Susan, 47 år, Afhængig
As I sit here collecting my thoughts, and looking at statistics, the statistics are overwhelming - an estimated 27.8 million Children of Alcoholics live in the United States.
Of those, about 11 million are under the age of 18.
My son falls into this category.
I can't even begin to tell you what the statistics were back when I was a child, or even if anyone really cared to keep track.
What matters is now.
Now we keep track, now there isn't as big of a stigma, now there are all kinds of help available, and support groups.
Now we care.
That is what really matters.
I remember as a very young girl riding in the car with my mother who was clearly intoxicated, stating to myself “I will never drink”.
And making that statement “I will never smoke”.
I can't tell you how many times over the course of my childhood that I made those statements.
Many times the result of witnessing or experiencing something a child should never have to experience or witness.
What became pretty clear to me about 9 years old was that my family was different than others.
We were not the Waltons.
Yes, I grew up in a nice neighborhood, in a nice town, in a nice home.
And I had two parents, who, when not drinking were nice people.
You would never know from looking in that it wasn't everything that it appeared.
I need to clarify my parents-my mother was an alcoholic who was also addicted to Valium.
She was the non-functional one of the house, and at any given moment could become verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive.
My dad, on the other hand, was a big strapping Irish man.
His motto was “Work Hard, Play Hard”.
He was a functional alcoholic, was a successful businessman, had strong work ethics, never missing a day of work and was never home.
The funny thing is, as a child growing up I would continuously say that I never wanted to be like my mother.
I accepted my dad the way he was.
Yes, he was distant, but he never hurt me in any other way.
I had my first intoxication at 13 years old.
No one really confronted it.
Irish family ... lots of beer.
Had my first DWI at 18 years old.
No one confronted it ... I was a normal kid.
One month later I had a serious car accident in which I came pretty close to killing my friend and myself.
No one confronted it ... because I was a “chip off the old block”
(My dad was known to be a little mischievous).
The very things I said I would never do, I began to do.
I started drinking because I liked how it made me feel.
It made me happier, smarter, braver, and prettier.
It made me forget the things I wanted to forget.
With the alcohol, I started to smoke cigarettes.
That became and is a bad habit in my life today.
I got married because that is what I was supposed to do.
Which I drank more over, as it was not what I had in mind.
Not Waltons in our home.
Then I was blessed with my biggest blessing in my life and that was the birth of our son.
One year and one week later my mom passed away from cancer.
Guess what I was thinking at her funeral?
I am not going to die like my mother ... angry, lonely, sad and lost.
So, four months later I left my husband.
So, here I was a single mom with no education and a serious drinking problem.
Not that I would admit that at that time.
Always thinking “I wasn’t going to be like my mother”.
In many respects I wasn't.
I didn't physically abuse my child, however, now I do know that I emotionally hurt him.
I had to experience a lot in those first six years of his life.
More importantly, he had to witness and experience things a child should never have to experience and witness.
In January of 1994, I entered treatment for my alcoholism.
Some of my motivating factors being that I love my son and you can guess …”I didn't want to be like my mother”.
I have come to understand and love my mother for who she was.
She was an alcoholic who was afraid to get help.
Not that society was accepting of it back them.
Most importantly, I know that in many ways I am not like her, as I found the fellowship.
As I write this today, I am 9 years sober and my son is 17 years old.
My father is now 7 years without a drink.
He did not think he was an alcoholic, as he had never had a DWI like my mother and I.
It was two months after he made that statement to me that he indeed got a DWI.
He has not drunk since then.
For that I am grateful.
My son, well, I have been sober longer than he can recall my drinking.
I like to think we have open communication between us. I
have worked with people with chemical dependency issues for the last 8 years; therefore, we have had many discussions.
With him asking many questions.
He's been to meetings with me, knows my sober support network well.
He is bright, funny, kind, loving, and has a wonderful personality.
You see, I see all this in him; however, he doesn't feel it about himself.
He was just suspended from school because his mother found him getting high before school and reported it.
Therefore, he spent his 17th birthday at the principal's office.
All I know in my heart is that I love my son.
And I don't want him to be like his mother.
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