MYTH #3 about ACoAs – OUR SUPPORT GROUPS SHOULD REPLACE OUR UNHEALTHY FAMILIES

If you belong to an ACOA support group you may have made lifelong friends that you dearly love. However, the purpose of the group is to provide a safe place for us to learn about ourselves — not to replace the family of origin. The goal is to come to a place of acceptance, peace and understanding and become open to the possibilities of renewed relationships with our family of origin. We may even be the catalyst for that change. We need to find ways to connect with others, other than by identifying with their level of pain. When our ACOA groups came to an end, the members continued to get together socially and the focus shifted to friendship and fun. When your group experience has run its course, I hope you will add your wonderful new friends to your circle of loved ones.

#ACoAAwareness

LizHawkins@TrinityUniv

Source: Lisa Sue Woititz, author of Unwelcomed Inheritance

Advertisements

MYTH #2 about ACoAs – TREATMENT FOR ACoAs IS THE SAME AS IT IS FOR ALCOHOLICS

Since being an ACOA is not a disease or a medical condition, most of us don’t need the lifelong treatment that an alcoholic needs. For Adult Children of Alcoholics, recovery has everything to do with education –about what alcoholism is and what happened to us as a result of living with it. We need to learn the life skills that our preoccupied parents were not able to teach us and how to move forward through the healing process and onward. With support, we share those difficult experiences and the feelings that go along with them and every once in a while when old hurts resurface we may have to address them again. This is a common human experience that we all share, whether we grew up in an alcoholic home or not.

A continued focus on the past and things that we cannot change can reinforce our feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. We may continue to blame others for our lot in life instead of using what we have learned to create the life that we want. The best thing that an ACOA therapist or support group can do is to work themselves out of a job — by educating others about the effects of alcoholism and empowering them to fly on their own.

#ACoAAwareness

LizHawkins@TrinityUniv

Source: Lisa Sue Woititz, author of Unwelcomed Inheritance

MYTH #1 about ACoAs: BEING AN ACoA IS A DISEASE 

Alcoholism is characterized as a disease because it is progressive and while it can be arrested it cannot be cured. Like diabetes, cancer, and other diseases, it is a condition that requires ongoing treatment in order to achieve and maintain remission. This is why many recovering alcoholics make a lifelong commitment to their twelve step program – along with abstinence from alcohol, it is part of their treatment plan which helps keep this deadly disease at bay. (Many of us who have alcoholism in our families may have inherited this disease so it’s good to be mindful about our physical predisposition toward alcoholism and addictions in general.)

Living in a home colored by alcoholism can be toxic and we can become mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically ill as a result. Treatment and support are often necessary to recover from this prolonged experience so that we can go on to live happy and productive lives. Growing up with an alcoholic parent was traumatic for many of us, and more-so for some than others, so treatment needs may not be the same for everyone. But that is not the same thing as having a disease. Rather, it is a fact of our family history that explains how we became the exquisite individuals that we are. Our past experience puts us in a unique position of deep understanding and ability to help others that have lived through our shared experience.

#ACoAAwareness

Source: Lisa Sue Woititz, author of Unwelcomed Inheritance

Core Issue: Ignoring Needs

A fifth core issue of an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) is that they tend to ignore their own needs.  This likely stems from the fact that their emotional needs continually took a back seat to alcoholism, chaos, and emotional and physical violence.

All too many ACOA’s equate acknowledging their emotional needs with being vulnerable or even weak.  Feeling vulnerable also is equated with being out of control – a state of being which an ACOA finds intolerable.

Along with feeling vulnerable and out of control, acknowledging their emotional needs may make an ACOA feel dependent, inadequate, or even worse than those states, forever in debt to the person who met their needs.

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

#ACoAAwareness

Core Issue: Over Responsibility

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) come to believe they are responsible for what is happening in their family.  This is because blame is so much as part of an alcoholic family – “I drink because the kids are out of control.”  This just feeds a child’s already existing self-centeredness.

Because of these childhood experiences, children of alcoholics grow up believing they are responsible for other’s emotions and actions.  Because children do not know that the alcoholic drinks because the alcoholic has lost their choice to drink, they begin to believe that they are responsible for their drinking because of the “bad” behavior and therefore they are responsible for the alcoholic to stop drinking.  Therefore a child of an alcoholic may decide that the way to end the bickering and drinking is to be a model child.

Another reason that ACOA’s develop a sense of over responsibility is that children in alcoholic families often times become the family counselor or even a substitute parent for the “absent” alcoholic.

Over responsibility was a big core issue for me.  As a child, I hid my father’s liquor; even pour it out in a well-meaning attempt to prevent him from drinking.  I was also the model child; I did as I was told and didn’t cause problems in an attempt to keep the peace.  I still function in this role today.

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

#ACoAAwareness

Core Issue: Avoidance

A third core issue is avoidance of feelings.  In the alcoholic family, the child’s expression of feelings is typically met with censure, disapproval, anger, and rejection.

Often the child is told explicitly, “Don’t you dare say that to me; don’t even think it,” or “Don’t upset your mother.  You have to be more understanding.”  In other words, children of alcoholics are taught very early that it is necessary to hide their feelings.  Hiding their feelings leads to not even have any feelings as they master the art of repressing, denying, or minimizing them.

I relate to the avoidance core issue very well.  I have avoided conflict and anything I deem hard like the plague all of my life.  And it has stunted by emotional growth.  Thankfully, I’m learning to face my fears more every day.

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

#ACoAAwareness

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.

#ACoAAwareness