As soon as I knew how, I began using my body as a means to get attention. All I wanted was for someone to notice me!
The phone rings in the middle of the night. The voice on the other line says, “Ma’am, this is the police. I need you to come meet us; there’s been an incident involving your daughter…
…I can’t give you any more details over the phone.” How many people agree that this is a parent’s worst nightmare? That parent was my mom; that 12 year old daughter was me. This was the night that I got a police report for “Indecent Exposure”… AKA flashing a cop car from the side of the road while underage drinking and then fleeing the scene hoping they wouldn’t catch me. Note to self: cops run faster than drunk 12 year old girls.
This was me, a 12 year old girl, crying out for help, crying out for attention. Afterall, drunken antics were familiar to me. Most of my childhood memories consist of alcohol abuse and things that no little girl should ever have to witness. My dad was an alcoholic. He was always out at a bar or on the phone with his bookies. When he was home, he was obliterated to the point that my mom and I would eat dinner in the back bedroom with the door locked. Some nights we would just hear him screaming at the TV; some nights he would be trying to bang down the bedroom door. One night, he got locked out of the house after bar hopping & he punched my bedroom window out to get into the house. I just remember glass and blood and being so terrified. One night, I tried to be funny & tell a joke, but I was in the way of his football game and so he threw a cup of ice at my face. I never felt protected. I never felt safe. I always felt like I got the short end of the stick. When I was 7 years old, my parents got divorced.
I never knew how a woman was supposed to be treasured and valued. I had never seen that. I felt all alone, like if I would have been good enough my dad would have stuck around. My heart broke when my dad forgot my fourteenth birthday; no card, no call. I felt so abandoned, so ashamed of where I came from. The shame and the rejection became all I could see. As soon as I knew how, I began using my body as a means to get attention. All I wanted was for someone to notice me! So there I was on the side of the road, flashing my chest to oncoming traffic, trying to get noticed- at 12 years old! My behavior only escalated from there. By early high school, I was giving myself away in many different ways to whoever happened to get drunk with me that night. I felt so little of myself. It didn’t matter what I did anymore, if it feels good do it.
I had all of these wounds- from the environment that I was raised in & from the choices I had made. Most of the time, I put on a happy face, but I was dying inside. I hated my life and worst of all I hated myself. I had so much unforgiveness, so many wounds that were not healed. I strived to have every man notice me because the one man who mattered the most, wouldn’t. And this is how life was for me for years…
Then one day, I met a group of women that I began to call my friends. They were truly lovely. I surrounded myself with women who knew how to overcome the circumstances of their past. They showed me that life didn’t have to be this way. I didn’t have to walk around hating my dad. My past and my mistakes didn’t have to dictate my future. They taught me the importance of forgiveness, that it was a choice and that it wasn’t based on whether or not my dad deserved it. Forgiveness was the key to my restoration. I no longer had to hide who I was. I no longer had to live in shame. I no longer had to fear becoming another statistic. I was able to forgive myself. I was able to forgive my dad. I can’t even explain to you the freedom forgiveness has bought me. Freedom to learn to love my dad. Freedom to love myself. Freedom to expect more for my future, my marriage, my children. Freedom to be lovely.
I used to hate myself.
Now, I am lovely.
One in five adult Americans have lived with an alcoholic relative while growing up. In general, these children are at greater risk for having emotional problems than children whose parents are not alcoholics. Alcoholism runs in families, and children of alcoholics are four times more likely than other children to become alcoholics themselves. Compounding the psychological impact of being raised by a parent who is suffering from alcohol abuse is the fact that most children of alcoholics have experienced some form of neglect or abuse (Children of Alcoholics, AACAP*)… I am not alone.
*Children Of Alcoholics. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Retrieved from: http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_of_alcoholics