The Transformation Continues

In 2015, I identified as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA).  Since then, I continued to struggle to shed some of those nasty ACOA habits, like procrastination, anxiety, self-doubt, and self-sabotage.

I once had a dream about snakes.  Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that have attached to their old skin.  As a snake grows, its skin becomes stretched.  The classic dream of the snake is a symbol of transformation.

I’ve come a long way in my growth-transformation but find that I still have a long way to go.  I still struggle in some areas and the process of going through my transformation is still uncomfortable.  Yet I know I am changing with the help of my higher power, I can do all things.

Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

#ACoAAwareness

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Dysfunctional Family Rule

Unreliability – Don’t trust anyone and you will not be disappointed

When you grow up with an alcoholic father, you learn early not to put too much stock into anything his says.  Promises are broken on a regular basis – not to be cruel but it’s all about priorities.  Given the choice between buying the toy you’d been asking for he decides his money is best spent on a pint of gin and a pack of cigarettes.

The addiction takes precedence in almost all matters in the alcoholic’s life.  My father was unable or willing to fight the addiction; therefore, never tried to quit drinking and smoking.  As an adult, I justified his action – at least the mortgage was always paid on time and the utilities were never cut off.  Looking back, I’d characterize him as a “functioning alcoholic.”  And although he lived in the home with his family – he was emotionally unavailable.

After a while, I became emotionally disconnected.  I had decided that I would no longer allow my father to disappointment me – so I asked for little and expected even less.  I grew up believing that I could only rely on, and trust myself.  Unfortunately, my relationships with men and others have been affected.  But thankfully, with ACOA awareness I’m learning to trust.

#ACoAwareness

We Wear the Mask

We Wear the Mask
By Paul Laurence Dunbar (1913)

We wear the mask that grins and lies.
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, –
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

In this poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the mask refers to people hiding their true feelings behind a false expression. Specifically, he is referring to the cheerful face that so many African Americans felt necessary to wear. When I first read it, it reminded me of being a child of an alcoholic; how I used humor in front of my friends to hide the shame I felt being a member of such a dysfunctional family. I wanted so much to belong to what I believed to be a normal family – the kind you saw on television. I wished that I had the courage back then to remove the mask. I bet I would have found that I was not alone.

#ACoAAwareness

Still a Work in Progress

Since learning about the ACOA laundry list about three years ago, I go back and check it from time to time to see if I have made any major improvements. I see that my sense of over-responsibility stills tends prevent me from having fun.

I guess on some level I am still angry because so many events and holidays growing up were sabotaged by the alcoholics in my family, I don’t expect to have fun. I also feel guilty if I want to spend time by myself doing what I want to do because of my responsibility to assist my mother on the daily basis due to her advanced age and visual impairment.

I’m not blaming my upbringing or current situation with my mother. I have the ability to change those things that are within my power. But when certain attributes are so well ingrained into the fabric of your being, it manifests itself as a part of your make up.

I know that I must constantly remind myself that I am free to have fun and not be anxious of the possibility of that fun being ruined.

Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins, and I’m a recovering Adult Child of and Alcoholic.

#ACoAAwareness

It’s all an addiction

I used to get mad at my father because he couldn’t seem to stop drinking. I was mad that my brother too who couldn’t seem to give up the drugs. But I realize that addiction is a powerful thing and not easy to overcome.

I have always been a junk food addict. I’m just now calling it by its rightful name, “addict.” Sugar and salty snacks was my drug of choice. I could mindlessly graze on chips, popcorn, and candy throughout the day. Needless to say my weight reflected it. But I couldn’t seem to stop myself. That’s when I realized that I too have a problem. I have an addictive personality.

After admitting my problem, I decided to do something about it. I stopped eating junk food and sugary and salty snacks – cold turkey. It was hard, but after about three days I no longer craved the addictive foods. And after just 10 days of healthier eating and exercise, I loss six pounds.

Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m an Adult Child of and Alcoholic.

#ACoAAwareness

Mirror Image

A mirror image is a reflected duplication of an object that appears almost identical, but is reversed in the direction perpendicular to the mirror surface.  When I look at my reflection in the mirror, I realize that what is being reflected back on the surface is not really as it appears.

ACOAs tend to be perfectionist.  On the surface our lives may appear fine but scratch that same surface and wounds appear.  And anxiety and control issues are rampant.  I have been living my life in a state of denial; believing I’m in control.  The image I presented to the world was just a façade.

I never wanted to look in the mirror and see my alcoholic father reflected back at me.  I vowed never to abuse alcohol.  But I find myself repeating substance abuse-like patterns with food, shopping, and other compulsive behaviors.  Our mirror image, on the outside, reflects the image in the opposite.  If only it could reflect the true image from the inside out.

I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

#ACoAAwareness

Repost from MyACoALife.com 09/08/16

The Peacemaking People Pleaser

I always thought axioms like Walk a Mile for Peace and Avoid Conflict at all Cost were good words to live by. Now I understand that as an ACOA, it’s simply my go-to approach to conflict.

Conflict is inevitable. It’s a part of relationships between individuals who live and work together. But ACOAs have a fear of people who are in authority, people who are angry, and we don’t take personal criticism very well. We also tend to misinterpret assertiveness for anger. So we are constantly seeking approval of others; sometimes losing our identities in the process.

I have definitely been guilty of going along to get along and people pleasing. I don’t like the back and forth people go through trying to get their point across or trying to get their own way. Aggressive people do, at times, intimidate me. Although not the alcoholic in the family, growing up, my mother was very aggressive and I could never win an argument with her. She would have a hundred reasons for why I couldn’t do something or go someplace.

I learned only ask for things that I knew fit her specifications. Consequently, I spent a great deal of my youth in a self-imposed isolation in order to please others.

Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

#ACoAAwareness