“That is so depressing,” a fellow adult child of an alcoholic replied.
She’d just listened to my enthusiastic description of the amazing global Children of Alcoholics Week that occurred last week. So many brave, honest stories shared by adult children of alcoholics around the world! So much needed attention to the global problem! So much discussion, so much media coverage, so much needed support for the non-profit organizations like the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) here in the US and in the UK!
“Oh, well for me, it’s exactly not!” I exclaimed to my fellow COA.
I’m used to this reaction. Many fellow children of alcoholics find thinking about and talking about their past experiences or hearing familiar stories shared by other ACOs to be unpleasant and painful. I completely respect that the topic of parental alcoholism isn’t something other ACOAs or people who have not experienced addiction in their families find is a good fit for them.
For me, there is NOTHING more inspiring than learning about and from other children of alcoholics.
Over the last eight years since I began talking about being an ACOA, I’ve been absolutely blown away by people who grew up with chaos, abuse and dysfunction but instead tried like hell when they grew up to make a great life – and succeeded.
Considering the high odds of repeating the life of our parents that we have COAs have, this is turnaround is extraordinary – borderline miraculous, if you ask me! So, yes, I get a bit excited and happy to talk about this topic. I wish I’d known as a young girl, a teenager and young adult that some of the most compassionate, determined and happy adults are kids of alcoholics. They are champion athletes. Teachers. Business moguls. Life-changing social workers. Non-profit organization founders. The list goes on.
Perhaps even more meaningful on my own healing journey are the stories of those in-between ACOAs – those who, like me, are on the healing journey. Friends, it’s WAY, WAY, WAY harder to acknowledge that growing up with an alcoholic parent or other dysfunction affected us and we need to take action to create a different kind of life than the one we were born into.
Their stories remind me that I’m not alone. I’m normal. And that no matter the past, I am free to create a better life. If they can, perhaps I can, too.
I am grateful for the internet and our means of communicating about issues that are so commonly experienced, yet so commonly hidden.
I am grateful for the stories shared. For the bravery, honesty of other kids of addicts. I am grateful for the hugely positive impact of the COAs collectively saying to all those suffering in secrecy: It’s not your fault. You’re not alone. Help is there. And hold onto HOPE because you can stop the cycle and create a great grownup life – free from the chaos – just like I did.
Take good care.
The following COAs particularly inspired me this week:
Josh, of COA Is A Thing, is a super motivated COA who writes about his discovery as a young adult that his father’s alcoholism affected him – big time. Now he is one of the most vocal and active ACOAs in the UK, volunteering often and urging public support for NACOA and related charities. Thank you, Josh.
Growing Up Chaotic – Dawn Clancy shares many past experiences with an alcoholic and abusive mother and stepfather and the pain of her brother’s fall into the grips of addiction, too.
“I’ve spent most of my life – depressed, anxious, suicidal, angry, enraged, alone, ashamed, terrorized and confused,” Dawn writes. “I’ve worked my a** off to create a life different from the one I was born into. Alcohol and drug addiction destroyed my family. I refuse to let it get its hands on me! I want to reach out to other survivors of chaos, abuse and dysfunction so I created Growing up Chaotic. It is my mission with Growing up Chaotic to provide –Inspiration, Hope and Guidance.” Thank you, Dawn.