Growing up with an Alcoholic Parent
St. Louis, Missouri
May 2, 2016 8:04pm CST
My mom always denied my dad was an alcoholic when I was a kid. I was about 12 when I started realizing there was something different with my family than my friend's families. None of them ever mentioned their dad's going to the gas station for beer each night, or downing a six pack at least each evening. When I began to mention it to my mom - she was adamant I was making a big deal out of nothing. She'd immediately say how hard my dad worked all day, and that having some beers at night as his way of relaxing. Then, when she found out I'd been speaking the the school counselor in junior high - she went ballistic! She spent an entire night, starting from 2:30pm when I arrived home from school, screaming at me. She kept yelling, "Do you think this is some kind of game?!" After that she directed so much hate and anger towards me. I think she actually convinced herself I was the source of all problems in our family at that time. Not my dad's nightly drinking of six to twelve beers...not the fact that her husband was an alcoholic. Over the next two years, she also made me feel that I was the problem. I felt like there must be something horribly wrong with me since I thought there was a problem in our family, but my mom kept saying there wasn't. I learned in those years to no longer trust my own judgment about things. I believed I truly was the problem and not the alcohol. That carried over into high school when I began seeing therapists due to my anxiety and depression. Since my mom would deny that my dad had any problem with alcohol when they asked, I was made to look like a liar. I was also told by the therapists that I was trying to get the attention off myself and my behavior by over exaggerating my dad's drinking and claiming he was an alcoholic. Even when I told them of his nearly driving our car head on into a semi truck, or not being able to stop in time for red lights - I wasn't believed. It wasn't until I was in college that my mom began to allow herself to realize my dad had a problem. I remember it was shortly after my 21st birthday and I came home with a bottle of vodka. I intended to have a couple drinks that night and keep the rest around for future use. When she saw it she was outraged. She yelled at me, "Don't tell me we are going to start this!" That told me right there she knew my dad had a problem and she was afraid I was going to follow in his footsteps. It still took her quite a few more years to outright admit he was an alcoholic though. Only when he was discovered to have a severe form of anemia did things start to sink in. The anemia, we were told, was likely caused from long term drinking. At one point my dad's red blood cell count was so low that he was looking at the possibility of needing blood transfusions. He then made the decision to drastically decrease his drinking. He got down to just drinking one or two beers over the course of a day. His anemia improved and he never did need a blood transfusion. He survived for seven more years until – a year and a half ago - he died suddenly due to complications from COPD. While my dad being an alcoholic undoubtedly caused me damage as I was growing up, I have many fond memories of him. I feel that my mom's denial of the problem - and her continual anger at me for years when I would point it out - left me with more emotional scars than my dad's actual drinking did. The constantly being told at ages 12, 13, 14 that there wasn't a problem when I spoke up about it completely messed up my ability to trust myself. I ended up suffering emotional and verbal abuse throughout my high school years because of this. Even today, I often doubt my interpretation of things. I hope reading this will encourage family members to not hide or ignore a loved one's drinking.
5 people like this
• United States
3 May 16
How awful for you as a young girl to be treated in that way by your own mother. I am sorry but your mother certainly knew but didn't want to believe it and needed you to be the scapegoat for the problems at home. I am glad you still have good memories of your father.