updated 05/09/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/09/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
I am a 26-year-old who has lived through the private nightmare of having an alcoholic parent (PEOPLE, April 18). My mother celebrated her first anniversary of sobriety in January, and I thank God that I still have her here. We have done a lot of talking about the past and now we are really close. She is my best friend. Admittedly the bad dreams of my childhood still come from time to time, but they come less often, for I know now that my mom didn't hate me all those years. God bless all the celebrities who came forward to share their pain with us.
Silver Spring, Md.
My mother and her brothers and sisters were raised by an alcoholic parent who abused them physically and emotionally. Thus my own siblings and I were raised by a disillusioned woman who to this day has never been able to give or receive love. Alcoholics, don't fool yourselves into thinking that what you do is your own business. Three innocent generations of my family have been torn apart by one man's drinking. For God's sake, get help.
Being the child of an alcoholic, I know well what those celebrities have been through and are still going through. I will never forget the torment of not being able to do anything right and nothing I did was ever good enough. Being told that I was "not worth the money it would take to buy a bullet to blow my brains out" was just one of many things I have had to live with. It has taken years to realize that this is a disease, but unless they are willing to help themselves, there is not a whole lot you can do for them except sit back and watch them slowly commit suicide. I love my father deeply and forgave him a long time ago, but forgiving is one thing, forgetting is quite another.
Little or nothing is ever said about the children of the alcoholic mother and how alcohol affects their lives. My father did his best to counter her lack of interest in her children or the household. As a teenager I cared for a house and three younger sisters while also trying to lead a life of my own. When my mother wasn't "asleep," she was reminding me how I was "ugly, stupid, couldn't do anything right." The anger and lack of confidence in myself lasted until my 30s, when I attended Al-Anon and learned that I was not responsible for my mother's drinking. I am now 47, and recently someone asked me why I never married or had children. I responded without thinking, "I already did that." I had already raised three "children," run a house and a family and didn't want to do it again. I am sure my life would have been very different if my mother had not been an alcoholic.
I was 9 years old when my mother died of cirrhosis of the liver. I remember thinking, "Why?" It was so close to Mother's Day. Why did she leave? But I also remembered angry, abusive words, flying objects and her pulling my hair. I remembered slurred songs and clumsy games of jacks. There were evenings of my pouring fifths of Scotch down the drain and of undressing her (with my brother's help) and putting her to bed. For 20 years I tried to forget her and to bury all the hurt and confusion of my childhood. While that pain may never fully disappear, through therapy I've learned one especially important thing: I did not cause her to drink and I did not cause her death. Thank God for people like Rokelle Lerner and Dr. Timmen Cermak. And bless you, Suzanne Somers, for having the courage to relive your nightmare in publishing your book.
Author Judith Briles dealt only with women in management and positions of power. What women secretaries will do to each other would curl your hair. I have worked for over 20 years as a secretary, and I have had to resign two positions for the sake of my physical and mental health because of another secretary's unprovoked actions against me. These days I will work only in offices where I am either the sole woman employee or where I can work independently.
Bravo to Scott Baio's decision to advertise condoms for free. The puritanical, medieval-thinking boob at Universal who's "steamed" about Scott's decision seems to forget one thing—the very audience Scott appeals to represents the age group that is experimenting with sex now. Wake up, Universal. They are not all saying "no." If he gets the message across to one kid, I'm sure that will be pay enough for him. Thanks, Scott.
New York City
Dr. Gregory Shipman
While I am sure there are many people out there who will think of Dr. Gregory Shipman simply as a gay doctor treating a gay disease, I would like to applaud you for bringing us this story of a compassionate doctor treating his patients with respect.