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9 more things people don't tell you about loving an alcoholic.

We're all in this fight together. You are not alone.

9 more things people don't tell you about loving an alcoholic.

It seems like almost everyone has had some experience navigating the complicated waters of loving an addict.

Previously, I shared my story about growing up with an alcoholic parent. I confessed that I grew up as a child of an addict, and I shared a lot of honest and raw details about my life.


Me and my dad.

And when we shared the story with Upworthy readers, my inbox flooded with messages of people saying, “Me too.”

I couldn’t believe how many people related to my story. It’s like we gave people permission to start talking about secrets they’ve held in for years.

So I reached out to the daughters, sons, husbands, wives, and people who boldly shared their stories with me. I asked these people to share their truths — mostly unspoken before now — and to tell their stories about loving an addict.

Here's what they told me:

1. “I always felt [like] finding love outside my home would fix what was broken inside of it ... and it never did.”

Samantha told me about the time her mom tried to put a ponytail in her hair when she was in fifth grade. But her mom was too hungover to make it work. On that day, Samantha decided she didn’t need her mom anymore, and she clung to this mentality until she was 19 years old.

Instead, Samantha turned to friends and boyfriends to try to fix her broken idea of home. But they could never replace the love she needed from her mom. Samantha’s mom eventually decided to get help, but Samantha had to work through a lot of the anger she harbored toward her mom too.

Today, Samantha said: “I’ve since turned my relationship with my mom into something worth holding onto.”

2. “I’m still stuck in the ‘Don’t tell anyone’ phase.”

One reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said her family is still in the phase where they hide the dark secrets in their home. She said there’s only one place where she can talk about the truth: her diary.

As a "highly functional drunk,” her dad has held the same job for more than 45 years without anyone knowing his struggles. The disease has also been passed down, and now her siblings are racking up violations for driving while intoxicated. She desperately wants to understand how alcohol has so much power and control over her family.

3. Some people don't make it out of addiction.

I can’t give credit to just one person for sharing this devastating story because so many people shared this with me. I heard about many parents who battled for years with alcoholism and never recovered, leaving behind sons and daughters. It isn’t fair, that’s for sure.

Many of these courageous people are now trying to forgive their parents, even after they've passed away. These children are walking their own paths of recovery.

4. “I went to prison because of my addiction.”

Summer is an addict who is proud to share that she is now in recovery. At the age of 27, Summer went to prison for two and a half years after more than a decade of battling addiction. Once released, a caring probation officer helped her enter a treatment program.


Summer as a child. She started struggling with addiction when she was 14. Photo used with permission.

“I still have fears and doubts that I can make it through recovery and not relapse,” said Summer. “It’s a lifelong process that I’m learning each day.”

Summer is now a working mother, also studying to be a substance abuse counselor. New friends in recovery became family too, helping Summer find a new way of life. “They loved me until I learned to love myself.”

5. “I’m afraid that I’ll become an alcoholic and ruin my kids’ lives.”

As a 10-year-old little girl, Melissa thought her parents' drinking was all her fault. Then, she became a parent herself and felt all of the “what ifs” piling on.

Melissa said she often asks herself: “What if I drink? What if I can't control it? What if I end up making my kids feel like I used to?”

For Melissa, this is an ongoing battle. She has found support through therapy, which is helping her realize she isn’t to blame for her parents’ behaviors.

6. “My dad was an abusive alcoholic for years and it's still difficult.”

Rachel and her dad. Photo used with permission.

After years of living with an abusive alcoholic father, Rachel was left burdened with many issues. She told me she wants to find the words to explain how she feels after all these years, but it’s a struggle every day.

7. “My family’s recovery feels far away.”

“My mom is an alcoholic, but sadly is a long way from any sort of recovery,” said Dave.

Dave has loved his mother through all the difficult steps, like visiting many counselors and therapists for help. And as of today, as with many people I heard from, he says nothing has worked. He’s still waiting for the day when his mom will find her way to sobriety.

8. “I’m getting ready to marry into a family with addiction that keeps repeating itself through many generations, and it’s scary.”

Grace’s fiancé’s family struggles with generations of addiction. Her fiancé’s mother grew up with a violent alcoholic father, and Grace has had a hard time accepting how she can still love a man after he’s caused so much pain.

The disease has now been passed down to her fiancé’s immediate siblings. Grace said she’s still trying to grasp the depths of the impacts on a family for so many generations.

“We just have to try our best and accept that people will make mistakes,” said Grace.

9. “I became the recipient of my dad’s rage. For years, I felt like I was always walking on eggshells.”

Ashley’s father made numbing his pain a priority, causing Ashley to view the world through a very dark, untrusting lens. And now, although Ashley’s father has been in recovery for 10 years, she has had to come face-to-face with her own lifelong journey toward recovery too.


Ashley and her dad. Photo provided by Ashley, used with permission.

“I have to work a strong recovery program of my own so I do not continue to pass on the dysfunction and trauma to future generations of my family.”

Ashley recognizes that she learned to cope in dysfunctional ways, as she desperately fought for years for the love and approval of her father. But she says she’s bouncing back, learning to set boundaries and gain back her confidence.

The next time you think you’re alone in learning to love an addict, think again.

We’re all in this fight together. You are not alone.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
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It can be expensive to have a pet. It's possible to spend between $250 to $700 a year on food for a dog and around $120-$500 on food for a cat. But of course, most of us don't think twice about the expense: having a pet is worth it because of the company animals provide.

But for some, this expense is hard to keep up, no matter how much you adore your fur baby. And that's why Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves decided to help.

Kenneth had seen a man scraping together change in a store to buy pet food, so he offered to buy the man some extra pet food. Still, later that night he couldn't stop thinking about the experience — he worried the man wasn't just struggling to pay for pet food, but food for himself, too.

So he went home and told his wife — and immediately, they both knew they needed to do something. So, in December 2020, they converted a farm stand into a take-what-you-need, leave-what-you-can Pet Food pantry.

"A lot of people would have watched that man count out change to buy pet food. Some may have helped him out like my husband did," Jill says. "A few may have thought about it afterward. But, only someone like Kenny would turn that experience into what we have today."

"If it weren't for his generous spirit and his penchant for a plan, the pantry would never have been born," she adds.

A man with sunglasses hands a box of cat food to a woman smiling Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

At first, the couple started the pet food pantry with a couple hundred dollars of pet food they bought themselves. And to make sure people knew about the pantry, they set up a Facebook page for the pantry, then went to other Facebook groups, such as a "Buy Nothing group," and shared what they were doing.

"When we started, we weren't even sure people would use us," Jill says. "At best, we were hoping to be able to provide enough to help people get through the holidays."

But, thanks to their page and word of mouth, news spread about what they were doing, and the donations of more pet food started flooding in, too. Before long, they were coming home to stacks of food — and within a couple of months, the pantry was full.

Yellow post-it note with handwritten note that reads: "Hi, I read your story on Facebook. Here is a small donation to help. I have a 3-year-old yellow lab who I adore. I hope this helps someone in need. Merry Christmas. Meredith" Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"The pounds of food we have gone through is well, well, well into the thousands," Jill says. "The orders from our Amazon Wish List alone include several hundred pounds of dry food, a couple of hundred cases of canned food, and thousands of treats and toys. But, that does not even take into account the hundreds of drop-offs, online orders, and monetary donations we have received."

They also got many 'Thank you notes' from the people they helped.

"I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies," one note read. "My husband and I recently lost our jobs, and my husband [will] hopefully [find] a new one. We are just waiting for a call."

Another read: "I just need to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven't worked in over a month with a two-year-old at home. Dad brings in about $300/week. From the pandemic to Christmas, it has been tough. But with the help of beautiful people like you, my fur baby can now eat a little bit longer, and my heart is happy."

Jill says that she thinks the fact that the pet pantry is a farm stand helps people feel better.

A woman holding a small black dog and looking at the camera is greeted by Jill Gonsalves Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"When we first started this, someone who visited us mentioned how it made them feel good to be able to browse without feeling like they were being watched," she says. "So, it's been important to us to maintain that integrity."

Jill and Kenneth aren't sure how many people they've helped so far, but they know that their pet food pantry is doing what they hoped it would. "The pet owners who visit us, much like donations, come in ebbs and flows," Jill says. "We have some regulars who have been with us since the beginning. We also have some people that come a few times, and we never see again."

"Our hope is that they used us while they were in a tough spot, but they don't need us anymore. In a funny way, the greatest thing would be if no one needed us anymore."


Today, the Acushnet Pet Pantry is still going strong, but its stock is running low. If you want to help out, visit their Facebook page for updates and to find ways to donate.

"Toy Story 2" got deleted and backups weren't working. Whoops.

A newborn baby saving an entire animated film production from unprecedented disaster? Sounds a bit like the plot of a Pixar short, doesn't it?

Something (sort of) like that actually did happen during the making of "Toy Story 2." (There are a several retellings of the story out there, from an in-depth interview on The Next Web to the simplified, animated version in the "Toy Story 2" extras shown below.)

Here's a basic rundown of what happened:

The film was well underway when an unnamed Pixar employee who was trying to delete unneeded files accidentally applied the "remove" command to the root files of the film. Suddenly, things started disappearing. Woody's hat. Then his boots. Then Woody himself.

Pixar folks watched characters and sequences disappear in front of their eyes. Obviously, this was … not good.

Oren Jacob, the associate technical director of the film, got on the horn to the systems crew with a panicked "Pull the plug!" They did. Were they able to stop the bleed? Nope, 90% of the movie was gone. Surely there was a backup system, though, right?

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!