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

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

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.

My Attachment Style

I took an interpersonal communication course a couple of years ago and learned about attachment styles, which are patterns of caregiver that teach us who we and others are, and how to approach relationships.  My father was an alcoholic, but of course as a child I didn’t know that or how it would affect me in life.

All I knew was that sometimes he loved me and played with me, and sometimes he was indifferent to me.  His booze was always the most important thing to him.  He could not seem to get anything done without first having a drink.  So I never felt that I was the most important person in his life.

When I learned that my attachment style with my father is what is called the anxious/ambivalent attachment style (also called preoccupied), it explained a lot about our relationship.  The anxious/ambivalent attachment style is fostered by inconsistent treatment by a caregiver.  Now I understand the root of my anxiety; it was caused by my father’s unpredictability.  But when you are a child, you think you are the problem, and unfortunately you carry this baggage into adulthood where patterns tend to repeat.

I am thankful to have learned this and having the willingness and ability to change my life and my future.  Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m an 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.