Us and Them.

US and THEM. I’m starting to realize more than ever that regardless of their good intentions, people who did not grow up in an alcoholic family just will NEVER get it. Please note I didn’t write Us versus Them, we aren’t against each other, we just come from different places. I think we can coexist happily in this world, Us and Them, but there are things that can’t be explained or fully understood by someone who did not experience life with an alcoholic.

I have been frustrated lately by my boyfriend and his feelings towards my dad. I know that the things he says and thinks are coming from a good place and that he cares about me so much he can’t stand to see my dad hurt me. That being said, he just does not understand that regardless of what my dad has done (or currently does) that he is still my father. I was talking about this with my therapist last week and she summed it up pretty well…we have more than one friend in our lifetime and usually more than one love, but we only have one mother and one father and there is no choice involved in that selection. My boyfriend thinks that I should just write my dad off…just like that. Looking at it from purely a logical standpoint, I can see why that makes sense. My father says horrible things to me, is drunk more often than he is sober and harasses me endlessly. But it is easier said than done. He’s not an abusive husband, he’s my dad. When I say that aloud, it makes so much sense to me. He’s my dad…period. And I do love him and it’s complicated and I have so many good memories of him from before he became an alcoholic. What I have done over the years is seriously limit the amount of interaction I have with him. I only see him every few months. I rarely talk to him on the phone and I only respond to 1 out of every 100 emails. Those are my choices. And if I ever decide to completely “write him off” it is not going to be to please someone else or because a guy gave me an ultimatum.

I know that my boyfriend just will never understand, through no fault of his own, of course. I am glad he can’t empathize and that he had a pretty normal childhood. But he is one of THEM. And I am one of US.

18 comments on “Us and Them.

  1. njuri says:

    I don’t come from an alcoholic family, but I understand from a professional point of view.

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    • In your opinion, can people who haven’t lived with an alcoholic really understand? I feel like no matter how much I try to explain what it was like, I can never do it justice.

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      • njuri says:

        No, I don’t believe they will ever truly understand. It’s like experiencing Domestic Violence when you’ve never seen it. You wonder why they person doesn’t just leave.

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        • Yea, that makes sense…I guess you can apply this to a number of situations. I am so close with my mother and have never been able to understand how she has stayed married to my father. Thanks for responding ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. njuri says:

    You’re quite welcome.

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  3. Paul says:

    I understand where you’re coming from when you talk about the Us vs. Them thing. Like many other ACoA’s, I ended up marrying an addict as well as being surrounded by addicts as friends. That might sound like a bad thing, but in the end my wife and I have helped each other immensely. It hasn’t always been easy and I think had I not been ACoA I would have given up a long time ago. On the other hand, I don’t know what I feel about my parents, and that’s bothered me for a long time. As I’ve begun recovery, I’ve found myself experiencing more and more repressed emotions, but largely I’m still quite numb. I’m still so angry at my parents for the way they’ve acted (and continue to act) that I, sadly, don’t have a problem detaching from them. I hope that changes, but for it to change they’ll have to admit their part in the whole mess and I don’t see that happening.

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    • I’m very happy to hear that you were able to with through the issues in your marriage. I can relate to the repressed emotions…I always thought my mom was perfect and in comparison to my dad she was a saint. Only in the past few years have I started to allow myself to recognize that my mother should have put my sister and me first and got us out if that situation. I still love her so so much, but I see her flaws now too.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!!

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  4. lilmisstrendypants says:

    We all, at the very least, have someone in our lives that is no good for us. Usually its someone you can eventually ditch but with parents its very different. My father is an alcoholic and was a drug addict among other bad behavior. He didn’t raise me though, my step dad and mother did. My father never wanted to see me as a child and it was horrible and I thought he didn’t love me but after I discovered the truth about him it was for the best. He’s changed over the years and I’ve seen him more and more as I got older but he still has to deal with a lot. My sister is a Heroine addict too and I can’t just forget her. whether we like it or not, they are family, and we can’t simply forget them. I think you are making a wise decision limiting the contact, yet still keeping it there.

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    • Sounds like you have dealt with so much!! I would have a much harder time detaching if it was my sister that had the problem because I feel such a sense of responsibility for her. I’m sorry that you have had to weather so many storms in your family. Hang in there and thanks for commenting and reading my post!!

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  5. I am from an alcoholic family, so I hope this makes us on the “same side”.

    Going to ACOA years ago helped me understand that the traits I thought were “me” were actually shared by all children of alcoholics. I dumped the bad marriage, the parts of my “personality” that weren’t helping me, and anything else that needed weeding. Yes, that included family members who weren’t healthy. Today, in a great marriage of twenty-five years and a successful career, my life is better than I ever imagined.

    But I can’t say the same for my daughter. I have watched her get hurt over and over by her biological dad. He was never involved with raising her, but he plays her like a master violinist. I know it is her journey, not mine, but I wish she could free herself from the insanity of dealing with people who are not good for her. It rips my heart out to watch.

    I understand how your boyfriend feels. He loves you and doesn’t want to see you hurt over and over again.I am guessing he cares about you even more than you realize. And I think he is right.

    If you want to stay on the roller coaster, by all means stay on it. But if you can learn to enjoy the tamer rides at the amusement park (i.e.. getting the craziness out of your life) I’m betting you will have more fun.

    It is part of the illness to be drawn or sucked into the drama instead of choosing the other path. And, as we all know, the roller coaster feels familiar.

    My therapist would not have said what yours did. She probably would agree with your boyfriend. Family is overrated if it is badly dysfunctional.

    Wishing you luck on your journey…it can be an amazing one! Kathy

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    • Thank you for your response, Kathy! What I love about blogging is that even when people disagree with me, we are all definitely on the “same side” ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am so happy for you that you have had such a wonderful, successful marriage and it is unfortunate that your daughter has suffered so much. It is so easy to see when I am the outsider looking in…of course you daughter doesn’t deserve to be treated like that! But when it comes to looking at myself it is so much harder.

      Thank you for pointing out some different ways of thinking about my situation and you are right about the effects of a dysfunctional family.

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  6. bloggerita7 says:

    Although my father was not alcoholic, I do have an idea of how it might feel. His addiction was different. Even though he tried to harm me, my sis and mom, I still love him. He even advised that I sell my body for money, although he was well-to-do, a doctor and CEO of a hospital. All because he was addicted to sex with many partners and we would not stand by him. Well, your father is your father and nothing can change that. No matter what, you will always do your duty as child to your parent. Paying evil with evil never really worked and could really damage you emotionally in the long run. I have a feeling that if you and your bf had a little chat about how you feel, and probably get him to read about others going through the same, or talk to a therapist, maybe then he would change his mind. I bid you all the very best. You are a strong person for having suffered so much yet still standing strong. I know how tough that gets. Thanks for following my blog. I hope to read more from you ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thank you so much for commenting!! Wow- it sounds like you and your family have been through a lot with your father. Addiction is addiction- whether it is alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. I guess the behaviors are the same!

      Thanks for the advice. You are probably right that if I calmly talk to him, he might be more sensitive about it. A lot of times the topic comes up in the heat of the moment and too much emotion is involved. I’m also hypersensitive to anyone telling me what to do in regards to my family bc my ex husband was very demanding about my sister and his disdain for her.

      I wish you all the best ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Both of my parents were alcoholics, as were all of my grandparents, so I understand why you haven’t closed off your life to your dad. Good for you. Love never fails. I appreciate the boundaries you’ve set. I’ve had to do the same.

    My mother passed away about three years ago at the age of 68. Her death was related to alcohol abuse. I never gave up on her. With God’s help, I loved her until her last breath, and I still love her today. Because of this, my only regrets were related to what I wished she would’ve done. I wished she would’ve stopped drinking. I wished she would’ve made my siblings and I a priority. I wish she would’ve been happy. But I had no regrets concerning how I reached out to her. This one thing has given me peace.

    So, again, good for you!

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    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I’m so sorry for your loss…even though it has been three years, I imagine that is something that you never truly “get over”- hopefully over time it has become easier for you. My heart broke a little for you about wishing your mom was happy. I am sure she had many moments of true happiness because of her children. It is just so sad how parents can choose alcohol over their families though. I feel like when my dad passes away, I will mourn the man that he USED to be…the person I know that he really is deep down inside. It is knowing that that makes it impossible for me to truly cut him off entirely.

      Thank you again for sharing your story- I hope that you have a great relationship with your siblings ๐Ÿ™‚

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