Finding Peace In Continued Alcoholic Family

I have looked up a meeting. I said I was going to get back to Al-anon this year, with my major project out of the way. I’ll start again Tuesday.

That said, I’ve just learned of another couple instances in which it’s being made very clear by my family members that if I don’t toe the line, they’ll just push me out, and continue on, being the most wonderful, loving relatives ever to my kids…who of course then turn to me and say things like, “I’m sure you think those things happened…”

What I’ve just learned is that one of my siblings is spending a great deal of time with my daughters out of state, has done a major, huge, expensive thing for them…and once again, nobody, not even my daughters, mentioned it. And yes, I know, I wouldn’t have been too pleased to hear it, but all these years, when they tell me what they’re doing with their aunts and uncles, I have not had fits or done anything that would give them reason to say, “See, that’s why we don’t tell you.”

(In short, I got tired of abusive, ugly behavior, shouting, yelling, ugly words aimed at me, and refused to either be a doormat or get down in the mud and fight…so I walked away.)

What really hurts about it is that my siblings and parents have spoken about me in such a way as to harm my relationships with others. (I know this happens because enough people have come and told me over the years the outrageous and untrue things my mother says about me. I’ve seen my siblings talk about others they’re mad at.)

I posted about my nephew’s behavior last spring, his horrible rudeness to me. This is a boy who was dropped off on my doorstep for entire weekends, from the time I moved here 10 years ago when he was maybe 10. I’d come home and find him and his brother here, nobody had asked me or told me, their parents were off at hot tub parties, leaving no contact information. I treated him and his brother like my own children, they were always welcome, for days, entire weeks, no questions asked. They always seemed happy here, we had fun together, we seemed to enjoy each others company.

Yet because of the way he heard his mother, his aunts and uncles, and his grandparents talk, he came to see me through the alcoholic family lens, rather than through the lens of my own actions, and came to see by his family’s example, that it was acceptable to treat me any way he pleased.

What hurts…is that regardless of my sister’s explosions and ugliness, I have done nothing to harm the relationship between her and my children. I have not stopped them going to see her, I have not said a word against her. But my sister has made sure that her son learns to disrespect and hate me when I have done nothing to deserve this.

Some days, I really wonder how I can keep going. I see the same stories over and over from others on the adult children of alcoholic forums, so I know I’m not crazy. But this idea that ‘you teach others how to treat you…’ Well, I let them know very politely, but very clearly, that their treatment was not acceptable. I refused to be part of it. And it seems that they’re now determined to destroy every relationship I have in retaliation. :frowning:

I’m starting back at al-anon Tuesday. But right now, I feel so hopeless that this will ever end. Right now I feel they’ll steadily turn all my children against me. My older daughter and son pretty much took my nephew’s part in his vulgar language. We did have a good Christmas, but they have made absolutely no attempt to talk to me since they went back to college last September, and again in January. My other daughter spent six months living with my parents before moving out of state, and she, too seemed friendly and happy here over Christmas, but doesn’t answer my texts. When does it end, and why doesn’t God give me some hope after 25 years of perpetual adoration, and family rosaries and fasting? :frowning:

Praying for you to have a successful road to recovery. God bless you.

Hi, I grew up in abusive alcoholic family. I cut off all contact with them over 15 years ago. You should not let such people upset you, even if they are family. I found al-anon to be an enabling organization. All I know is that now that I have those people out of my life I live in peace.

Good Luck.

Transcribed, for you, by me, as I think the message of this passage, may benefit you, somehow, at some point in time, whether now, or in the future…

(caution: this maybe be for you, as it was for me, quite difficult to read. In fact, after I read it, I have put the book down, and will resume reading when I am able. It was so emotionally hitting, and stirring, that I need to take time, to allow my mind and heart, and spirit, to absorb it, and let nature work it out, inside of me, without my interference)

Do you know what a scapegoat is? In the professional world, there is another term for it. It is called ‘identified patient’.

“Whenever a child is brought for psychiatric treatment, it is customary to refer to him or her as the “identified patient”. By this term we psychotherapists mean that the parents - or other identifiers - have labeled the child as a patient - namely, someone who has something wrong and is in need of treatment. The reason we use the term is that we have learned to become skeptical of the validity of this identification process. More often than not, as we proceed with the evaluation of the problem, we discover that the source of the problem lies not in the child but rather in his or her parents, family, school, or society. Put most simply, we usually find that the child is not as sick as its parents. Although the parents have identified the child as the one requiring correction, it is usually they, the identifiers, who are themselves most in need of correction. They are the ones who should be the patients.”

I see that *you *are seeking some sort of “treatment”, by attending al-anon, but, what are your family members doing? If they make no effort, to heal, and improve, then your efforts will not amount to much. You cannot do all of the work, for all of the family, whilst they do nothing. They cannot benefit from what work you do, while they do nothing. That would be, the worst sort of slavery and extortion.

My personal opinion is that, I do not like the way they speak to you (it is clearly very abusive). It seems, by what you’ve quoted, the intention is to belittle you, in order to keep you under their control. It does seem like the family has chosen to manipulate you, and they are in control. You do not need their consent, or permission, to take back control, of your own self. Controlling *others *is fundamentally destructive (which is what they are doing to you). Control of one’s own self is proper (self-possession, self-ownership). Your relationship to yourself is most important, and likely, after that, your relationship with your children is most important. How do you most identify yourself? As a child? Sibling? Parent? Spouse or lover? The ‘I am’ path is the way to self-discovery (to know your true self). I think, for you, knowing (identifying) your true self, is what will most best benefit you, and I think the time for it is, just right.

The book I’ve quoted from is:
People of The Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil, by M. Scott Peck, M.D. (Author of The Road Less Traveled).

Do you think you can talk to someone about what is going on with your children? How you can repair the relationships and end manipulation? This is worth fighting for and I’m sure it is not too late.

I hope that going to the meetings will help you and bring you peace.

I’m curious why you find them enabling. I went to two groups, about 5 or 6 years ago. I found one very good, and one not so much. None of this would matter to me if it weren’t for my kids being sucked into it.

I know exactly what you mean. When I was in high school, my dad spent a night in jail for domestic abuse. There was a restraining order against him for two weeks. When he came home, all of a sudden the story was that we the family had a FAMILY problem, and I was part of their marriage problems, and I had to go to some sort of family counseling movies at a church with them. Yes, I completely agree with you.

On the other hand, I have stayed entirely away from them for 5 years. But they stay involved with my kids (who are young adults) and these things come up. I can’t control what they and my adult children do. I’m trying to find peace in how I deal with these things that are beyond my control.

Thank you. I’m not really sure who I can talk to. My night for Perpetual Adoration was last night, and I thought about the fact that we had a good Christmas, and remembered this is a long term thing. I felt better. I continue to pray for my children. I can only wait and wonder if some day my sister will aim one of her melt downs at one of them, or my mother will say one more negative thing and they’ll suddenly GET IT.

holyrood said:

“I can only wait and wonder if some day my sister will aim one of her melt downs at one of them, or my mother will say one more negative thing and they’ll suddenly GET IT.”

It’s only a matter of time. If they are as you describe them, it’s not even possible for them to be on their best behavior all the time.

That’s true. But I think people, especially kids, take things for granted, and family’s often ‘teach’ kids that ‘that’s just how so and so is,’ and treat these things as quirks, without really digging deeper to implications, the cruelty, the continued negative consequences resulting from that behavior, and the fact that it really isn’t okay.

It’s also clear in alcoholic families, including mine, that the entire family come to believe that treating one member a certain way is acceptable because that one person somehow deserves it. This is what my kids are learning. I truly believe that in general they would have been appalled to see the nephew situation from the outside: to see or hear about any other 20 year old who behaved as their cousin did. Yet when he did it, they shrugged it off, because they’ve exposed themselves to this conditioning.

I was also part of Al-Anon. I don’t know that I would agree that it was an enabling organization, but I would say that I didn’t grow while I was part of it.

Al-Anon might help some people. But for me, it seemed that the members really wallowed in their “sickness.”

I know I was told time and time again, while I was in Al-Anon, that most members did the “Al-Anon Two Step.” That means that they never move past the first two steps of “recovery.”

Now, I was no longer living in a drinking situation. Maybe that made it easier. :shrug: But if it worked, it should really work for those that are still in that situation.

Okay, maybe it is an enabling group.

I’m surprised this hasn’t happened already. Maybe it has in some way but the kids did not understand it because they are used to it all. I am sure they will get it one day. I got it with my family when I was around 30. It takes time.

I did feel that the first group I went to ‘wallowed.’ Just enjoyed telling the story over and over again. I felt like the second group, and the group I go to online, actually discuss solutions. Of course, I’ve come to believe that what I was told here, 5 or 6 years ago IS the main solution: physical distance. (I’m working on that one–I moved back here thinking things had changed.) :frowning:

I’ve picked out a Tuesday group just because Tuesday is sooner and the group is nearer, but if it seems to be wallowing, I have time available when the other group meets.

I attended Al-Anon for three years, and found it very helpful once I realized some of its limitations. The reason it is enabling is that no one is forced along the 12 steps, so yes, you’ll have a fair number of people in each group who just “wallow” in their disease. What I found helpful was a) getting a tough-but-fair sponsor who’d been in the program for a long time and who seemed to be working it very well, and b) going to a lot of open AA meetings, because, quite frankly, the alcoholics who had a lot of long-term recovery (think a decade or more) under their belts tended to hold both themselves and others to higher expectations of recovery than I experienced in a number of Al-Anon meetings. I also tried to attend meetings with more old-timers–the “wallowers” would still show up, but it’s rare for one to attend for five years without making some progress.

Is it a perfect program? Nope. It can be very helpful, however, if a person is willing to work it with a good sponsor.

Was one of your parents alcoholic? What was your ‘role’ within the family? Or was it a grandparent who was alcoholic?

My kids are adults, but nowhere near 30 yet. I’m not sure they’ve ever seen my dad drunk, and if they have, he was probably happy and cheerful, and I doubt they were even fully aware it was alcohol. I was shocked, stunned, when I first moved back. It was really the first time I’d seen my sister as an adult interacting with my mother. And there was my mother, who is always dour, sour, moralizing, critical of me and everyone else, angry about something, telling stories on someone, and sipping tea with me–with my sister, she was laughing it up, and slugging back alcohol straight out of the bottle! (And she is not the alcoholic!) She and my sister have a great relationship, my sister can do no wrong. If other people have money problems, it’s because they spend foolishly according to my mother, but if my sister has money problems, it’s because life is hard. :rolleyes:

This is not to complain, but to show that my mother behaves very differently depending who she is with, and I suspect my kids have seen very little of either of my parents that would clue them in to why I don’t want to be around them. ETA: I’ve already had the experience of being told by my father that ‘none of that ever happened,’ so I know my kids are being told everything I object to is a figment of my imagination, and my son has already told me he’s sure I think those things happened, but…

I suspect my parents and siblings are also going out of their way to be FANTASTIC around my kids, because then that ‘proves’ that, look, WE have no problems, so it really must be you.

I suppose it always comes back to prayers, for peace for myself, for me to find a place farther away to at least keep my younger kids more distant from it, and for my adult children to see clearly.

holyrood said:

“I’ve already had the experience of being told by my father that ‘none of that ever happened,’ so I know my kids are being told everything I object to is a figment of my imagination, and my son has already told me he’s sure I think those things happened, but…”

I wonder if the police records are still available.

My dad admits to having been in jail overnight. The things he claimed never happened are all conversations he and I had when no one else heard, over the phone. He threw me on a bed and tried to choke me when I was a young adult–but again, even the people in the house at the time, including my two young children, didn’t see it.

He left a dozen ugly, hateful, vulgar voicemails some time ago, that I never deleted. They’re gone now, so I don’t know if the phone deletes them automatically or if one of my kids listened and deleted them. If so, that would be their biggest clue that these things really happen.

You know that he will never remember those things, right?

Chances are he was in a “black out” and they are not part of his memory.

I wouldn’t spend any more energy worrying about making your children understand the bad past history. Either your parents will continue to be just fine around your kids (which would be nice for your kids…you don’t really WANT them to be mistreated by them) or they will revert back at some point and the kids will wise up to the reality.

The only relationships for which you have input in this situation are the relationships between you and your kids. Don’t spend time bogged down in what your family might/might not be telling them. You just do the things a good parent would…write, call, email, pray, be as supportive as you can. If they don’t respond to those things the way you would like…don’t let that change what YOU are doing. Just be patiently persistent, in a loving (not a pushy or guilt invoking way).

They are still young…once they are in their 30s-40s they will have more life experience under their belts, and the knowledge of the kind and good parent you have always tried to be to them. They will respond to that.

I agree. I’ve always believed that he truly does not remember these things. Maybe what’s hard for me to comprehend is that he could *actually believe *I’d make up things like this, rather than even consider maybe he doesn’t remember things.

Thank you for your encouragement. We did have a very good Christmas, all of us. I have said very little about my family and these things to them. although I have told them, briefly, because if I never say anything, of course they have no way of knowing. But no, I don’t push the issue. No, I don’t want them mistreated, but I also think there’s an element of manipulation on the part of my family. And I do know the kinds of things that are said, because people have told me over the years.

Pax2u said:

“You just do the things a good parent would…write, call, email, pray, be as supportive as you can.”

Write–and bear in mind that it’s normal for young adults to suddenly seemingly drop off the face of the earth. You don’t need to have a bad relationship for that to happen.

Okay, but think about this.

He doesn’t remember it. What is another explanation? At least for him? Either you are lying or he is and he knows he isn’t. Believing that he is wrong? That isn’t an option.

Also, remember, you are expecting reasonable behavior from people that aren’t reasonable.

When people are living in an alcoholic situation, they do pretty much anything to keep the status quo. You are undermining that. No wonder your family isn’t happy with you. :shrug:

You have to remember the only person whom you have control over, is you. You cannot make anyone else do anything.

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