Growing up with an Alcoholic Stepfather
A story from one of our writers to help inspire you that because your parent or step parent was an alcoholic, it doesn't mean you have to be as well.
Growing up in a family with a loving mother and stepfather who on the outside was an all right guy, but on the inside had a lot of demons was troublesome. Early on my mother worked long 10 and 12 hour days to ensure my siblings and I ate well, had nice clothing and enjoyed extra activities. She was and still is amazing. My step father on the other hand was not someone who yelled, who was angry or even violent. Neighbors saw him as being a hard working guy too. While it’s true he worked hard, he also loved to party. Every day off from his job and on the weekends, I can guarantee you we had at least 10 to 15 other people partying in the second house my mother and him owned next door. Mom didn’t like it, but also didn’t say too much. She was more concerned about our own well being. Sometimes she would take us out of the house and go away for the weekend. As this became the norm, gossip started to brew about my stepfathers’ wild parties which were filled with alcohol, drugs and sex. Sometimes, I would go into the house the day after only to find 100’s of beer cans and an excess amount of alcohol bottles. Admittedly, I would get excited because I knew he would let me exchange those bottles and cans for money at the local shop. Looking back I think this was his own way of getting me to keep things quiet.
Eventually, my mother divorced him and took my siblings and me far away. Although material wise, life was not as good, emotionally it was much better.
As an adult, I look back every now and then and examine the way growing up in that house shaped me. Surely, 6 years in that kind of environment would have psychological effects on me. Websites will say that children of alcoholics are more at risk for becoming alcoholics. Often, (not always) these articles are written by well educated people who actually have never been in that situation. Sometimes, these articles will read as if the child of an alcoholic will grow up messed up and beyond any kind of help. It’s frustrating because I know this is far from the truth.
So, as a child of an alcoholic stepfather, here’s what I have determined thus far:
I had trust issues with men for the first years of my adulthood
When I started dating in my late teens and early twenties, I had trust issues with guys. Not necessarily jealousy issues, but more akin to anxiety that if I knew they were drinking a lot I feared they would become a drunk. Even though my stepfather was never aggressive, I feared that my boyfriends would be. I also knew my stepfather was getting into bed with a lot of women while he was married to my mom. I saw my mom hurt by this and struggled to accept that not all guys were this way.
I understood how one thing can lead to another
I also knew, after the divorce, that my alcohol addicted stepfather was getting into illegal activity. I didn’t know what, but saw enough guns lying around the house as well as a constant flow of new cars, boats and instruments that something wasn’t right. Although a child, I was scared. I told my mom after that particular weekend visit, (which I chose to go to on my own to look after my younger siblings). She immediately went to the police and he lost his visitation rights. Quickly, I realized how things can be in plain sight. I realized that it’s easy for a person who is an alcoholic to slowly be swallowed into an addiction.
I enabled my mother to make her believe everything was okay
As a child, I loved seeing my mom happy - like any child would. Even though I knew there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes in her relationship with my alcoholic stepfather, I didn’t understand them. In any case, I would tell her everything was okay. She didn’t need to worry. We were fine. I think for a while, she believed it. But, not for too long.
As a child, I picked up on things that were not right
For some reason, I was always paying attention to who was coming over the house and what they were doing. Prior to visitation being revoked, I would see all sorts of drug paraphernalia and people coming in and out of the house. I saw a lot of money on the table next to a massive stack of unpaid bills. Twenty years later and I can remember everything like it was yesterday. My alcoholic stepfather was becoming worse as a person, as a father and as a friend. My observations could tell this and I started to fear for my safety.
I have a disgust for alcohol that very few people understand’
I understand alcohol is very much a part of society. I understand that a large majority of people can enjoy a drink and will never develop an addiction. However, I have seen an addiction in a stepfather. I have seen, from a child’s view, what can happen to a relationship when alcohol abuse is involved. As an adult, I still witness how alcohol addiction can affect a user and their loved ones. And, it tears me apart. I feel sorry for all parties involved, including the drinker. I feel sorry because it’s almost as if alcohol is so accepted that society as a whole turns a blind eye to the reality of the substance. It destroys lives. It tears apart relationships. It masks issues. And, it kills people.
To this day, I am sure there are personality and character traits for which I have that were derived from living in an environment with an alcoholic stepfather. If you’re wondering if I drink; if I use drugs; or what the outcome of my life is, well that could be written into a long book. But, I can say that I have never abused or had an addiction. I went through therapy as a teenager. I was a rebel for a few years into my early twenties. I went through a time in which I felt lost as a person, but I have gotten through the hard parts and now have found a healthy balance in life.
Yoga, meditation, art, reading, travel and eating good food are the things that have allowed me to move on and not dwell on a past that I cannot change. Now, in 2016, I hope to inspire other children of alcoholics or drug users to know that they can get through their troubled experiences and traumas. I hope to inspire people with an addiction, that there is support available and people eagerly willing to show compassion towards them.
I’ll close this personal story on living with an alcoholic stepfather with something I wholeheartedly believe. From what we know of, this is your only life. So, love every moment of it. Show humbleness. Show humility. Show compassion and strength. Connect and bond with others and remember that you don’t have to be stuck. Let your breath and the rhythm of life guide you to where you feel happy, light and free.
Reaching Out to Family Support Groups
If you are a child of an alcoholic stepparent or parent, help is available. Reach out to support groups like Al Anon or Ad Fam > If you think your step parent or parent is ready and willing to go to rehab, contact a facility to find out what options are available.
Are You Interested in Going to A Thailand Rehab Center for Alcoholism?
If you are facing an addiction to alcohol or drugs and are ready to get help to overcome deeply rooted issues, withdrawal symptoms or cravings and triggers, contact Serenity Chiang Rai today. Our alcohol rehab programs in Thailand are all inclusive and cost affordable without compromising world class care.