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Growing Up with an Alcoholic Parent: Shit You Wish You Could Have Talked About

Because AA for kids was a nightmare, I hope this makes you feel a little less alone.

1 . When you learn about the roles in an alcoholic family and catch yourself comparing you and your siblings to each stereotypical role.

2. Thinking your parent can’t be an alcoholic, because they don’t act like the alcoholics on TV do.

3. Wishing your parents would get a divorce so that the fighting would stop.

  • And then feeling horrible, because so many kids struggle with having separated parents (but it must be for the best sometimes, right?)

4. The first time you read a story from another child of an alcoholic and have to choke back tears. Or your stomach churns with simultaneous feelings of discomfort and…acceptance?

  • Subsequently wondering why you hadn’t read more stories like this until college, because your childhood self would have felt a lot more validated.

5. Repeating over and over: it could be worse, it could be worse, it could be worse.

  • When you desperately want to talk to someone about your home life, but don’t want to sound whiny.

6. Drawing the line on your alcoholic parent’s toxicity at the dinner table – name-calling, endless complaining on trivial matters, back-handed compliments, infuriating arrogance – and then feeling horrible for spurring another screaming match.

  • Or, being the one to just sit there and take it, and feeling horrible for that, too.

7. When someone tells you that your parent “wasn’t always like this.”

  • Why does that excuse them from being an ass? Why does that mean I have to either silence my opinions and my voice, or fight constantly?

8. Alternatively hearing, “they were so good to you when you were a baby! They would do anything for you.”

  • First of all, I’m not a baby anymore; I’m a grown adult with lasting damage from an emotionally distant parent. Of course I'm grateful they care about me, but it sure didn't feel that way when they only showed up to one varsity game, a couple beers deep.

9. When you’re out for the third night in a row with your college friends, and you know that none of them are worried about forming an alcoholism habit – but you are.