Thursday, February 9, 2017

The children of alcoholics

I have always assumed, as I think most people do, that the psychic damage of having an alcoholic parent comes mainly from seeing them drunk, from their failure to do their jobs as parents, from alcohol induced emotional instability.  No doubt this is a big part of it, although I do think every alcoholics relationship with alcohol is personal and unique.

But the more I think about it, substance abuse in any form is really just an Emergent Property of a dysfunctional system.  Alcoholics drink because they don't know how to manage their emotions, those particularly of fear, pain, shame, guilt, sadness and anger.  People talk about angry drunks.  Well, those people were already angry.  The alcohol just brought it out.  They drank to let it out, because they did not ever develop the emotional tools needed to process it and express it in healthy ways.

I have long said I am the child of two alcoholic parents who didn't drink, and I continue to believe this is a reasonably accurate description.  There are many people in this world who are vastly more fucked up than the worst drunk you ever met, and have simply learned to hide it from the world, and in most cases from themselves. I would go so far as to say that in some families, the drunks are the healthiest ones, because they have retained an awareness of unbearable contradictions everyone else has simply learned to conjure away in reverse hallucinations.  They appear to the world satisfied and happy, but on the inside it is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  And the children of those families are asked: but your parents are so NICE.  What is wrong with you?

This is a virtually impossible question to answer for those who have not lived it.

I have spent most of this week alone, silent, living with who I am at my core, doing simple chores, sleeping a lot, and it seems to be bearing fruit.  The buzzsaw at my core seems to be winding down.  It is, after all, tired after all these years.

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