Filling the void in my heart left by my father’s alcoholism

When Carol, an anonymous Al‑Anon member, came to her first Al‑Anon meeting, she had no idea that having been raised in an alcoholic home had set her on a lifelong path of unhealthy relationships. She shares what she learned in Al‑Anon that helped her break the cycle and begin to love herself.

If you’re interested in learning how growing up in a home affected by alcoholism affects people and how Al‑Anon helps, read articles by members.


This interview was recorded at the 2018 Al‑Anon International Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Members were asked to share about various aspects of the Al‑Anon program and their personal experience.

Members’ anonymity is protected so that they can share openly and honestly about their experience with a loved one’s drinking and with the Al‑Anon program.

The opinions expressed in this video were strictly those of the person who gave them.

Video Transcript

Filling the void in my heart left by my father’s alcoholism

Interviewer: Carol, you mentioned that you were attracted to alcoholics in general or men who were emotionally unavailable, could you tell us how Al‑Anon helped you recognize 1) that pattern and 2) how you were able to break it.

Carol: Well, when I first came to Al‑Anon, I didn’t have the label for the type of people that I was becoming, sort of, attracted to. And I think it was learning about the disease of alcoholism, and who and what alcoholism was, and who suffered from it, that I began to be able to put the label on, in hindsight. That by looking for people who really couldn’t be available to me, in many situations I would find a man who was married to someone else, or who was geographically distant from me and unavailable really, to be a primary support person. And so, as I longed for that primary support, I couldn’t find it. And so, what Al‑Anon helped me to do, is to recognize that the disease of alcoholism had affected me right from my…

Interviewer: Upbringing, yes.

Carol: home, growing up. And that the primary person that I would say now is an alcoholic was my father. He was unavailable to me; he didn’t have the capacity to give a child the love that I needed growing up. And so, that made it so I kept searching for that. But I kept searching for it from people who were like my dad. So, it was always that I thought he should have been able to give me love—he was my father. But that he wasn’t available to do that and so that to try and find that in the same kind of person didn’t work. And in Al‑Anon I learned that I need to understand the disease, understand how that disease drew me in, but then to use the group and the tools of Al‑Anon to actually fill the hole that needed the love, and to really start loving myself—which was something I hadn’t even had as a concept of life coming in. That, you know, where I really stumbled was not loving myself.

Interviewer: Exactly, so you re‑found yourself there.

Carol: I did. And I found that I’m a person that I can like and that’s—you know, to be able to share my story in a meeting room and be able to say to someone who hasn’t either been to Al‑Anon, or been there long, that there are people in here that have lived some of the troubles that you have and I knew as soon as I went into a room that people were telling my story. And I thought, I fit here, and these people know me, even though they don’t yet know me.

Interviewer: Thank you Carol.