One of my earliest memories is being three or four. I definitely wasn’t in school yet. Anyway I woke up around seven in the morning to find the house in shambles- televisions blaring, radio on, dishes and booze and trash everywhere, food on the stove, all the lights on, and my parents drunkenly passed out in separate rooms. Like a college party house the morning after a huge party. I was sad. Why did they have to do this? I felt scared and sad and mad. I loved them so much when they were sober. I just didn’t understand why they had to get like that when they were so much better not drinking. If I was lucky enough to bravely venture downstairs and see them functioning, drinking coffee... They wouldn’t be perfect but they’d be there at least. Not this day. Instead I’d have to tiptoe around and maybe grab something to eat, hoping dad wouldn’t see me and reel me into one of his drunken fits. I was so confused. Anyway I asked my mom, “why do you always have to be hungover?” (This was the word I knew- what I really meant was why did you always drink so much). And she said “what? No that’s not true at all don’t say that go to bed.”
I remember thinking- hm... Am I wrong? No.. I couldn’t be. The difference is so painfully obvious.
And so that’s the way I have lived for the past two plus decades. Constantly confused. My lifelong personal argument with myself: It was so scary and fucked up!! No it wasn’t you’re just being a baby!! It was fine shut up. Oh wow those were some scary times I’m glad the house didn’t burn down or dad didn’t drive us drunk into oncoming traffic..to... Oh hush you troublemaker.
lots of thinking has been had over here. I’m doing a lot of thinking in regards to my lived experience being continually silenced for as long as I can remember. There’s this weird thing that happens when silence and denial is par for the course, where you feel like you live in this alternate reality, apart from the rest of the word, and maybe you’re just making it all up but damn you’re sure you haven’t.
As a child, I was the rabble rouser. I frequently identified my parents’ alcoholism and abusive relationship as well as other general messed up shit, only to be told it wasn’t true. That I didn’t know what I was talking about. That they just like to have fun, no dad isn’t angry all the time why would you say that.
I’m realizing I’ve been the healthy one all along- able to, At times, identify serious issues with my family and childhood. But it’s damn hard to be the healthy one in a house full of people in scary destructive denial.
Anyone else have experiences like this? I’m always looking for more reliable reading material, too. Not just books, even well written, well researched articles. I’ve also been thinking a lot how my family’s alcoholism and abuse is so closely tied with their strong ties to the Boston Irish Catholic community. I was raised Catholic, Irish and Italian (the families did not like each other at all...) and always think about how much Catholicism closely tied in with the alcoholism, abuse, and then my parents’ unwillingness to recognize sexual abuse. I am rambling so I will stop! Please feel free to share experiences with being an adult child of alcoholics, being silenced, or any other thing you'd like to share!