank all day, every day. A woman who put her youngest daughters directly in the line of fire by marrying a man who used them both as sexual objects and punching bags. A woman who had rage issues which were exacerbated by the beer. My mother was traumatized by her childhood, and hid behind the same wall her mother did. She began drinking regularly at age 12, and didn’t stop for very long until she was in her thirties. She wanted to be a better mother than hers was. She only hit me once, and if my memory serves, it was around the time she went to her first AA meeting.

And I did have a good childhood. Even in those earlier years before she went into AA. I was her only child, and she was my best friend. My father, who did not have as bad of a dependency on booze as she did, was instead completely emotionally unavailable to both her and myself. So my mother was all I had. I look back into my early childhood and I don’t remember her drunk, or raving, or abusing herself (which she did in many other ways as well). I remember sunny afternoons at the park. I remember her chaperoning my field trips in school. I remember singing Bette Midler and Alanis Morisette with her as loudly as we could on long Sunday drives to nowhere.

It was after she went into recovery that our relationship got rocky, believe it or not. That is NOT to say I wish she didn’t. I know now, at 26 years old, that recovery was absolutely the best, and perhaps only option she had. But she got angry. She no longer had an outlet to channel her rage and self-hatred. She also, was around the same time, battling an almost life-long eating disorder. She had married my father who had not much to offer her besides criticism or silence. She had been abusing herself most of her life. And now, she was making an effort to love and respect herself to become a better parent. And perhaps she resented me for that, I don’t know.
Her first year sober, she divorced my father. This was the very first time she was living on her own, and being responsible for herself. She always had a fantastic work ethic, although I have been told that her reputation in some of her later careers was blemished by a few mid-afternoon nips of wine (and subsequent belittlement of her supervisors). But she had never been without a job, so that was not an issue for her. It was learning to fill the hole in her heart that was gaping open with something other than booze or a toxic relationship. She only had me for a while, and that was hard for both of us. She needed me to be her best friend, but I was becoming a hormonal teenager and began craving some independence. We fought more and more. Still, having lived most of my life responding to her emotions, walking on eggshells, I was already totally co-dependent, and completely entangled in her world. When she found herself a new man later that year, I hated him. I was defending my mother like a wild dog. I didn’t want anyone else near her, to hurt her. And because for maybe the first time in my life, I saw her argue and fight and stand up for what she wanted and needed. It scared me. She used to just numb out by drinking. So to me, it looked like this new dude was ruining her and making her into a monster.

Well, that same man stuck around for thirteen years, suffering her anger and just loving her. It was the best thing for her. And although they are no longer together, having someone in her life who supported and loved her for who she was at her best and worst did her good. She now has a total of nearly 18 years sober, with a few hiccups. No one is perfect. But overall, she has really completely changed as a person. Or maybe it is simply my perception of her, but today, she is calmer, more loving, and living in truth. I am so proud of her, and consider myself so lucky to have her. She broke the cycle. It is definitely possible.

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