I know what it's like to live with an alcoholic parent. My dad was one. We lived with his mercurial moods, which changed daily depending on how much he'd had to drink. Alcohol turned the intelligent, kind, patient person I knew as my dad into a loud, belligerent ogre. The effect was that by my teenage years my view of life was distorted. I had deep feelings of inferiority, shame, and worthlessness. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I felt it wasn't good enough.
Today, some years later, all of those negative feelings are gone. They have been replaced with a lasting inner peace, a love, and a confidence. While I continue to strive for excellence in what I do, my efforts to succeed are not distorted. I undertake them with joy-with a sincere desire to show through my living that God is good. What caused these changes? Prayer. I was healed by gaining a spiritual understanding of God through the study of Christian Science. I'll tell you how.
Although my parents were not Christian Scientists, I attended Sunday School at a Christian Science church. That one hour each Sunday was often the only peace I felt in my life. I learned there that God loves us all. I often read Christ Jesus' teachings in the Bible. Jesus healed sinful, sick, and dying people. His healings resulted from the action of the laws of God. These laws were discovered in 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy, who named them Christian Science. In Sunday School I learned how to relate these spiritual laws to my situation, which included gaining a new view of both my dad and me.
In order to be free of the problems I was facing, I needed to have a God-based way of thinking. I began by reasoning that God is Spirit, as the Bible shows. Each of us is the image and likeness of God. Therefore, we are spiritual. Because of this, we are good. We are not trapped in bad conditions. My pity for my dad gave way to a deeper love for him that recognized him as created by God and as under God's control. I turned away from the sad concept of him as stuck in a helpless, uncontrollable situation. These words from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy explain why I could do that: "Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth" (p. 14).
I realized I didn't need to suffer from a sorrowful past. Prayer based on spiritual law includes stopping the mental rehearsing of unhappy past events. Knowing that the love that comes from God never changes brought me hope. We are maintained by God. Our true identity is always perfect. We express God only in good ways.
I also had to deal with feelings that I had missed out on something. When others spoke of a happy childhood, I sometimes felt lost and sad. But prayer healed that, too. I found assurance that God can "restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten," as the book of Joel in the Bible says (2:25). How can God restore something lost? By showing us the fact that nothing good can be lost. Infinity cannot be stopped, and God is infinite. Good is without beginning or end. I continued to learn that I am the image of God. I kept remembering that God is good and is All. I kept rejecting the thoughts of an addicted dad, a victim or victimizer, or a tarnished childhood.
Praying like this, I began to feel whole, satisfied, joyous, at peace. It was a gradual change, but it came. Now I have memories of the happy aspects of my childhood. Now I feel only love for my dad. I have fondness for the good times and the lessons learned. When I meet people unaware of my growing-up years, they often comment on my joy, hope, and confidence. They even say I must have had a quiet childhood, protected from the harshness of the world.
You, too, can be free of haunting thoughts, sad remembrances, and bad character traits you think might have resulted from having an alcoholic or abusive parent or guardian. You can expect to find lasting joy and a sense of worth through understanding God's love.