The manifestation of growing up with an alcoholic parent

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.

#ACoAAwareness

Source: www.healthcentral.com

 

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Loving someone with ACOA Trauma Syndrome

Some of you may be concerned about how angry, toxic behavior patterns, and poor communication style have affected your lives and love relationships.  Many don’t understand the origin of these behaviors, and can’t change what you don’t understand.

Riana Milne specializes in an area called – ACOA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic) Personality Trauma Syndrome; working with adult clients (and their partners) who suffered trauma as children.  Strangely enough, it is not a condition or a Personality Disorder described in the DSM – IV; the Diagnostic book for Mental Health Therapists.  There is an ACA – Adult Children of Alcoholics 12 step program founded on the belief that family dysfunction is a disease that infected us as children, and affects us as adults.

There are nine categories of trauma:

  1. Having an addicted parent – to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, porn, pills, etc.
  2. Being emotionally abused
  3. Being verbally abused
  4. Being physically abused, molested, or raped
  5. Being abandoned.
  6. If you were adopted, part of the foster care system, or needed to live with another relative due to family hardship
  7. A sibling had trauma (medical issues, an addiction, or required special care)
  8. You endured personal trauma (bullying, medical issue, a physical challenge)
  9. Family trauma – poverty, many moves due to military, parent incarcerated, loss of home by flood or fire, domestic violence, etc.

Toxic adult relationships and many adult addictions occur due to the aftermath of these childhood traumas.  ACOAs often have successful careers and hold it together on the job; the real dysfunction emerges within their love relationships.  Poor coping mechanisms (like shutting down emotionally if afraid, or just the opposite – yelling and screaming with anger when frustrated, to control or intimidate your partner, or get your needs met) are all ACOA behaviors.  Ongoing anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, signs of extreme stress under normal circumstances, panic attacks, perfectionism of your partner, high sex drive or need for attention from the opposite sex, addictions and feelings of abandonment…are just a few of the faulty behaviors, way of thinking or being, that ACOAs have trouble with.  Adults often try to self-medicate with alcohol, pot, or various pills to calm themselves down, or tolerate their abuse or depression; which often leads to an addiction.

ACOAs often attract an ACOA partner.  Their initial dating is full of intense closeness, dramatic romance, affection, and they seek commitment right away.  This could look like a great start to exclusive dating; however, within 3-6 months, signs of jealousy, control, intimidation and mind-games often enter into their relationship.

This dynamic gets worse with time, so it is important to understand your childhood triggers, how they affect you as an adult, correct them, and properly communicate through arising problems and challenges.

Source: Riana Milne, MA, Certified, Global Relationship, Love & Life Coach, August 3, 2016 #ACoAAwareness