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Adult Children of Alcoholic...does your childhood effect your career?

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by JVRB4 JVRB4 (New Member) New Member

JVRB4 specializes in med surg.

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You are reading page 2 of Adult Children of Alcoholic...does your childhood effect your career?. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

PostOpPrincess has 19 years experience and specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU.

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Why do we get this question periodically? Each time it is rephrased a bit but always sounds a bit demeaning. Do they teach this in one of the psych classes in nursing school now, is that why it keeps coming up? Or is it a troll question? I don't mean one troll repeating the same question over and over I mean a series of people who think they are cleverly posing a question that will stir the pot with out them being outed for their troll status? It always sounds like a put down to me. It is not that this particular person is a troll, it is just that this "nurses with alcoholic parent" thing comes up again and again. Quite a few threads on it. The first few I answered seriously but I am done talking about it.

Perhaps it is because the nature of the profession itself? I know many nurses who have very negative experiences in their past and it becomes obvious in the way they deal with their patients, the doctors--some are so unassertive, so low in their self-esteem. It is only after therapy and a build up in their self-confidence that there is a noticeable change. Some "find" themselves and leave the profession for good.

This profession seems to attract the type--perhaps ANY profession where one must "give" a lot of one's self--attracts the type. I do not think it is trolling, however. I think it is an honest to goodness truth.

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Tait has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Pain and Spine.

6 Articles; 28,106 Visitors; 2,093 Posts

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SlightlyMental_RN specializes in chemical dependency detox/psych.

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Sheesh--we also get a lot of questions on passing the NCLEX, making nursing school work while being a mother, and surviving working the night shift....if you don't want to post on a topic, no one is forcing you.

Anyway, back to the OP, good luck with your journey of self-discovery. As you are discovering, you aren't alone--many of us come from similar backgrounds.

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53,574 Visitors; 11,191 Posts

First of all my dad was not "the drunk" as so eloquently put. He was an alcoholic which we all as nurses know is a disease and that did greatly effect our family and my view of many things but he was a Good man with a big problem. He was the kind of man who would take the coat off his back and give it to the homeless man on the street with no questions asked. He tried to quit many times but the addiction was stronger than he was. He died in a rehab center trying yet again to stop. He also spent the last 3 years of his life volunteering in a soup kitchen 3 days a wk. So he was FAR MORE than "the drunk".

jvrb4, keep in mind that you solicited feedback from adult children of alcoholics.

and while we do not know if morte, who referred to your dad as a "drunk" was such a child, it may be helpful to recognize that some may not have the affectionate feelings towards their respective, alcoholic parent.

and so, when using "drunk" as a descriptor, bear in mind it may be an affected (adult) child who may be feeling resentful.

i read your thread in the 1st yr forum, and i have to tell you, your insecurity may or may not be r/t being a child of alcoholism.

the work environment you described, sounded toxic and daresay that any new nurse would leave there feeling totally destroyed.

somehow, you need to pick yourself up and move forward.

whatever happens, i do wish you the very best.

leslie

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JVRB4 specializes in med surg.

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Never said I didn't have the ability to get angry or to express it on occassion. However that was not anger. Simply stating facts so there is no misinterpretation.

As far as this having been asked so many times before, I am sorry to inconvenience anyone with a question that has already been asked. I didn't realize it had been such a topic for debate or whatever. It was not meant to irritate, put down, stir the pot or whatever I just wondered. So much for being a safe place to come to for answers/support. Of course just because someone asks the question doesn't mean you have to respond in anyway or even read the question for that matter. I guess there is something about the topic that does draw people in even if they don't want it to.

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Tait has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Pain and Spine.

6 Articles; 28,106 Visitors; 2,093 Posts

So much for being a safe place to come to for answers/support.

AllNurses.com is a very good place to come for support and I hope this thread will not dissuade you from using the site further in the future. However, just remember something as sensitive as alcoholism will yield many answers, with a myriad of life stories, experiences and levels of understanding.

It is up to you to take each comment with a grain of salt, remember that your experiences are also coloring how you interpret written statements, and then extract tidbits of valuable information...if there are any there for you.

Any online community can have a fancy site, with buttons and emoticons, but not all have a wonderful, and sometimes not so wonderful base of readers as this one, sometimes it just takes time to weed through and find the gems.

I hope you will take some time to peruse the other threads I linked via the search, maybe in there you will find someone who is in a similar situation and garner some ideas from their stories. (I offer no personal stories as I did not grow up in your situation, but wanted to offer some form of support.)

:icon_hug:

Hope to see you often and may your path become easier with time :)

Tait

Edit: Sorry I think I pretty much echoed Leslie.

Edited by Tait

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JVRB4 specializes in med surg.

2,152 Visitors; 43 Posts

Jen the RN2009 thank you for your response, kindness and compassion are things we can give for free yet we often have such a difficult time giving it to others. Crazy!

Leslie :-D thank you also for your reply, you are right. I don't know anyones hx and where their views are coming from. I know there are many who have had far worst lives than mine and we all have our own way in dealing with them. I do hope that we all (myself included) put our issues aside when talking with pts and their families. After all nursing is supposed to include compassion, caring and respect. I hope I have not offended anyone and if I have I do appologize. The original thread was not meant to hurt, offend or in any way cause a negative response.

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You could be describing me to a tee...it's funny what loving parents can do while trying to live the best way they can in their own misery. I too not only felt invisible but worked hard to be invisible in my FOO (family of origin). In nursing school, i always felt stupid and worked harder than the others forsakeing most outside activities for fear that i would hurt/kill a patient because i chose to 'relax' or go to a family function rather than study. I then met and married a man that was an addict although i didn't know it at the time. I spent the next 20 years of my life doing as your mother did "fixing' all the trauma/trouble that he caused and essentially took on all the blame for what he did. (Yes, addicts are very manipulative). I, however, stayed with nursing but graduated later in life than you. I still stayed invisible and worked quietly in the background for many years until the trauma of living with a drug addict got to be too much. It wasn't until after my divorce, when I no longer had the luxury (or demand by my husband) to not work or to quit yet another job (for multiple reasons) that my nursing career really began to soar. I stayed at one job, making many new friends and learned sooo much about teamwork and helping each other through another shift and be a real advocate for my patients and essentially, come to love nursing all over again. I even decided to make 'my light shine'! Yes, I decided to become seen...to become 'uninvisible'...to fight not only for my family and patients but to fight for myself. I also learned that you can't know everything, nobody can or does, that is why we help each other. We are human. You have to really start to listen to all of the old recordings in your head, you know, the stuff your parents said to you. The stuff they said to each other. The way you lived. The secrets you had to keep. And then you have to challenge those thoughts...those feelings...and even all of those experiences. After my mother passed, on the day of her funeral, all of us kids had a chance to speak. I was so completely amazed at what the others had to say...the life that they spoke about was completely foreign to me! And we lived in the same house! When you don't question what you have been told or what you have seen, you may have the wrong information. Do you know what I mean? For example, I was a DON at work when I got the call to rush to the ICU that 'mom was dying'. As I left my office and was quickly walking to tell the Admin that I had to leave, a nurse spoke to me but as I was holding back tears with my throat all choked up, I just waved her on and said I couldn't talk now. She assumed that I was 'too good for her and told others that I wouldn't even say hello'. She did not know of the news I had just received, nor did I tell her. So much of what we went through as children is like that, not to mention how our parents 'impaired judgement' affected us. So yes, go back and challenge your past. Challenge the accuracy of it. Talk to your family in a noncomfrontational way. Find your way into the light.

I think that my staying in nursing especially as an advocate (I have always faught for the underdog) it helped me to fight for me as well. Try it again, you have much to give. You're life has given you a precious and valuable gift that you can use to help your patience. And then help yourself as well!

I wish you luck, keep talking.

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Indy has 5 years experience as a LPN and specializes in ICU, telemetry, LTAC.

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Hm. Well my mother's parents raised me until I was nine, and they were both alcoholics. That was a seriously strange way to grow up. Kahlua in the milk bottles was how toddlers got their naps in that household. I still love my kahlua. I got a sense of improvising things that I knew were necessary from that time... I did not go hungry, I learned to wash clothes, look after my own hygiene, etc. Also, I did not entirely realize that it was not the way things were supposed to be.

My mother became my guardian after her parents died and immediately began the work of trying to force me to behave like a normal kid in a two-parent, responsible household. Wow. I'm supposed to suddenly wait on someone to cook me dinner instead of eating a pickle sandwich? Why?

So my mom and I are both children of alcoholics, and we are/were both nurses. My cousin who spent a large chunk of her childhood with me in my world, has almost got my parallel life, with similar problems and she's now going through nursing school as well. Our paths aren't exactly the same though, and the way we deal with situations is quite different. I go vent, I fuss and fume, I get an attitude, then I get over myself when others treat me badly, and I can't confront subordinates about their lack of work to save my life. It feels like I will make them cry if I do, so I don't. My mother, on the other hand, took all her abuse from her husband, and passed it right on to me without so much as an eyeblink, then forgets she ever did anything wrong. The one time she got defiant with her ex, with a knife, she lost her gumption and nearly wound up stabbing me.

The thing I hear most from people who have heard some of my background is "well you seem really well-adjusted" or some variant of that idea. I don't think children should be forced to make those kinds of adjustments. It is, I guess, fortunate that I'm able to function. I have known several nurses who had similar childhood issues, but most people recovering from such trauma do not publicize it. In psych quarter of nursing school we had to attend both an AA meeting, and an Al-anon meeting in our clinicals. The al-anon meeting brought me to my knees inside and I recommend that type of "therapy" for anyone coming from an alcoholic family, whether it's something they deal with now or something that's from long ago.

Ok ramble mode off now. No idea where this was going.

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cariboujenny has 2 years experience and specializes in LTC.

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You certainly rose about your "raising." Give yourself credit for your hard work and determination to reach your life's goals. Use your own internal compass as your guide to determine that you are "good enough"--not your father's standard. Blessings as you work toward contentment and comfort to accept just as you are!

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TheCommuter has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 316,240 Visitors; 27,607 Posts

I, too, grew up with an alcoholic father. Since I was the only child of my parents, there was no way that I could possibly be invisible in the household.

When he was drunk, my father had the tendency to take his personal problems out on me. He would start yelling at me, hurling insults, making threats, and pointing out my supposed inadequacies when there was some alcohol in his system. His behavior would get even uglier if he had been laid off from work or if I failed to do something such as clean my room. My mother often looked the other way and, to this very day, downplays what occurred during my upbringing.

I now live 1,400+ miles away from my parents. I love them, but I only place phone calls home to them more out of obligation than out of a true desire to talk to them. Our conversations have a very superficial feel, similar to two friendly acquaintances chatting at a bus stop or airport. My personal relationships have also been peppered with the air of superficiality because I have difficulty opening myself up to the world.

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EVERYONE is a product of their environment. In my opinion, there are NO exceptions.

A long time ago, when I was 16, my Mom and Dad were killed in a traffic accident. Having only one relative (my Dad's sister), I went from living in a suburb where you didn't even lock your door at night, to living in a downtown Chicago condo with my Aunt who was at the time Deputy Superintendent of the Chicago Police.

It was a real eye-opener. But it wasn't all bad. It certainly shaped the way I live my life even to this day. Some very good habits, and other not-so-good. It was a long time ago, but although I've never been a handsome guy, I was something of a "player", and had more G/F's than most guys. One day I fell in BIG LOVE, and after some time, got married. A marriage better than most, or was it?

Nine years later, and while our oldest child is playing in the sandbox, my wife tells me she's not in love, and wants out. I was stunned. Regardless, the marriage IS over, and I pour myself into my career. Occasional dating, but nothing serious.

Then one day, I meet THE ONE. We date pretty exclusively, but she decides it's going nowhere, and I'm history.

"This hole in my heart can only be filled by you..."

I'm not angry or even bitter, but I've resigned myself to avoidance. Now completely celibate, not only sexually, but emotionally as well. The thought NEVER crosses my mind.

A few weeks ago, a good friend who has a very busy, productive Dentistry practice comes over and we're grilling on the deck. The beers are adding up, and we're solving all the world's problems. There's a break in the conversation, and he suddenly looks upset.

"Hey...you alright?"

"I need to tell you something. I've never told ANYBODY. My wife doesn't even know."

"Go ahead Man, it's just you and me."

I'm expecting a bombshell, but it's really innocuous. Not about sex, romance, cheating, money, crime, drugs, something so uneventful that no one would probably care. The story comes spilling out, and I just let him speak his mind without interruption.

We talk some more and I think it's time to trot out my own epiphany.

"I want to tell you something...you can't tell anyone...especially not your wife."

"HAHAHA" It's just you and me!"

"My youngest daughter just got her Driver's License." She lives about two miles away.

"You poor ba5tard."

"I haven't seen or communicated with her in..."

My voice cracks.

"7 years."

My friend looks at me, mouth agape.

"Awww DLG that's incredibly F-ed up."

"I know."

I stand upwind and get the smoke from the grill square in the face. It's a good excuse for the watery eyes.

We ALL come with baggage. No extra charge. You can't change the past, you can only try to make the best of the future.

You gave your Dad a break, No?

Now it's time to look in the mirror and forgive yourself as well.

ALL (normal) parents want their children to be happy, right?

ALL (normal) parents want their children to have a better life, right?

Go get 'em, Nurse. Make your parents proud.

DLG

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