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

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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: Control

One of the core issues of adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) is control.  The fear of loss of control is a dominant theme in our lives.  Control dominates the interactions of an ACOA with ourselves as well as the people in our lives.

Fear of loss of control, whether it be over our emotions, thoughts, feelings, will, actions, or relationships is pervasive.  We rely upon defense mechanisms such as denial, suppression in order to control our internal world of thoughts and feelings as well as the outward manifestation of those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

I struggle daily to overcome this long ingrained core issue.

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

When your mother is ACOA

Bestselling author, speaker, and healer, Lisa Romano wrote an interesting article, which gave me further insight into my mother, who is also an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA).

She said if your mother was emotionally neglected as a child because of her father’s alcoholism, she may be unaware to the extent of just how disconnected she is to her own self.  When a childhood is lived saturated in fear, survival is often the only thing on a child’s mind.  Because the basic instincts of the child must be on hyper-drive, in order to simply survive, there is little time to mature emotionally, and to connect to the spiritual side of self.

And when she has children of her own, she parents blindly and detached from any notion that she is disconnected emotionally from within at all.  As a result – many times ACOA mothers are unable to form authentic paternal bonds with their children – simply because they are totally clueless as to what they are not giving their them.

The transformational journey on the road of self-awareness is powerful.  Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins and I’m a recovering Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

The Weight of Responsibility

 

Out of necessity, some ACOAs, like me, took on some of our parents’ responsibilities.  These may have been practical things like paying the bills, or emotional things like comforting your siblings when your parents fought.  But as adults we find that we continue to take responsibility for other people’s feelings or for problems that we didn’t cause.

When my father go sick, I was a teenager.  I took on the responsibility of writing the checks for the monthly household expenses and doing the grocery shopping.  As an adult I’ve been in relationships with men who I took over making sure their bills got paid on time; rent got paid on time, etc.  It’s like I couldn’t stop being overly responsible.  Where was the off switch?

Eventually it became a burden.  A lot of people relied on me for a variety of different things.  Now with the internet and smart phones I’m learning to tell others where to find the information they need for themselves because I am tapped out.

I like the theme song from the daytime talk show The Real. It says: this is my time, don’t waste another minute.  This has become my mantra.  It’s time for me to do me and focus on the things that I want to do and need to do for myself.

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