Keeping up Appearances

Many ACOAs tend to be people-pleasers; we are just too nice. Inevitably we just want to be loved and needed by others but this results in suppressing tons of uncomfortable emotions like bitterness, annoyance, and grief.

I tend to put myself under extreme pressure in order to ‘keep up appearances.’ One of the worst things about constantly being nice is the pressure I put on myself to maintain my self-image. It feels good to constantly be on people’s good sides and avoid negative feelings. But this, dare I say “addiction” comes at a price: chronic stress. Often the stress is invisible, but it’s always there, always demanding that I keep my mask strapped on even though it might be suffocating me.

A wise person recently advised me to take more time for me and less for others. Doing this won’t make me a bad person, and I can finally remove that suffocating mask and breathe.

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

Unhooking from the past

Growing up with an alcoholic parent, I was under the misguided belief that my father’s excessive drinking was somehow my fault.  I thought if I could be the ‘good’ daughter, dare I say even the ‘perfect’ daughter, my father wouldn’t need to drink and all would be well again.  However erroneous this thought process may have seemed, it at least enabled me to survive my dysfunctional upbringing.

My brothers may have felt the opposite, seeing our fathers’ alcoholism for what it was: a destructive, chaotic force taking away any consistency, trust, love, and happiness from what might have been an idyllic childhood.  The concept that their alcoholic parent was indeed sick but playing the best they could with the card they’d been dealt was somewhat helpful.

There is value in ‘going back in’ and recognizing what happened in the past and its continuing effect on our lives today.  We now must try to become our own loving parent and unhook those old erroneous survival techniques we adapted as children and move on.

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

Reference: Hugh Trethowan (2017)

Big ACOAs Don’t Cry

My brother recently passed away.  I’m sad about it, I truly am.  But to the world, I’m not expressing my grief.  Showing emotion is hard for me, it was hard for my brother too.  When he told me he had to have his foot amputated, before I could say anything or express feeling about it he said, “Don’t cry for me.”  I guess that’s just the ACOA way.

I’m learning that ACOAs tend to bury their feelings.  Counsellor and Psychoanalyst, Hugh Trethowan wrote that when you grow up in an alcoholic home, feelings aren’t really listened to or given much credence, and expressing them was often met with negative reactions.  The non-alcoholic spouse might have had their attention diverted in the direction of the drinker and the emotional needs of the children became ignored to some degree.  Expressions such as anger or sadness in the family were emotions to be avoided.  So the children learn to bury their feelings and this carries on into adulthood.  Unexpressed emotions can lead to depression and to addictions of their own, which explained a lot about me and my siblings.

The good news is that with the knowledge and understanding of the root causes of these issues, we can bring change and healing to our lives.  Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

 

When your mother is ACOA

Bestselling author, speaker, and healer, Lisa Romano wrote an interesting article, which gave me further insight into my mother, who is also an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA).

She said if your mother was emotionally neglected as a child because of her father’s alcoholism, she may be unaware to the extent of just how disconnected she is to her own self.  When a childhood is lived saturated in fear, survival is often the only thing on a child’s mind.  Because the basic instincts of the child must be on hyper-drive, in order to simply survive, there is little time to mature emotionally, and to connect to the spiritual side of self.

And when she has children of her own, she parents blindly and detached from any notion that she is disconnected emotionally from within at all.  As a result – many times ACOA mothers are unable to form authentic paternal bonds with their children – simply because they are totally clueless as to what they are not giving their them.

The transformational journey on the road of self-awareness is powerful.  Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

The Generational Curse

Many of us grew up in a home with at least one parent who suffered from alcoholism.  For me, it was my father.  Parents with drinking problem adversely affected the lives of their children well into their adult years.

There is much evidence that parents who drank in excess were most likely depressed.  This method for self-medication for depression often backfired.  It certainly did for my father.

My brothers and I, living within the same family circumstances, responded differently to having an alcoholic parent.  One also became an alcoholic, one became a drug addict, and one a food addict.  My mother, also adult child of an alcoholic, had food and weight issues.  It’s like a generational curse.

The good news is that curses can be broken.  The key to moving on is not to blame but to be conscious of the role our parents had in shaping our current life choices.  It is possible to break the family patterns by coping with our depression in health ways such as reaching out and gaining support.

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