Patterns of Dysfunction

I had a lot of fears growing up ACOA.  My father was at the root of those fears.  I was always afraid that he would embarrass me in front of my friends when he was drunk.  He was very talkative after he’d a few drinks and it annoyed me to no end.

When I grew up, I unconsciously gravitated to men just like my father; drinkers and smokers.  I hated these habits, but it’s all I’d ever known.  My brothers drank liquor and smoked, my mother and her best friend enjoyed drinking beer.  It was all I’d seen.  I evidently began to drink alcohol and beer too, although I never enjoyed it.

I supposed it’s easy to fall into bad patterns of dysfunctional behavior if you’re not paying attention.  You take things as they are and accept them as normal.  I’m thankful for learning about the effects of being a child of an alcoholic.  I continue to try to make strides to overcome my dysfunctional upbringing, although this in no easy feat.

Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins, and I’m an adult child of an alcoholic.



Unhooking from the past

Growing up with an alcoholic parent, I was under the misguided belief that my father’s excessive drinking was somehow my fault.  I thought if I could be the ‘good’ daughter, dare I say even the ‘perfect’ daughter, my father wouldn’t need to drink and all would be well again.  However erroneous this thought process may have seemed, it at least enabled me to survive my dysfunctional upbringing.

My brothers may have felt the opposite, seeing our fathers’ alcoholism for what it was: a destructive, chaotic force taking away any consistency, trust, love, and happiness from what might have been an idyllic childhood.  The concept that their alcoholic parent was indeed sick but playing the best they could with the card they’d been dealt was somewhat helpful.

There is value in ‘going back in’ and recognizing what happened in the past and its continuing effect on our lives today.  We now must try to become our own loving parent and unhook those old erroneous survival techniques we adapted as children and move on.

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

Reference: Hugh Trethowan (2017)

Insecure and Craving Acceptance

Growing up in an alcoholic home can make you feel insure and crave acceptance. I know these characteristics apply to me, yet I’m still in somewhat of a state of denial about my dysfunctional upbringing.

A child of an alcoholic endures constant lying, manipulation, and harsh parenting. It makes it hard to trust people. It also leads to being highly sensitive to criticism and conflict. This is true of me, yet I could not pinpoint anything in my past that that would cause this. It must be a deliberate mental block. I’m always trying to prove my worth and make others happy.

Now as an adult I tend to try to control everyone and everything that feels out of control. And I struggle to express myself. I suppose on some subconscious level I’m remembering how unsafe it was to speak up in my family.

The road to wholeness is long and lonely. Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering adult child of an alcoholic.

Major Impact

I imagine many adult children of alcoholics (ACOA), like myself, have underestimated the effects of being raised with an alcoholic parent.  I surmised that I was in complete denial.  Because of the cloud of shame that I live under, I ignored my alcoholic father for the most part and created a world for myself where my family dynamic was normal and not dysfunctional.

I grew up determined not to be a drunk and I wasn’t.  But I deluded myself into believing that I had come through it all completely unscathed and completely normal.  This was far from the truth.  Because I was ashamed of my father, I felt that something was wrong with me; that I was unworthy of love.  We were told that what happens in the home stays in the home.  Secrets breed shame and you tend to feel that there is something terrible about you and that you will be judge harshly.  I still feel that way at times despite understanding what it means to be ACOA.

This journey of ‘growing up’ my inner child has been quite challenging.  It’s a journey that I feel I’ll be on for a very long time.  But I’m in it for the long haul.  Knowledge is power and power is freedom.

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

Wanting Change

Part of my journey as a recovering ACOA is trying to become more transparent.  This isn’t easily.  Growing up under a cloud of shame and pain caused my heart to become hard as a child.  I pretended my father was not an embarrassing ‘fall down’ drunk.  I did this by ignoring him as much as possible.  And to the outside world, I pretended that my family life was ‘normal’.  This façade followed me into adulthood and became a metaphorical mask that I have wore for decades.

I’m now trying to live my life with an unveiled face.  This process is hard because it requires me to be exposed; not pretending, not acting like I’ve got it all together, not watering down where I have been, or like it was no big deal.  Although I want to change, I still struggle in many areas in my life.  But through prayer I know I will be victorious.

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



Discovering my true self

According to Abraham Maslow, American Psychologist, the most abstract human need is self-actualization.  Maslow defined self-actualization as fully developing and using our unique “talents, capacities, and potentialities.”  To achieve this, we need to refine the talents that we have already developed to some degree, while we also cultivate new potentials in ourselves.

It took me a very long time before I began to enter into self-actualization.  Growing up in a dysfunction home with an alcoholic father and ACOA mother stunted my emotional growth.  I was always tended to the needs of my parents and others – never putting myself and my needs first.

Thankfully, through knowledge and understanding about what it means to be an ACOA I am finally on my way to discovering who I was always meant to be.

Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering adult child of an alcoholic.

#ACoAAwareness; #InterpersonalCommunication