So last week I wrapped up the fall 2017 session of ACOA 101 – my online course exclusively for Adult Children of Alcoholics.
During our last Facebook live session, we discussed some of the mindset shifts that support recovery.
And one of the shifts we talked about was the importance of giving ourselves credit. Credit for what we’ve been through and what we’re going through. Credit for all of the obstacles and challenges placed on our paths that we didn’t have the skills or experience to deal with but somehow we figured it out and got through it.
Bottom line is this, although we spend a lot of time focusing on our challenges, we can’t forget that there’s also plenty to give ourselves credit for.
Thinking about this idea made me realize how little we discuss our successes. In our collective communities we rarely hear about the people who’ve made it out. The people who broke through the thick chain of dysfunction to go on and live healthy and happy lives.
Personally speaking, I know when I’m feeling even just a little bit hopeless or defeated it helps to be reminded of the people who’ve gone before me who’ve made it to the other side.
You work hard for your recovery and it’s nice to be reminded, through the success stories of others, that your hard work is all worth it.
In today’s post you’re going to meet 10 people who’ve turned their lives into incredible success stories despite growing up in dysfunctional, abusive homes with parents who struggled with drug and alcohol addictions.
You’ll probably be familiar with most of the people mentioned, but you may not be aware of what they had to go through to get to where they are today.
Now, just because the people on this list are famous in some way doesn’t mean that the accomplishments of every day people, like you and me, aren’t just as important.
That’s why I want to hear from you.
After you’re done reading, scroll down to the comment section, and share at least 1 success you’ve experienced in recovery. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is.
By sharing your success, not only will you be able to see your progress but someone else may read what you wrote and be inspired.
Leave your success story in the comment section.
Remember, your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
As always, thanks for reading and sharing.
Until next Tuesday,
P.S. Here in the States we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving this Thursday. If you’re celebrating, have a happy one. I’ll be hosting dinner at my apartment this year for the first time. I’m a little nervous but as long as something ends up on the table that’s edible I’ll be happy. Wish me luck!
#1 Halle Berry
In a 2013 interview with the Daily Mail, Halle Berry admitted that she’d been in therapy for over 30 years because of her alcoholic abusive father.
During a speech at the Unite For Humanity gala in 2015, Halle revealed that she watched her father beat her mother day after day,
“I saw my mother battered, and could not do anything to stop it. My father was tyrannical, lashing out at her for no reason. I felt the effects that had on our family.”
I’ve never met Halle and chances are I never will but from what she’s shared I already know that we, sadly, have too much in common.
Regardless of these setbacks, Halle went on to become one of the most recognizable, not to mention gorgeous, women of Hollywood. Her list of accomplishments includes winning an Academy Award for her role in the movie Monster’s Ball in 2002.
You don’t have to go on to win an Academy Award in order to be a successful someone in recovery. You determine what success looks like for you and then you go after it – despite the challenges you have faced in life.
#2 Nicki Minaj
To be honest, I didn’t like Nicki Minaj when she first popped up on the music scene. But later, as I learned about her traumatic childhood, my view changed dramatically.
She also lived through a dysfunctional childhood, ruled by an abusive crack addict father who drove her to fear for her mother’s life,
“All of my young and teenage early years we lived in fear that my mother would be killed by my father. It was ridiculous… It was very tough emotionally for me to have a parent who was an alcoholic and a drug addict… My father was violent – physically and verbally.”
Oddly enough, Nicki credits her painful childhood experiences for helping her become the tough and self-confident woman that she is today.
Now, I’m sure, away from the glare of the public eye, Nicki has her issues but you can’t help but admire someone who sees the positive in a situation that was so terribly wrong, not to mention life threatening.
If she can, so can you.
#3 Tyler Perry
In this clip, actor, television and theatre director, film and television producer Tyler Perry gave an incredibly moving account of his relationship with his father.
From a young age, Tyler experienced extreme abuse from his father. As he described it, his father despised him and Tyler was too young to understand why.
If you want to hear more about his childhood, watch this clip here. I will warn you though that it’s triggering. If you lived through physical abuse as a kid this clip will be hard to watch.
Anyway, Tyler went on to have massive success in film, television and theatre. Even if you’ve never seen one of his movies, you’ve probably heard of Madea. The batty, old woman, played by Tyler, in many of the movies he’s created over the years.
There’s no doubt that Tyler Perry has experienced great physical, emotional and mental pain. But despite it all, or because of it, he’s created a life that he can be proud of.
Like many who’ve walked the path before him, he’s didn’t let the negative keep him from creating the positive.
#4 Chevy Chase
I didn’t grow up in the Chevy Chase era but I’ve watched Caddy Shack more times than I can count and have watched the Griswalds vacation all over the world.
Given Chevy’s comedic background I was shocked when I learned that he was abused by his mother and stepfather.
In his 2007 biography, I’m Chevy Chase You’re Not Chevy described the abuse,
“I lived in fear all the time, deathly fear,” Chevy recalls. He remembers being awakened in the middle of the night and slapped, continually and hard, across the face. “I don’t remember what it was for, or what I had done.” This was not unusual. Being locked in the bedroom closet for hours was also a standard punishment in the household.”
It’s a crazy thought to think but I know for myself, I see these accomplished people and I almost automatically put them on a pedestal. I imagine that there’s absolutely nothing that I would ever have in common with them. But when I read these stories and learn of the abuse and addiction they grew up with, I can’t help but feel connected in some small way.
I may not be able to relate to their level of success but when I hear their stories, I know the pain and the fear they talk about.
And if you’ve been there, I know you do too.
#5 Jeannette Walls
From a young age Jeannette and her siblings lived liked vagabonds. For years they dwelled in squalor, without running water, food or clean clothes.
Jeannette’s father, a classic alcoholic, used what little money they had to support his habit which gave the cycle of dysfunction a cozy place to call home.
Although recalling her childhood was painful, as an adult, Jeannette funneled her misfortune into her New York Times Best Selling memoir – The Glass Castle. Jeannette’s success has since captured the attention of Hollywood and in August of 2017 her story made it to the big screen.
If you haven’t yet read her memoir, I highly suggest you do. Once you understand her story and the circumstances Jeannette had to overcome, you’ll see why her success is nothing short of a miracle.
#6 Dorothy Allison
Like Jeannette Walls, author Dorothy Allison used her greatest misfortune to write her semi-autobiographical novel, Bastard Out Of Carolina.
Dorothy’s story is ripe with neglect, abuse, manipulation and abandonment. In 1996, her story was also adapted into a film that was directed by Angelica Houston.
You can watch the movie for free on You Tube. But I’d recommend that you read the book. It’s one that I not only could relate to on so many levels but also one that I’ll never be able to forget.
#7 George Orwell
Typically when you think of author George Orwell his books 1984 and Animal Farm quickly come to mind.
By Orwell was also neglected and abused as a child. Statistically speaking, given his childhood, becoming one of the most iconic novelists of all time wouldn’t be considered a likely life outcome. But despite it all, he did.
#8 Ludwig Van Beethoven
When I studied music I lived, breathed and dreamed about Beethoven. He was a central figure in my education simply because he was a musical genius.
Never would I have ever thought that Beethoven, given his musical reputation, experienced abuse as a child. But it turns out he did.
I can’t tell you whether or not the trauma he experienced inspired his musical creations but I wouldn’t be the tiniest bit surprised if it did.
#9 Charlize Theron
I’ve mentioned Charlize Theron’s story here before on growingupchaotic.com but it’s so incredible it’s worth repeating here.
Charlize was only 15 years old when her alcoholic abusive father stumbled home from the bar one night, with a shotgun in his hand dead set on killing both Charlize and her mother.
After he made one shot through their bedroom door, Charlize’s mother grabbed her own gun and killed her husband.
Traumatic can’t even begin to describe what they experienced that night.
Years later, Charlize would go on to win an Academy Award for playing serial killer Aileen Wournos in the movie Monster.
Rihanna’s father Ronald has battled a crack cocaine and alcohol addiction for most of her life.
Despite their rocky relationship, Rihanna, a multiple Grammy award winning artist, has paid for her father’s rehab program in Malibu and according to the dailymail.com, at one time, she even flew him out to LA, every three months, for mandatory urine tests.
Through the years, Rihanna has brought her father along to many star studded events but unfortunately he gets kicked out for hitting the bottle too hard.
I think Rihanna’s situation is a classic one. Given her money and status she’s clearly swapped places with her father. She’s the adult and he’s the child that needs constant rescuing.