Saturday, March 29, 2008

Adult Children of Alcoholics

I am what is known as an ACoA or ACA. Adult Child of Alcoholics. What applies to us is arguably a catch all term for anyone who grew up in an dysfunctional family. On my links, there is a link that can tell you more about the ACA thing. I've been in a few groups. They are 12 step groups similar to the AA model, but with us, the big problem isn't picking up the drink, but learning to drop the baggage and the coping behavior we learned as kids. I quip sometimes that my father was one of the few people whose personality may have been improved by alcoholism. I don't really believe that, but he was a little easier to deal with, because he was in a stupor so much of the time. A more accurate way of describing my father was that he had 2 distinct issues - extreme alcoholism, and extreme mental instability. Without the booze, he still would have been a violent, hateful individual.

I wasn't aware of that when I was a child though. The way my enabling mother described it, he was really a wonderful man, and the alcohol made him what he was, and since I had no memory of anything else, it was easy to believe that. It was just another way of enablers not only excusing addictive behavior, but on top of that, blaming everything else wrong with the person on the addiction.

I've got nothing but the highest respect for people with an addiction that confront their problem. But there are addicts who genuinely like being addicts. Heaven for them is finding an enabler who will support their addiction, emotionally and financially. My old man had his heaven, and it was my hell.

My mother had her alcohol issues also. I was blissfully in denial of that into my adulthood. Because my father's personality was so bizarre and extreme, I associated that with alcoholism. My mother was a more normal personality, so it was so easy for me to be in denial. It's almost like my father unwittingly provided protective camouflage for my mother where her alcoholism, and sometimes abusive behavior was unnoticeable compared to my father's much more extreme behavior.

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