Heartsore: The Adult Child of an Alcoholic Parent



The title of my dissertation was "Sons of Alcoholic Fathers."  After graduating from college and before applying to graduate school I needed a break from book learning.  With some persistence and luck I found a good BA level job at an alcohol residential treatment facility in Johnson County, a suburban district of Kansas City, Kansas.  That's where my education really began. 

From the men in recovery, and excellent supervisors, I learned there but for the grace of God go I.  Open AA and Al-Anon meetings taught me humility and respect for my clients.  The Twelve Steps gave me an appreciation of the power of spiritual faith that years of catechism never did.

And I learned that many of the alcoholics in rehab were themselves sons of alcoholics.  At that time, the early eighties, research in this area was just beginning.  In 1982 Claudia Black, an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) herself, wrote It Will Never Happen To Me, placing a new focus on the special nature of ACOA problems. 

A few years later I started graduate school and I had my dissertation research topic.  Today I see the depth of hurt and pain an ACOA can bury in their hearts only to have it resurface in the form of crippling low self-esteem, difficulty with intimacy, issues with authority and total confusion about what's "normal". 

If you struggle with any of this, do not struggle alone.  Go to an Al-Anon meeting.  Find a counselor to help you sort out how growing up with an alcoholic parent effects your current and future happiness.  With fresh insight there is hope you can gain true, secure and healthy mastery of your life.  Start by educating yourself with good books like Claudia Black's.  Here are a few suggestions:

Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Janet Woititz

Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Herbert L. Gravitz

A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety & Radical Transformation, by Stephanie Brown

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