i have a hard time trusting guys

dear heather,

I don’t normally ask for help, but I need it on this particular subject. When I was younger, my dad was an alcoholic. When he was drunk, he would be mean. He would call me names, swear, yell and sometimes hit me. Now I’m thinking the reason I can’t trust any guys at all is because of my bad past. I get nervous when guys touch me or like me, because I’m scared to trust them. I don’t want them to hurt me. Any advice? I’m really stuck. And scared. Thanks a bunch.

Sounds like there was a lot of tension, chaos and unpredictability in your household when you were growing up. It also sounds like your family history is doing a number on your dating life.You are not alone. Many people who grew with an alcoholic parent (or parents) have trouble feeling comfortable in intimate relationships. They have usually had to deny their perceptions of reality. Many were constantly told that everything was okay, when it clearly wasn’t. As a result, they often have a strong need to control their environments in order to lessen the chance that they will experience such unpredictability, pain and confusion again. It’s no wonder that you are keeping relationships at bay.

It’s not surprising that you don’t normally ask for help. Children of alcoholics often have trouble with that, because many have had to fend for themselves due to of the chaos and dysfunction in the household. In many cases, family roles have actually been reversed. It is the child who has taken care of a parent–either the alcoholic parent or the other parent, who might have been overwhelmed by the situation. But I’m glad you wrote to ask for assistance.

Healing can be a lengthy process, but the good news is that you have already started by recognizing some of the ways in which your father’s behavior has affected you. I would recommend that you continue to get the help you need to heal. Talk to an adult you trust, perhaps a school counselor, who might be able to refer you to other resources. Talk to one of your parents about seeking therapy or check out the many support groups available for “Children of Alcoholics” or “Adult Children of Alcoholics.” A quick search on the Web is likely to turn up many results.

take care,

Posted in: Family, Help Me Heather