How Do I Know I’m a Perfect Daughter?

Dr. Robert J. Ackerman (http://www.counselormagazine.com/editor-Counselor-Magazine.aspx) told me so in his book Perfect Daughters. He cited oodles of corroborators; and for the first time in my life, I did not have to defend myself to myself for being a perfectionist. I did not feel abnormal anymore for striving to make everyone’s world perfect, for I realized that is what many a daughter of an alcoholic father normally does.

Then I reached deep inside myself and took out the little girl who tried to please everyone, who blamed herself if something went wrong, who always took care of others first, who suppressed her needs. And I cried for her and over her when I was seventy years old. Yes, it is never too late for healing.

I was writing my own book, Before the Door Closes: A Daughter’s Journey with Her Alcoholic Father, when I first read Perfect Daughters and had my catharsis. I had read other books on codependency throughout the years, but none had touched me like Dr. Ackerman’s. Maybe because, as he reveals, he, too, is the child of an alcoholic. Regardless, his heart had reached mine; and I wrote to Dr. Ackerman, asking him to read my manuscript. His subsequent endorsement appears on the back cover of my book.
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Anger Angle

“Were you angry at your father?” the woman asked during the book discussion of Before the Door Closes: A Daughter’s Journey with Her Alcoholic Father.

“No,” I unreservedly replied.

“But he beat your mother,” she whispered as if it were still a secret.

“I hated it and I felt sorry for her. But that wasn’t my father,” I explained. “My real father didn’t do that.”

Later I realized all my life I used a defense mechanism for my father’s alcoholic behavior that my mother had expertly polished: compartmentalization. A scene from my book reveals her dichotomy.

“Our arms entwined, I reflected that for most of my life I had wondered if Daddy ever told Mama he loved her. There were so many years he had abused her physically, mentally, and emotionally. Through it all my mother persevered. She had found her way to cope.

“Mama once told me as she looked through the window at my father staggering to the front door, ‘He is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.’

“That’s how she mentally sectioned her life. If Daddy was drunk, he was Mr. Hyde, embodying all that was wrong, evil, sinful. If Daddy was sober, he was Dr. Jekyll, goodness and peace and healing. While hating Mr. Hyde, Mama knew at the end of her endurance, he would metamorphose again into Dr. Jekyll.”
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Secret Shame Exposed!

The time had come to expose the family’s secret shame. Daddy is an alcoholic. Although he is now dead, I never stop thinking, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Probably because I am so much like my father (minus the alcoholism), I never do anything halfway. So I proclaimed the truth to the entire world in my book, Before the Door Closes: A Daughter’s Journey with Her Alcoholic Father.