Parents:

by Daniel · 0 comments

When it comes to parents of folks in recovery a pattern of blame emerges. Through the years I have heard many versions of how to treat this challenge. Recently I heard a friend share about his dad. He said that he now thinks about his own father’s upbringing. He believes his father gave what he received or more appropriately in his case what he did not receive.

I remember in rehab I began to hear a bunch of terms I had never heard in my life. I began to hear of this emerging phenomenon called “Adult Children of Alcoholics”. I heard men and women share about co-dependency and abuse. It seemed that everyone had a reason for their pain and it all pointed back to mom and dad!

One day during my aftercare group someone shared about being abused by their father. Therefore the topic was set. When it was my turn to share I said, well I was never abused by my parents in my life. A bit of silence set in the group. The counselor said, really? I remember my reply, “no never”. My dad would beat the heck out of me, but only for a damn good reason. Heck if you stole the family car and used it for demolition derby with several of the neighbors parked cars don’t you think you would deserve a good beating?

That was the beginning of my victim stage. That probably lasted a good ten years. I began to believe that I was abused. Now do not get me wrong, my father was an angry guy, and he would let you have it when you got out of line and he vent that anger in a physical manner. However, never to the point of broken bones, scars, etc… My dad said some pretty cruel things to me out of his frustration. But the one thing I knew was that he and my mom loved me.

So what happened after 10 years of subscribing to the victim role? Quite frankly an incident with my dad sparked it off. My dad said something to me that was inappropriate and hurtful. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I would not accept him talking to me that way again. I also let him know I would not speak to him again if he chose to do it again. I took control of my own emotional needs.

That event enabled me to critically challenge my embedded beliefs of abuse. I began to realize that I am not a victim, because victims in life are victimized. I would have none of that. Of course I realize that folks do get abused. However as an adult we all have a choice on what we will do with that trauma. We can accept and continue to attract more of it to our lives or we can move on. We can focus on what we want and what we need in our lives today and the future. No I do not condone any abuse against anyone. No I do not believe minimizing abuse is a viable method of reducing the pain of trauma. I am simply suggesting an approach of empowerment and hope!

I have thought back about who I am and how I have become the person I have become. My parents played a substantial role in that progression. I received strong spiritual beliefs from my mother. She also showed me how to give of yourself and how to work hard at everything you do.

My mom was a seamstress I remember her sewing ballet outfits into the wee hours of the morning for my sisters and the rest of their dance school to help people save money. If you have a daughter in dance school you know the expense of these costumes and the alterations. But my mom would do it even though she would work a job and then come home with little sleep for weeks before these recitals.

My dad earned a terrible wage at his job. But he was always on the go he would cater parties, paint, tend bar, janitor work and volunteer for the fire department. He was always the first guy to come to your aid if you needed help. He is a grouchy old fellow but he would give you the shirt off his back. I learned the value of hard work, persistence, giving, caring and pushing others to be the best they can be.

Punishment is necessary in parenting, but never out of anger or rage. I know that today, my parents did not. That is not abuse simply poor parenting skills. To live in the past hurts you and your recovery. Life is way too good to be stuck in the past. Remember, Life is meant to be enjoyed and not endured…

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