leading change: a society free from alcohol harm

Julie

I was always living in fear and trying to find out why I was this way …

My first memory as a child is trying to wake my mother up so I could go to playschool, I was four years of age. Unfortunately she would not wake up so I got a chair and opened the front door of our home and went down the road to playschool myself. Should this be the first memory of a small child, I think not but this was the fall out for me as a child of an alcoholic mother. That is the only memory I have of my mother growing up in our family home.

Fortunately my mother became sober when I was six and the only reason I know the age I was is that she is now 34 years sober. Unfortunately she left us and began her sober life solo. What I believe today is that if help was offered to me as a child of an alcoholic, I am in no doubt that the pain and panic attacks I went through for many years could have been avoided. When a person becomes sober they are told to take care of themselves, to put themselves first, there is AA meetings everyday, AA friends that can be contacted and the promise of a life of change by doing the right things but what happens to the children left behind.

The person in recovery is moving on in their recovery but unfortunately the children of alcoholics are in no doubt left behind. Yes it is possible to give children the help they need but is this always the case. No not in my case growing up.

My mother moved on with her sobriety and her life and left me behind like I didn’t matter and thats the way I felt growing up. Full of fear and like I did not matter. I experienced my first panic attack when I was 13 years of age which this continued daily until the age of 37.

I was always living in fear and trying to find out why I was this way, why I had to suffer with no understanding. Today I don’t blame anyone for this but when you are a child with no help or direction then of course you blame the person you feel caused this which was my mother. Yes she had a choice to come home but she choose not to. Today I feel I can sit and have a conversation with my mother but will it ever be normal, I dont believe it will for me as there is alot of hurt with no explanations given to me or amends made and after so long I know I will never get the answers I am looking for.

I am a mother myself and I myself am now in recovery. I went to the lowest in my life but so did my children. I lost everything and when I got sober my priority was staying sober and ensuring I got my children back but also ensuring that they got the help they needed to heal. Unfortunatley there seems to be too much hurt for one child who now in sobriety does not talk to me. Was I too late in getting sober, was the hurt too much for my child, these are the questions I ask myself everyday.

There will never be a quick fix to being a child of an alcoholic and I have been that child and also my children have had to experience it. The one thing that both situations bring up is that fact that children are left behind as children of alcoholics whether the parent is present in their life or not. The hurt is there, caused by a parent. No doubt a parent who did not ask or want to be an alcoholic but its happened. I did not wake up one day and say yes I want to be an alcoholic and I want to disrupt and turn my childrens lives upside down. That is not the case.

The person in recovery has so much help and people to reach out to but that is not the case for the child/children of alcoholics. I feel this is where the problem lays for any child in that situation. While I can move forward, try and forgive myself for the past and so on, my child is still back a few years ago when I put down the drink. Still in the same place and I am told that I need to let that child go, that I need to mind myself and my sobriety, that I need to give time to that child for that child to heal. Giving time in this situation only gains loss. Loss of my child who can not deal with the past so that past is me, the mother who is the alcholic in recovery.

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