Advice from an adult child of an alcoholic

The following article was written by an anonymous member of Niagara University. 

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – After an abundance of scrapped introductions, consisting of statistics and personal anecdotes, I’ve come to the realization that the best way to begin this piece is to say what I have always needed to hear. You are not alone, everything you are feeling is valid and despite it being difficult, it is possible to separate the person from the disease. For my fellow students and community members living with an alcoholic parent, my hope is that these words bring you comfort and urge you to live the life you so rightfully deserve to live. 

Trust. 

The idea of trusting another with such an uncommunicated part of your life is undeniably much easier said than done, especially when you’ve been adapted to the notion that these issues must never be revealed outside of the family. Evidently, it is nearly impossible to cope with said issues alone and it is okay to open up. By slowly opening up to someone I trusted, a weight that had rested so heavily on my chest for such a long time (I had long forgotten it was there at all) had lifted and the relief was indescribable. It is possible for you to be understood. Truthfully, I can’t fully articulate the importance of speaking with a friend or trusted adult, it genuinely is life-changing. 

Seek help. 

Following the aforementioned advice, it is important to note that there is so much help out there. I personally was unaware of the enormity of resources until I began counseling at Niagara; which leads me to my first source. Counseling Services is located in the basement of Seton Hall and is already included in your tuition, this accommodation is beyond eye-opening and I only wish I had utilized it sooner. This is also where I had learned about Al-Anon meetings in the Western New York area, which are support groups filled with similar individuals learning to cope with an alcoholic loved one. For meeting calendars and other resources, visit www.aiswny.org or call their 24/7 phone number, (716) 856- 2520. Although it is difficult as a student to stack more readings on top of your coursework, I strongly encourage setting time aside to read “Perfect Daughters,” by Robert Ackerman and “After the Tears,” by Jane Middelton- Moz and Lorie Dwinell. Both books delve into the effects of living as an aCoA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic) and learning to cope despite the anxieties that ensue. 

Feel. 

Over the years I learned that internalizing my emotions and not allowing myself to feel would help me survive tough times at home, but when it spilled over into other aspects of my life, I struggled and damaged my mental health beyond total repair. I was numb. My advice now is to feel. Express every emotion that flows through your mind, acknowledge every single one, no matter how negative it may be. Labeling your feelings is the first step to learning how to cope with whatever may be causing you to struggle. You are human and you deserve to feel validated. 

Identify.

You are not your father. You are not your mother. You are not predetermined to be an alcoholic because of your upbringing. It is vital to understand that you are your own person, on your own journey and despite the limitations that have presented themselves in the past, your life is whatever you make of it. Making the decision of finally living for yourself is scary, and I understand what an understatement this is. However, it is the most important decision you can make for yourself, and I am here to tell you that you deserve everything this life has to offer and more. Everything will be okay.

 

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