When you grow up with a father who is an alcoholic, either recovering, recovered, or who currently has a problem, you learn a lot of things. In my case, my parents divorced when I was very young, and so many of these things I did not learn until later. I have always struggled because of this. When your father is an alcoholic, you learn that it’s weird that you come from a broken home. There is a special bond between a father and his daughter, and you learn quickly that you lack that bond. You learn, much later, that lacking that bond will affect you for life.
When your father is an alcoholic, you learn not to rely on him. You learn that he won’t always spend the time with you he’s allotted. You learn that even though he’s supposed to see you every other weekend, you can only be sure that you’ll see him around Christmas and Thanksgiving. You will learn that your mother covered for him when he doesn’t show up, so as not to risk hurting your feelings. You’ll learn that even when you are with him, you are not his priority. He will force you onto his girlfriend’s children, and that is how he will justify the time, or lack thereof, that he spends with you. You’ll learn that when he calls, it can be painful. Especially when he reminds you that your relationship is a two-way street, even though you’re too young to memorize his phone number.
When your father is an alcoholic, you learn your value to him as a person. You make him proud because you make him look good during the little time you spend with him. When you’re a mild mannered child, he will use this to his advantage. He will take you to adults houses whom you do not know, and you will sit quietly and play with their pets, or look at their things, while he socializes with the adults and pretend that this time together is quality.
When your father is an alcoholic, talking to him will hurt. Trying to discuss serious things, or things that matter to you, will be hard, because he doesn’t understand you, and has never made an effort to. When you learn this, you will want nothing to do with him, but keep trying when you can bear it, because he’s your father, and you so desperately want that connection.
When your father is absent, you will learn your value to other men. You will learn that you are something to be used, that your only value is skin deep, and that every disappointment that is made against you will connect, again, to lacking that bond. You will not learn how to connect with men for a long time, and will continue finding yourself in disappointing relationships, because that’s what your relationship with your father was.
Sometimes, when your father is an alcoholic, you will be angry. Despite the warnings you’ve heeded from your mother, you will drink. And you won’t be able to control yourself. You’ll push it off for a long time, because you will not want to become your father. But you will. At least for awhile. When your father is an alcoholic, you will give yourself excuses to drink when you’re stressed. Sometimes you will self-medicate with other things. Anything to take away the anger.
When you’re angry, and when you’re drunk, you’ll start writing. Sometimes letters, sometimes diatribes, sometimes nothing at all. You will write for the sake of writing, because it will save you. It will get all of the toxins out of your system, real and imaginary. You will stop fighting the ghosts that your father gave you.
When your father is an alcoholic, you will learn to lean on your mother. Your relationship will be rocky at times, because you are selfish, like him, but you are also full of love, and desire, like her. You will become close to her, and you will have a best friend who understands, because she has a similar relationship with him. Your mother will always understand.
Sometimes, when you lean on your mother, she will help you to become a bigger person. She will give you the love you so desperately search for. It will still be hard, and it will still hurt, but it will help. You will see her faults, and your own reflected in them, and you will get better. Sometimes, when your father is an alcoholic, the anger will slowly simmer, and you’ll be able to get past it. Hopefully, you will get past it early enough in your life that you won’t have to start completely over.
When you lean on your mother, she will lean on you. You will help each other, hurt for each other, and develop a beautiful relationship. When you lean on your mother, she will help you realize that you are better without the twisted bond of your father. When she helps you grow, you can become better. When you lean on your mother, you get stronger.
When your father is an alcoholic, you will learn to be independent. It will be a hard road, but eventually, you will learn to love yourself, and all your missing parts. You will stop relying on men to make you feel whole. You learn that you are a beautiful person. And you continue your growth despite their faults.