This piece was written by Sarah and is her second piece on COAisathing after her last piece ‘A Letter to My Alcoholic Parents’. f you would like to share something, please get in touch. As ever, Nacoa offer amazing help and support in many different ways, so be sure to head over to the website at nacoa.org.uk.
Sometimes I find people look at having alcoholic parents, or parents who just aren’t there, as a negative? And yes it can have many negatives affects. From my experience I have learnt that after you have accepted the fact that, if they don’t want to help themselves you cant do it for them… then you have to carry on with your own life. And yes I have had times when I have hated myself for not being able to help my parents or fix them. Why let them ruin your chance of a future? Yes it’s hard to believe but it is not impossible, although it may feel it sometimes. Maybe a few of my lessons will help others.
Firstly a big lesson iv learnt is you do NOT have to become like your parents are. Like a great friend once said to me
‘nothing about you is written in stone’
this has forever stuck with me.
Another lesson is, there will be times when you feel completely lost, not knowing where to go, what to do, what you want In life or who is even there for you and believe me, I’ve had many of those times. I remember when I was around 16 (I think) and I felt so lost and a friend messaged me and said ‘ I believe in you’ to this day that message changed me. No one had ever told me they believed in me. So I’ll always be so grateful for this and it’s something I always look at when I’m feeling down or I don’t believe in myself, because when you don’t have that support network of parents, sometimes it can be hard to believe in yourself.
I believe that sometimes our parents examples can actually teach us some good lessons. One that I’ve learnt and that I use quite a lot is that I tend to read peoples mood, so I don’t make them angry or upset. As any child of an alcoholic will tell you, you become an expert at reading peoples mood. I use this a lot in work and social situations.
Another one is that I will never treat my future kids the way my parents have treated me, I’ll always make sure they feel loved and supported and yes, sometimes I do worry I’ll make the same mistake as my parents but all you can do is let their example teach you.
I’ve always found It hard to admit when I’m not ok, but I’ve learnt that’s its ok to admit it and the people who care, will be there and try to help. I can’t thank the people who keep me strong enough.
A final important lesson iv learnt recently is that no matter what you try to fill that void with, it won’t work. I remember when I got into uni and I was like ‘yeah I did it‘ and kept thinking ‘maybe this will make my parents see what they are missing out on’ and when that did not happen I felt devastated. I was like after all that hard work and challenging year I didn’t bloody fix me.
But you know what? Even though it does not feel like they are proud of you, I’m pretty sure deep down and beyond their addiction they are, so go and make yourself proud, and remember every negative situation can also teach you a positive one.
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Inspiring as always, Sarah! The cycle in your family ends with you.
Words are powerful. How amazingly impactful your friend’s quick note of belief in you was in your healing journey.
Today, I went to a family get together and after I said all of my goodbyes, I was getting into my car to go home when my ACOA and alcoholic cousin (who’s been sober for 3 years now by miracle) came running across the lawn, waving at me to stop. His message: “I love you. I didn’t say it back there and I want you to know that. I love you, cuz.” 5 years ago, I feared his death from addiction. Today, he stood there – strong, clear-headed and kind- with a message that moved me to tears. Words are powerful.
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Totally agree xxx
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