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

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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

Distorted Reasoning

Some ACOAs suffer with distorted reasoning, a disease that distorts the reasoning all around them.  Because we try so hard to hide the pain of watching ourselves and those we love become mired in the disease and losing our grip on our own happiness, we use our thinking to twist and bend the truth into a more palatable shape.

We rationalize and deny what is right in front of us, make excuses and sometimes lie because it make us feel better than to admit the truth.  The alcoholic lies to hide their uses and abuses, the family members lie to hide the extent of addiction and their fear, pain, and confusion.

Soon our thinking becomes so filled with denial and rationalization that we lose our own sense of what is normal.  Eventually, our sense of reality becomes distorted.  This is the story of my life.  But I am able to tolerate the truth because I have a program; I accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can.  One day at a time.

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

#ACoAAwareness

Repost: My ACOA Life.com Blog 12/15/16

Codependency and ACOA

Adult Children of Alcoholic (ACOA) literature talks about being codependent.  I never identified as codependent before.  I didn’t think it was applicable to me.  But I’ve learned that being ACOA and codependency go together.

Children from alcoholic families tend to take on roles in order to survive such as the role of caretaker, which I felt a tremendous need to look out for my alcoholic father.  When I was a teenager I would drive my father to the liquor store so he wouldn’t drive drunk.  I was probably enabling him too but I felt there was no other alternative.

Codependency makes it difficult to see your own thoughts, feelings and actions clearly because your focus is primarily on others.  In codependency, value comes from the opinions of others and safety comes from feeling needed.  I thought codependency only pertained to two people that depended heavily upon one another.  Now I’m learning that my character traits of being helpful, self-sacrificing, hard-working, trustworthy, and self-sufficiency can turn into codependency when the need to be needed becomes a major factor in order to feel valued.  I have to admit that I have felt the need to be needed many time in my family unit.

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

#ACoAAwareness

MyACoALife.com Blog Repost 12/10/2015

Me Too: Abandonment Issues

I know many people who grew up without either their father or mother in their lives. Childhood loss such as the death of a parent or divorce can result in inadequate physical or emotional care. I learned that these early-childhood experiences can lead to a fear of being abandoned by the significant other in one’s adult life. And abandonment trauma may include mood symptoms such as debilitating anxiety and chronic feeling of insecurity.

Because I tend to think in literal terms, I failed to see that my alcoholic father and ACOA mother provided very little emotional support. In my household there was no room for expressing sadness or disappointment. It was looked on as weakness; you had to buck up and be strong. My father was very self-absorbed. He was there – yes, but he only concerned himself with what he wanted or needed. He made sure he always had his liquor and cigarettes. Don’t get me wrong now – he took care of the family in terms of paying the mortgage, utilities and buying the food – but there was little emotional support or interest in what we as children were interested in.

This can make a child overly sensitive to any perceived distancing by her loved ones. I realize as an adult I have been in relationships that I felt I had to hold onto when the other person seemed like they were becoming disinterested or distant. I suffered from depression, anxiety, and compulsions when a relationship ended. I realized that I too suffer with abandonment issues even though I grew up with both parents in the household.

In overcoming my abandonment issues I am learning to first remember that I am not alone; to acknowledge the depth of my hurt, identify my symptoms, and take action. Some actions I take include: accepting this fear as a part of being human, and giving myself unconditional self-love and compassion rather than judge myself as “weak.”

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

#ACoAAwareness