Let me clarify this one thing first. I am a true believer that once a person is of age, he/she is responsible for their OWN actions. I do NOT in any way blame my parents for me. I am an adult, I can think on my own, make my own decisions, and am the only one responsible for me. Anyone that "passes the buck" to blame the parents once they hit adulthood is making excuses. Fix YOURSELF now -- you are free to do so.
My parents are both wonderful people who love me and are selfless when it comes to their children. If it wasn't for them -- I would be lost and I thank God for them and I ask Him to watch over them every night.
My dad is an alcoholic. My mother is an codependent/enabler. My sister, brother, and I all have the traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics. In adulthood this is what we have done -- three classic responses of ACAs.
- Sister (oldest)-- married the first man that came along to get out, he is an alcoholic too and she has escaped that marriage.
- Brother (middle) -- graduated high school at 17, distanced himself from family by going to college out of state and still lives out of state.
- Me (baby) -- married the first man that came along -- made certain he was a member of our church -- tried to get exact opposite of my dad, but got worse. So I divorced, and like my sister -- I then married the first man that came along and he is an alcoholic.
- Phase I - he'd drink a few and be fun, tell jokes, dance around;
- Phase II -a few more he'd get all lovey, dovey -- nothing inappropriate, just he loved everybody;
- Phase III - beligerent and the "liquid courage" would kick in and he'd want to "talk" about what was wrong with YOU, only real communication we had was when he would "talk" to you in this phase, the talking was usually more accusatory jabs than anything;
- Phase IV - Mean (not physically but verbally), nothing suited him and no one could do anything right; and
- Phase V - Self Pity, suicidal, blackouts, destructive, paranoia -- then he'd pass out (thank God.)
Mama was born in 1935. Mama's parents didn't drink. From what I know about her childhood they were both wonderful, upstanding parents. I think Mama did say that Papaw wasn't always a real affectionate father, but later on with us grandchildren he was very affectionate and loving. Mama grew up in that generation where you don't disgrace the family. You keep all the problems at home and put up a "front" that you have the "Ozzie and Harriett Nelson" lifestyle at home. And, of course divorce was especially shunned. Mama had a job and mama catered to Daddy's every need at home. Mama is still with Daddy and they do love each other very much. Daddy would ask politely and Mama would jump, he would thank her. But when the drinking would start...
We did not have family discussions. We put it all as I call it "in the back of our heads." That's just something you don't talk about. Mama and Daddy would get up before us kids and Mama would tell Daddy and he would tell her it won't happen again. If we wanted anything (Brother and I) from Daddy we would tell Mama and she'd talk to Daddy about it. I guess Brother and I have NEVER been able to talk to him. Sister says that she and Daddy can talk. I envy this, because I have no idea how to approach him. I do know that Daddy does give the best hugs in the world -- but we never talked. It was always silent comforting from him.
These are issues that I have dealt with in my adulthood. I never learned to communicate. I have the example of the doting wife protecting the family name. I never learned to communicate. Divorce was shunned. I was angry at Mama for not leaving him and leaving me in that situation. Sometimes, I feel it is too late to even try to start to tell them about my pain. He doesn't even remember half of it and Mama gets very upset. I try to learn from my past and fix the things that I think went wrong, trying to say -- hey, I didn't like the noncommunication in our household as a child. So I try to make my home one of open conversation and sharing of feelings. I say "It's okay to be angry at me, just remember when you get over the anger that you still love me." No you don't hate your sister, you hate what she is doing to you right now but you still love her. I try to let them know that their emotions are okay, and if they have a problem with Daddy when he is drinking, they need to let him know and he too has accepted this and even though it makes him feel like shit, he will try to help them through it when he is sober. I can give him that much credit.
Undoing the past is hard -- J****'s past is similar to mine. Healing is hard.
My Sister will cry when she reads this. I love her very much.
I wonder how Brother would react?
I said that Daddy had been drinking in an earlier blog -- well -- he was Phase III. Usually he is Phase II when I pick up the kids each afternoon. I wish we could quit going through these phases. Kids have enough phases of their own, they shouldn't have to worry about someone else's phases.