What I want you to know about being the child of an alcoholic

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Abigail.

I am almost 31 years old.

My Dad has been an alcoholic for 23 of those years. For 23 years my mom, brother and I loved and lived with someone who abused us verbally, emotionally and physically.

I think one of the hardest realizations for me was the day that I realized that most of my Dad's family, my family, knew.

They all knew that he had an alcohol problem.

Their son. Their brother. Their nephew.

They all knew. Almost the whole time. But they never said a word. They never confronted him. They never stepped up to reach out to their abused grandchildren, niece or nephew, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law.

Maybe they thought it wasn't that bad. Maybe they were worried he'd get mad at them. Maybe they thought it wasn't their business. I don't know what they thought. It hurts my head to try and figure it out.

I used to lay in bed at night and pray they would step up and speak. Speak for us. Rescue us.

But they never did. And now decades have passed. And I'm the adult child of an alcoholic, struggling to figure out "normal".

I struggle with almost crippling anxiety and PTSD. My counselor says that I'm the poster child for Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome. I battle with anger and bitterness - towards him, towards them. It's hard for me to function in everyone else's normal. I'm constantly waiting for the ticking time bomb to explode and the monster to round the corner.

What child is supposed to spend their nights praying that their Mom will leave and divorce their Dad? What child is supposed to live with a monster wearing a Daddy suit?

I did. We did. Most of our lives.

I used to wish that if he was going to hurt us, it would at least leave some easily spotted physical evidence. Maybe then they would be FORCED to recognize the signs and take action.

I thought when I became an adult and could leave that it would all end. But it didn't. A part of me is still there, in that hell hole I called home. Waiting to be freed.

They don't talk to us now. Because we had to step back in order to find sanity, in order to heal. They say we've abandoned him. That we've cut them all off. We pray for peace and wait for redemption while they rail against us for cruelty.

They are all so blind.

We hope their eyes will eventually be opened. We hope that they'll choose to help stop the madness.

When they do, we are here waiting. We can stand together. And maybe together we can help him help himself.

We are waiting. And we forgive them.

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