I am an adult child of a violent alcoholic, and I resent my father and every other alcoholic in this world being referred to as a drunk, as Wayne and Tamara did in their recent response to the letter from Kitty.
This response smacks of ignorance both of the father’s predicament and Kitty’s. One only has to type into a website the word “alcoholic” or “child of alcoholics” to find many symptoms and challenges faced by those so affected.
I am offended by my late father being called a drunk by Wayne and Tamara. Yes, my father was an alcoholic who never found sobriety, but he held a job all his life and, with his wife’s help, brought up 11 children and lived to see five generations in his family. He was also a musician, comedian and wonderful friend. He lost his own father when he was four.
Alcoholics, like any other addict, are addicted to a substance over which they are powerless. Every family member, as Kitty’s story demonstrates, is affected by drinking, and if there is violence involved, that as well.
Relationships are the hardest to deal with as an adult because there is no healthy template to go by. It can take years and years of therapy to deal with the issues, or one can join an anonymous fellowship based on the 12 Steps. The resulting issues are deep and complex and require professional intervention.
This isn’t the first time Wayne and Tamara have responded to a child of an alcoholic, and they have been provided with information on available community resources. Do they not keep a record for referral? Where is the duty of care from both your columnists and your paper? Where does Kitty go after reading this response?
Alcoholics are not that old man in the gutter; alcoholics are people like Robin Williams and Maurice Gibb. They are doctors, nurses, teachers, policemen and policewomen, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They need love and compassion and many struggle with shame and anger.
They need our love just like everyone else, but, more than anything else, they need a program of life skills and a community support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Maybe you could do a specialist feature on addictions and mental health as a strategy of reaching out to your readers?
Claire, to us your letter demonstrates two things. First, children of abuse are often the stoutest defenders of their abuser, and second, children of abuse cling to the few good memories of their abuser as a way of stifling the many bad ones.
Let us give you two stories that illustrate this.
As an 8-year-old George Morgan saw his sister Michelle, 4, beaten to death by their stepmother. Michelle had suffered many previous beatings from her stepmother, which resulted in 20 visits to the hospital for injuries, before she was finally beaten to death.
As an adult, George Morgan lobbied to have his sister’s death re-investigated. In the meantime, his stepmother started another family and had four children. Before the age of five those children made over 150 hospital visits for injuries. Yet when their mother was arrested for the beating death of Michelle, the four children maintained they had a wonderful home life.
Our second story involves Bill Clinton, whose stepfather was an alcoholic. Pressed to recall what the man was like, the former president spoke of a train trip he and his stepfather made and the time they went to cut down a Christmas tree. But, he admitted, those two events were never repeated.
Your father was a violent alcoholic. We understand your defense of him because that is what children of abuse do. Next week we’ll delve into the other issues raised by your letter and explain why we haven’t the slightest reluctance to use the terms “drunk” and “drunkard” when children are involved.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of October 6, 2014
Send letters to: [email protected] , or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.