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Addiction From A Daughter’s Perspective: The Early Years

What it’s Like Having an Alcoholic Father

I’m the child of an alcoholic. I’m the niece of an addict who didn’t make it past 30. I’m the stepsister of a sister who overdosed on heroin and crystal meth. Oh, and I am the grandchild and great-niece (is that how you say it?) of countless family members who have passed on due to the disease of addiction.

Sadly, I’m still the adult child of an alcoholic who is in active addiction. I still wonder why everyone was so shocked when they found out that I, myself am an alcoholic and an addict as well. I mean, we never exactly had that “picture perfect” version of what a family is supposed to look like, but at the same time, it was all that I knew. But, guess what? There’s (un)fortunately a lot of us! We even have our own group, literature, and meetings around the world.

When you think back to your childhood memories, what are some of your earliest? You know how we have those random memories from when we were really little that make no sense? For me, I have this particular, repetitive memory of getting chocolate pudding stuck in my hair and then it subsequently gets stuck to my cheek and I had to peel it off, leaving dark brown stripes across my face. I started crying. Apparently I was super grossed out, and I know I was at my babysitter’s house, but that’s all to the memory. Nothing more. Just pudding face.

Early Childhood in the Trailer Park

Some of my other early memories make even less sense. For example, we had a Super Bowl party one year at my “house” (more like a shack in the woods). For some reason still unbeknownst to me, there was a mattress standing up leaning against one of our living room walls. We were trashy, but not the kind of trashy where you leave random furniture or appliances lying around, like an old, springy couch on the porch or something equally as low.

This was when my father was still a part of my life and my parents were married. It honestly feels weird to even type that sentence. Just the phrase, ‘my parents’, sounds really strange.

Anyway, back to the Super Bowl party. I remember my father running around inside our trailer screaming my name, not knowing if he was mad, really mad, or just “acting really funny”. Regardless — I was trying my hardest to hide from him, and behind that mattress ended up being the best hiding spot I’ve found to date. And that’s just one of the odd examples of another normal childhood memory with no context that still pops in my head from time to time.

After all of this time, roughly 25 years, I still wonder why he was searching for me in the way that he was, especially if you take into consideration some of the other random flashbacks that occasionally pop up. Some therapists say that I may have repressed trauma I’m blocking out, but hey, I’m still taking it one day at a time too, and I’ve been sober for five years now. I’ll forever be a work in progress, and I’m okay with that today.

Mother and Father Get Divorced

When I was barely 5, I was gifted a sister; our birthdays are 50 minutes apart. I’m pretty sure my mom decided to have another baby for her own sanity. My dad had lost his job and spent the entire day black-out drunk on the couch. I didn’t know this back then, of course, back then Daddy was just “really sick”.

When Mom and Dad would go into the other room and lock the door to have their nightly screaming matches, I would sit on the couch with my little baby sister and cradle her little head like I was supposed to. I’m still not sure if my little 5-year-old hands covered that whole big newborn head, but I sure did try.

Eventually, Mom reached her breaking point. At this point, I just thought that they fought a lot; I didn’t know what alcohol or drugs were. I didn’t know what addiction was. Regardless, I was so happy when I heard this news. My little mind didn’t know about this whole divorce thing. You mean to tell me we could’ve gotten rid of this guy a long time ago? Yes, please.

I still remember the drive home from school with my grandpa. He was awkwardly quiet and very old school. He wasn’t happy about the divorce; I could tell. He and my very vocal grandma had radically different political views their entire marriage, so he was used to keeping his opinions to himself to spare everyone the drama. He finally gathered the strength to mutter, “So, uh, your mom and your dad are getting divorced… as you know. What do you think about that?”. I replied, while rifling through my backpack or doing something equally as unimportant, “It’s fine with me. All they do is fight. Plus I want to be able to watch TV in the living room”.

Does any of this sound like your childhood so far? Does it sound like something a family member is going through? Can you relate to my story? Not sure? Be sure to read Part Two of this series about Adult Children of Alcoholics to find out exactly how all of this shaped the rest of my life until this point, as well as learn how Principles Recovery Center can help you work through the trauma and issues that you may not even know exist. Call us for an evaluation or with any questions you may have at 1-866-692-0909.