One of the most significant misconceptions alcoholics/ drug addicts seem to have is that their substance use doesn’t affect anyone around them.  Growing up in an alcoholic home has influenced me in more ways than I’d care to admit. If you were to research the effects of parental alcoholism on children, I most likely fall into every category; Anxiety, fear, inability to relax, low self-esteem, burying my feelings, abandonment issues, etc. Being an adult child of an alcoholic, I have realized I will never outgrow the effects of my parents drinking. I will undoubtedly have the above effects for the rest of my life, and probably have a lot of other traits I don’t even realize that stemmed from my childhood. However, this is who I am, this is who I have become, and this is who I will remain.

It’s almost scary to share my story, just because I know there are so many others who have had it far worse than me, but I am hoping by sharing a small part of mine it will help someone.

When I think of my youngest years of childhood, I was happy. I had everything I wanted, we went on family vacations, my parents paid for the sports I was in, and I felt constant love by my parents. But, I was ALWAYS at my baby sitters house on the weekends if we weren’t on a family vacation. I thought going to my “Mima’s” house every Friday- Sunday was completely normal, I mean didn’t every kid do this? As I became a little older, probably 12 or so, I realized I didn’t want to go to my Mima’s house every weekend anymore. So staying home on the weekends involved my parents having parties all weekend while I was stuck in my room. Every once in a while they would come check on me, belligerent. I remember waking up in the mornings by myself and realizing that the house was a mess (bottles of alcohol, cigarettes and drug residue) and having to clean it up by myself. It wasn’t until I was an adult did I realize the white stuff on the glass tables I was cleaning off was cocaine. I remember sitting for hours alone in my room, bored. One day I was so bored and lonely, I did two 1,000-piece puzzles and was so proud of myself.  But again, I thought this was normal.

I was around 15 years old when my older sister and I had an intervention with my mom. By then she was taking and snorting everything in sight. She said she would stop, that she loved us and would get sober for us. I had no idea what “get sober” meant at that time. I just wanted things to go back to “normal”. I ended up moving out at 16, dropping out of school to work full time, and didn’t have a relationship at all with my mom. I did visit her once in a while, but that all ended after she began nodding out at the dining room table after a 5-minute conversation. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t even have a 5-minute conversation with her before her head started falling. Every time I would visit, I feared I would find her lifeless body. “Omg is she breathing?” “Please god I hope she didn’t overdose.” I was done. My father was usually never home when I went to go visit, he was either at a bar and ignoring my phone calls, or driving around the neighborhood waiting for my car to leave so he didn’t have to see me; I found this out later on when he got sober. I spoke to my father every once in a while but he usually either stuck up for my mom’s drug abuse or was too drunk to understand what I was always so angry about.

It wasn’t until I was about 21; I had been working at Transformations for around two years when I asked them to scholarship a 45-day stay for her. She came through the program and relapsed two weeks later. By this time, I understood addiction; I understood I couldn’t continue to be angry anymore and that when she wanted to get sober, she would. Four years ago, I received a call from my father, who was completely belligerent, depressed, and suicidal. I helped him get into a detox and a treatment center, and he has been sober ever since. He goes to his AA meeting every morning at 7 am, he chairs them, he helps other people who are struggling, but most importantly he is sober. I am proud. My mom got sober on her own about two years ago, she doesn’t work a program, but I’m sure having my father around has positively influenced her.

I love both of my parents deeply, they are both wonderful people who are extraordinarily kind-hearted, but they both had gone through traumatic things that made them into the alcoholic and drug addicts that they are. I have learned to forgive, to move forward, and appreciate the good times we will have together ahead. I’m thankful my parents are sober, I am thankful for the life I have today and all that I have experienced, for I have learned how to be loyal, responsible, intuitive, strong, empathetic, and driven. HOW?! I went from scared and neglected to becoming this person I am today. It’s been a long, yet productive journey, with a lot of learning and healing. I have learned I have nothing to be ashamed of, that I should open up to others as they are usually a great deal of support, I have learned to use healthy coping skills on a daily basis. Most importantly, I have learned to take care of myself first, and in turn be able to love others.

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