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Walking on Eggshells

Even though I have been in Al-Anon for 2 1/2 years, I often feel like a newcomer myself and I am so thankful to have found Key to Harmony. It is great to have he members' input, both new and longtimers. So please stick with it, it really works.

I was born into a family with an actively drinking father. There is alcoholism on both sides of my family. Although my mother's family upbringing was "perfect" and loving, her grandfather was an alcoholic, so it can skip a generation and still affect you.

I am the oldest of four girls, and I feel I was affected the most (or at least that's what they all say). Or maybe I just hit my bottom and decided to get help first.

Alcoholism Has Affected Me

Alcoholism has affected me in so many ways. I also think it didn't help that my dad is a "mean drunk", not a silly, fun drunk. He did not hold a steady job, and was very verbally abusive to me so that I always (and still do) walked on eggshells, always afraid that whatever I said to him, I'd get my head chopped off (verbally).

I can remember many times as a child, being punished for being a normal kid, playing my stereo, being on the phone, blow drying my hair. Instead of telling me to quiet down or whatever, he would shut off the electricity and stuff like that. And he treated my mom even worse, speaking terribly to her and about her parents.

He would do things like slice a hole in a couch if she tried to buy something new, or chop up her clothes. Yet she chose to never leave so I had a lot of resentments toward her too for putting me through this.

Didn't Know How to Act

The strange thing about living like this (but very typical) was that I was uncomfortable around friends who had a "good" father, didn't know how to act around him. And the only friends I had over to my house were the ones who came from alcoholic homes and would "understand."

Two other things I did as a child and an adult was try to control everything and everybody, and make things better for everyone. I thought it was up to me to change everything, to make my dad stop drinking, to change my workplace, to provide world peace! And I neglected my own needs. I felt like the parent taking care of my parents (the kids).

Luckily, my mom worked (as a teacher) and was independent financially, so I am a very independent woman now and don't need a man to support me. The bad side is that I want a "perfect" man, the opposite of my dad, and thus, am now alone as he is nowhere to be found!

Self-Esteem Very Low

It affects me as an adult cause I have not had a decent relationship wirh a man as of yet. I first started dating alcoholics, then moved on to men who made money, etc., but had my dad's critical personality. My self-esteem was and always has been very low as far as what I think men think of me.

I also have much resentment toward my mom for putting up with it and acting like an ostrich with her head in the sand, and I now have to work to get rid of these feelings. Personally, I don't know why independent women would stay with an alcoholic, but I cannot know what others want or need, I just know I don't want it for myself.

Thank God my mom went to Al-Anon for 20 years and influenced me in many ways, because so far none of us are alcoholics or have married alcoholics, but I can still see many of the typical child of alcoholic traits in me like low self-esteem, perfectionism, creating fantasy world for outsiders to see, paranoid about many things, negative, expecting the other shoe to drop if things are going good, being comfortable in chaotic situations, etc.

Something Was Wrong With Me

When my last relationship ended, with someone I thought was a "perfect" man (I really didn't have a good example of a truly good man), I knew I needed help in changing MYSELF, as I wanted to have a healthy "normal" relationship. I knew there was something wrong with ME that I kept attracting abusive, critical people into my life, whether in love relationships, work relationships, and even some female friends.

I didn't want it anymore. I had reached my bottom and didn't want any more problem people in my life. I wanted someone all grown up that I wouldn't have to "save". Someone responsible, kind, mature, and able to love in a healthy way. And that is who I needed to become to attract this.

So I am on my way in Al-Anon and have changed in a lot of ways. My dad still drinks (at 67) but I am learning to detach in a loving way and live my own life. I am much more serene, not so much of a perfectionist, and stay out of others' stuff that is none of my business. It is a lifetime commitment, and I'm moving very slow, and it takes a long time to repair the damage, but it is worth it.

Ann in MI

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