Childhood sexual abuse, addiction and more

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    There’s a lot to cover here, so I’ll try my best to make this about the root causes (as I see them) without a laundry list of grievances and bad decisions.

    I was born very premature with many complications during delivery, which made me a very weak, sickly and underdeveloped baby. These complications put a lot

    of stress on my parents, and they turned to my grand parents for support and financial assistance. It was provided, but there was a cost…

    From the age of 5, until my parents divorced when I was 10, we visited my grandparents every weekend. My parents & younger brother slept in the living room,

    my grandmother slept alone in the master bedroom, and my older brother and I slept in the guest room with my grandfather. My older brother slept in a small

    bed in the corner… And I slept with grandpa. He molested me. Every Friday and Saturday for 5 years. Because I was the weakest, and was the cause of all the

    family stress. Even writing this I’m hard pressed to believe it. No, it wasn’t violent or physically damaging to me, there was no blood or screaming. It was

    just something that happened. No discussion, no concern about whether I was upset by it or even whether it bothered me. It just… was. My grandmother always

    treated me with disgust and scorn (I could never understand why at the time), and often let me know she hated me.

    Although she never admitted it, I believe my mother finally had enough and divorced my dad, then moved herself and us 3 brothers out of state to where she

    grew up. Same thing; no mention of it, just uprooted all of us, to a completely different part of the country (from a large midwestern city to a very rural

    area in Wyoming). One day I asked my mom if I was the reason for the divorce, she said I was the issue her and my father argued the most about. Nothing more

    than that.

    I also inherited a really bad case of alcoholism from my father’s side (my grandfather eventually died from it), and I learned how to drink alcoholically

    ‘out there’ in rural cattle country. An outsider, a poor student, easily confused, intimidated and manipulated. I suffered bullying to the degree that at one

    point a group of local boys tried to kill me just for being so ‘weird’ and different (fortunately a grownup happened by before anything happened).

    Alcohol became very important to me, right away. I got into a lot of trouble because of it, & by the end of High School it was decided I should move back

    with my father, get a job at his company and NOT buy or use a car… Everyone was afraid I’d end up killing myself or someone else… So I did.

    I worked for a few years, my drinking got worse, I used some drugs but didn’t really care about them. Mostly I worked and drank. I had a short term

    relationship with a girl who gave me my first experience with sex (with a girl). I was so grateful I overlooked the fact that neither of us was ready for any

    of that. It ended. I kept drinking, tried to be promiscuous (this was the early 1980’s and no one thought that much of any of this), and experimented with

    gay sex\lifestyle for a little while. I still lived with my father, and even tried to sober up for awhile. The company sent me to treatment, and I got in

    another relationship after that. My parents decided it was time to quit the job & go to school, so I did. I moved in with ‘Janey’, got a part time job and

    went to school. She got wrapped up in her career, lost interest in sex because she gained some weight (I’ve always liked curvy women, so I often told her she

    was attractive to me…) I started drinking again, my grades were not so good (as usual), but I did meet my future wife my sophomore year.

    After I moved out on my own & broke up with ‘Janey’, ‘Gina’ and I stuck together like glue all through school. I was still promiscuous and ‘experimental’,

    but kept that very secret from ‘Gina’. We worked another year after graduation and then got married. My drinking was a lot more controlled then, I really

    wanted to be a good husband and a good man. I’d been through so much, I felt a little proud that I managed to graduate from college, meet someone I really

    loved, get married and start a life. After a few years, my drinking spiraled out of control again, and I got arrested for DUI. That did it… I threw myself

    into AA the next day, told my wife I had a problem & needed help and I meant business. I stayed sober for 11 years. Those were the best years of my life. The

    only thing in the way was my wife having an issue with me giving so much time and attention to the program, when she had needs too… That might not have

    been such a problem if she’d gotten into Al-Anon, but who knows. Anyway, I began to enjoy life a lot, and even started thinking I had some worth to myself

    and others. You might not believe this, but growing up the way I did can really cause a person to have a hard time caring for or valuing him/herself.

    I’m going to stop for a minute here and point out that I’ve left out a TON of pretty awful stuff I went through, a lot of profoundly bad choices I made, and

    a lifetime of shame, fear & distrust of all other people. I guess you can imagine.

    But my saving grace was\is that I’m not a complete idiot, and I deeply want to be loved and cared about. I’ve always known this, and when I sobered up I fell

    in with some pretty good people. They got me involved and I loved it. I felt valuable for the first time ever. I got loads of positive attention and had a

    lot of fun. I especially got attention from younger single women (I was in my 30’s, but most of the women in the program around my area were at or below that

    age). I didn’t have any affairs with any of them, but I let the attention puff up my ego, and since I never bonded with men anyway it was easy be comfortable

    and open with them. My wife didn’t get jealous at first, but after a while she started resenting me and AA (and the women hanging around me). Nothing like

    this had ever been part of my life before, and I didn’t know how to handle it, but I at least made it known to everyone that I loved my wife, and would not

    be unfaithful. Ironically, that just brought more positive attention. It was like a drug! As long as I only had sex with my wife, I could still feed on all

    this attention and still be ‘a good husband’.

    Needless to say, I didn’t maintain any ‘spiritual fitness’ and my whole program centered on the social aspects of AA life. Still, I didn’t pickup a drink for

    a long time. Looking back, I can see that this was probably due to the fact that nothing really difficult was happening in my life. Until I was sober for

    about 10 years, and around my 13th year of marriage…

    Long story short; I got laid off several times in rapid succession, had enough and switched careers, my mother died, I got hurt on the job and my wife had

    been on the pill this whole time (btw, we never had children, I’ve never been a father), and I got scared for her health. I insisted on getting a vasectomy

    so she could go off the pill. As always, she didn’t even want to talk about why she never wanted kids, and I never felt that strongly about it so I got fixed

    (again, a lot more here than I’m writing but I can’t expect anyone to read this whole thing if I don’t try to excercise some brevity).

    Once again, sex became something I wanted but couldn’t get much of without being a pest (never saw her POV in all this, typical self-centered alcoholic!).
    Still refused to be unfaithful (more of an ego thing at this point than real love and honor for my wife I guess)… Wow, reading this back to myself is so

    Last long story short, I relapsed in 2001, kept trying to ‘get back on the wagon’, lost everything (marriage, home, several jobs, money, standing, self

    respect, health, etc.). I’ve been suicidal, totally lacking in self care and until seven months ago a daily blackout drunk.

    If you got this far, my question is; how do I move on from this? I don’t see any hope for another relationship (or even any reason to deserve one), so should

    I just accept that I gave it my best shot and blew it? I’m sober again, working the steps with a sponsor and feel a little of the good sense of self again.

    Should I just be grateful for that and focus on being useful? The loneliness gets worse every day… But I feel like I just don’t have what it takes to be

    worthwhile to someone in a long term relationship. What do you all think?

    SS Moderator
    SS Moderator

    You’ve been through a lot, and the bottom line is that you are sober again and trying to cope. Not only did you suffer childhood sexual abuse, but also childhood emotional neglect. For more information on this please check out Dr. Jonice Webb’s website and her book “Running on Empty”. It may help explain why you’ve had difficulty with relationships. With long-standing  deeply ingrained issues like the ones you’ve described, regularly scheduled psychotherapy with an empathic psychologist, in conjunction with the AA program, will help you. Reach out for help and work on yourself for now. Rather than focusing on the loneliness, try to develop a balanced life-style which  includes both self-development and  spiritual nourishment. Being grateful and useful may help you develop meaning in life and eventually a higher sense of self-worth. When you have these, then you will feel worthwhile in a relationship.

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