Adult children of alcoholics appear to have characteristics in common as a result of being raised in an alcoholic home. Review the characteristics listed. If you identify with these characteristics then seek appropriate sources of support to understand and resolve them. You will find many books at the bookstore on this subject. Additionally, there is Adult Children of Alcoholics 12-Step self-help community meeting, individual therapy, and group therapy facilitated by a therapist. Issues that I personally have dealt with are in blue.
- Isolation, fear of people, and fear of authority figures.
- Difficulty with identity issues related to seeking constantly the approval of others.
- Frightened by angry people and personal criticism.
- Have become an alcoholic yourself, married one, or both. A variation would be the attraction to another compulsive personality such as a workaholic. The similarity is that neither is emotionally available to deal with overwhelming and unhealthy dependency needs. I married a workaholic and that is just one of the reasons for me being single.
- Perpetually being the victim and seeing the world from the perspective of a victim.
- An overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Concerned about the needs of others to the degree of neglecting your own wants and needs. This is a protective behavior for avoiding a good look at yourself and taking responsibility to identify and resolve your own personal difficulties. This is me in a nutshell and I have had many relapses over the years.
- Feelings of guilt associated with standing up for your rights. It is easier to give into the demands of others. This was a problem for me into my early twenties especially when it came to my own parents. Now as a adult, I have absolutely no problem saying "no" to anyone about anything.
- An addiction to excitement. Feeling a need to be on the edge, and risk-taking behaviors. This is also a characteristic of being a Bipolar. I have to deal with this one on a daily basis. I love taking risks and it has cost me relationships as well as money.
- A tendency to confuse feelings of love and pity. Attracted to people that you can rescue and take care of.
- Avoidance of feelings related to traumatic childhood experiences. Unable to feel or express feelings because it is frightening and/or painful and overwhelming. Denial of feelings. I hated talking about my childhood and a couple of times while in therapy I thought I was going to fall off the edge completely. Denial was so easy...Now I know better and I am healthier for it.
- Low self-esteem. A tendency to judge yourself harshly and be perfectionist and self-critical. I am really good at kicking myself in the ass, no one does it better!
- Strong dependency needs and terrified of abandonment. Will do almost anything to hold onto a relationship in order to avoid the fear and pain of abandonment.
- Alcoholism is a family disease which often results in a family member taking on the characteristics of the disease even if they are not alcoholics (para-alcoholics). Please see below.
- Dysfunctional relationships, denial, fearful, avoidance of feelings, poor coping, poor problem solving, afraid that others will find out what you are really like, etc.
- Tendency to react to things that happen versus taking control and not being victim to the behavior of others or situations created by others.
- A chameleon. A tendency to be what others want you to be instead of being yourself. A lack of honesty with yourself and others.
Characteristics of Codependency
- My good feelings about which I am stem from being liked by you and receiving approval from you.
- Your struggles affect my serenity. I focus my mental attention on solving your problems or relieving your pain.
- I focus my mental attention on pleasing you, protecting you, or manipulating you to "do it my way."
- I bolster my self-esteem by solving your problems and relieving your pain.
- I put aside my own hobbies and interests. I spend my time sharing your interests and hobbies.
- My desires dictate your behavior.
- I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
- I am not aware of what I want. I ask you what you want.
- If I am not aware of something, I assume (I don't ask or verify in some other way).
- My fear of your anger and rejection determines what I say or do.
- In our relationship I use giving as a way of feeling safe.
- As I involve myself with you, my social circle diminishes.
- To connect with you, I put my values aside.
- I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.
- The quality of my life depends on the quality of yours.
- I am always trying to fix or take care of others while neglecting myself.
- I sometimes feel sorry for myself, feeling no one understands. I think about getting help, but rarely commit or follow through.
I have received many wonderful emails concerning my posts on “Children of Alcoholics Week” and I thank you for sharing your stories with me. Many of you brought me to tears with your openness and honesty. I truly appreciate your coming forward, I know how difficult it was for you to do so and I will respect your privacy. I would like to take a moment and answer a couple of questions that have been asked by you.
First, I am not in any way anti alcohol nor I do not force my beliefs on anyone, many of my friends drink on a daily basis. I go to bars, clubs, and concerts and attend parties where alcohol is served. I never feel left out of “the crowd”; I am usually the first one on the dance floor! I have even had sex with a partner that has had alcohol in their system! ;0)
Second, I am not in any way against the Alcohol Industry. It is my belief that the companies that produce alcohol have made great strides in responsible advertising in the last few years and there will always be room for improvement. I believe there is no excuse for drinking and driving. Can’t get a hold of anyone to pick you up from the bar? Take a cab, a bus or walk home! Get a room somewhere! Ask a bartender to take you home or pass out on the cot in the back of the bar. Like I said, there is no excuse for drinking and driving.
I hope I have answered your questions, and again thank you for your support! Have a great day everyone!
Labels: drug addictions
N Posted by Rain at 2/15/2007 01:35:00 AM
jules posted at 5:02 AM
My parents were not alcoholic, but THEIR parents were. I see lots of the behaviors in them, and it affected how we were raised. Addictions affect more than just the addicted, that's for sure.
Slick posted at 1:03 PM
Ah, I lived with one for a number of years. Doesn't persuade me from drinking, but I'll be honest...it does play into my moderation.
posted at 4:18 AM
This is so painfully beautiful. I love how you wrote the characteristics and behaviors in such a thoughful voice, so personal. It really brings the characteristics to life. My mom and dad (and their parents) were alcoholics. I must work hard at my self esteem. Thank you.
My blog: http://www.go.blogs.com/guesswhatnormalis
Dragonfly posted at 5:05 PM
I found a few similarities in the first list, but had to stop reading after the first 5 in the next one. Just found that way to much mirroring me. But, not at as bad as I used to be.
Brian posted at 9:28 PM
I came back to this post and read it a couple of times. My parents were not alcoholics, but my best friend's father was, my first wife's father was, and I have known many.
There was no alcohol in my house growing up, save for the little souvenir bottles my dad collected from his plane flights. (they used to give them away for free to every passenger). My mom is a teetotaller but my dad enjoyed the occasional drink.
I enjoy the occasional drink myself, but usually avoid getting totally drunk. I also avoid drinking around the kids.
At one brief point a few years ago I felt like I was using alcohol to drown out my pain. That scared me and I avoided drinking for several months just to prove to myself that I could deal with my issues without help from a bottle. I can certainly understand how someone could slip into alcoholism easily.
Thanks for sharing and discussing this.
The Fat Lady Sings posted at 11:18 PM
I grew up surrounded by addiction. It truly does affect every part of your life. As a result, I have scrupulously avoided addiction myself; but I fell victim to all of the personality disorders children of alcoholics are heir to. It takes therapy and a willingness to change how you interact with people and the world. I began that change at age 25. At 50 I consider myself a work in progress.
Sally posted at 8:34 AM
"My fear of your anger and rejection determines what I say or do"
Wow - that is a big one that I can so relate to. And, I can truthfully say it never ends even when the other person is long gone.
Great post; such an important topic. Thanks.
ChilledBeer posted at 10:01 PM
ur very hottt..keep it up
Penny posted at 8:04 AM
Both of my parents were alcoholics but I can't say I grew up with it. We (the children) were put in foster homes at a relatively young age.
Nonetheless, the potential for becoming an alcoholic myself was very real and at one point, I felt I was well on my way. Now I can have a glass of wine on occasion with no problem. And my finacee has almost 26 years of sobriety.
Your list ... both of them ... hit very close to home. Thank you, Rain.
p.s. I also appreciate your entry on Desiderata. That has always been, and still is, one of my favorite poems. And it seems to be making a come back.