What is an alcoholic?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I have been around alcoholics all my life. I came to believe that it was pretty normal.
My mother was an alcoholic. I did not figure this out or really even think about it until the last few years. I really never thought that it really affected me a whole lot. Now that I think back I had a really rough childhood. Some things I have a very fuzzy recollection of. Some things I don’t like to think at all about.

My parents were divorced when I was 5 or 6. I missed my Dad a lot. I remember when I got a little older, looking up his phone number in the phone book and calling and hanging up when he answered. I just wanted to hear his voice. My mother and stepfather would not allow me and my sisters to see our Dad. We were eventually adopted by my stepfather. I have two younger sisters and a stepsister that is my age.

My mother and stepfather would drink every day, usually getting drunk. They went out a lot. When they would come home they would fight. My stepfather would beat on my mother. She had a lot of black eyes, bruises and I think I remember a broken arm once. We would hide under the covers and cover our ears and cry. I remember running into their room a few times just screaming at my step father to stop. My mother use to egg him on. I remember feeling that if she would be quite he would not hit her. He would beat on us girls too.

My stepfather wanted me to call him Dad. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t even address him by his first name. I remember spending time thinking of ways not to call him anything. If I had to call him to the phone or had to get his attention, I would try and figure out how to do it without using Dad or his name. Since the time I was very young I would try not to be in the room alone with him. When I was about 12 or so he would start touching me inappropriately. I hated him. He never did anything but touch my breasts; it was very traumatic for me. We were not allowed to have locks on the doors and he would constantly walk in on me when I was using the bathroom or undressing.

When I was 15 or so my mother became suicidal. Maybe she was before this but I was not aware of it. I was the one the one that had to help her when she tried to kill herself. My stepfather would come and get me and say, “Your mom’s trying to kill herself you need to help her”. She did this probably a dozen times. We owned a mobile home that we rented out that was vacant sometimes; she would go there and turn on the gas. I would go turn it off. She tried slitting her wrists a couple of times and took pills. She got cancer when I was 19. The suicide attempts stopped then. Her cancer went into remission and she seemed to be pretty happy.

My daughter was born when I was 19 and my mother really loved her a lot. My mom died when I was 23, she was 45. My stepfather died 5 years later. I never saw him much after Mom died. I loved my mother very much. I met my father when my mother died. I ended up in the same town as him. My sisters and I became very close to my dad and stepmother. He died 3 years ago from Alzheimer’s.

I was a single mom; I got pregnant in high school. Tina never knew her father; he didn’t want anything to do with us. Ryan’s father was 15 years older than me, when I became pregnant with Ryan; he left me three days after I found out I was pregnant. He has never been part of Ryan’s life. He was probably and alcoholic. I just really never thought anything about it. He would get drunk a lot, go out after work and drink and not come home.
I married Jerry when Ryan was 4 and Tina was 15. He has two children. We were very happy, things just changed when my dad got sick and when Jerry distanced himself from Ryan.

Jerry always drank, not a lot but he would have beer every night. I really never thought anything about it. It has only been since Ryan started having trouble that it has bothered me. Jerry very rarely gets drunk but he drinks 6-10 sometimes 12 beers a night, usually it’s around 8. He is not abusive in anyway. He only drinks at night even on the weekends. I guess you would call him a functioning alcoholic. He admits that he is probably an alcoholic. Is he? I really don’t know. I just wish he would stop. Is this what alcoholics do? I always thought alcoholics as getting drunk.

My sister, my sister-in-law, my friend are all probably alcoholics. They drink every day. I still have problems wrapping it around in my head that my son is an alcoholic. When Ryan was getting ready to come out of rehab, I was freaking out because I didn’t want him to come home to a home that had alcohol. Jerry said he would move out if I wanted him to so Ryan could come home to an alcohol free environment. That makes me sad to think he would rather move out than stop drinking. I allowed Ryan to come home and Jerry is still here, still drinking.

Did Ryan really drink that much to cause pancreatitis? They say it is almost impossible somebody that age has drank enough to cause it. I don’t know but I hope and pray that he has the strength to never drink again. What happens if something traumatic happens to him, will he be strong enough not to drink?

I am praying for all the parents and children of addicts.


Barbara(aka Layla) October 27, 2009 at 6:37 PM  

Hi Lynn,

I'm sorry to read about all the trauma and hurt you endured in your childhood. They say alcohol is a family disease and it sounds like in your family it has been. I think Ryan has a good chance of getting better. I have a friend who is a life-long drinker who has pancreitis and I agree with you - it seems unlikely someone that young could get it from alcohol use. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

Madison October 27, 2009 at 6:43 PM  

I hope you find a good Alanon meeting. You are surrounded and it must be difficult. Your stepdad does not sound like he was a nice man. Some people just don't have any respect for others. Hang in there. Keep praying.

Mom of Opiate Addict October 28, 2009 at 8:34 AM  

I also had a pretty traumatic childhood that I posted on my blog under Act I and Act II. My dad was a beer drinker and I could never tell he was drunk. He drank beer from the time he woke up until he went to bed, was always drunk so I just never noticed it. We were not surrounded with the best examples and had to learn to deal with things in unhealthy ways, that worked for us then, but not now. That would be the co-dependent part of us. I am sorry you had to experience so much heartache. I agree with Madison, an Alanon meeting and the blog family, a counselor, all of it can be so helpful and you need support right now. We are here.

Annette October 28, 2009 at 11:11 AM  

Ohhh gosh...so sad. I hate alcohol and drugs. It destroys lives and even with safe use, I just don't feel like it is worth the risk. Your childhood sounds very similar to mine as far as the alcoholism and the physical abuse. It definitely leaves its mark and I didn't understand that until I began looking at my daughter's drug and alcohol use. What I have learned about myself and my behaviors has been an amazing journey! I also encourage you to find an Alanon meeting if you don't already go to one. It will change your life if you begin to work the program. Bless you honey. Thanks for sharing.

Cheri November 3, 2009 at 2:10 PM  


I can identify with a lot of what you have shared here. Barbara mentioned that alcoholism is a family disease, and I believe that to be true. My mom's parents were both alcoholics,as was my mom herself. I also experienced inappropriate touching when I was young, though it was my grandfather, rather than a parent. When you said that Jerry was willing to move out before he gave up alcohol, that let me know that he is likely an alcoholic.

My mom quit drinking when I was twenty, and she stayed sober. In fact, she and I attended Alanon meetings together when her dad moved in with us, as he was still drinking. The group really helped us both.

You and your family are in our prayers. I also wanted to let you know that I have posted something that might encourage you, and I shared your blog for prayer on my blog. You can read it here: http://glasshouseministries.blogspot.com/2009/11/breathing-life-into-dead-places.html


Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story November 4, 2009 at 12:28 PM  

Lynn, are you okay? I'm checking in on you, thinking of you and praying for you.

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