Parental Alcoholism: One Thread of the Tapestry
Effects of Parental Mental Illness: Another
When I was a child, my father seldom talked directly to me unless I had done something to make him angry. Then he yelled at me. Until I was about ten years old, I thought that mothers talked to their children and fathers did not. Only when I was I was about ten or eleven and I began to babysit in our neighborhood and observed fathers speaking lovingly and directly to their children did I realize that my perception of fathers was skewed: Many fathers actually enjoyed direct conversations with their children! What a revelation! My father required my brother and me to read at the dinner table, a requirement meant to prevent any conversation!
After my father died in August of 1962, I grieved not for the loss of what had been but for the loss of what might have been. Now, however, in the year 2011, when I think of my father, I remember his courage in recognizing his demons, in seeking help, and in using that help to change his life. I am inspired by his example at a time when I am working hard in therapy to heal the wounds of my own past.