The Child of an Alcoholic Becomes One Himself
Mother Nature pulled it out today for the Grand Prix. The clouds parted and the sun shone and it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was a good day to get out and enjoy nice weather for a change.
I was out early and arrived to a hall full of chairs and tables. I sorted out enough space for our tables and chairs. Tomorrow they will clean it all up. It was too much work – the church chairs go in a special closet on the ground floor along with the banquet tables. So we left things where they were afterwards.
We finished Chapter 8 – To Wives this evening.
Funny, in the end, reading chapters pointed at the wives and family of an alcoholic, from the perspective of an alcoholic. Some say the chapter is sexist and condescending to the reader. But we have to admit the times were different in the 1930’s when this book was penned.
We have decades of hindsight to enlighten the text for modern times.
When it came time for me to read I was at:
” The same principle applies in dealing with children. Unless they actually need protection from their father, it is best not to take sides in any argument he has with them while drinking. Use your energies to promote a better understanding all around. Then that terrible tension which grips the home of every alcoholic will be lessened…”
I have the ability to read this chapter as a child of an alcoholic and as an alcoholic myself. And it brings up terrible memories. I saw what my grandfathers did to their wives and by extension our families, on both sides of the family. My father’s father had only his wife and one son to victimize and abuse. Where as on my mother’s side, there were plenty of people to abuse.
My father, as an only child, perpetuated his abusive alcoholism on his immediate family. He was very abusive and violent on me. When he beat me up, my mother did nothing to stop him. But then sometimes he would go after my mother in the same way he went after me. And in order to get him off my mother, I goaded him into coming after me. She never said anything to hint that she appreciated what I had done countless times.
In my father’s world, he imported a wife, knocked her up, and then, marry her, because she was pregnant when they married. I am sure at that point my Catholic grandparents forced him to marry her.
He used to say that “I was a mistake and should never have been born.” And that refrain followed me as he swung what ever implement he had in his hands at the time. He would chase me through the house with a bat and I remember clearly hiding underneath beds and in closets in fear.
My mother did nothing to stop him. But my grandmothers DID. Several attempts later he failed in his attempt to kill me as a child because of them.
The book say to be understanding and gentle and try not to rock the boat.
I can’t begin to fathom what the women in my family thought or felt. They married for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. And whatever situation they married into they made due with what they had.
That is a sad statement of truth. Even if there WAS a solution out there, I never got the inkling that they would have ever sought it out. Because women in the family cowed to their husbands and never complained about their lot.
All I had was friends who took me in over the years. I spent nights, nay, weeks sleeping in other houses so that I didn’t have to sleep in mine. They all knew what was going on in my house. My father did not hide his alcoholism.
He encouraged everyone to drink like he did, because it was natural to drink.
As a child all I wanted was to be like my father. I had enough dirt on him in my life. He left plenty of clues to the man he was around the house. Funny that I became a burdensome alcoholic as a young man. I did a lot of damage to people, be they family, friends or the people I dated.
My twenties is just a blur on the timeline. I knew nothing about responsibility yet I managed to keep a roof over my head, while everything else fell apart. It was a reversal of fortune that in the beginning I was the child of alcoholics, and then as I grew up, my parents and family became those living with an alcoholic. It was a total role reversal.
I think I did financial damage to the family, where my father did emotional and physical damage to the family. Which is worse? The one who could not pay his bills or the man who beat his wife and children?
You can pay back finances. But you cannot remove the pain and damage that physical abuse does to a child or a wife.
No one won this fight. We were all losers.
At least I broke the chain. I’ve earned my place at the table of life.
It was a good night.
More to come, stay tuned…