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Mostly emotionally fatherless unless we needed a beating. Since my mother died a year ago. My father grieving as I know he would has just recently stopped taking meds regularly,was unkempt and does not eat much of the meals I regularly bring him. I pay his bills and shop for him my sister cuts his large lawn every week and handles heart failure doctor and his meds for afib, kidney failure etc. This week we discovered he has returned to drinking hard liquor and often...I guess I don't have a question but I feel overwhelmed and sad about all the efforts we have made to care for him and I feel guilty I just want to walk away from it all. I am feeling a little hopeless

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Dear tired, So sorry for all the trauma you had to endure during your childhood, It brings tears to my eyes. Glad you have faith in God and you have a good relationship with your dad now. Thank you for posting to help others. God bless you!
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Dear, dear Tiredandsad,

Please do go to an Al-anon meeting - or at least look them up on line. It is an organization for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Over the years that I have been on this forum, I have recommended this group several times and often wondered if anyone actually ever took my advice. It is not a quick fix, but you may start to feel better after the first meeting.

What makes your situation so difficult is that, mixed up with fear and anger at past abuse, are real and honest feelings of love and compassion for your father. Unfortunately, children of alcoholics, in their desire to help, end up enabling and therefore disabling their loved one. Al-anon can help with that.

My father, too, was physically violent with us, though mainly against my older brothers. Witnessing the violence was just as harmful psychologically to me. I remember many times throwing my body on top of my brothers to protect them. But! And this is what is often difficult for the child of an alcoholic. When he wasn’t raging or beating, he was a sweet, loving, funny, musically gifted man who supported his children. It’s a wonder I can function with such mixed signals! I was my father’s fishing buddy. He went to every one of my choir concerts. He was the one to comfort me (not my mother) during the heartbreaks of my teenage years.

As an adult, I mostly distanced myself from him as his drinking grew worse, only to be pulled back into his orbit after he had a stroke at 65 (from which he almost fully recovered) and started to need our care in his early 70’s. Wheelchair bound by the time he was 75, and without the alcohol, he became once again, a sweet, loving, and very grateful man. With what I had learned in Al-anon and a deepening faith in God, I began a new, healing relationship with my father that continued until the day he died at 89.

Go to Al-anon. Learn how to help without enabling and disabling. Learn to detach from his drinking. I have read on this forum many times, “you cannot care more about someone’s health than they do themselves”. That is a practice in futility. You said you feel hopeless. Al-anon teaches you to have hope in your life whether the alcoholic drinks or not. Your joy and hope in life are not tied to his behavior. I have prayed for you and your sister.
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Jenna rose, I believe alcoholism is a disease also. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.
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Basically you are all still "taking the beatings". It is what you were taught to do. Please get help in setting up boundaries with this man who had never really been a father to you. He is abusing his body to the extent that he will not much longer survive to abuse others. And none of that is YOUR fault. There are two chances for a wonderful family we have. The first is the one we are born into. The second is the one we make of those persons we love and respect and support and receive support front. You are right. There is really no question here. And there are certainly no answers. You show the basic human goodness and empathy that is what is the best of humanity. I hope you will have a chance to invest it where you get the return you so deserve.
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Hi Tiredandsad,

I am a recovering alcoholic of 35 years now and a caregiver to my 94 year old Mom (she has alzheimer's/dementia). My 1st husband was also an alcoholic but a drinking one, he drank to the day he died.

First let me start off saying that I do believe alcoholism is a disease and the reason I say that is not from anything I read (nor from AA meetings that I attended). I was also a functioning alcoholic (worked full time and then overtime). I stopped drinking because I became sick of waking up with hangovers every morning. I got sick and tired of being sick, crashing my car into trees, fighting with my family, etc. I was a mean person when I drank.

And no, I didn't give lots of money to doctors nor hospitals. Yes, I did go into hospitals to detox because it was easier then doing it cold turkey.

Anyway, the reason I believe that alcoholism is a disease is because I still remember the first sip of alcohol I drank (sloe gin fizz) and how it made me feel. That tiny sip changed my personality to the point where I became really scared (I didn't recognize myself). So I avoided alcohol for about 5 years even with the peer pressure from my friends. That's how terrified I was of alcohol. Obviously I tried beer 5 years later thinking it wouldn't affect me but guess what? It did and I became a full-fledged alcoholic.

That said this does not happen to "normal" people. One sip doesn't completely change a person's personality like it did to me. My body metabolizes alcohol differently compared to others. Why? I have no idea. Why are some people diabetic and others not?

As far as your Dad, it's your choice if you want to support him or not. If you decide to keep taking care of him then accept the fact he's an alcoholic and will always be one. He will never change. It doesn't matter if he drinks beer, wine, or hard liquor. I used to get drunk on Nyquil (the cold medicine).

Maybe you do need to step back and take a break. Can the family afford to hire a caregiver? I don't know what your family's finances are.

I don't know what I would do if I were in your shoes. After I divorced my alcoholic 1st husband I still stood by him (he was not abusive). I helped put him in a VA hospital for drinking but somehow he was able to get alcohol there anyway. I never became angry with him because I knew he couldn't help it as much as he tried. Was he a weak person? No. But the urge to drink was stronger then anything else in his life. It had a strong hold on him.

Walk away if you need to just to get yourself together because it's not easy supporting anyone who drinks and can be abusive.

Maybe try attending an Al-anon meeting and find support there. I brought my best friend of 45 years to an Al-Anon meeting because her 1st husband drank and was abusive to her. After some meetings she left him and divorced him.

Those meetings are really helpful and may make you feel better about yourself (as well as helping you choose what next course of action you may want to take).

I hope this helps a little,
Jenna
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"...She realizes his alcoholism is a disease, one he can choose to change..." Real diseases cannot be changed by choice. Calling alcoholism a disease has been all the rage in our let's medicalize everything world. However, many researchers, psychiatrists and physicians disagree that alcoholism is a disease.

Dissident voices have been drowned out ever since the AMA classified alcoholism as a disease in 1956. Recognize that classifying it as a disease allowed doctors to charge insurance companies for treating it. Yet doctors haven't been good at treating most chronic conditions e.g. diabetes, obesity. Why is that?

Does having a financial incentive to treat affect care? Why cure when one can continue to bill for care? Functional alcoholics are a gravy train for their physicians. One of my BILs is a functional alcoholic. He's got fabulous health insurance that most likely will keep him alive for decades to come at a tremendous annual cost once his liver is shot.

The medical model does not seem to be working well, in my opinion. One researcher at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Kensington who promotes a social learning theory for alcoholism wrote in 1992 that: "Excessive drinking can cause physical disease and involve physical dependence without therefore being a disease itself. The 'disease concept' of alcoholism is not needed to justify medical intervention or a caring approach to those who are dependent on alcohol. There is a specific and a general version of the disease concept of alcoholism. The specific disease concept, associated mainly with the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, is contradicted by empirical evidence and unhelpful for preventive and treatment responses to problem drinking, especially for the effort to detect and modify problem drinking at an early stage. The more general disease concept shares these disadvantages and is also ineffective in engendering sympathetic attitudes towards problem drinkers among the general public. It is more useful to view problem drinking as the result of the interaction between the individual's personality and the social context in which he or she has learned how to drink."

IMO, the social learning theory for alcoholism makes much more sense. That your friend loves her father unconditionally is wonderful, Midkid, and her sympathetic attitude is exactly what the social learning theory of alcoholism advocates.
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I have a dear little friend, and only child to 2 alcoholic parents. How she turned out so amazingly is a testimony to the human spirit and the ability to love unconditionally.

Her mother died about 20 years ago. Parents had divorced, and for some years dad was a functioning (so she thought) alcoholic.

Then he got sick and had to let her in his house.

Completely filled with garbage, rats, mice, roaches and evidently he hadn't taken out the trash for a couple years.

She legally had him made her 'ward' and she junked the house and sold it 'as is' for very little. Got him into rehab and took care of his finances, allowing him very little spending money, so even if he blew it all on liquor, he couldn't stay drunk all the time.

Of course he relapsed--and she set strict boundaries with him. She gives him 1/2 day once a week. They grocery shop, she cleans his small apartment and leaves. IF he has stayed sober he gets to see her kids. Otherwise, no.

I know this was extremely hard for her, and will be to the day he dies. BUT, she does what she feels is appropriate and no more.

I admire her so much. She realizes his alcoholism is a disease, one he can choose to change, but hasn't to much success. She does not take it personally.

It was hard for her to STOP doing everything for him--which she did for a long time. Now she does what she feels is 'enough'. She can't fix him. And doesn't try.

She just loves him without condition and that's amazing to me.
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It's ok to feel sad about it.

He is an old sick man. You didn't cause him to get old or sick. You can't fix him or the situation. So be sad but then accept what you can't change.

PS then back out for self-protection.
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Tiredandsad, there are many on this forum going through what you are now and feeling exactly the same. You are not responsible for his wellbeing or happiness. You can't have his recovery for him. He chose how to live his life and now he will reap what he sowed as I agree with NYDaughterInLaw that no one should be servants to their abusers. Perhaps you two should consider counseling for co-dependency. If I were you I would back away from providing any care, even managing it. If he's drinking heavily and you are finding him unkept and not taking meds, you can report him as a vulnerable adult and allow the county to become his guardian. Then he will get care and you won't have to worry about him. He had his entire life to make the most of what he had, and he chose drinking and abuse. Let him continue to have it if that's what he chooses (over you and sister). May you gain wisdom and peace in your hearts.
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Why feel guilty about walking away from an abusive alcoholic? Sorry to be blunt. I understand why you feel hopeless. He seems to be beyond help. You may want to look at what you and your sister are doing that is enabling him to do nothing and drink. Let him mow his own lawn, even if it takes two days. Or, let him hire someone to mow his lawn. He has money for booze then he has money to pay someone to mow his lawn. I hope you and your sister seek counseling for your childhoods with him. No one should be the caregiver of their abuser, in my opinion. Neither you nor your sister can save your father. He may well be hopeless, and until he reaches out for help, nothing will get him to stop drinking. Nothing.
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