Am I sensitive or do my family members not care anymore




I’ve lived with my alcoholic dad since birth – the obligatory traumatic experiences, throwing things, punching things, throwing my things (as a young child), leaving me locked in a house at night when I was 8, police being called out as he attacked my aunt and trapped my hand in the door as I tried to escape him and injured me. And more to count.
I spent weekends at his house up until I was 18 – I am now 23.

This trauma just isn’t spoken about especially in the terms I believe it should be. Yes my mum is aware of these things but do I think she understands the effect this has had on me – even to this present day -no.
So much has happened – I’ve never had a conversation with my dad about this and i doubt I ever will. He’s an avoider, likes to play pretend. I don’t think he’ll even remember all that’s happened whereas I will remember everything forever.

Why does my family downplay what’s happened in my childhood?

  • listener

    Hi oliviab,

    I'm so sorry to hear about the trauma you have experienced with your Dad's drinking. It must be incredibly hard having gone through that but not having had a conversation with him about it. Please know that you are not alone and there are other people out there who have experienced similar things. Unfortunately, denial is commonplace in families where alcohol has been an issue and so someone's drinking (and everything that goes with it) can become the elephant in the room that no one speaks about. This can create all sorts of difficult feelings for family members.

    If you want to talk to someone a bit more about this, please do call or email the Nacoa helpline on 0800 358 3456/


  • williamste

    Hello olviab,

    Thank you for your post. I’m so sorry to read about your experiences – they must have been, and still be, extraordinarily difficult to deal with.

    I’m 31 and am in a similar situation to you. My Mum is entirely in denial about her addiction and refuses to address it at all. My Dad, who separated from my Mum 13 years ago, often plays down my experiences and the impact they have had on me – which can often feel like he doesn’t appreciate the seriousness of the problems caused by my Mum’s alcoholism.

    It is important to understand that alcoholism can often not just manipulate the addict but also those around them. It can create a culture of secrecy and silence – and this sort of behaviour is certainly an extension of this.

    Rather than not caring, it might be that your Mum is in denial because the reality is too difficult to acknowledge. It must be really hard to hear your own child talk about how such a significant part of their upbringing had such a negative impact on them – especially when they themselves most likely tried their best to provide the security and love that should characterize every childhood.

    The most important thing is that you have the support to deal with what you have gone through. If you have a friend or partner who you know can lend a supportive ear, talk to them about it. And don’t forget, Nacoa is always here for you too.

    All the very best for the future.

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