Alcoholic F

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Kizzie

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Alcoholic F
« on: September 20, 2015, 09:13:14 PM »
I write a lot about my M and B having NPD, and little about my F's alcoholism, but of course it had a big impact on my life as well.  In fact, back in my 20's (I am 59), I thought it was the reason for my pain and depression.  I went to one of the then new Adult Children of Alcoholic groups and learned just how "dysfunctional" my FOO was.  What I didn't realize then was how traumatizing and abusive/neglectful an alcoholic parent can be. 

My father was a high functioning alcoholic and did quite well in his career, but had little left over for my B and I.  He was for the most part a dominating, controlling, demanding and difficult person who came home tired during the week and was drunk on the weekends.

We walked on egg shells around him and my M because as someone with NPD she fought his absence in work and drinking (lots of down and dirty fighting in the early years), until she learned that by being the best mom ever she could get a lot of sympathy from those who knew he drank. She became a covert martyr and an enabler. 

To most I'm sure we looked like a normal family but behind closed doors there was just ongoing tension and deep anger and no real love and nurturing. I can remember (now, couldn't always) laying in bed about age 5 or 6 and being terrified of their fighting and of having it spill over onto us. And of course it did although I couldn't see all of it the way I can now.  There were the more obvious instances like being spanked really hard for embarrassing my M in front of a guest one day and put into a hot bath, to the not so obvious - the gaslighting and hoovering and all the behaviours of someone with NPD.   
 
Ooops, I'm back to PDs I see lol.  I learned to hate the smell of whiskey because I associate it with my F being drunk and a storm coming.  I am triggered by talking to anyone who has had a few drinks which made life as the spouse of someone in the military difficult and triggering as there is a lot of socializing involved. Despite this,  when my CPTSD symptoms overtook me about two years ago I turned to alcohol and came to see how much pain my F must have been in.  I was in so much pain and it was the only legal way of numbing myself.  It overtook me and became the problem.  I bottomed out but got some help and haven't returned to drinking nor do I crave it luckily for me.  The odd time when things have been really stressful I've caught myself thinking, "Having a couple of drinks would make this go away" but then I think about withdrawing and that puts a stop to that. 

I recently found a book which is the first one I've seen which associates being parented by an alcoholic with trauma (The ACOA Trauma Syndrome: The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships).  This seems to me to be a huge step forward in that perhaps those who are ACOA's will identify as having livd with trauma rather than dysfunction and get the treatment they need.  I know that I only stumbled on CPTSD through learning about my M having NPD and a post which pointed me toward Pete Walker, but now I see how much my F's alcoholism contributed so much to its development. 

« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 09:19:16 PM by Kizzie »

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2015, 10:30:33 AM »
Thanks for sharing, Kizzie.
What a pile up of trauma and neglect. There can't be just one shoe, now is it?  :thumbdown:

I can relate to a neglectful/absent F and a "yoo-hoo, now I can have all the attention, that's suits me just as well" M, even though the particular causes behind them are different. What a minefield to navigate. "You either get bitten by the dog, or you'll get bitten by the cat", as a saying is where I live. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I'm sending you hugs, and congrats on kicking the bottle  :thumbup:
 :hug:

I recently found a book which is the first one I've seen which associates being parented by an alcoholic with trauma (The ACOA Trauma Syndrome: The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships).  This seems to me to be a huge step forward in that perhaps those who are ACOA's will identify as having livd with trauma rather than dysfunction and get the treatment they need.
By making the distinction between trauma and dysfunction, do you mean that trauma warrants a "I really was a blameless victim" mindset vs. the (implied by society?) "dysfunction, now that is something I can (should?) take shared responsibility for (however small portion since I was a child) and can 'simply' act upon now that i'm bigger (an adult)."?
I ask, since the latter implication is still a pretty big part of my coping method at the moment. Somewhere deep down I don't want to be a victim, but a survivor.

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arpy1

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2015, 12:04:00 PM »
interesting question D/U.

off the top of my head, i think maybe i see dysfunction as a matter of degree, - after all, who can honestly say they aren't dysfunctional in some way or another? 

however, if i look at my own FOO, there was very real dysfunction on both parents' sides, going back generations. the fact that it just so happened that my mum's illness and frequent absence during my very earliest years, exacerbated that  dysfunctionality to the point of causing me real trauma, was a great misfortune, but neither parent actively or decided to abuse me or traumatise me. it just fell out that way becos of the combination of their wounds and the circumstances.

in other people's families, the dysfunction of the parents did turn into deliberate abuse and deliberate traumatising. they chose that outcome, to one degree or another, consciously or unconsciously.

my feeling is this can never be a black/white thing, where dysfunction develops into abuse, where conscious choice and subconscious choice diverge.... who can really know another person? and anyway the fact remains, we got damaged.

i would say, though, that in no circumstance does the child have any responsibility for what happened to it. never. a child has no power in the situation. the adults hold all the cards. they deal them, not the kid. imo, the child is always the 'done-to' not the 'do-er'.

i guess, that means accepting the uncomfortable fact of our victimhood. (our EX-victimhood.) but we are free to choose or reject the 'victim mindset', which is another thing entirely.   we are survivors. we survived the bad stuff. we can be proud.


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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2015, 12:47:33 PM »
I see what you mean.
This is difficult territory. If only for the definition of the various concepts, f.e. what is dysfunction.

When things get difficult like this, I often try to find analogies. A trait I have been rebuked for since childhood, but a trait I can't shed.
So, let's try it here, and see if I'll do better  ;D .
Let's take healthy and sick. What is either? Within 'Medicine', this is a real issue, and rightfully so.
I have lost a molar, had my appendix removed, my tonsils, and I have scars. (in total I have had 68 stitches to sow me back in shape, in various body parts, on various occasions. Oh, and I have had glue used on me  ;D. ) I'm healthy by any contemporary standard, but I could understand people who would argue I'm just not sick, but not healthy.

To compare what you just said regarding dysfunction, I would be the 'everybody has some dysfunctionality' 'brand' but not dysfunctional.
In my book I'm not dysfunctional at all (in view of the comparison I just made). We all have quirks (e.g.: we're not perfect, we are all 'stitched up' in some way.)

Another point/issue you raised, to which I fully agree: the child NEVER bears any responsibility.
Though what I was hinting at regarding "identify as having lived with trauma rather than dysfunction and get the treatment they need." would be, and I will draw another analogy/comparison:
If a child gets sick of a germ, and suffers impairment from the trauma, he/she is a 'true' victim. Nobody can fend of germs. It's just a stroke of bad luck. If a child however pulls over a hot teapot or soup from the stove, and suffers impairment of it, I bet that many (and possibly even me, I'm not really sure of myself here) will always have the notion of: "Hmmm, well, act of the child played a role as well." When in reality, at least in my cognition, I will have to admit if the child was 4 at the time, his/her action and the presumed causality are as insignificant/non-existent as the child protracting a germ. And I bet the child or Adult Child will forever on occasion wonder: "Just what if I hadn't pulled the hot stuff over me?", while the Adult Child germ-victim will not even consider a thought like that.

Thanks arpy1, things like this intrigue me, and I think they actually matter, in the realm of recovery. These are not 'academic exercises' for the heck of it. Peoples lives are affected by it.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2015, 12:53:28 PM by Dutch Uncle »

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Kizzie

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2015, 06:23:22 PM »
Terrific discussion!  I think digging down into things is very worthwhile as well.  After a childhood of being told not to think too much, my (very much delayed) act of teenage rebellion is to try and be a critical thinker. Ha, revenge at last  ;D  My NPDB used circular logic to make me frustrated and break down in tears right up into my 20's, part of the reason I went to university and learned to fashion a cogent argument.  He stopped then lol.   Anyway, I digress.

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By making the distinction between trauma and dysfunction, do you mean that trauma warrants a "I really was a blameless victim" mindset vs. the (implied by society?) "dysfunction, now that is something I can (should?) take shared responsibility for (however small portion since I was a child) and can 'simply' act upon now that i'm bigger (an adult)."?

I hadn't take my thinking in that direction at all actually, but it's an interesting perspective to consider for sure. I was more thinking of "dysfunction" as related to my acceptance of "chronic depression" as a diagnosis.  If I had understood then that my FOO were abusive and traumatizing and that I had CPTSD, I would have known to find more robust and focused treatment. 

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If a child however pulls over a hot teapot or soup from the stove, and suffers impairment of it, I bet that many (and possibly even me, I'm not really sure of myself here) will always have the notion of: "Hmmm, well, act of the child played a role as well." When in reality, at least in my cognition, I will have to admit if the child was 4 at the time, his/her action and the presumed causality are as insignificant/non-existent as the child protracting a germ. And I bet the child or Adult Child will forever on occasion wonder: "Just what if I hadn't pulled the hot stuff over me?", while the Adult Child germ-victim will not even consider a thought like that.

Childhood is about developing cognitively, emotionally, physically and spiritually (and by spirituality my meaning is our sense of self). Thus for me, the example of the young child who pulls over a teapot versus one who contracts something because of a germ are the same. The child did not have the ability to resist the germ (physically) or to avoid the hot teapot (cognitively/affectively).

I think many of us struggle with the issue of whether and to what extent we allowed ourselves to be victimized because we see through adult eyes and not through the eyes of the children we once were.  I did for the longest time until one day in therapy I saw through my child's eyes and realized how primal her feelings were and how defenseless she had been.  It was an "Aha" moment to be sure. 



 


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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2015, 06:35:18 PM »
Thanks!  :thumbup:

New stuff to ponder on.  ;D
I liked the bit about 'viewing it through my child's eyes'. I don't think I've done that yet. Being 'brainy' and all that. Thanks again.

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arpy1

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2015, 06:46:09 PM »
yeah, this is interesting, and as you rightly say, D/U, it is more than simply and academic exercise to work out what we think about these things.

i guess for me the waters are muddied by the inescapable fact that the most traumatising experiences i had were as an adult (well, from the age of 18yrs).    now there used to be a school of thought that said that people who joined cults were to blame becos they should have seen what was happening (the 'how could you be so stupid/desperate/gullible?' school). but research over the second half of the 20thC has shown pretty conclusively that there isn't a 'type' of person/psychology that is particularly susceptible to being 'taken in'.  it can and does happen to anyone.

in a sense, altho a relief that i am not to be branded a gullible fool (except of course, by myself) this only muddies the waters further.  becos the inevitable question i ask myself time and again is 'how can i not have seen what was happening?' and the same applies, in a different way, to my marriage.

i was an adult.. yet i was badly abused and traumatised. in both situations, had i had the knowledge and experience i have today, i would have not have 'gone there'. and yet i did. and in both situations i  was trapped, as surely as if i had been physically imprisoned.

now where do i draw the line between responsibility for my actions in 'choosing' the abusive situation, and the responsibility of those who abused me? no question here of looking through my 'childhood eyes'.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2015, 07:19:39 PM »
I can relate, arpy1. Something similar is present in my experience. The Inner Critic tells me "Yeah yeah, Dutch, all the childhood stuff is all fine and dandy, but why didn't you 'quit' once you were free? Huh? That you 'stayed' once you had left the family home...: you should have known better. That has been nobody but your choice. Suck it up and stop whining, you prat."

Some relief can be found, possibly probably in recognizing/accepting that people get conned all the time, at any age, in any situation, from any 'class'.
Think Bernie Madoff. This man conned many people from high-society. Certainly 'they' should have known 'better'?

Nah, not really. They knew better. And that's what Bernie took advantage off.

 :hug:

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Kizzie

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2015, 09:12:10 PM »
 
I can relate, arpy1. Something similar is present in my experience. The Inner Critic tells me "Yeah yeah, Dutch, all the childhood stuff is all fine and dandy, but why didn't you 'quit' once you were free? Huh? That you 'stayed' once you had left the family home...: you should have known better. That has been nobody but your choice. Suck it up and stop whining, you prat."

Do we know better though? I didn't, not clearly and when I finally figured it out I did leave.

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.....the inevitable question i ask myself time and again is 'how can i not have seen what was happening?' and the same applies, in a different way, to my marriage. i was an adult.. yet i was badly abused and traumatized. in both situations, had i had the knowledge and experience i have today, i would have not have 'gone there'. and yet i did. and in both situations i  was trapped, as surely as if i had been physically imprisoned.

Should we have known?  I was raised to exist in a foggy state, not to think clearly or talk about things straight on, to deny, to repress, to feel shame and take on blame. Thus, I became an adult who was missing the healthy strategies and knowledge and experience that I needed to be less vulnerable, and am just learning them now, much later in life than most.  It sounds like you did not have the things you needed to avoid being abused and traumatized either Arpy, that you could not actually have "known better" and that because of this you were vulnerable, not by choice but by circumstance.

 
« Last Edit: September 23, 2015, 09:31:16 PM by Kizzie »

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stillhere

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2015, 10:42:47 PM »
I grapple with this question a lot.  It makes me ask why I've take so long to address some of the issues I'm trying to address now, decades after the last face-to-face encounter with abusive members of my FOO.

It is again about blame and accountability, yes?  At what age or under what conditions, are we accountable?  Do we then assume blame?  Can we still attribute blame to those who wounded us long ago?

I've been intrigued with research showing that abuse leaves an impact on brain and body.  Somehow, that scientific finding suggests that moving past early abuse requires more than "just" identifying it.  So, Arpy1, perhaps someone with a history of trauma might be especially vulnerable to the pull of a cult, not as a "type" of person but as someone whose brain had developed in a particular direction?

But we also have choices, maybe not all the best choices but choices nonetheless.

I'm at least glad to know that other people are considering these questions.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2015, 03:48:23 AM »
Do we know better though? I didn't, not clearly and when I finally figured it out I did leave.
I agree. This is key to my recovery. And I am still leaving, despite various attempts to con me again.  It has already got me as far that I'm now, at times, able to say: "Bugger off. You leave!" That has felt so empowering. There'll be a time I'll have them catching for breath, while I stroll along.  :thumbup:

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missbliss

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2015, 05:02:51 AM »
Yes. Because under the addiction is rage, depression, anxiety and the person is self-medicating, unknowingly or knowingly. And there is a root cause for those feelings unaddressed and till its addressed it gets played out and sometimes it gets passed down genetically though it doesn't have to necessarily have to result in the same kind of self-medicating behavior - could take other forms as well - anything form perfectionalism to general anxiety. So, it's important to look at the family tree and get at the root of what went down where and how. Just to get perspective but also to finally heal it. My feeling is that most of us with these disorders are here to finally heal generational trauma. Put the demons out of their misery and lay them to rest. Put the order back. Tall order but probably do-able.


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missbliss

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2015, 05:16:50 AM »


now where do i draw the line between responsibility for my actions in 'choosing' the abusive situation, and the responsibility of those who abused me? no question here of looking through my 'childhood eyes'.

One of the key notes in all of this is how much, I mean how MUCH (!) we tear ourselves down and beat ourselves up, literally torturing and scaring ourselves. If we only looked at that part and asked why and were made conscious of it while it happens - and stopped. I've been doing this incessantly for a very large part of my adult life. Inner Critic might have turned into Inner Inquisitor or Inner Sadist or Inner Serial Killer. It's just that bad. Where every motive and action is questioned and turned into a trial and execution where the *pay-off* is stab wounds to the heart, racing thoughts, insomnia, anxiety and the ultimate pay-off of all - depression.

These are self-destruction scripts. Name them for what they are. Their purpose is to replicate the Depression Gene. As long as we carry these thoughts in our mind and think them, that gene will continue to hold space, time and energy in our bodies, minds and souls because we are holographic beings and that DNA goes into every cell - physical, mental and spiritual. The only place that it can't touch is the inner core which is divine - but around that inner core (the inner child) there is a ring of fire and yes, the echos of the pain do inflict suffering on the child - as one can hear a damaging tirade - it carries poison but there is a mechanism of protection instilled to prevent psychic injury. Trouble is, my feeling is that there are many holes in this protective band in traumatized individuals which is why we feel raw and vulnerable to the world.


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Indigochild

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2015, 12:12:19 AM »
Interesting disgussion and something i have been struggling with,
weather i was to blame for what happened.

I just had to comment because, I agree with Missbliss, and Dutch, I have to comment on what you wrote:
The Inner Critic tells me
 "Yeah yeah, Dutch, all the childhood stuff is all fine and dandy, but why didn't you 'quit' once you were free?
 Huh?
 That you 'stayed' once you had left the family home...: you should have known better. That has been nobody but your choice. Suck it up and stop whining, you prat."

Abuse makes us go back. Part of us thinks its normal. Our inner child is always hopeful that things will be better.
It is all we are used to. We are addicted. We dont know how to live with out the drama and feeling bad. Bad as it is, that is *home* to us.
Maybe we blame ourselves so we go back and maybe we are trying to hurt ourselves, thinking it is all we deserve.
I dont believe it is a totally conscious choice, because-
how can a brain that has been damanged and wried in an unhealthy way- make healthy choices?
Even if we know all this, its hard to face the reality, and we are human for that.

I wouldnt blame yourself Dutch, although I understand why you would think it was your fault.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Alcoholic F
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2015, 08:54:15 AM »
Thanks Indigo.  :thumbup: