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.

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.

 

Like Father, Like Daughter

I grew up with an alcoholic father whom I both loved but hated at the same time. I loved
the man, but hated the alcoholism. He could not really function without having a drink.
An introvert by nature and suffering from low self-esteem, my father drank to ease his
anxiety and hide his insecurities. With lower inhibitions, he would become more relaxed
– especially in social situations. The drink also gave him courage to stand up for himself;
even if it meant getting into arguments and saying hurtful things.
I loathed his drinking and the person he became when drunk. I promised myself that I
would never be a drunk. But am I really any different? Taking a deep look inside, I find
that I too am introverted, uncomfortable in many social circumstances, and suffered
with low self-esteem for many years. But instead of turning to booze, I use food. When
I’m anxious, I eat. The primary culprits are cookies and potato chips, which floods my
brain with dopamine and makes me happy.
Just like junk food leads to powerful cravings so does alcohol. This is what happened to
my father. I’m now sorry for judging him so harshly. Addiction is a disease, for which
professional help is needed to overcome.
Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.