I’ve never really written a lot about this, but my dad was an alcoholic. There. I said it. Without explaining it away, adding that he was an executive who had to wine and dine his clients, or that he wasn’t a poor under the bridge alcoholic but a $40 bottle of wine one, which somehow in my mind was supposed to make it better. And my mom as great as she was a mom to me, told me about her concerns when I was pretty little. And in turn have felt that I was not allowed to be a kid. Because both my parents are gone, I have only written about the amazingly generous funny and loving dad and the sweet, Polly Anna memory making mom. I guess maybe I write about this now… because I am angry, and my anger has robbed so much from me. As my loyal readers know, I am writing a Children’s book about HAPPINESS, and I am stuck at the ending. I mean, a book about happiness really should have a happy ending, right? And the bad stuff that happens shouldn’t rob us from the joy and good stuff that we are blessed with.
I just had to come and sit down here and reference this before I could continue. First, and most importantly, I feel that parents shouldn’t burden their kids with adult problems period. Unless, of course, it is for their safety. Like don’t get in a car with a drunk or addicted mom or dad. I mean sometimes you have to share things to set up boundaries and keep them safe. But I remember my mom waking me up to bail my dad out of jail for a DUI when I was nine years old. She could have told me that his car broke down and she had to go pick him up. I mean as an adult, I have a ton of more reasonable questions about why I had to know the details about how scared she was to drive with him and other things that caused me to be a pretty neurotic kid.
When my parents would go to cocktail parties, I was worried until they got home safely. When my dad was late from work, I bombarded my mom asking her repeatedly if she was worried. And she would get mad at me because I was just weird about it until he got home safe and was just late most of the time because of traffic or some normal reason. But as I grew up, it dawned on me that she’d made me that way by sharing junk a kid should never have to know.
When I worked at the hospital in the Psych Dept. in the eighties, my boss was writing her thesis and asked me to read it one night when we both were working the graveyard shift. The topic was, Adult Children of Alcoholic Parents. I cried as I read it. I never knew there were others like me. One of the symptoms was ending up marrying an alcoholic. Of course, my first husband was a full-blown Alcoholic and I’ve always wondered, what if I’d read that paper earlier? He’s gone now and so maybe writing about my anger can help others not make the same mistakes. Though we now have Talk shows and social media that have enlightened people every which way, take it from that scared little kid, now an adult and raging co-dependent who tries to control my life and everyone else’s…. It’s NOT okay to rob your kid’s childhood. And you know what? I’m not going to do the classic Co-dependent action and tell you how great my parents were and all the great memories they gave me over the years. Because, I KNOW that their mistakes don’t define them and we all make them.
Recently I was hit by a drunk driver, and I think the rage I’ve felt that someone knowingly had too much to drink and got behind the wheel of a car, has been stuck inside of me like a roaring wild animal. God was in that car with me that night, Maybe hitting me, stopped him from wiping out an entire family with a brand-new baby in the back seat. Who knows? All I know is that I was spared. And I don’t want to keep robbing myself of realizing the blessing that He saved me. That I “walked” away! Though I could be stuck on my totaled car or the many things that changed because or someone else’s stupid mistake.
Anyway, there’s a lot more work to be done on this Happiness project. But I think the key is to address that everyone has sad stuff in their lives but to work on figuring out how to be happy in spite of it.