Living with an alcoholic father is not easy. It impacts your life in many ways. What happens in a family with alcoholic parents? How do children cope with them? Is there a solution to overcome the alcohol addiction? Here’s a true story from a person who had the experience of having an alcoholic parent. She describes how drinking by a parent can create family problems and recommends solutions. ~ Ed.
Growing up with an alcoholic father in a dysfunctional family can be very difficult and challenging.
I don’t remember how old I was when I realized there was a problem, but I do know that I had not reached my double digits yet.
My father, the one who adopted me as an infant, was a functioning alcoholic. My mother was the enabler or co-dependent, as I later found out in life.
A “functioning” alcoholic, as was explained to me via a few years of therapy, means the person is an “alcoholic” but they are able to “function” as they normally would.
My father had a very prestigious position within one of the top companies in the state.
When he went to work, he turned on his charm and became Mr. Professional. Everyone adored him and he was well respected.
At home, his demeanor changed. He was known in my household as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.
The work week wasn’t so horrible but as Friday night neared, we all began walking on egg-shells.
We knew, Friday night mean “Friday Night Fights”. My alcoholic dad was about to “get his drink on” and the household was about to be shaken up.
Having an Alcoholic Father
My father, God love him because he’s all I ever knew, could be the meanest man I ever knew.
I honestly believe it stemmed back to his childhood about having an alcoholic mother and step.
He was also the younger of the two brothers and a short man. I believe insecurities played a huge role in my father’s addiction.
My uncle, my father’s only brother, never appeared to have an alcohol problem. He entered the military service as a young man and retired early.
Their family always seemed at peace and I envied that.
DO READ: How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent
Friday Night Fights
It started with a few beers after work to unwind – sometimes at home with just our family, and other times while our visiting friends or family members.
Oh, the nights when my alcoholic father drove my mother, my brother, and me home, he used to be so drunk. There were times that my mother would drive; however, that was a “put down” in my father’s eyes. He wasn’t drunk in his eyes, and was fully capable of getting us home.
It always seemed to happen while I was sleeping. We’re talking late night hours between 10 pm – 1 am. I would often awaken by sounds of the arguments between my mother and father.
My father would always be yelling something obnoxious and slurred. My mother would be screaming and either hitting on him and trying to escape his verbal abuse.
“Friday Night Fights” was just not Friday nights. It usually became a weekend brawl.
The alcohol (beer) made my father verbally and emotionally mean. It was rare that I saw him strike my Mother, but there were a few times I do remember.
My mother would be the one attacking because she was so angry.
As a 5-12 year old child, I would always interfere and turn into the instant referee. Because it appeared that my alcoholic father was the one getting beaten on, I would take his defense.
During times of verbal accusations of my mother cheating and not being a good housekeeper, I would take my mother’s defense.
It seemed as though I was always the one to try and bring “peace” to such a dysfunctional situation.
My brother’s bedroom was upstairs in our house and he was a sound sleeper, which meant rarely did he even know what was going on. In my early years, I turned into a “light” sleeper. Always waiting for that first hint of an argument coming from my parents’ bedroom, which was right next to mine.
When my mother passed away suddenly, I was 12 years old. My father started dating and continued the drinking.
Nothing changed with the “Friday Night Fights” when my father remarried. I tried to warn his new wife, but she didn’t believe me. The “Fights” continued until his second wife divorced him.
My story of living with an alcoholic father continued.
MUST READ: Getting Help for Drinking Problems
Family members and friends tried to help my father with his addiction. Yes, it is an addiction and a hard habit to break.
Most alcoholics live in denial. They don’t have a drinking problem. The rest of the world is wrong so quick in accusing them.
My father was the one that would never admit he had a problem. Even after losing his leg, due to an ulcer that exploded in his stomach and the drunken car accident, which caused another ulcer to explode and eventually take his life.
How sad it is to feel helpless and watch a loved one “self-destruct”.
Denial is their survival. Until one admits that they have an addiction and they are an alcoholic, they will never seek help.
Once you, as an alcoholic admit that you have a problem, an addiction, there are many ways to seek help and overcome your addiction. An alcoholic will never be “cured”, they will always be “recovering”.
• Seek a 12-Step Program – Alcoholics Anonymous aka AA meetings in person or online
• Rehabilitation Center – 30-day Program
• Interventions – meeting of friends and family who talk to the alcoholic and try to prove to them that they have an addiction
With either of the above programs, you will need to find a sponsor. A sponsor is the one who is willing to join your program with you, someone who is responsible, and whom you can rely on.
As with any program, there are steps or rules you must follow. For addictions, whether alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., you there are the 12 Steps that you refer to as the “Rules”.
As with any “problems”, a solution may not always be obtainable. Alcoholism is a deadly disease.
If you know of someone who is an alcoholic, just remember, until they admit they have a problem, they will not be able to recover.
For more information, I highly recommend Alcoholic Anonymous. Even if you aren’t the alcoholic, there are resources available for you as a co-dependent and/or as a loved one.
Over to you –
Did you ever experience a dysfunctional childhood or family? If you had an alcohol problem, how did you overcome it? What would you suggest to alcoholic fathers or parents as solutions to their family problems? Share in the comments.
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