Core Issue: Trust

The issue of trust is directly attributable to being raised in an environment of chaos, unpredictability, and denial. Repeatedly told to ignore the obvious, deny your own feelings, and distrust the accuracy of your own perceptions.  ACOA’s eventually begin to distrust not only other people but their own feelings and senses as well.

This explains a lot of about me.  I can appear oblivious to my surrounding; even in utter chaos.  After many years of witnessing my father is passed out on the couch, and mom’s face  buried in a bowl of ice cream, I acted like nothing was wrong.

Hindsight and 20/20 and brings clarity to the rose colored images of the past.

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



Core Issue: Control

One of the core issues of adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) is control.  The fear of loss of control is a dominant theme in our lives.  Control dominates the interactions of an ACOA with ourselves as well as the people in our lives.

Fear of loss of control, whether it be over our emotions, thoughts, feelings, will, actions, or relationships is pervasive.  We rely upon defense mechanisms such as denial, suppression in order to control our internal world of thoughts and feelings as well as the outward manifestation of those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

I struggle daily to overcome this long ingrained core issue.

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




The Perfectionist

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.  This is a quote by Anne Wilson Schaef.  For adult children of alcoholics, trying to be perfect and people-pleasers come with weak boundaries.  People who lack health boundaries are often emotionally needy.

Addicted, dysfunctional and chaotic families are a breeding ground for perfectionism.  Therapists and addiction counselors often talk about alcoholism (or any addiction) as a family disease because it affects everyone in the family.  An addict’s behavior has far reaching consequences for the family, especially the children.

I tried to be the perfect child in my family.  Never really bucking back at my parents; always conforming to their will.  My alcoholic father was an embarrassment to me, so I put on my metaphoric mask for outsiders; ensuring none of the cracks in my family foundation showed.  Although my perfectionism seemed to serve me well as a child, it isn’t without its problems.

As an adult I became an overly compliant people-pleaser; trying to make everyone happy all the time.  But in the process, I lost my own identity and the ability to ask for and received what I really need.  My needs always came last.  I’m trying to make a change in my life and put myself first.  This has proven to be difficult because I tend to feel guilty when doing so or feel like I’m being selfish.

My goal is to continue to ask myself what it is I want and act on fulfilling my own needs first.  I’m worth it.  I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

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



Unclog My Life

Woody Haiken, founder of Wounded Child Coaching, said that “the Wounded Child has been trained to always be vigilant, for there could be unexpected cruelty at any moment or at any time. Hyper-vigilance keeps us in a constant state of stress.

This was certainly true of my dysfunctional family upbringing. When drinking, my father could be ridiculously critical about any little thing. It was like he was spraying for an argument. And although a non-drinker, my ACOA mom could go off on you for not completing your chores. She inflicted cruel and unusual punishment like waking you up in the middle of the night, beating you with a switch and making you get up and do the dishes right then and there. That wouldn’t be the worst part, she’d talk about it for several days after the incident. “Shut up already,” I’d scream in my head.

Unfortunately, as an adult I’m still hyper-vigilant when it comes to my ACOA mom, who now resides in an assisted living residence. We thought this would be an ideal situation for her, but she always has a complaint or problem about something, and I seem to be the only one she relies upon. Each time I see her, or when the staff contacts me, I brace for what new problem I’ll have to deal with.

The other night I had a dream about clogged toilets in a women’s restroom at work. I wondered what my subconscious was trying to tell me. I learned that a clogged toilet represents problems or setbacks that are holding back progress. You can’t finish a problem or move on because of emotional entanglements. This is so true – my mother is the emotional entanglement. I have no answers today – just explanations.

Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m an adult child of an alcoholic.