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.



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 11-19-2015


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.


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.