Thursday, February 15, 2007

Children of Alcoholics Week

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.

Dear Readers,

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!


N Posted by Rain at 2/15/2007 01:35:00 AM

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Great Reading



Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1952.

My mother used to read this poem out loud to me when I was a child. I hope you enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend the book, The Desiderata of Happiness by Max Ehrmann for your reading pleasure.

Have a great day everyone!


N Posted by Rain at 2/13/2007 02:25:00 AM

Monday, February 12, 2007

Children of Alcoholics


For family members, neighbors, teachers and others in a position to talk to a child from an alcoholic family, it's important to know what to say. Here are some tips for youngsters from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics:

  • DO talk about how you feel. You can talk with the safe people in your life maybe a close friend, or relative, a school counselor, a teacher, a minister or others. Sharing your feelings is not being mean to your family. When you talk to someone, you might feel less alone. In my home we never talked about anything that happened at home. It all was considered private family business and "we took care of our own."
  • DO try to get involved in doing enjoyable things at school or near where you live. The school band, softball, Boy or Girl Scouts, or others. Doing these types of activities can help you forget about the problems at home, and you could learn new things about yourself and about how other people live their lives. I was not the only child in my neighborhood dealing with the same issues. Every adult I knew had a problem with alcohol and/or drugs. I rode horses, I painted, took art classes and read everything I could get my hands on to escape the realities of home.
  • DO remember that feeling afraid and alone is a normal way to feel when you live with alcoholic parents. It's confusing to hate the disease of alcoholism at the same time that you love you alcoholic parent. All people have confusing feelings. Having two different feelings at the same time is the way many kids feel about having alcoholic parents. I remember the first time I went to therapy as an adult and being told that I did not hate the drinker only the alcohol. I told them they were full of shit because the bottle could not force itself into my fathers mouth. In time and with the help from my father I was able to work through all these issues and now I have a great relationship with him.
  • DO remember to have fun! Sometimes children from alcoholic families worry so much that they forget to be "just a kid." If things are bad at home, you might not have anyone who will help you have fun, but don't let that stop you. Find a way to let yourself have fun. I will not lie, my mothers drinking partners had daughters of their own. We each had many things in common and had a lot of fun during their drinking binges. We got away with many things and saved each other from harm.
  • DON'T ride in a car when the driver has been drinking if you can avoid it. It is not safe. Walk or try to get a ride with an adult friend who has not been drinking. If your parents are going out to drink somewhere, try not to go with them. (If you must go with them, sit in the back seat, sit in the middle, buckle up and stay calm.) I can't begin to tell you how many times I rode in the car with my mom or dad driving drunk. Both of my parents had car accidents involving alcohol. Thankfully no one was hurt in either accident.
  • DON'T think that because your parent is an alcoholic you will be one too. Most children of alcoholics do not become alcoholics themselves. This is just one of the reasons why I refuse to drink alcohol. I was responsible for changing the sheets on my parents bed after nights of heavy drinking and I have never forgotten the smell of sweat and alcohol. It was just so gross!
  • DON'T pour out or try to water down your parent's alcohol. The plain fact is that it won't work. You have no control over the drinking. You didn't make the problem start, and you can't make it stop. It is up to your parent to get help. What your parent does is not your responsibility or your fault. I wish some one had said this to me as a child. Looking back it really would have made a big difference in my life and saved me from years of guilt, anger, confusion and given me the power to make better decisions in my own personal life.

Many of you have emailed me concerning the last post and have asked questions about the circumstances surrounding the Things Left Unsaid post below. In all honesty it takes a lot to make me truly angry and when I feel backed into a corner I come out with what my mother used to call "my acid spewing tongue". While that may be true, my words and feelings are very real and are always backed up with facts and the truth. Writing the post felt liberating and left me with a great sense of peace. Try it yourself and you will understand exactly how I feel =-)

I am still taking antibiotics and I am no longer in need of pain medications. Yay me!

How was your weekend?

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N Posted by Rain at 2/12/2007 12:19:00 AM