6.27.2011

Manic Monday Blogarrhea: On Assignment



I am taking an awesome e-course offered by my dear friend Liv Lane from Choosing Beauty. Liv inspires me (and so many others), by finding beauty in her midst each and every day. As an exercise for the e-course, Liv has laid out this request of us, "to write something revealing, brave, or bold on your blog." Many of us are linking up, so once you're done reading my brave, bold, blabber, click away to your hearts content, and hopefully you'll be inspired to live honestly and vulnerably today.  

I have to be honest, I struggled ever so slightly with this task. I stand around this blog naked so darn much, it was hard for me to think of something revealing, brave, or bold that you don't already know about me.  I try so hard to balance fun, frivolity, and humor with the reality of my life as a grieving mother of five, with only three living children. I have told you all about how I really feel about mothering, what I think of my body, and if you've hung out here enough, you've realized that I have more than a healthy love for Target.  What is braver, bolder, or more revealing than that? 

Let's try this: I am the adult child of an alcoholic.  I have never said this publicly (as in to masses). It was always said to me that my dad's story of being an alcoholic is "his story to tell." I now understand that, yes, it is his story to tell of his unhealthy relationship with alcohol, but I have a story, too. MY story is what it was like to be the child of one who has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.  To answer your questions, he is allegedly in recovery (I use "allegedly" because I no longer have a relationship with him, but I assume that he still works his program), and he had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol my whole life, but was first put in treatment when I was 20. A facet of the illness of addiction is that the family dances around the alcoholic trying to protect them. It has been 14 years since my dad was in treatment, and I haven't had a relationship with him for the past 4 years, and I still have danced around telling MY story to protect HIS.  So, now I am done.

I was just about to say that I have no shame around this. Then I realized that would be a humungous lie.  I have tons of shame around this. Or perhaps shame isn't the right word. Maybe grief? Pain? I regularly engage in personal pity parties because I didn't get to have the father that I believe I deserved.  I often have a difficult time accepting love (mostly from myself) because I grew up with one parent who loved to drink more than he was able to love anything else. I have almost no memories of my life before I was 8 years old, and even after that age, it's really foggy.  I remember snippets of time, but if you asked me "what was it like..." I would not be able to give you an accurate image of my childhood.  

On the flip side, it was about 2 or 3 years ago now (incidentally, sitting across a table from my friend Liv from Choosing Beauty, who is hosting this blog hop) when I realized that I am actually thankful for my bumpy childhood (may I just take a moment to say that my mom is my everything, and has done the job being a parent and a half for longer than I care to quantify - and she has done it well). I am thankful for the person I have become and what I have learned from this life experience.  I definitely wish it were different.  I definitely wish I had happier memories, or memories at all. I look at the father-daughter relationship that other's have and I feel a big old empty hole.  You know what, though? I turned out pretty darn awesome (I think). I make good choices, and I realize that they are choices. The best choice I have ever made is to marry a man who is the father to my children that I never had. 

This is my story.

22 comments:

  1. Perhaps it is time for you to deal with being a co-dependent. You sound as though you are dealing (not well) with your own resentments. At some point, the past is the past. There is a place in everyone's life for gratitude, forgiveness and acceptance. We all struggle but sometimes we could make that process easier by just getting out of our own way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Colleen, I am sitting here in AWE of your bravery. Your dad's choices had a very real and huge impact on your story. But you won't let his influence on your life be the end of the story; you're writing new, glorious chapters.

    As for you Anonymous (so brave that you can't even share your name), I'm not sure that you even read the same post I did. Colleen has clearly realized (and worked on) the ways this part of her past has impacted her relationships with others and herself, but has chosen to pave a different path and to be grateful for what is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a beautiful and honest post! I am also an adult child of an alcoholic, and know how hard it can be to share that fact, and how easy it is for others to try to put the shame on you. It is not your shame to carry, on the contrary you deserve to feel pride for not only surviving but thriving.
    It seems to me that 'Anonymous' must be guilty of projecting some of his/her own stuff here, because the comment is certainly not relevant to your heartfelt post. Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo, Anita

    ReplyDelete
  4. I forgot to mention a book that helped me greatly, "Perfect Daughters: Adult Daughters of Alcoholics" by Robert J. Ackerman, PhD.
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am also an ACOA and a recovering addict myself and I applaud your willingness to share. As we say in the program, "we're only as sick as our secrets." There is so much freedom in opening up and claiming the fact that the woman God created you to be is certainly informed by this experience, but not defined by it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Bravo for your bravery and honesty!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Colleen: Bravo! Your beauty shines even more today than yesterday. As I said to my husband this morning about my (very brave) post, "Well that's one more skeleton out of the closet." The more I share, the freer I become. And the same is true for you, friend. Rachel

    ReplyDelete
  8. I too had an absent father, not from acholol dependence just absent emotionally and some physically from my life which I have never really discussed. I'm in awe of your bravey to share your story. I completely understand that empty hole and you should be so proud of yourself for moving forward, being awesome and making wonderful choices for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for sharing this with us all. Recently, I had the chance to realize my dysfunctional childhood also helped me to be a stronger and wiser adult... and I think when we are able to see the gifts in growing up with our challenges, that's the first step in showing that we're making our peace with it... congrats to you on being so brave and bold!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Colleen- THANK YOU for sharing YOUR story - it is your experience not just his and I think it takes a brave and strong person to acknowledge that OUTLOUD, let alone WRITE IT for world to see! As an adult child of an alcoholic as well, we already did plenty of 'pretending everything was fine' as kids, now it is time to just be REAL.

    ReplyDelete
  11. For me 'lack of memories' was a way of coping. I wish I could give you a hug.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Colleen
    i think that you did a fabulous job with your post. i think that you presented a lot of truth simply and plainly, while also owning your own stuff, good job!
    i think it's natural to miss what we didn't have, but a hidden treasure of that lack or struggle is the strength and gifts that we developed as a result of that.
    ~debbra :) (BBTL classmate)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, thank you for sharing your story! How great is it that you took those bumps and, instead of wallowing in the sadness, turned it around and learned and grew from them? Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. WOW. Will you be my friend? I am amazed, and humbled, by your strength and poise around this story, YOUR story. I am so glad that you told it here, because your dad's story is not the only story there is. Beautifully, beautifully written.

    ReplyDelete
  15. HUGS, I love love your story.. and u are right.. it's thru it all we are made stronger and ultimately.. wiser women. I too don't hv a relationship with my father. it's been 9 years since I've seen or talked to him, he's been emotionally and abusing me for my whole life.. and I've just come to realize he's never gonna change.. abuse is abuse.. and he seems to just feel entitled. I mourn the loss of my father too.. but u know what? I hv so so many great friends in my life and a husband and kids that love me.. that i'm ok with it.. i'm ok with it.
    he's no longer a part of my life, and actually, I am oh so thankful.. xo we hv a lot in common.. dear friend. xo bonitarose
    http://alifeunrehearsed2.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. i also had an alcoholic father, so i can totally relate to your words. i spent a good 15 years working hard to heal from it and now have no energy on it. I was totally blessed with an awesome grandfather and great uncle which totally helped me get thru it. you'll get there too...acknowledging it is the first real step...and you did that here!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love and honor to you
    and your journey.
    Thanks for your brave share:)
    -Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for sharing not only your story with us, but also your bravery and honesty. Here's for spreading some of that around the internets!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for sharing. While I am not an adult child of an alcoholic, I am an adult child of an asshole. I can relate to the troubling childhood, the lack of memory before age 8 (when we moved to MN) and the fuzziness of most everything after age 8 except for snippets of things along the way. I am also grateful for the experience because of the person I have become and my ability to understand on a deep level someone's pain when they aren't allowed to express themselves fully and authentically. We rock!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for sharing. I am a fellow ACOA. It is weirding me out to type that here buried in the comments even, so I realize I must have some shame built up around it. I loved my dad very much, but he died from drinking and driving. It is hard to reconcile the dad I loved with that fact.
    Go bravery!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I agree that it's your story, too. I spent many years with someone who had addiction issues. I mistakenly thought I had to "protect" them and not tell anyone. It only resulted in years of shame and accumulated anguish. I think the mourning things lost is an important part of the healing process; and, it's not a process that can be rushed. Don't feel guilty if you find yourself still grieving. Thanks for having the courage to share your story. Sounds to me like you definitely turned out "pretty darn awesome."

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you for sharing this, it helps me go to some deeper places within myself, your line "I still have danced around telling MY story to protect HIS" is very powerful. No matter what the issues, it amazes me that so many people (myself included) take on the role of protector of others who are close to us. As a result we disconnect with ourselves. Thank you for helping me reconnect a little by sharing your post.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are cool, being mean is not, so please... just don't do it. Hey, thanks!

Have Keeping Her Cool Emailed to you!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Popular Posts