I was raised by an alcoholic father and I had no idea how this had impacted me and the decisions I went on to make in later life until I entered therapy at age 30. My father was a brutal, controlling and abusive man and I could not wait to leave my home and get away. My mother who suffered extreme violence at his hands rarely if ever stood up for us and for many years I blamed her for the violence against us. I could never understand how she would deliberately tell him our indiscretions for the day when he came home from the bar drunk knowing we would get beaten. Today I realize she was doing the best she could it was expected of her and tired of her own beatings was at times deflecting to make herself look like the good guy and avoid another beating.
I can remember wanting my father’s approval from a very early age it never came. I would listen outside the door when I told him about grades to see if he would praise me when I was not around. I was always disappointed. That yearning for my father’s love and approval set off a very destructive pattern in my life where I set about finding a man like my father whom I could change since I had no luck with my father’s approval. I went from one abusive man to the next and typically they were all emotionally unavailable and controlling. I did not know then that my father had set off a deep false belief that was all that I deserved. I was very codependent and an alcoholic myself. As I slipped into alcoholism the trail of destruction got worse I almost married one of these abusive men but thankfully it fell through and I just moved on to the next project. Daughters of Alcoholic fathers are very high risk for chronic codependency. I t was only later in my own recovery after thoroughly working the 12 steps that I could trace my patterns back through my life and see where the destructive behavior started. The desire for my father’s approval made me a perfectionist I set standards on myself and everyone around which were impossible to achieve. I wanted a perfect relationship where I would have a man to love me like my father never had. Today I realize my father did love me he was simply too sick to show it.
As part of my recovery I read a wonderful book called “Perfect Daughters” by Robert J. Ackerman which broke down the complex mind and behaviors of the adult daughter of an alcoholic. This helped me see the patterns of my life even more clearly and I was able to accept at first with deep sadness that I had been severely damaged, that my expectations were a road to nowhere and I needed to start again. I am glad to say that today many years later I live a happy fulfilled life. I am no longer codependent or a perfectionist and what a relief that is. Somebody else can save the world I am done. I have a happy loving relationship with a wonderful man. If you are the daughter of an alcoholic and many of us are since this is a family disease seek help. If you are not an alcoholic or addict yourself there are 12 step programs to help you like Al-Anon (for alcoholic families) or CODA. Codependents Anonymous
If you think you may be codependent take this simple codependancy quiz.