Things I Only Did Once: Growing Up Stories


By my second year, I recognized my relationship with alcohol was mirroring that of my mom and alcohol. I felt I was standing atop a very slippery slope.

I was 14 when my sister, Brooke, was born.

After that year, I stopped drinking heavily and focused my efforts on my education and building a foundation for a career. My dad was working at night a lot again. My sister was being neglected by our mother and endangered. Mom would lock herself in her room for two days, leaving Brooke to care for herself. I spent my senior year of college basically commuting back and forth from class and work to home.

My sister needed me. That year, I even sometimes brought Brooke to stay for the weekend at my college apartment. When a Big 10 college apartment is safer for a seven-year-old girl than her home, the home is an extreme problem. He recognized the worsening problems but he was so trapped by a mix of denial, codependency and laidback, everything-will-work-out personality that prevented him from believing he had the ability to make things better. After graduation, I took a full-time job.

So, I split my time between work and being the stable person my sister needed. After a few years, I moved out of my apartment and back home. We all lived together in chaos again for about five years. But even after I moved out again, I still spent nearly all of my free time with Brooke and at school and sport events. I was the primary parent for my sister…and my parents.

I cleaned the house. I reminded my dad about bills. I helped with the science projects. Mom continued to worsen with DUIs and run ins with the police.

My mother drank at night and into the early morning hours several times a week.

I was hungry but my mom was still asleep. I was transported to the wonder of my childhood days. So it is hardly a surprise that her recent memoir, Once Upon a Time in the East: My dad died last December from a heart attack caused by chemo for his lung cancer. I was worry at first time when I got redirected to the membership site. Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice.

Though I knew the police officers had good intentions and had perhaps seen far worse situations, I was always blanketed in extreme shame when they gave me those looks of pity. There were so many people depending on me. I better understood my mother and her disease. I let go of a lot of expectations. I learned about the effects of growing up as a child of an alcoholic.

I began taking better care of myself. I went to Al-Anon meetings. I met other adult children of alcoholics. This prompted me to write a middle-grade novel for tweens that was published in Then in , Dad died from a heart attack. My first thought was: My dad is gone. So I did what most first-born children of alcoholics would do: My mother, overwhelmed with intense grief, plummeted. Once again, I became obsessed with her drinking. She binged for days on end. At one point, I convinced her to see a psychologist and I sure it the turning point — the road to recovery.

I sobbed the day we moved. It felt like I was abandoning a sick child. But then as the weeks passed, I get healthier. My sister got healthier. Our minds cleared as time passed being away from the chaos and the abuse. While her alcoholism is still destructive, my sister and I are much better today. I believe that sharing these personal stories is tremendously powerful. Take good care of yourself!! Now some of their children are turning into alcoholics. I am so sorry to learn of your experience with an alcoholic sibling and a repeating cycle.

It is so painful to witness, I know. Have you ever attended an Al-Anon meeting? You may benefit from learning how to cope with this. I found those meetings eye opening and helped me help myself, which helped my family, too. Take good care of yourself. Hey Jody, thank you so much for sharing your story. Even though it hurts not to be with my mom and not being able to help or change her, somewhere deep down I know there is nothing I could ever do to make her better.

Thank you for the note, Joeline. No matter the distance we are physically apart, the worry lingers. We are the lucky ones of the unlucky kids, you know. We understand that we need to be on the journey. Unfortunately, not all of kids of alcoholics ever reach that point. For this, we can be grateful. I wish you great strides in your journey this year and beyond! My daughter in law is a child of an alcoholic parent, now deceased.

Her mother joined the military, just to get out of the home and left her two daughters with an alcoholic dad. My daughter in law suffers from an eating disorder, difficulty forming close relationships, and has extreme control issues involving my grandchildren. She has projected all of her needs onto my son and their two children.

As a mother in law, how can I show my support and love without appearing to interfere? Keep being an awesome grandmother! Also, the more you understand the effects of alcoholism on kids, the better you will understand your daughter in law. It is her journey to help herself and heal but your education about it will help YOU cope with how this impacts you and those you love: After reading your story, it relates to what myself and other siblings experienced growing up.

Myself, as the oldest daughter, took on the role to care for my mother and sister. Although, unfortunately I never had any support, or a father figure in my life to support me at that. I am glad you are taking care of yourself and thank-you for sharing your story. You have inspired me to share mine! The trauma always lives with us. But today, my mother is doing well and I pray it stays that way. My faith in GOD has helped me heal. God bless you xxx. Likewise, I am deeply sorry that we share similar life experiences.

How fortunate your siblings are to have you. I hope that you have started your journey to take good care of YOU. Hi Jaeda Thank you for sharing your story. It made me feel sad but comforted at the same time. I hope you are well in your healing journey.

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Hello, Jody, and thank you for sharing your story. I wish this type information had been available to me when I realized why my mother wobbled, fell and slurred every night. She never became violent, just snide and ugly. However in my family, we lived in the land of denial. My father never mentioned it, or sat her down or anything. It was horrible and ruined much of my early life. I still have the emotional scars. God bless us all.

I also grew up with an alcoholic parent. I could relate with so much of what you wrote, especially the worrying that the house would catch on fire from cigarettes. I think all of our couches had burn holes in them. Parents who never accept responsibility themselves are also the ones who undermine disciplinary measures at school. They make up excuses. They justify bad behaviors.

Ever seen a parent arguing with a school principal? My so and so would never do such a thing, they say. Several years ago, I worked at a military academy down in Florida. One day, a new parent came up to me with his son in tow.

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I could have kissed that man. Would that all parents gave teachers carte blanche to discipline their kids. She was 13 at the time. And the cycle will repeat because that is what families like this do. Incest tends to get passed down from one generation to another. Could you imagine letting a sex offender near your child?

But it happens all the time.

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Family members are, without question, the ones who are most likely to perpetrate. Parents often fail to take responsibility for the safety of their children, because they are prideful and way too concerned about what their neighbors might think. Instead, the secret keepers keep quiet and they forbid their children to talk about it, as if silence erases trauma. And when the kids start to act out or engage in self-harm, the parents fail to connect the dots and they chalk it up to a phase, or bad behavior, or the school systems, or their peers.

This attitude is often multi-generational. We also tend to inherit abstract things, too. Religious beliefs, culture, political persuasions. Some families pass down rape and incest. Several years ago, in Asheville, NC, Buncombe County Child Protective Services rescued an year-old boy who was being molested by both his grandparents and his parents. At the same time.

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It was not an isolated incident. Plenty of parents argue, which is not inherently problematic. The problem comes when the parents do not have the presence of mind to argue away from their children. In mentally ill families, this is always a major issue. If you are 8 years old, and your parents are always screaming at one another, how are you supposed to learn healthy communication? The kids end up arguing as much with the adults as they argue with themselves, and the adults end up arguing with the children, as if that is somehow an effective use of their time.

Have adult conversations in private. Arguing in front of children is both mentally and verbally abusive and sends a terrible signal about how they should handle conflict. What they fail to realize is that arguing serves two very different purposes, depending on your age.

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Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. The story of a crazy kid doing crazy things, Clark lived through experiences that just don't occur anymore. This book is good for a chuckle and leaves you longing for the kind of simpler life. One person found this helpful.

Dysfunctional families are breeding grounds for abuse and neglect.

Clark Malcolm Greene has once again written a series of stories which invokes all the ups and downs of childhood: The relationships with "grown-ups" as the kids grew older and the wisdom they passed to Clark and the others. This is another uniquely American story, and it filled with laughs and sorrows. It should be read while lying in a hammock, a pitcher of lemonade at one's side, the beginning of a languid summer afternoon just beginning to cool off, and time enough to enjoy every page. TIODO bursts with recollections. The author lets readers experience both inane antics and luminous epiphanies.

With approachable affability, Clark Greene continues the fine tradition of story-telling.

Clark Greene's work took me back to the days of my youth. I am recommending that my chilldren and grandchildren read this lovely, sweet and very meanimgful book. I was transported to the wonder of my childhood days. Thank you, Clark, for this wonderful work of art!!! What a wonderful continuation of the boy and Patch. Both of these stories are a wonderful read about the simple life in rural Michigan.