A powerful piece written by Skoll. If you’re a COA and feel you want some help and support then contact Nacoa, and if you want to share on COAisathing, then get in touch.
One of the strangest things I’ve had to wrestle with mentally, has been the realization that I don’t see my parents as good people. I don’t like my parents. It seems like such an out-of-place thought but I know it to be true.
I think it’s important to note that I don’t think they’re bad people because they are alcoholics, but rather they are alcoholics who happen to be bad people.
Somehow, in many ways I still love them. I always will. But when I look at them through the same eyes as I use to judge everybody else I see two abusive alcoholics. It wasn’t always the fact that they were alcoholics but rather the actions they did under the influence of alcohol. I understand alcoholism is often a physical disorder and some people are biologically and psychologically susceptible to it more than others. Alcohol clearly messes with people’s judgement, but so much to the level that one would beat their children? I just can’t unbiasedly say they’re still good people in my eyes. It’s a strange thing to wrap your head around but reproduction isn’t an exclusive property to those with a strong moral compass, so some have to be the kids of people without one, right? I just don’t think it ever registered clearly that it could be me. There’s a lot of conflicting feelings about how you may think of your parents if you’ve been abused. Do I hate them or do I love them? Both. Sometimes simultaneously. They might be completely normal, nice, caring parents during the day until they start drinking. All of a sudden they aren’t even the same person any more.
They’re always sorry, but they never change.
Years ago I had a chance. A chance to leave and get out while I was still pretty young. I think I was about 11-12 then. I would have had to move and live with grandparents so ultimately my brother and I decided to stay and tough it out. Luckily by the time I was 15-16 I was able to beat my dad in fights and defend myself on the really bad nights. I’ll never know if I made the right decision or not but now, about 10 years later, I’m finally out. I’m looking forward to being in a real home, a place I feel safe and secure. Leaving brings about more complicated feelings. I feel relief, excited to lower my levels of stress so significantly. Correspondingly I also feel guilt and worry. What happens now that I’m not there to stop them from driving drunk? Now that I’m not there to stop them from hurting each other and themselves? I’ve thought about these things for a long time. I had to realize that after all that’s happened I still love them; but that doesn’t mean I owe them. It doesn’t mean I’m responsible for their actions. I’m not the parent and they certainly aren’t the children. We all make our own paths. They are on theirs and I’ll support them when and where I can. However, that doesn’t mean I have to stray away from mine. The only thing in our entire lives we will ever have control over is ourselves. If we lose that we have nothing. There comes a point where you have to do what’s best for yourself. My aim is to make my life as good as I can make it so my future children will have the childhood I missed and be able to feel safe and loved at home.