ACOA takes a vacation

I missed posting last Thursday because I was on vacation in Paris, France. It was wonderful; the food, the sights, the smells, all breath-taking. But the nagging ACOA trait of difficulty having fun nearing spoiled the trip before it even got started.

I’d planned this trip back in October 2015. But as the time drew near, when my excitement should have been increasing – life happened. As you know, my brother died in June. Settling some of his affairs fell on me. At the same time, I was in the process of trying to locate a suitable assisted living residence for my 86-year old mother. While at the same time finalizing my book for publication. My anxiety levels were through the roof and with my typical ACOA trait of high-burden of responsibility, I just couldn’t get excited about Paris.

Thankfully, once I got on the plane I mentally left all by burdens behind; even if it was only for seven days. I had fun. I thought of only myself and my happiness and didn’t feel guilty about it or feel that I was being selfish. It felt good and I want more of that feeling in my everyday life.

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

#ACoAAwareness

The Procrastinating Me

There is a poster that depicts a huge polar bear lying flat on the ice. The caption reads: “When I get the feeling to do something, I lie down until the feeling goes away”. This is the sign of the resigned procrastinator: broken by frustration, unable to catch up, chained by depression and sustained by the simple apathetic response, “I don’t care anymore”.

Well, I cannot say I’m that bad but my procrastination really gets on my nerves sometime. I find myself having arguments with myself, saying “you know you need to do this or that” or “if you don’t get started now you’re not going to be able to finish on time.” It’s maddening. I know procrastination must be an ACOA trait because it seems to go hand in hand with my propensity to avoid situations that I find uncomfortable or tasks the dread undertaking.

When I do prod myself to work on whatever job I’d been putting off, I find that it’s so easy for me to get distracted. I can be researching something on the Internet for a school or work project then find myself checking my Facebook page. During my continued research in ACOA characteristics, I learned that in fear-motivated procrastination, you have to try to identify the fear. Both the fear and the sources of that fear must be confronted before the behaviors expressed by procrastination can be addressed. I’m trying to get to the source of my fear so I can start dealing with my problems head on and quit procrastinating. It’s not been easy but one day at a time.

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

Modified re-post from www.myacoalife.blogspot.com 11-19-2015

#ACoAAwareness

Numbing Out

I would describe myself as an escape artist.  If I can avoid a difficult or uncomfortable situation, I will.  My favorite escape is zoning out in front of the television eating my favorite sugary or salty snacks.  Dr. Susan Biali describes this as numbing out.

What I am essentially doing is constantly stimulating my senses in order not to have to deal with the everyday stresses of life.  And doing so is very addictive.  I’m learning to stop hiding behind the distractions and allow myself time where I can just be and feel, even if those feelings are uncomfortable, in an effort to re-awaken my life.

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

#ACoAAwareness

Emotional Intoxication

The ACOA big red book, page 628, teaches that growing up in a dysfunctional home meant that chaos was normal.  As a result, some may have become adults who could not feel at ease when things were calm.  They may have craved drama and excitement on such a subconscious level that they were drawn to it without realizing the reason why.

With me, I find that it’s hard for me to relax and feel at ease even when things seems to be calm.  And I find that my anxiety goes into overdrive when there’s drama.  I cannot seem to find a happy medium.  I supposed the uncertainty of not knowing what would occur from day-to-day growing up was unnerving for me so I learned to always be on high alert.

Turning to a Higher Power for understanding and guidance has proven to be quite successful for me as I learn to navigate my deep seeded ACOA tendencies.

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

The Root of All Things

The root of my people-pleasing tendencies lie with both my alcoholic father and ACOA mother; both of whom I took care of as a child. This caused me to always put others first and to ignore my own wants and needs.

Oliver JR Cooper, author, transformational writer, and coach says that the ego mind will have formed certain associations around taking care of the needs and wants of others. And lead people-pleasers like me to associations being triggered like feeling rejected, abandoned, or being unsafe. Cooper says as long as these associations exist, it will cause one to attract people and situations that reflect the past or interpret the present in the same way.

Now that I am aware of all this, I notice that I have great angst and anxiety when it comes to others wanting and needing something from me that I seek to resist. It’s like my ego mind is trying to pull me back to that old familiar state. I also feel physical pain and mental anguish when trying to resist my people-pleasing tendencies. I feel like I’m being mean or being a bad person. But I must resist if I want to be free and to grow.

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

The Desire to Self-Medicate

My brother died last month and naturally, I’m still dealing with that.  He had been a drug user his entire adult life.  And it was that vice that ultimately took his life.  Our father was an alcoholic and the damage that caused manifested in the next generation.

Blogger, Dr. Tian Dayton, says that ACOAs often self-medicate.  This was true of our father and it was also true of my brother.  The emotional, psychological and physiological set up that accompanies relationship trauma, can lead to self-medication, in which ACOAs like my brother seek a chemical solution for human problems.

Self-medicating can seem to be a solution in the immediate moment, as it really does make pain, anxiety, and physiological disturbances temporarily disappear, but in the long run, it creates many more problems than it solves.

I’m finding in my case, food is the addiction.  For someone else it may be shopping.  Regardless, there can be consequences for these addictions too, such as obesity, which brings on health issues like diabetes, or massive debt, which can lead to ruined credit or bankruptcy.

Getting and staying ‘sober’ for the ACOA means facing the pain we carry from growing up in our addiction-riddle environment.  Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

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.