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[ Personal Narratives ]

Wishing For Wings

I have quite a few ‘labels’ for a person who never thought I would. I grew up thinking everything was normal in my home, and that I had it better than most. Let me be very clear- I did have it better than most, but there were things that went on that were just not OK, and are still not OK, and will never be OK. I am a recovering alcoholic, (just celebrated 5 yrs of continuous sobriety on August 1st), abandoned single mother, adult child of alcoholics, sexual assault survivor, sister of a dead heroin addict, and sister of an alcoholic. 

I have: PTSD, GAD/Generalized Anxiety Disorder, chronic pain from years of gymnastics and being an equestrian. I am hypersensitive, hyper-emotional, overly trusting, yet can’t trust anyone. I am all of these things and much more. I am intellectual, driven, and fun. I am an advocate. I’m a world lifelong learner, a teacher, a grabber of hope and a giver of hope…

I come from a ‘dysfunctional alcoholic home’, and my parents are still ‘functioning’, or not so ‘functioning’ alcoholics. My mother had a physical and mental breakdown following the death of my brother from heroin withdrawal, (that story can be found on my profile: “Jails Institutions and Death”), and was hospitalized for 5 months. While hospitalized, my mom really had no control over what information was being passed to me; (I stayed on a cot next to her for five days despite my own family obligations). I was told that due to her extreme obesity, complete inactivity, and poor lifestyle choices, such as: drinking excess amounts of alcohol and eating fatty foods she had congestive heart failure, the beginning stages of liver disease and other health issues relating to lifestyle. She has been in a hospital bed at home ever since; its been over a year. 

My father has lied about his alcoholic drinking for decades, and continues to. My mother sent him away when I was very young- about 4/5, to detox from alcohol. Upon his return home my mom announced at the dinner table in front of me & my brothers, loudly, (I remember like it was yesterday), “Dad is an alcoholic; he will always be an alcoholic, and can NEVER drink again”. Those words cut the room in half and sliced right through my 5 year old heart like a perfectly trained spear. Dinner was pretty quiet that night. I didn’t know why at the time, but now I do; it was just the first of many assaults upon my inner child. I have learned over many years that I am now an ‘Adult Child of Alcoholics’ who also suffers from severe anxiety. That took a very long time to come to terms with, as I was fed bullshit for so very long, and I internalized it.

I also internalized all the verbal, violent physical, and emotional abuse by my middle brother. My eldest (late) brother was 5 years older than I, and we got along well. My middle bro and I are 18 months apart, and he didn’t get along with either one of us. Besides becoming an alcoholic himself, he beat me basically on a daily basis, called me horrible names daily, and did his best to make my life the worst it could be. Unfortunately, I started to believe all of the disgusting things he said to, and about me, and my self-esteem has suffered to adulthood. I have fully forgiven him, but the damage has been done, and the repair work has finally begun.. Nothing was really ever done about my brother and his abuse. They always minimized everything he ever did, and if they felt the need to ‘reprimand’ him- their very words would be, “_____, don’t do it again”. Every single time. My parents were too busy ‘working’; they owned their own flooring/window covering business for many years, and after that they both worked many hours/week. We were ‘latchkey kids’. They would also go out almost every night once I hit about 7 to a place called, ‘Digger Dans’ to drink after work; we learned how to make noodles young. They left the three of us on our own for several days on end to go either for weekend get-a-ways, or to Hawaii, or even to the very tip of Baja Ca with their drinking buddies. That’s when things would get completely out of control at our house.

Just to illustrate how very violent my middle brother could be, he once beat our eldest brother with a crow bar in front of our house in broad daylight. I was horrified, frightened, helpless. My brother’s only hope of escaping was the fact that my offending brother’s friend was there, witnessing all of it. He was a big guy, and cool-headed. He was able to talk to my mid-brother enough to get the crow bar away from him. That is just one example of so many, many more involving people outside our family. The only people that have ever been able to control him are the police, sadly.. On the bright side, he has recently gotten sober, and it seems real. I pray the best for him. I’m done trying to get apologies for wrongs in the past; I am working on my inner child. I’m also pretty sure I’m not perfect, and have done some crap myself growing up. Its not about apologies; its about forgiveness. 

I have been in and out of therapy for many years, and have never found a good fit since I always felt like I could probably help the therapists more than they could ever help me. Thanks to my partner, we have finally found an amazing PHD who is WAY smarter than I, and I know she is far and beyond more experienced, educated, traveled, and intelligent than I. She actually has the tools to help, instead of simply nodding her head for 55 minutes each week, and I get homework.. 

There are a ton of layers to this onion, and it is going to take a while to get to the meat of matters. I’ve been a member of ACoA for 39 years, but have never done 1/1 work. Every single thing in my life, and I believe, every ACoA’s life, is affected by my/our experience growing up in an alcoholic home. My kids are now nearing ‘adulthood’, and have started recognizing (finally), the abnormal behaviors in my parents. Its quite sad, because my own kids don’t want to visit Grandma n’ Grandpa, (who we lived w/for the first 7 years of my 1st’s life, which is another symptom of the illness of ACoA), because of that behavior. If you are an ACoA you know exactly what I mean; if you are not- to explain would mean writing a book. Its sad to hear my eldest son, 17 1/2, tell me that he hears my mother yelling the very same insults at my father that she did when I was growing up. It makes me sick, and I cannot in good conscious ‘force’ my kids to visit.

I developed my own alcoholism after my first child was born, and remained binge drinking for about 11 years. Rehab couldn’t even make me stop. I had to find it within myself to love myself enough to stop for myself and the people I love/love me the most- my kids and loved ones. The cycle of addiction has to stop with me. I have to show my kids a better way. To love ourselves is to love our lives- to wish for wings and our goal to fly. My goodness, how it would burn my heart if any one of my kids grew up to feel the way I do. To have to sit in a therapist’s chair every week due to the crap that has filled my head. I want no part in that. My kids’ dad abandoned us when I was 5 months pregnant with twins, so I do my best to make happy memories with them. I want my kids to know that I am NOT their best friend; I am their Mother. I am also here to help, support, cheer on, advocate, redirect, guide, challenge, and every so often- have some FUN with! We take lots of photos; one of my favorites is of them in front of Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory in L.A. I promised them we’d stop there on our way back home from Disneyland one year. I think it may have been the highlight of their trip.

Being an ACoA’s makes me want to overdo it a lot with my kids. Thankfully, I don’t have the means to do that. We do the best we can with what we have, and that is more than enough. I am so very thankful to have found others in the ACoA world, and also thankful to my hunny for finding my awesome therapist. Although I feel I’ve been on this journey for quiet some time- its really just begun. My heart goes out to all ACoA’s: may we all find our child within. She/He has been oppressed for too long, and its imperative that we nourish her. If we don’t- If I don’t, things will never get better. I am working toward wings, then I will fly above any kind of negativity coming from my parents without a second thought.

Here is a list of questions I found on an ACoA website. They are great in helping determine whether or not you are an Adult Child of an Alcoholic(s). Remember- working on yourself is NOT selfish:

DO YOU…?….

___find that you seek out tension or crisis, & then complain about it

___become anxious around angry people or authority figures

___defend or excuse people when they abuse you, implying you deserve it

___get locked into a course of action without seeing alternatives or outcomes

___react to people & situations, instead of choosing your responses

___worry that your emotions may overpower or hurt you, or others

___tend to lie or exaggerate, when it would be just as easy to tell the truth

___find the needs & wants of others more important than your own

___prevent yourself from experiencing the joy of your successes

___frequently anticipate that situations or life won’t work out for you

___isolate yourself when problems arise, or when you ‘feel bad’hiding

___find yourself in one or more survival ‘roles’ (hero, lost child…)

___mistrust your feelings, thought, perceptions

___tend to see issues in life as B & W, right or wrong

___have a fear of abandonment, especially when criticized

___strongly criticize yourself when not being perfect

___defend or excuse people when they abuse you, implying you deserve it

___get locked into a course of action without seeing alternatives or outcomes

___react to people & situations, instead of choosing your responses

___have trouble relaxing, playing, having fun

___had trouble with close, intimate relationships

___feel responsible for the feelings & actions of others, & try to fix them

___stay in relationships even tho’ you’re being constantly hurt, neglected, lied to, manipulated, hit… not getting any of your needs met


___fight with your family members over a parent’s drinking

___your parents make promises to you & then not keep them

___lose sleep at night due to a parent’s drinking

___take on some of the jobs or responsibilities belonging to your parents

___ever get sick, or worry a lot because of their drinking

___ever do anything to prevent your parent’s drinking

___always believe that no one knew your parents were drunks, when you were growing up


___able to recognize situation that you have no control over

___super responsible or super irresponsible

___unable to work thru crisis & conflict, or do you aggravate it

___seeing a pattern in your relationships similar to your family of origin

___unable to enjoy your successes & accomplishments

___afraid others may ‘find out’ you’re not good, or that you’re a fraud

___afraid of your emotions, & afraid to express them get help

___unable to complement yourself

___ashamed of or feel guilty for being who you are

___afraid of going crazy, or becoming a bag lady or bum

___uncomfortable with your life when it’s going smoothly

___unable to ask for help, or do so apologetically

___constantly seeking approval from others

___uncomfortable with being liked, admired, approved of

___always mentally looking over your shoulder to see if you’ll be punished

___out of control with: food, chemicals, work, sex, spending, exercising…


___been blaming everyone else for your life’s problems

___staunchly defended your parents’ ‘innocence’ in hurting you as a kid

___had trouble following thru on projects, or never finishing

___tried to hide the fact that your parents drank a lot, beat you or others in the family, incested you or your siblings

___concerned about your mate, children, friends’…use of chemicals

___developed fantasy beliefs about how loved ones may treat you some day

___considered what ‘normal’ is, & believe you’re not

___found yourself sabotaging your success & then feeling ‘more alive’

___been loyal to others (parents, siblings, lovers, children, friends, employers) – even tho’ your loyalty was undeserved, unjustified, un-returned

___been fired more than once & never really understood why

___* learned to have dialogues with your ‘inner child’, & consistently take care of yourself in loving ways ?

♥ ♥ ♥

IF you’re even taking this test, it’s likely you come from a damaged, angry, abusive, traumatic, neglected, unhappy backgroundanswers

TOTALS: ____Yes ____ No ____ Some ____ Don’t Know

IF you answered YES to:

✶ 10-20, you’re either not an ACoA, in denial or in long-term recovery

✶ 20-30, you’re a co-dependent, even if there was no alcoholism in the family

✶ 30 or more, you’re definitely an ACoA (adult-child of alcoholics and other narcissists), which includes mentally ill &/or narcissistic family members

• If you said NO to Qs in the ‘DID YOU…’ section, but still scored high, there may be alcoholism/ drug addiction in some other part of your family, even if you didn’t experience it directly

• You may also be an active addict, yourself – alcohol/ drugs, food, money, sex, relationships…

• If you are not yet in Recovery from your childhood trauma & present day difficulties, you can seek out 12-step Programs. THEY’RE BASICALLY FREE, & are available on the internet & by phone, for anyone not able to get to these meeting in person. See pg 55 for some of the 12-step groups.

• Also, there are many recovery books, site, blogs & of course therapy, with someone very familiar with ACoA / addiction issues.

✶ If you are in Recovery, keep up the good fight. It pays off!

~ACoA Survey Found At: