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.

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.

 

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.