I was reading an article online by Louise Behiel entitled “The Lost Child: Invisible and Unheard.” She said that the lost child, which I identify as, understands or feels the strain the family is under. As a result, they try to minimize their demands on their parents and siblings. I certainly avoided any push back my parents might have given by not asking to go to parties and other events that I knew they would not approve of. I didn’t fight for the things I really wanted. To this day, I feel somewhat guilty when I attend a number of events in close proximity of each other.
Behiel says, as a result, lost children are often overlooked. This leaves them feeling lonely, rejected and isolated. The conundrum is they get what they want but that result leaves them feeling empty. The lost child spends much time doing activities such as daydreaming, fantasizing, reading, and watching television. This describes my childhood to a tee.
This article also got me thinking about another article I read, in which I learned that I was a compulsive eater. It got me wondering – does compulsive eating mean I’m feeling empty inside? That the inner child in me is starved for affection or attention? Am I denying that this exist in me because I was taught to be strong and independent? This is more eye-opening information to ponder.
Hi, I’m Liz Hawkins, and I’m a recovering Adult Child of and Alcoholic.
Repost from My ACOA Life Blog at Blogspot.com
For those of you who lived with an alcoholic parent during your childhood and teen years, your life may have been chaotic, emotionally turbulent, and sometimes frightening. But the feelings of anxiety, grief, and instability may not have ended when you left home. These feelings can last well into adult years and manifest in many different ways.
Some common characteristics include:
- We are chronic people pleasers who constantly seek out approval and affirmation from others.
- We have problems regulating and achieving balance with our emotions. We are either overly emotional or we shut down our emotions because of the overload.
- Our fight or flight instincts are amped up. We are hypervigilant about looking for threats or danger in our environment. We tend to over react to any sign of what we feel to be impending danger whether that threat is real or not.
- We can easily become involved with people who we feel need “saving” as this mimics our relationship with our parent figure. We may choose to live with another alcoholic or someone with an addiction and replay that history out all over again.
- We are terrified of abandonment. We will cling onto unstable relationships even when they are unhealthy for us because we can’t stand the thought of being left alone.
- We have great problems with trust. We either trust too much where it is not warranted or we trust too little. We lack the emotional history of understanding how trust works.
- We may feel guilt and shame as though our parent’s problem was our fault. We may have learned as children to keep secrets and not discuss what was really happening in our family.
- We may be overly responsible in some circumstances but in other situations we may be deemed as very irresponsible.
- We may be addicted to drama and excitement in our lives leading to high risk behaviors.
- We may self-medicate through food, sex, work, spending money, drinking alcohol or doing drugs as a way to deal with our emotional pain.
The key to moving on is not to blame but to be conscious of the role our parents had in shaping our current life choices. It is possible to break the family patterns by coping in healthy ways such as reaching out and gaining support.
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.