The Weight of Responsibility

 

Out of necessity, some ACOAs, like me, took on some of our parents’ responsibilities.  These may have been practical things like paying the bills, or emotional things like comforting your siblings when your parents fought.  But as adults we find that we continue to take responsibility for other people’s feelings or for problems that we didn’t cause.

When my father go sick, I was a teenager.  I took on the responsibility of writing the checks for the monthly household expenses and doing the grocery shopping.  As an adult I’ve been in relationships with men who I took over making sure their bills got paid on time; rent got paid on time, etc.  It’s like I couldn’t stop being overly responsible.  Where was the off switch?

Eventually it became a burden.  A lot of people relied on me for a variety of different things.  Now with the internet and smart phones I’m learning to tell others where to find the information they need for themselves because I am tapped out.

I like the theme song from the daytime talk show The Real. It says: this is my time, don’t waste another minute.  This has become my mantra.  It’s time for me to do me and focus on the things that I want to do and need to do for myself.

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

 

Perfectionism

Children of alcoholics tend to strive for perfection in an effort to avoid criticism. Growing up with an alcoholic father and ACOA mother, I endured criticism on a daily basis. It seemed like I could do nothing right. Or if I did do well an added ‘you could have done better’ almost always followed.

This set me on a treadmill, of sorts, of always having to prove my worth by achieving more and more. But my achievements weren’t satisfying. Perfectionism and low self-esteem forced me to set my goals higher and continue to try to prove myself. Unfortunately this is all quite exhausting and many times I found myself crashing and burning out both physically and emotionally.

I am now learning to love and accept myself for who I am; not trying to prove my self-worth to others. It is proving to be a very important step toward healing and happiness.

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

Insecure and Craving Acceptance

Growing up in an alcoholic home can make you feel insure and crave acceptance. I know these characteristics apply to me, yet I’m still in somewhat of a state of denial about my dysfunctional upbringing.

A child of an alcoholic endures constant lying, manipulation, and harsh parenting. It makes it hard to trust people. It also leads to being highly sensitive to criticism and conflict. This is true of me, yet I could not pinpoint anything in my past that that would cause this. It must be a deliberate mental block. I’m always trying to prove my worth and make others happy.

Now as an adult I tend to try to control everyone and everything that feels out of control. And I struggle to express myself. I suppose on some subconscious level I’m remembering how unsafe it was to speak up in my family.

The road to wholeness is long and lonely. Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering adult child of an alcoholic.

Major Impact

I imagine many adult children of alcoholics (ACOA), like myself, have underestimated the effects of being raised with an alcoholic parent.  I surmised that I was in complete denial.  Because of the cloud of shame that I live under, I ignored my alcoholic father for the most part and created a world for myself where my family dynamic was normal and not dysfunctional.

I grew up determined not to be a drunk and I wasn’t.  But I deluded myself into believing that I had come through it all completely unscathed and completely normal.  This was far from the truth.  Because I was ashamed of my father, I felt that something was wrong with me; that I was unworthy of love.  We were told that what happens in the home stays in the home.  Secrets breed shame and you tend to feel that there is something terrible about you and that you will be judge harshly.  I still feel that way at times despite understanding what it means to be ACOA.

This journey of ‘growing up’ my inner child has been quite challenging.  It’s a journey that I feel I’ll be on for a very long time.  But I’m in it for the long haul.  Knowledge is power and power is freedom.

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