In An Alcoholic Home

stock-photo-fake-dictionary-dictionary-definition-of-the-word-alcoholism-181992131Both my parents were drinkers, and not of the modest variety.

My father died of cirrhosis of the liver at forty, while my mother, with ice tinkling in her glass, terrorized everyone and everything in her path. Even the goldfish were afraid of her.

As a kid growing up with serious drinkers, you never knew what to expect leaving its mark on you as an adult.

Why are you so edgy Susannah….always waiting for the other shoe to drop? A question I’ve been asked my whole life.

Well I’ll tell you, and it took 10 years in a 12 Step program to educate me on why I’m the way I am.

Imagine being raised by wolves, but just not as well.

I’d come home from school every day not sure what I’d find.

Would my mother be in the kitchen blissfully baking, or in my room breaking my 45s over her knee?

Would she be happy to see me or threaten to cut my pigtails off with a steak knife? She actually did, leaving me with one wacky hairdo.

And when my father rolled in at 6 o’clock already plied with several shots of Seagrams, the two of them squaring off like heavy-weights who couldn’t stand – would it be one of those all-nighters when I’d crawl under the bed with Fluffy the cat quietly crying into her fur?

At eight years of age, I had a chronic case of eczema my skin flaking like piecrust as a result of nerves. I threw up a lot, but not voluntarily.  To put it smply, I was one fucking wreck.

If you know anything about being a child of an alcoholic, this is not rare.

You grow up with nothing nailed down.  Your parents, who are supposed to be your protectors, instead are your biggest predators.  You become a mini adult if you want to survive.  And we know how that goes.

You get your own breakfast that turns into Froot Loops on toast.  You’re punished for poor grades because you’re too tired to study, your parents drunken antics making it impossible to sleep.

Even after you cleverly call the cops pretending you’re a sleepless neighbor smitten when they come break it up, you’re still just a scared little kid with a nervous stomach and an itchy scalp.

Now you’re in your twenties galloping around the globe not having a clue to what life’s about.  Your dad is already 6 feet under, your mom playing a wobbly game of croquette in Connecticut and can’t be reached.

So you sought out men for answers who looked through you like dirty glass.  The love you never got at home made it hard to come by, simply because you had no idea what it was supposed to look like.

This is why you rarely feel bad not having kids.  You actually had one…you.  You raised yourself without any help stumbling and falling the whole way.  It took therapy, a brief stay in a nut hospital and years of Al-Anon meetings to make you understand, your failings were not your fault.

There are millions of people like me.  I’d sit in church basements and hear my story over and over again.  You got hit with an iron too? Your mother put vodka in her breakfast orange juice while your dad passed out on the lawn?  Wow, maybe they knew each other.

I had 10 concussions by the time I was twelve. How many did you have?

And for the record, I truly believe all those hits in the head are responsible for my sudden hearing loss, regardless of what anyone says.

Alcoholism is more than a loaded liver.  It’s a twister destroying everything in its path.

I’m just sorry it took me this long to understand who I am and why, and to forgive the two people who were so sick.  Yes, alcoholism is an illness right up there with any other having  no idea the harm it caused.

And to our noble credit…the ones left standing…wear our scars well.

SB

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About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in Family, Health, Home, humor, kids, modeling, parents and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to In An Alcoholic Home

  1. micklively says:

    You are strong. Many, as you know, don’t make it. You can view your upbringing with intelligence and compassion. I know that’s not the same as a cure (if there even is such a thing) but it’s a healthy step in the right direction. Be proud of yourself.

    Like

  2. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, this is a very powerful piece. Do you mind if I repost it on my Facebook page? It might help others in the same boat.

    Like

  3. bob181 says:

    I went to the same high school as you because i had my scars – not as bad as your’s thank God. I always think of the school as my half way house. I am NOT the guy in the bagel store so don”t misunderstand this. You need to be held tightly and hugged. No sex no kissing , just held tight and be told – it’s ok now , it’s over. Your safe. I’m sending you a cyber hug south of the State line.

    Like

    • Reminds me of the film Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams playing the therapist tells Will, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault. TUS was a half-way house alright, half way to insanity.

      Like

  4. Jeanette Hamilton says:

    Susannah, I still read you nearly every day but rarely comment as my new job duties have me feeling buried alive most days with barely time for even lunch or trips to the bathroom. But I had to say something today. I’m so sorry you had to grow up this way. I have tears in my eyes and wish I were there to hug you and tell you how special, strong, and dear you are. Keep sharing your specialness with us and know that you are admired and loved.

    Like

    • Wow Jeanette, such a kind and warm thing to say. My lore is not unique. There are thousands of adult children of alcoholics roaming the earth many still bumping into walls. People don’t realize alcoholism is a disease affecting others. We grew up far too soon missing a lot. I went from dolls to high heels without passing go. Sounds glamorous, but I missed being a kid. Thanks so much, and it’s great you’re working. No worries EVER about not writing 🙂

      Like

  5. Rubenstein, Hal says:

    Ugh…well-written.

    Let’s talk this weekend.

    Hal

    Like

  6. Elle Knowles says:

    All those comments before me say it all. You are very brave and strong to even be able to write this. Most people hide behind a curtain, but what does that get them? Not a thing. It’s not shameful. You weren’t the culprit. An innocent bystander having to take the backlash of the disease and you have faired well and come through like a trouper. You have that going for you…some don’t. Sending more hugs your way! BTW – this was very well written! ~Elle

    Like

    • For me it was just another essay. I’ve known I’m not a 9 to fiver for a while now. I don’t beat myself up for it anymore. Hey, it fuels my writing. I heard someone say, when you turn pain inside out, it becomes prose. I believe that. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My wife and I could identify with that problem too. Grew up in similar conditions. We’re well adjusted … for being abnormal. That’s what she says. Who the hell’s normal anyway? I mean in the world we live in, if you are normal, then maybe you’re abnormal. You had it rough Susan … believe me I know.

    Like

  8. Lynn says:

    Wow, this piece is a powerful one Susannah. One that spoke directly to me, kind of like a punch in the gut!

    I have a post in draft that I have been attempting to write for some time. There are few families not touched by this wretched disease. Some deal, as you did, with childhoods that leave one questioning how it was even possible to grow into & function as a somewhat normal adult.

    I too, have lived with alcoholism in my life, for as far back as I remember. My Dad was a functioning alcoholic, thankfully not a mean drunk, but an alcoholic none the less. It scars you.

    Thank you for stating your truth so openly. In doing so, I understand as one alcoholic child to another, where so much your giving nature comes from. I get it!

    Like

    • I always say we have a choice, to either become like them or not. I drink but know my limits. I never want to abuse anyone in that way since it’s such a mental stabbing.

      And I encourage you to finish that piece because it will help you so much, like cleaning out a stuffed closet you can’t seem to face. Thanks for sharing so openly.

      Like

      • Lynn says:

        I couldn’t agree more Susannah, we have a choice as to who we become as an adult.

        Like you, I loving nothing more than to share a glass of wine or two with a friend, but know my limits & the power this addiction can have over me.

        Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

        Like

      • You too Lynn and thanks always for your very generous input.

        Like

  9. AF says:

    An amazing post.

    Like

  10. My ex was an ACOA but at the time I didn’t understand it all. He had some of the behaviors of his mean, abusive father. I’ve often wondered if he ever got help. He did go on to have a child with his next wife and I often wonder how that went. Very powerful post. You could submit this to Huff Post or some other place with broad readership. It’s extremely good. Makes us all reflect.

    Like

  11. edwardcres says:

    Holy shit, girl. There are times when your prose make James Joyce and Scott Fitzgerald look like Hanna & Barberra and your self-awareness puts Confucius on a par with Henny Youngman.

    Like

  12. Lisa says:

    Susannah you’ll be surprised to know we have this in common as far as two alcoholic parents. While thankfully I don’t have the physical scars to show for it because my mom did try to get help for herself at one point and she never targeted me or my brothers physically, she targeted us mentally even into adulthood. The oldest of us may have gotten the worst of it without realizing because he’s the only one that is struggling with the family disease. But at least me and my other brother have come out of it okay and I am (at least) working through those mental problems the alcoholism caused.

    Like

    • Oh Lisa, I am so sorry but glad you can speak of it so openly. Targeting mentally is something I’m very familiar with my mother being the master at it.

      So glad you’re alright despite your mom, who was sick. Always good to hear from you.

      Like

      • Lisa says:

        I remember when it used to be a big family secret even when my mom got help because she was so embarrassed of how she was, now its one of those things I’m more than willing to share with others because I know it doesn’t have to define me, its just a small part of who I am overall. Glad you shared this today, it definitely spoke to me.

        Like

      • I’m so sorry honey…always know you weren’t alone. And look at you now, a happily married lady 🙂

        Like

  13. MJ says:

    A very, very powerful piece, Susannah. Dark and yet radiant, like an exquisitely cut black gemstone. I can only imagine how many readers, and friends of readers, and countless others will gain new understanding, hope, and courage from it. It’s not for nothing that you are so gifted!

    Like

    • Jane Austen was gifted, though I thank you. I wish more people could read it, not to plump my ego, but to be told, they’re not alone. Again, thank for always saying such nice things to me.

      Like

  14. This piece is so powerful. I’m sorry that you or anyone else had to endure this experience, especially as a child, but it makes you who you are today. A compassionate soul.
    I am currently watching a little girl on my street raising not just herself, but her sisters and cousin. She is 10 going on 40. You are so right when you say that wolves would do a better job. The young mothers in this case are victims of heroin with no light in sight. Sad.

    Like

    • This made my heart wince. I love 10 going on 40 as sad as it is. That was me, so grown up with toilet paper stuck to her shoe. It shows how strength lies dormant in human nature to either be used or ignored. We all have it, like your little neighbor. Oh Top – want to hop a train and bring her a doll and a Parchesi game.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. When I read this, the small things with my parents really shrink into nothingness.. I might have been yelled at by a hot-tempered father, but at least never anything like this…

    Like

    • First of all, thanks for comin’ a callin’…I was not a Fictioneer this round simply because my server won’t cooperate so, that may be that.

      I’m happy to hear you didn’t experience an alcoholic childhood. A father with a trigger finger is surely enough, but it did give you your voice so lofty and tender on the page. Thanks. 🙂

      Like

  16. I think the other commenters have said a lot of what I would have said, Susannah. You’re incredibly strong to come through that with perspective and maturity. Not an easy road. My grandfather was an alcoholic and although my father was the oldest and was away from the house by then, his younger brothers suffered a lot more. Still, that’s why my father never drank at all and still doesn’t.

    Like

    • It definitely deters one’s drinking desire. I’m very aware of my family history so I know when enough’s enough. Drank a lot over Xmas so when January 1st came around, I stopped. It’s walking much too close to the edge for my good.

      Like

  17. Reblogged this on The Green-Walled Tower and commented:
    I found this a very powerful and honest piece. I’d encourage you to read it, especially if you’ve lived near alcoholism.

    Like

  18. I remember after my parent’s divorce my father used to drink so much,still does,when i visited his house he used to kiss me goodnight and his breath would smell like whisky.Or he’d call me crying telling me he loves me.

    Like

  19. Jeanne Jake says:

    Living in Truth is the most freedom
    We can give to ourselves! Yours in an amazing Soul!
    Thank you for sharing your pains,
    Your scars and delicate Heart that
    Is Brave & Strong.
    As that child was & is….today!

    Like

  20. Thank you for sharing your experience. Raw, painful and true. For you, but also for so many of us.

    Like

  21. Justin says:

    Through the mist, was it Thorme Street? And a bar on Fairfield Avenue? And a pretty young girl, a beautiful pretty young girl who gave me the precious gift of feeling in love. And James Taylor, Carly Simon, Jessie Collin Young, and Carnagie Hall. Once knowing the feeling of being in love it is a gift that lasts a lifetime. So thank you.

    Alcohol abuse is littered through my family and I am grateful for the miracle of my survival, and feel a kinship with your experience.

    I’ve lived enough life now to know and understand the wild world that that young girl you describe was cast into. And from our shared experiences, conversations, and my readings of your essays have come to form a deep and abiding admiration for your
    honesty, nobility, class, compassion, character and soulful grit. Thanks for your gifts and for sharing your soul. May you be blessed in all your days.

    ❤️😜

    Like

  22. Justin McCarthy says:

    In this case, the charming saw toothed image next to my name. But I think I may have found a way.
    So is not that long ago a month? Two? More? Smaller that a breadbox, bigger that a cervix?

    Like

  23. Justin McCarthy says:

    SB, Ok, I’ve seen it. Thanks for being so sweet. Making you laugh was the best. You were intoxication itself. Love to you. J

    Like

  24. John Greene says:

    Your ability to express what you went through with such clarity and honesty is incredible. You are certainly a survivor and did a wonderful job of raising yourself through it all.

    Like

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