Change began when I asked for help

Jo | November 2018 | 7 minutes

My father drank from when I was about six years old. I was kicked out of home when I was 16. When I was 20, he passed away as a result of his drinking. Today I am 43, and have lived many years away from my father. Many people would think that he and his drinking wouldn’t have much of a bearing on my life now. But they would be wrong.

"Throughout my childhood I longed for a connection with my father, to feel wanted, loved and accepted, but his obsession with and need for alcohol was too great. His drinking took him away from his family, and ultimately himself.

"Not long after he died, I started to notice problems in my life, and the connection they had with my dad’s drinking. Relationships were one of the big issues I had; I found it hard to connect with others, to open up and share how I felt, or even to know how I felt in the first place. I struggled with trusting people as I'd been lied to so much by my father. My self-esteem and confidence was on the floor as I'd not been accepted for who I was.

"I compromised myself and moulded myself into someone I thought others wanted and would accept, and I had a big fear or the unknown. I spent a lot of time (and still do) trying to control everything, because my home life was so uncontrollable. I had no power as a child despite being very responsible, which made me overly-responsible as an adult.

"Even though my dad was no longer with me, the impact he had on my life was."

"Even though my dad was no longer with me, the impact he had on my life was.

"Thankfully, I was able to seek help. I started my ongoing, now 20-year journey of self-development. In therapy I learned about the roles played out in the home, and how my feelings and experiences living with someone drinking so heavily were still affecting my life.

"I had no idea! I just knew life wasn't great and wanted it to be different.

"It can be hard to take care of yourself as the child of someone alcohol dependent, and even harder to seek help from others. While most parents with drinking problems want the best for their child, just like any parent, it can be hard for them to give their children what they need. Self-care wasn't something I was taught. I didn't learn about boundaries, how to self soothe, how to respect myself and others, how to express myself in an assertive way. It was all new to me; I had to learn it as an adult.

"Families of people with alcohol problems can focus on people-pleasing and helping everyone else, because it makes us feel worthy. Now I know that I'm worthy, and I help if I want to and can.

"Life is so much better now, and the investment in over 20 years of self-development was the best decision I made, and continue to make. You can do it too.

"Ask for help."

If you have been affected by a loved one’s drinking you deserve support, and things can change for the better.

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