I Have a Childhood of Blackouts

Memory lights the corner of my mind


Not so much.

I  was a Professional Drinker.

I could drink anyone under the table and walk away totally unscathed:

no blackouts.

no slurring of words.

no vomiting.

no hangover.

Yep. I followed in the Family Tradition;

I wore my alcoholism well.

I was what we call in my family;

 “A Professional.”

Now, I have the memories of my years drinking and drugging

 which made my 4th step easy.

**Did I just say that? My 4th step was ‘easy’?

Like Hell it was!

It took me well over a year to finish

and being a classic Type A Over Achiever I worked on that puppy

every    single     day.

  Being a Professional meant I remembered  an awful lot.


 I do remember my drinking days;



I DO have black outs.

I have a childhood of blackout.

My first memories pre therapy begin in the middle of 5th grade.

Being an Adult Child Of Alcoholics,

I did not know that this was at all unusual until I moved out at 17 to go to college.

It was there that I met ‘normal’ people

and heard their clearly adorable stories about childhood hijinks.


Where were my Hijinks?

Was I a nutty, kooky kid playing ding-dong ditch?

Did I make prank calls?

Did I have a blow up pool,

a backyard,

a swing set,

Who knew?

Not me.

Not me.

I DO have blackouts.

I have almost a decade of blackout.

I learned, with help, that my blackouts

were a God send.

My subconscious was protecting me.

My subconscious was looking out for me

even if my parents were not.

I did not remember my childhood.

Nope. I did not;

and it is sketchy still.

What I have now

are memories that came after

visiting family homes

and talking to family members


looking up hospital records.

What I have now may not be pretty

But thank God I was protected from it for so long.

God shows up.

God shows up in very unusual ways.

I am grateful for that.

Memory lights the corner of my mind.

Not so much.

That is OK.

That is probably best anyway.


Peace, Jen


“Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember”

lyrics by

Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman


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~ by Step On a Crack on March 2, 2012.

24 Responses to “I Have a Childhood of Blackouts”

  1. Beautiful honesty. thanks for sharing


    • Honesty is what heals. I really believe that family secrecy is what perpetuates the problems in any sort of dysfunctional family system. It is sometimes a tricky balance but honesty should always win out.

      Thank you very much for being here.



  2. Jen, you are AMAZING. I have read & re read this post, in fact, I type whilst still digesting what you have written & the reality is, I have no words to describe the imprint you have made on my being. I can only reach for the tissue box & tell you how proud I am of you, Is it strange to tell someone you have never met, how proud you feel of their achievement after so many years of adversity & a lost childhood? Absolutely not. You have achieved what so many people believe to be insurmountable, your strength & courage is living testament & deserves a ‘I am PROUD of you’ moment from a humbled blogger. xox


    • OK You.

      I just don’t know what to say.

      I have been mulling over what you have written here. I have been sitting with it and I have to say that YOU telling ME you are proud of me…


      I am so deeply touched by those words.

      I think I wanted to hear those very words from my mother.
      I think I was waiting for that. And here you are…

      Filling a hole that has not healed.

      I am just going to sit with this for a very long time.

      I am.

      I am.

      Deep pools of Gratitude to you my Friend.

      XO Jen


      • Jen, really there is absolutely no requirement for gratitude, I was & am deeply moved by your words. My life growing up was a breeze by comparison. I wrote what I did because I AM 100% proud of you, words which do not floweth from my lips freely. To hear that your mother was unable to tell you or even whisper in your ear that she was proud of you, sends a chill down my spine. But please know I am sorry a thousand times over, if I opened up an old wound.

        I shall say tataaar for now, my lovely friend, a connection made through words alone. xox


      • My Friend,

        A.) I love your way with words.

        B.) You can say anything you want. The wounds are not so much open as peeking out a bit to get a lay of the land now that my mother is dead. It is GOOD to air out our owies from time to time. I sure as hell would not be writing this blog if I was not ready to air my wounds. Right?

        C.) I am Grateful to you and your words and your heart…..

        XO Jen


  3. Oh Jen – As sad as this is, and it is terribly sad, I realize that having memories might be sadder still.
    I agree. I think not remembering is a God designed defense mechanism to protect our fragile souls.
    I may be a bit of an island with this philosophy, but I also think that sometimes forgetting what we do remember is a gift as well.
    Not everything requires jousting. Some things do. Some simply need to slip away into the darkness. I don’t think every corner requires illumination. I do believe, if light is needed, God in His grace will pack the sleeping bags and box lunches and stay until the light breaks through and it’s safe again.
    Much love and peace to you,


    • Dear Debbie,

      I love this. thank you. again.

      “not everything requires jousting”

      Indeed. In therapy, I reached a point where my therapist and I talked about this exact point (only not as eloquently…) At what point do I stop trying to remember? At what point do I just accept that there are things that were dark enough to stay hidden and leave them be?

      I found what was easily found and decided to leave the rest to the dark. You are right: if I am to know, then God will light the way.

      Seems it so often comes down to acceptance. Dark is Dark

      I will wait for the light.

      I will LIVE in the light I do have which is more than ample for my Walk.

      You are a very Wise Woman with a very Large Heart.

      Love, Jen


  4. Hi sweetness! If i hadn’t READ the words, i’d think we were having a conversation. You write like you speak sometimes. I love it! So honest, and so STRAIGHT SHOOTING. I’m thankful for your blackouts to the degree that it protected my sweet, swirling Jen.

    I remember when we first met in college. You were so pretty and wide-eyed. I think it was in S’s dorm room. So friendly and wanting to be friends and do things: ANYTHING. I could tell back then that you weren’t a member of the HAPPY CLAMS. No hopscotch, no charades, just anxious to find some human kindness. I knew i’d found a lifelong friend.

    I am here to testify, you did a wonderful job of taking care of Andrea. She loved you so, and still does. The blessing here is that you and Andrea will forever be bonded at the hip.

    You better start gaining weight, make room for more bonding to your hip, hipster you! LOVE MEL


    • Hey there my Buddy!

      Mel you sweetie! I remember that dorm room, I can see you and it takes me back to happy times when you and I were becoming what we are today: Friends and Soul Warrior Sisters! I saw the same thing in you my Love and there we go: connection.

      You are gonna make me cry! I love Andrea so much (did you hear that Art?) She has been a blessing in my life since the moment she was born. We are bonded.

      so are you and I my Friend. So are we….




  5. Jen- You’re so right. God shows up. He does. I’m very glad you were willing to see it when He did. That’s a gift, too.

    This is so sad, yet as always, you tuck the hope inside the story and we leave knowing you are courageous enough to survive… Thank God!

    What an example you are setting for all of us.


    • Dear Heidi!

      I am very fortunate to have found an amazing therapist in my 20’s who helped me frame this in a way that makes 100% sense. The truth is, growing up I did not know how messed up things were; not really. There is Grace in that. I truly believe that God worked through my subconscious to help me save my own life. THAT informs my Faith and THAT is a miracle!

      XO Jen


  6. Reading this I was waiting. Waiting to see where it was going and thinking I might know, a bit. Yes, I do believe there are things not knowing, not remembering are for our best. And I, too, believe it’s God who knows our best and am ever so thankful you see it as his protection. I believe that with all my heart. Love and thanks to you for your clear vision and sharing what you have and are learning. You are growing in front of our eyes 😀


    • Debby,

      I am growing and I am growing with your help and inspiration. I am not kidding. Your walk is informing my own. I am deeply inspired by the work you do and the way you live your life.

      BTW I hope you are holding up. You are in my thoughts and prayers all the time…

      God does work is mysterious ways. Sometimes that seems like such a trite saying; but it is just plain true.

      XO Jen


  7. hey Jen, you know I relate. Thankfully, your KID #! WILL have great memories of childhood. OK, and some not so good too. But you will always be there for him, and THAT is what a child needs.


    • Hey there YOU!

      I KNEW this would resonate and I am sorry it does. Damn.

      Yep. Out kids. Our Kids will have a different past to look back on. Man! Is that a blessing or what?
      Even with the random deep yucky stuff, they have us and we are present.

      You hit the nail on the head…

      as usual.

      XO Jen


  8. Your Higher Power is giving you memories in proper doses because Truth comes with a lot of Proof! It’s helped you make the shift from professional drinker to professional thinker!


  9. Hi Jen,

    As you know, I am newer to blogging and have been juggling full time work, setting up my own blog and … welll…. getting sober and still living. THerefore I havent had a chance to read other peoples blogs as much as I want to, and will. However I just read this and now I know why I am shying away from reading blogs. Because it cuts to the bone, and I am already raw and exposed.

    Thank you for this. It was beautiful and so, so true. Children of Alcoholics are always different – we may be alcoholics in our own right, but we are also different due to our childhood experiences.

    I am so sorry about your mother – it is your families stories that need to be heard because they are the “bottoms” and the ‘not yets”.

    I really was thinking of having a drink tonight, and it was only the thought of your support, Imnotshe and a few other people that have been encouraging me that I worked to distract myself.

    Reading your story about your mother and that you have done the steps, also reminded me that my bottom does not have to go lower.

    Thank you.




  10. I have read this several times, over the last few days. Childhood blackouts. Is that common? My mother was an alcoholic too. Neither of us have a childhood prior to eleven. I’ve been trying to piece it together, without the words of someone who is trying to put stories in my head. There is something ugly in there, because is rattles the cage when it stirs. I still walk through my childhood house, but it’s changed so much since I lived there. I don’t really remember. I know that my food never slips on any of the stairs, they are ingrained in my memory in the way that they feel and just the height that they are.

    I am so happy that you have reclaimed some and resolved the rest. I feel like I am on a journey with you. Thank you for sharing this.


  11. I agree with Debbie that some things “need to simply slip away in the darkness.” It takes courage to face what is remembered and courage to let what we can’t pull to consciousness slip away. You have both! Your steady, purposeful walk is inspirational! Blessings for continued walking. ~ Paulann


  12. […] I have a Childhood of Blackouts […]


  13. Dear Jen.

    Is it ok to be addicted to a blog? To a person I have never met????


    Keep writing and I will keep coming back.



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