The Impact of living with my parents drinking

Boundaries
I’m a successful 32 year old woman with two beautiful children, my dream job at a university and a happy marriage. People that didn’t know me as an adolescent have absolutely no idea the kind of hell I grew up in. Both of my parents were extreme alcoholics during my later childhood and teen years. I say extreme because they quite literally would wake up in the morning and drink beer instead of coffee. There was a very high level of dysfunction in our home even before the drinking became extreme. 

Mental Health Challenges

Mental Health Challenges

Both my brothers struggled with dangerous mental health challenges- so violent that there were multiple holes in the walls, and one brother threw a knife at me while I got ready for school one day (I was 11). Twice my mother in particular put my life in immediate danger while driving my home while intoxicated. Her defence was “They lied about the kind of drink they gave me,” rather than recognising that she shouldn’t have been drinking and driving at all. 
As an adult I have dealt with CPTSD, panic attacks, general anxiety, and hyper-vigilance about the emotions of others. When I moved out of my parents house and in with my now husband in 2014, I started seeing the full impact that their alcoholism had on me.
Didn’t know how to cope with peace
My body didn’t know how to cope with peace. Once out of the chaos I began having panic attacks, and my anxious tendencies became quite unhealthy. I sought therapy at that point. Therapy has helped me see just how much I endured and how capable I am of healing from the years and years of emotional abuse, parentification, and domestic violence. 

The child being the parent

I learned at a very young age to tread around the volatile emotions of all of my family members. I was the classic parentified child. Family would storm into my room in the middle of the night demanding that I break up an argument. It was just expected that I would always be the voice of reason. It was always expected that I never had any needs- or that if I did have a need that I’d be able to take care of myself. I’m currently still learning what it actually looks like to take care of myself. 
 
As a wife, I have had to do so much work to be able to trust my husband completely. For years and years I always felt like I needed an escape plan in case things went south. I was afraid to speak up about my needs because I had so deeply internalised that I shouldn’t need anything and that speaking up would make others upset… and making others upset felt deadly. I’ve had to learn how to feel safe in the calm moments- because calm moments were always followed by explosions.

Boundaries - What are boundaries? Jo huey

Finding some healthy boundaries

As a mom, I’ve had to learn how to set boundaries and also not beat myself up for making my children upset at me. I’ve had to learn how to be responsible for my children’s (and really anyone else’s) emotional well-being without taking ownership over their feelings. It’s hard, but so healing. 
 
I’m still very much in the process of healing. I’m still in contact with my parents- they quit drinking in 2015 due to a health issue. I still live with the lingering effects of the abuse, and my parents are completely unwilling/unable to come to terms with how they hurt me. I have not yet been ready to forgive them, even with their changed behavior. I’m so thankful to have survived, and I am so thankful to get the pleasure of watching myself break the generational curse. I’m finding more moments of true peace as I continue to work on myself. 
 
Anonymous

 

A word from Jo
A big thank you to the person that wrote this, I think it’s so brave. So many of us go through so much, thinking that it’s normal. It takes a huge amount of commitment, effort and work to start to heal, to change old beliefs and behaviours. We adapt really well but sometimes a bit too well, losing sense of who we are. 
This blog was specifically written to raise awareness during the UK Children of Alcoholics Week 2022 #coaweek2022.

Next Steps

If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Simply email jo@johuey.co.uk or call (07732) 403305. 
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Daughters of Alcoholics Facebook group, where other daughters of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present.  You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present. 
I also run the Two Roads Travelled podcast with my sister, click here to find out more. 

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