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carol
12-12-2012, 11:38 AM
"Seventy percent of children of alcoholics develop a pattern of compulsive behavior as an adult such as alcoholism, overeating, or drug abuse."

So begins the article here:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/14265-common-characteristics-of-adult-children-of-alcoholics/

There's a wealth of information out there. I picked this article to start the thread 'cause it doesn't promote any particular organization although it does give references (ignore the sponsored links and don't whine about 'em-just sayin'), and it doesn't have a copyright warning.

For those of us in that 70%, we struggle not only with our demons with respect to addiction but underlying issues stemming from our heritage. No excuses, we still have to be responsible for our own behavior, but it may be helpful to learn and share.

Some traits we may have in common from that article:
- control freaks, heightened sense of responsibility
- care-takers, people pleasers, seeking approval
- low self-esteem, low feeling of self-worth
- stressed and depressed
- feeling guilty
- self-critical
- seriousness, difficulty with intimacy, avoidance of feelings
- fear of abandonment

Ok, just typing that much is bringing up strong emotions. I thought I'd coped with all this crap and moved on. Bummer. Looks like confronting this again may be my next growth step.

Thanks for the idea of starting this thread, Erin.

Chime in if this resonates with you.

_Erin_
12-12-2012, 12:07 PM
"Ok, just typing that much is bringing up strong emotions. I thought I'd coped with all this crap and moved on. Bummer. Looks like confronting this again may be my next growth step.

My sentiments exactly! My mom died almost 2 years ago, and I mourned losing her long before she actually died... shouldn't I be past this already? Obviously not, if I'm continuing to carry on some of those traits that I acquired along the way!

I went to Al-Anon for a year or so, several years ago, and these common traits were looked at as "coping mechanisms" rather than character flaws. At one point in your life, you NEEDED to be able to shove feelings down, or you HAD to be detached from your loved ones - sometimes in order to survive, or you HAD to keep the control in your household, because no one else did. I think it was approached that way to help people look at themselves as "human" and "lovable," because I don't know about you all, but most of the time, I am the last person I think of and the first person I criticize. I relate to every one of those traits, some more and some less as I've grown over the years.

Carol, thank you for starting this thread up! I'm excited to see how it goes and how many people can relate!

Beth
12-13-2012, 07:29 AM
I feel so blessed to have found Spiritual River and now having this thread truly makes this the best website by far!

I like Tim have never heard about ACA but now it explains soooo much. It's NOT an excuse but now explains a lot for me.

I remember a couple of years ago when I was in search of professional help to sort through the way my life was going......I was really at rock bottom. I found a therapist that started asking me about my childhood.....I was so turned off by her because I couldn't see how my childhood had anything to do with my life today that I stopped seeing her. So I just continued to self medicate.

Well through some insightful posts here and so many self help CDs, I sought help again a couple of weeks ago. I was open to anything. Within just a few sentences of me talking to my new therapist, she suggested Al-Anon meetings for Adult Children of Alcoholics. She said it would be like tag teaming.....therapy and meetings.

I have gone to two meetings and I feel like a new person. I have feelings.....never knew that......they had been stuffed sooooo deep that I did feel "unhuman".

At my second meeting of ACA they gave me the book "How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics". They said they give it to all new people. I am reading it but slowly. It is really hard for me to read the pain in the words......I can only take a little at a time.

I have so much I want to share about my experiences that I am getting out of this new lease on life but really didn't think the main thread was the place to do it. So Thank You Carol for starting this thread!

carol
12-13-2012, 10:03 AM
Hey, Beth, thank Erin, it was her idea, I just facilitated it!

Oh, the second time around I married an ACA so we are both way over responsible. I do get to enjoy being the recipient of some of his people pleasing! We're both retired, do a LOT of volunteering (too much?), enjoy each other and are content, but are really bad at making time for and having fun! Hmmm, maybe this all has something to do with that.

It will be interesting to see where this thread leads.

Beth
12-13-2012, 10:42 AM
Thank you Erin!;)

Just curious, when you were attending Al-Anon meetings, did you get a sponsor? I don't think I want to for whatever reason but interested in seeing your opinion on it.

Just an FYi, my parents were in recovery since I was about age 14........so finding this resource (ACA) is incredible for me. I have lots of memories of when they were drinking but I have many memories of them sober too. I think that's why I thought I was never "damaged" by their disease.

Beth
12-13-2012, 10:47 AM
I want to change my word "damaged" to affected......that's more accurate.

_Erin_
12-13-2012, 11:27 AM
Hey Beth... yes, I did get a sponsor. But not right away. Actually, when I first started going, I thought I had a pretty good handle on things myself. A friend of mine suggested it to me, so I went to see what it was about. I was really turned off by the idea of a Higher Power, because in my head I thought "Higher Power" meant they were forcing religion down my throat, which wasn't the case after I read and learned more. Once I opened my mind to it and committed myself to the first 6 meetings, it really started to make more sense. Eventually, I reached a point where I wanted a more intimate conversation about my experiences. Some things you're just not comfortable sharing with a room full of people. The woman I chose to ask was the mother of an alcoholic son... seems more significant now that I look back on it, because maybe I was looking for a mother figure.

Another ironic note is that I lost my mom 2 years ago, and she lost her son just this year. We still keep in touch even though we're not attending meetings, and now, I am able to help her through her grief while she helped me through mine.

Anyway, I suggest at least keeping your mind open to a sponsor. The good thing about the program is that you work it at your own pace. If you're not ready or comfortable, forget about it for now. One day you may reach the point where you think it would be helpful... worry about it then. :)

_Erin_
12-13-2012, 01:37 PM
PS - I like "affected" better than "damaged," too. :) I think everything happens for a reason. Many times in my life, something happens and at the time I ask, "Why?" Seems like eventually down the road, the "why" is revealed. Therefore, it wasn't damage done, it was conditioning and training for some later battle, but I suppose I don't always have to be prepared to fight. lol

_Erin_
12-14-2012, 11:31 AM
I just stumbled across this book review for "The Complete ACOA Sourcebook: Adult Children of Alcoholics at Home, at Work and in Love." You can read it in full here: http://www.alison-andrews.com/adult-children-of-alcoholics.html (and I think it would be worth your time). I could identify with pretty much everything that was said, but there were a few parts of it that I could especially identify with, excerpted below.

• Adult Children of Alcoholics guess at what normal is. Nothing in an alcoholic household is 'normal.' There is no frame of reference for how things 'should' be or what patterns of behavior are appropriate and acceptable. Consequently adult children of alcoholics have to guess. They look at TV shows, they look at other families that appear to be normal and try and mimic that. ...Woititz points out: 'in a more typical situation one does not have to walk on eggshells all the time. One doesn't have to question or repress one's feelings all the time. Because you did, you also became confused.'

• Adult Children of Alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end. (This is a trait that is with me big time, and it aggravates the hell out of me! In myself, though, I find two separate reasons why I don't follow through: Because I don't know how, as the article references, and fear. I get so many great ideas and start on them, then give up before I see a result, because I'm almost as afraid of accomplishment as I am of failure.)

• ACA's have difficulty with intimate relationships. 'To be intimate, to be close, to be vulnerable, contradicts all the survival skills learned by children of alcoholics when they were very young.' Because of the contradictory message the child receives constantly through their childhood, that of 'I love you. Go away' adult children of alcoholics may find the person who is warm and loving one minute and cold and rejecting the next, to be absolutely addictive.


• ACA's constantly seek approval and affirmation. Even when you receive approval and affirmation, you find it very difficult to accept. You would have to be 'bombarded with encouragement' to 'begin to accept it.' In my first few years as an employee I almost killed myself trying to be the best employee that had ever lived. If I did a thousand things right I would take it in stride, as if it was nothing, but if one thing went wrong I would agonize over it and feel that all my good work had just been undone. (This is so me, I could have written it.)


• ACA's are either super responsible or super irresponsible. You either do it all, or do nothing.I have played both parts. At certain times in my life I was so responsible it was frightening. At other times I behaved so recklessly that it was amazing I survived. (This was actually how I found this page. I have also been on both sides of the spectrum. Today, it occurred to me that I assume responsibility for things that in no way ARE my responsibility, and I'm about to give them back to their rightful owner.)



• ACA's are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. 'The alcoholic home appears to be a very loyal place. Family members hang in long after reasons dictate that they should leave. The so-called "loyalty" is more the result of fear and insecurity than anything else; nevertheless the behavior that is modeled is one where no one walks away just because the going gets rough.' For adult children of alcoholics this translates as, if someone cares enough about me to be with me, to be my friend or my lover, than I have a duty to stay with them forever. 'The fact that they may treat you poorly does not matter. You can rationalize that. Your loyalty is unparalleled.' Because the message you constantly received as a child was that the terrible behavior of the alcoholic, was 'not his fault', you have no idea about what is reasonable behavior. No idea about what can be deemed acceptable and what not. Therefore, almost any behavior can be empathized with, understood, and rationalized away. (Cannot count how many times I've been through this!)

_Erin_
12-18-2012, 10:28 AM
I like "damaged" myself. It reminds me of how much of my life I wasted because of my parent's and their excuse for an upbringing. It reminds me that I must kick this habit so I dont perpetuate their actions with my kids. It reminds me that I have suffered due to drink and that I and I alone can change.

Ok, when you put it like that... I like your point of view! Damaged childhood, but no longer damaged goods. I still prefer "affected" for my own experience only because I don't think I would necessarily label my mother as abusive or neglectful, although unavailable much of the time. And every event that occurs in my life feels like foreshadowing in a book - I might not understand it at the time, but eventually, the dots are connected for me.

Caring, for me, is an understatement. I will bend over backwards to please someone else, even if it means spreading myself too thin in the process. I am very quick to love another person, very slow to believe they would ever love me in return. If they betray me, and several have, I don't seem to remember any of the things I did for them, instead I try to legitimize their actions and figure out what I did wrong to make them behave that way. Who the hell do I think I am? Not every action someone does is directly tied to me. And other people are allowed many, many chances and failures. Me - I get the one shot and if I don't make it, I'm worthless. I must really think I'm awesome if I get different rules than everyone else.

Over the weekend, I got to thinking about other things I've read about ACAs. I am most definitely "all or nothing" in a lot of ways. I can't think of any times I have "lied when it was just as easy to tell the truth" except when it comes to myself. And I am not impulsive, except when it comes to eating. Food has been my coping crutch since my dad died. We always had plenty to eat growing up, but snacks and sweets weren't a necessity, therefore, weren't furnished. I remember when I began babysitting for other families at 10 years old (which, looking back, was really young to be caring for others' kids, but I was super-responsible), I'd take that money and buy chocolate, and eat it in one sitting. All or nothing - like I'd never see a piece of chocolate again in my lifetime. Lie to myself - that wasn't what was making me fat. It was a double-edged sword for a kid who had just lost her dad, didn't fit in, and was relentlessly picked on about her weight and her family being poor. The only solace I found was in food, which just kept the cycle repeating itself. lol

To this day, I still fight the urge to eat when something is bothering me. It's much more of a habit than I'd like to admit because even when I am not hungry, completely full, sometimes I just want to eat. I also find myself judging others based on appearance - not really judging them, but more myself - "she is prettier/thinner than me." Somehow, in my head, that equates to "she will be more interesting/better liked," which is sometimes true and sometimes not.

Those last two paragraphs were very hard to write, and I almost want to delete them and start my post over, but I'm not going to. If it were anyone else posting this, I would be thinking, "Awww, I feel so bad for you, that you had to go through that!" But it's me, so I feel like it's nothing, I feel ashamed and like no one else could possibly relate.

carol
12-18-2012, 10:41 AM
Erin, and I quote, awww I feel so bad for you that you had to go through that!!

I don't know if shame is something associated with ACA's, but it was sure something I felt when I was actively drinking. I did a quick google search and came up with something about forgiving yourself. Light bulb!

So, a concept for you to think about - forgiving yourself! You ARE a worthwhile human being!

_Erin_
12-18-2012, 11:01 AM
Carol, firstly, thank you! You are always so sweet and outreaching. And secondly, you make a good point. I feel a new Google search coming on. lol :)

Beth
12-19-2012, 05:07 AM
Erin, thank you for your honest post. I know it isn't easy to put it out there. As I read, I thought....yes, she has that "All or nothing" behavior (just like me) and then you said it..... You recognize it.....first step in changing it. I am practicing changing the behavior at work where I think that if I am not perfect and productive all day, then I automatically start to feel that I am that failure that my inner voice says about me so much.....I need to start accepting that my efforts are good enough everyday. I am not a slacker so I need to remind myself "good job".

I was listening to an ACA cd yesterday.....it made the point that we are in recovery....not recovery from alcohol but from the life we were exposed to as a child. ACAs had nothing normal.......the alcoholic may have been good at times but for the most part we received mixed signals. The "I love you now go away" signal. Or the "don't tell anyone our secret" signal. As children we were forced to keep the secret.....when we knew the secret wasn't right. we weren't allowed to feel it so we were forced to stuff it deep down. As children that was our pattern of surviving. Since survival is an automatic response, we needed to stuff the feelings to survive.

It also said to not tell your parents you are in this recovery. You are an adult and you are the most important person so who cares what they or others think about what you are uncovering. Do it for yourself. Make yourself strong.

John, I do hope that you find it in yourself to reconnect with you daughter but I think you need to keep focusing on your sobriety right now. This thread may be hard for you to read since there is alot of raw emotion that is being expressed. I hate to say but I wouldn't be surprised if your daughter not only burned your cards but also just threw the presents away too.......if she is an ACA. Now that I have found this definition of ACA, I am starting to feel a rebirth.....that I'm not alone. That being forced to keep the secret as a child was not normal and did affect (damage) me in so many ways. I am one of the strongest people I know. I have tremendous self esteem (on the outside) and have become successful. My parents are very proud of me.......but I always felt the internal voice telling me so many hateful things...something was always wrong inside and I could never explain it. Al-Anon is helping me heal from the inside.

_Erin_
12-19-2012, 07:24 AM
Tim, if I were in your shoes, I don't think I would feel much differently. I agree with your feeling that the card was an attempt to reel you back in so things could continue where they were left off. If it had been a genuine attempt at reconciliation, words could have been chosen much differently. I read something yesterday that made me think of you, it said: "Forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because you deserve peace." You can forgive them without having any contact with them. Like you said, I don't think the anger you carry is good for you, and I hope you can let it go and move on, if that is what you want!

John, I'm so sorry that your daughter has cut you off. I once wrote a letter to my mom telling her all the things I couldn't say to her face. We didn't talk for months after that, and then when we did, it was bitter at first. I am so thankful that before she passed away, we were on somewhat common ground again. No apologies were made directly, nothing was discussed, but the last, most vivid thing I remember is her telling me I had a beautiful family and I should be proud. To me, it felt like she was making an effort to apologize and acknowledge me as an adult. I do agree with Beth that sobriety needs to come first right now, but eventually down the road, making amends to those you've hurt comes into play. I hope by then you are able to swallow your pride and let your daughter know how you feel about her.

Beth, thank you for your post! I do feel more empowered to tackle what I need/want to change by facing it and acknowledging that it's there. Being honest about myself is by far one of the hardest things I've done, although I'm pretty good at being honest about others. LOL! It is also very hard to put "all of me" out there, the good, the bad and the ugly, because I've led myself to believe I will be judged. I am starting to believe that I am one of the strongest people I know, too, although I stand in my own way. I have a great job, love what I do, but because I was afraid to succeed, I wasted a lot of potential. I've totally lost my train of thought, so I'll come back when I get back on track. lol

_Erin_
12-20-2012, 11:25 AM
Wow. Thanks for sharing, Tim. I hope you don't think I was passing judgment or telling you what I think you should do with my last post. I don't know your parents, but I know you on here, and the person I see is highly valued by many... we can all see your worth from thousands of miles away, so it's sad that your dad is so hard on you. It is sad what THEY are missing out on. You don't care... but in a way you do, and always kind of will. I mean, those are your parents, where you came from, and they SHOULD love you unconditionally and accept you for who you are, even though they don't, and it's still not fair. I just don't wish for you to carry all that negativity with you until the day you die, that's all. I appreciate the post!!

carol
12-20-2012, 03:52 PM
Some "two cents" from me, worth all of that. . .

John, I don't think I starting "speaking" to my mom until I was 31 or so. I moved out of the house after I graduated high school, moved far away to college, and kept my distance for a long time. Keep loving your daughter. When you're ready in your recovery, reach out. Or not - it's your life!!

It occurred to me the other day that I have now created 2 more ACAs, my daughters. (Stepsons were already grown when they came into my life; I think of them as my sons.) Younger one feels she isn't worthy, is hypersensitive to criticism, has trouble with intimate relationships. Oh, boy. She is actually the one who got up the courage to approach me about my drinking 2 years ago, and she has seen me stop. I can't change the past, but both know that I love them, and hopefully that will make for a better future.

Tim, it helps me a lot to hear that your love your parents in spite of everything. . . Maybe some time yours will be able to do a better job of letting you know they love you. My family didn't say they loved each other growing up, it just wasn't done. The first time I heard that was a college roommate telling her parents "I love you so much", what an eye opener.

My husband has been very helpful in opening up my relationship with my mom. She would call and be abusive, even with me in my forties. I found out after my older daughter was grown that she used to call her while I was at work and do the same to her sometimes. Hubby couldn't understand how it could be that bad and encouraged me to call my mom every week. After a while he got to know more about my mom, but the once a week phone calls actually did help change the dynamic. I only started forgiving her though after my dad passed a couple of years ago.

Gotta rush off. More another time. Will post before re-reading, editing, second thoughts.

_Erin_
12-21-2012, 08:22 AM
It's funny how many of us second-guess ourselves when posting here. At least I feel that way myself, and believe that's what Carol meant by, "Will post before re-reading, editing, second thoughts." Yet we all have a lot of the same feelings, or did at one point in life... I all but hated my mom, which is why I separated myself from her for a while. One day it hit me that I am very much like her in some ways - and I have the potential to BE her at her lowest point. I tend toward depression at times, and have my own obsessions and compulsions I use to deal with it, who's to say that's not just as unhealthy, or that someday I couldn't wind up in the same place? It looks like we all go through that, to a degree.

My younger brother HATED alcohol, swore throughout his adolescent and teen years that he would never touch it because he saw how Mom acted when she was drunk. He just turned 25 and doesn't necessarily drink daily, but has a fridge in the garage for his beer and goes to "beerfests" with my older brother. My older brother keeps his distance a lot. He shows up at holiday gatherings, but is always drinking. It's just normal for him now. My older sister reminds me a lot of Mom - she will drink, and socially, but always seems so in control when drinking around people. You see her with "a" drink, but I know her well enough to know that she has snuck back into the kitchen when no one was paying attention for refills. IF Mom ever drank around people, she would have one beer. At home, a fifth of Southern Comfort a night.

The night Mom died, we all went out to the house to pay our last respects, and all three of my siblings got blasted. Even if I had wanted to, I'd just had my daughter, so I couldn't partake (blessing). But the thought that ran through my head was, "We ALL had a major problem with Mom drinking herself into oblivion every night. She literally just drank herself to death... and THIS is how you deal with it??" I kept going home and complaining to my boyfriend, who said I should bring it to their attention that I was concerned about them, so I did, and then they just started excluding me when they got together to clean out Mom's house. lol They also started making little comments when I was around and anyone was drinking, just like Mom used to, such as, "Oh, I'd better stop after one, I wouldn't want anyone to worry I was getting drunk..." It's not like I am perfect, I know I'm definitely not; and it's not like I never have a drink in my life. My point was Mom just took herself out and you're following in her footsteps. But it was a sensitive time and maybe not the right time. Oh well.

And my boyfriend is no better, he smokes weed all day, every day, to "control" his bipolar. I use that word lightly because it doesn't seem to be helping much lately. It's just a crutch. And this is just another co-dependent relationship I've gotten myself into. Maybe I'll talk more about that another day. lol (Oh, and I've been with him 5 years and he's still married to someone else - so I understand, Tim! :))

Anyway... I start typing and it all comes back like it was just yesterday. lol I guess my point is, not only do I KNOW where I came from (my mom's father was also an alcoholic, as are two of her brothers), but I have proof in front of me that it's so easy to become that person. I don't WANT a crutch to get through life, whether it's alcohol or drugs or food or clinging to another person. And I've tried them all, so I guess it's just a matter of how bad do I want to be the strong person that I know I am?

Aaaaaand end rant. lol

Midwest Sue
12-21-2012, 08:32 AM
I guess it's time that I jump into this thread. Like Carol, I'm not only the adult child of an alcoholic but I am ashamed to admit that I've contributed two (coming up on 3) to the world.

I've been wondering a lot lately about what "normal" contact is with adult kids. I feel like I'm a lot more disconnected than most moms are. There can be weeks with no contact with my 33 and 25 year old sons -- maybe a text now and then. They didn't join us for Thanksgiving with the extended family. I hope they will plan to come over on Christmas Eve, but who knows? I know that the 25 year old carries a LOT of angry baggage, and I feel terrible about that.

It's especially difficult at this time of the year, when I realize that I have not created the ideal image of what family should be.

I have to remember that I also spent a large part of my adulthood at a healthy distance from my parents. I LOVE spending time with them now.

Midwest Sue
12-25-2012, 09:37 AM
I'm happy to report that my adult sons did come over last night (Christmas Eve) for dinner and gift exchanging, the warmth of the fireplace on a cold evening, some laughs, and no drama.

I didn't have any alcohol in the house to serve, but wouldn't have been surprised or bothered if they had brought their own. They didn't. We had sparkling grape juice, cranberry juice, ginger ale, sparkling water.

EVERY Christmas Eve in my sons' memories has included mom getting happily, increasingly intoxicated. Photos reveal it in a flushed face and glazed eyes.

This year we were all sober, calm, attentive, relaxed. No cutting remarks or inappropriate humor. (OK, maybe some inappropriate humor but I remember it all and I'm not embarrassed the next day!)

I announced that it was the 1 year anniversary of my last drink, and I think they were proud of me.

All of the damage of the past can't be easily undone, but this felt like a significant baby step toward progress.

Life is good, and I hope I have many sober years ahead of me to be a good role model to my kids.

_Erin_
12-26-2012, 06:30 AM
I am so happy for you, Sue! Thank you for reporting, and it sounds like you made some great memories with your family. The mental image I get of you and your family makes me smile. I know I spent a lot of time yesterday just being grateful for what I had around me! A little late, but Merry Christmas!! :)

carol
01-07-2013, 05:01 PM
I went to my first mindfulness meditation class today. When we got to the part where we focus on our heart and love, I felt like my love was all choked up. My husband has commented before that I'm not all that demonstrative with my girls. The feeling I had today was one of cautiousness. I am sharing that here because it feels like an ACA thing. I don't want to interpret or predict or anything, just share the moment. I do plan to go back to class. That's all for now.

Midwest Sue
01-07-2013, 08:00 PM
Carol,
I think the feeling of cautiousness you describe could be an ACA thing.
Sounds like an interesting class that has already given you a gentle glimpse into yourself.

I've recognized in myself that I sabotage my own happiness. Or used to. Couldn't just accept it.

_Erin_
01-09-2013, 07:37 AM
Thank you for sharing, Carol. Up until I had my daughter, I would say I was the same - been burned enough times, you become afraid to love. With my little girl, I can't shut it off. I think it has to do with knowing that she is a fresh, innocent life. She has no baggage to get in the way and no underlying intention of harm or deception.

And sabotaging your own happiness? I understand that, too. Don't think I've ever felt like I was allowed to be happy, just take care of others and go through the motions. I am finding that, now that I am trying to find my own happiness, I'm trying to give responsibilities back to others that I have wrongfully assumed on myself. It's not as easy as I thought it would be. For one, they don't WANT them back, I've done them all along so they still feel it is my place to do these things, and I'm being met with adversity. Two, I have feelings of guilt for daring to think of myself. And three, said adversity is only amplifying the guilt feelings and making it even harder for me not to feel like I should have just kept my mouth shut.

carol
01-09-2013, 08:40 AM
Erin, I've been thinking of you. Glad to hear from you.

Ah, not allowed to be happy, I remember that.

When I was going through my divorce, I spent some time with a male very direct counsellor who helped me confront a lot and start to heal. That was when I was doing a lot of reading about ACA. I've grown a lot since then, processed a lot, and gotten older which I think helps too.

I may not be as demonstrative but I know my girls know I love them, and so does my husband. I am looking forward to opening my heart through this meditation class, and I am thinking what I may find is love for myself. Sounds exciting.

Boundaries remain the #1 thing I think about re: ACA. Setting them at all, holding to them. I remarried, to an ACA, who had strong boundaries in some areas and not in others, e.g., he'll let some people walk all over him but he was able to help me learn to set boundaries with my daughters. While I was learning though, I made some mistakes, setting arbitrary boundaries, etc. Still, I'll never forget the time my younger daughter was talking about a friend who was in trouble and said "mom, her parents don't care about her, she doesn't even have a curfew". This after pushing me all the time! I don't know that it would have made a difference in the long run, but I was a doormat in my previous marriage.

So yep, establishing boundaries and not taking everything on yourself, you'll get pushback. You'll make a few mistakes with boundary setting, but so what, you are worth it!!

_Erin_
01-17-2013, 11:36 AM
"The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn." ~Gloria Steinem

_Erin_
01-18-2013, 07:42 AM
"He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty." ~ Lao Tsu

carol
01-18-2013, 05:42 PM
Erin, I like the quotes. This one has been nagging at me all day though. Yeah, I get it about mastering oneself instead of fighting or lording it over others. But it feels like I used to spend so much time beating myself up, over drinking of course, but over not being good enough, blah, blah, and "conquer" conjures all that up. Now I'm focused on acceptance of myself. Funny how that concept can also bring up, "what are you perfect, nothing to change?" But that's not it. Accepting and loving myself as a valuable human being, valuing myself. Back to the oxygen mask analogy someone mentioned recently and I seem to be picking up on a lot.

_Erin_
01-21-2013, 06:55 AM
I understand where you're coming from, and I agree on accepting and loving myself, but for me, "conquer" does fit in some places. For example, the treatment that I allow from other people. That is something I would like to conquer, not accept. My fear of stating my opinion, even if it doesn't match that of others, that's something else I'd like to conquer. :)

carol
01-21-2013, 08:30 AM
Erin, oh, good points. As a former doormat with my ex-husband (even though I was high-powered at work), I totally agree, don't let people treat you like that. Conquer on, warrior woman!

_Erin_
02-18-2013, 08:18 AM
I am reading a book I borrowed from my aunt a few years ago - "Conversations with God." (I'm most definitely not a religious zealot. I usually read Dean Koontz, before this I read Marilyn Manson's autobiography for probably the 10th time. I just like to think and learn.)

Supposedly, the author was writing an angry letter to God asking why his life is the way it is, why is he always the victim, etc., and God started answering. I'm not trying to start yet another theological conversation by talking about this book. But I'm only 100 pages into it and a few of the things mentioned really make sense to me and could change your (my) perspective.

For example, "God" tells this guy that what IS cannot exist without what ISN'T, so in order to know who we are, we must experience who we are not. Therefore, not to look at past choices as mistakes, and not to look at them with regret, because the choice you made brought you a step closer to finding who you are. Instead of beating yourself up over a past decision or wishing things were different, learn from it and decide, "Well, that didn't work for me, I will choose something else now." It's a whole lot deeper than that, but I'd have to type out everything I've read so far to make it make sense here.

I'm posting this here, rather than in the "Reviews" or "Random Chat" thread, because it's my opinion and observation (and personal experience) that people that deal with an alcoholic/addict and that person's behavior tend to be super-critical of their own actions.

Millie
02-18-2013, 08:44 AM
Erin,
That seems to be the lesson in Siddharta, too. Siddharta "learned" that he could not be "taught" the way to total enlightenment from an enlightened one, he would have to learn it from within. He had many less than honorable experiences along the way toward enlightment, but felt they were necessary just for the reasons you cite above.

_Erin_
03-29-2013, 08:51 AM
I'm bumping this thread to make it easier for a friend I just made to find and read. I think (and hope) some of the discussions here may be helpful! :)

Beth
04-02-2013, 06:31 AM
I can't explain the affects that going to Al-Anon meetings have had on my life......I can't explain the support I get. From my first meeting, I knew I found a piece to the puzzle of my life.

I attend both regular Al-Anon meetings as well as two Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings a week. I do not have an active alcoholic in my life but the meetings are not about the alcoholic. They are about sorting through your own life.

Here is an excerpt from the Al-Anon website

Did You Grow Up with a Problem Drinker?

Al-Anon is for families, relatives, and friends whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. If someone close to you, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, has or has had a drinking problem, the following questions may help you determine if Al-Anon is for you:
*1. Do you constantly seek approval and affirmation?
*2. Do you fail to recognize your accomplishments?
*3. Do you fear criticism?
*4. Do you overextend yourself?
*5. Have you had problems with your own compulsive behavior?
*6. Do you have a need for perfection?
*7. Are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly, continually anticipating problems?
*8. Do you feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?
*9. Do you still feel responsible for others, as you did for the problem drinker in your life?
*10. Do you care for others easily, yet find it difficult to care for yourself?
*11. Do you isolate yourself from other people?
*12. Do you respond with fear to authority figures and angry people?
*13. Do you feel that individuals and society in general are taking advantage of you?
*14. Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?
*15. Do you confuse pity with love, as you did with the problem drinker?
*16. Do you attract and/or seek people who tend to be compulsive and/or abusive?
*17. Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone?
*18. Do you often mistrust your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others?
*19. Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?
*20. Do you think someone's drinking may have affected you?
If you have answered "Yes" to any of these questions, Al-Anon or Alateen may help you. Find a meeting now.

carol
04-03-2013, 07:50 AM
Beth, this post has really stayed with me. I've really been in #7 and didn't know why. My brother and one of my sisters visited my former alcoholic mom this weekend and there was drama. Suffice it to say there's a lot of water under the bridge with my mom. I was able to comfort my sister and help deal with my mom. She's a lot more mellow in her 80s but can still hurt like a knife. It didn't occur to me until I saw your post that the feeling of unease I had even when everything seems to be going fine in my life might be an ACA thing triggered by recent events.

Thank you.

Beth
04-05-2013, 07:29 AM
Carol, yes 7 & 8 are the ones I most identify with.

At my meeting last night the topic was the fourth step. I'm understanding that the first meeting of each month is devoted to the step that correlates to the month....so April being the fourth month is for the fourth step.
Starting my sixth month in the program I had no desire to work the steps past 1 through 3. I have not gotten a sponsor mainly because I haven't met anyone that I would want to be my sponsor. Mind you, I am (was) at a very low point in my life......I was (am) struggling just to make it day to day. I was two months sober and desperate to stop being sick (crazy) when I reached out for a counselor who is the one who recommended Al-Anon.... who is also in the program.
So last night as we went around the group.....about 25 people.....all sharing how they worked step 4. The first 20 people all confirmed why I wasn't going to work the steps.......it was EXTREMELY HARD to face the 4th step. They all said how scary it was.....they were afraid.....took years to get to the point where they could do it. I could tell that most of them really hadn't worked it how it was suppose to be worked....and some admitted after being in the program for years still had nit been able to do it. But then came Judy, a quite over weight older woman who simply said that the fear of the 4th step is unnecessary if you want to really recover.....which is why we are there. I was flushed with emotion by her words. I desperately want to recover! My life has been so dysfunctional my entire adult life and now that I have found Al-Anon I know why. So I approached her after the meeting and thanked her for her comments. I couldn't say much more because I was on the verge of tears. She gave me her number and said to call if I wanted to. I am amazed by the meeting last night. I was looking for that "right" person to ask to be my sponsor......actually searching during the meetings to see if there is anyone that could fill this shoes. Judy would be the last person I would have ever considered. But today she is at the top of my list.

_Erin_
04-05-2013, 07:49 AM
Beth, I'm so happy for you!! :) Sometimes what you're looking for comes when you stop looking. I'm really glad that the meetings are helping. I know that feeling of thinking you're just f-ed up, and then when you start uncovering the past, it actually makes sense for the first time, and while sometimes (usually) extremely painful at first, there is major healing in it all.

I just went and looked up The 12 Steps, because it's been a really long time since I've been to a meeting or picked up my Al-Anon books. It's kind of funny that, looking through the list, I have unconsciously done the steps! When I was TRYING to do the 12 steps, I couldn't do it. I did what you did, got through the first three and couldn't seem to face Step 4. Or, I would "fake" Step 4 (admit the easy and obvious things I didn't like about myself) and get stuck. I am looking back at where I am from where I came, since starting Al-Anon or even just joining this site, and I've had this sense of peace lately that I really can't explain. People I work with, friends and family members have noticed a difference in me. It didn't happen overnight and I didn't even realize anything had changed. I guess it is true that the process can't be forced.

Thank you for sharing that!!

Beth
04-05-2013, 08:32 AM
I am happy for you also Erin! I now can identify with what you say about not being able to explain it.....because everyday there's something different. Nothing of grandeur, just Hope. Which is far from where I started.
Thank you for all you share with us!

_Erin_
07-10-2013, 08:42 AM
It occurred to me just a little bit ago that the weight loss/transformation thing I'm in the process of doing right now isn't just about losing weight. I know I've mentioned it elsewhere before, so I probably sound like a broken record to a lot of people (apologies), but my "comfort eating" began when my dad passed away (I was 9). My mom's drinking began the next day (or maybe the same day, but I remember finding the first bottle of whiskey the very next day). I didn't get any therapy or counseling for my grief, therefore, I shoved my feelings, took care of my mom and little brother, and medicated myself with food. Not too different from how Mom coped... an addiction is an addiction, in my opinion. Along with getting fatter, I got lazy... plus I then lost any confidence I might have had, which was probably barely developed at age 9.

This weight loss means a lot to me. It's like I'm leaving the past behind for good. Shedding those coping mechanisms which "saved me" in the past, that I no longer need in the present/future. I am finding confidence that is 100% new to me. I have never experienced loving the "imperfect me" before. I have always found flaws with myself and cut Erin down faster than anyone else could. I've learned how to accept myself as I am. I'm not even close to my final goal weight, and I can already look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

Forgiveness has had a lot to do with it, too. I forgave my mom, even though she's not here anymore, for failing me. Then I forgave myself for a lot of things that might sound dumb to someone else - for being a "grown-up child" that could not save her mom; for all the resentment and anger I harbored for so long; for failing and neglecting myself all these years due to preoccupying myself with someone else's problems (I realized that I've applied the relationship I had with Mom to every other relationship I've had since); for not being perfect. It's good to set the bar high for yourself, but not so high it's unachievable.

Here's something else that might sound stupid: This is the first time I've ever set a goal for myself in ANYTHING... much less ACHIEVED it. Even just small goals - setting them and then following through - I never knew how good it could make you feel.

My mom did what she could do at the time. It took me nearly 32 years of life, but I finally love her unconditionally! I wish I'd gotten to this point before she died, but I'm still thankful for getting there eventually. Not all of my childhood was awful. I do remember how my mom was before she drank... "radiant" is probably the best single word I could choose for describing how she was. I feel the best way I can honor my mom is to take the parts of my upbringing that I benefited from and use them in raising my daughter. The things I longed to have different between myself and Mom - wanting that strong mother/daughter bond, knowing I was top priority in her eyes (all of us kids), making me the scapegoat for all her problems, the yelling and impatience - are very important to ME to make sure my little girl KNOWS. At 2-1/2, I can tell just by looking at that child that she is comfortable in her home, very secure in herself, and knows she is very loved. It is awesome not to have to wonder - I know my mom would be proud of who I'm becoming and how I'm raising her granddaughter.

carol
07-10-2013, 10:50 AM
Erin, sweetheart, good for you! I was going to reply to your post on the 30 day challenge that you must look like a goddess, but this is even better. I am so happy for you. There is tremendous power in forgiveness. And finally being able to set and achieve goals for yourself without feeling ashamed or guilty is awesome! How lovely to be able to remember the good parts of your mom. Your little girl is so lucky to have you as her mom, and I know grandma is smiling on both of you. Good job, girl!!! You rock.

Periwinkle
10-02-2013, 06:50 PM
A bit late, but skipping around reading past posts tonight and happen to see this. As you know, I'm going to Al-anon now and also CODA (codependents anonymous) and boy oh boy what an eye opener. I thought because my mom has been sober for 26 years and in my late 20's I made peace with my mom for being an alcoholic as I was growing up that I was healed. It was only recently that I realize in going through all this with my partner and his drinking did I understand my triggers, my behaviors and why it hurt me to the extent that it did. I was still a broken little girl in a woman's body. Now I am working on my recovery in nourishing that little girl and helping her grow up and out in a healthy way that no one could do for me at the time. Better late than never :)


I just stumbled across this book review for "The Complete ACOA Sourcebook: Adult Children of Alcoholics at Home, at Work and in Love." You can read it in full here: http://www.alison-andrews.com/adult-children-of-alcoholics.html (and I think it would be worth your time). I could identify with pretty much everything that was said, but there were a few parts of it that I could especially identify with, excerpted below.

Adult Children of Alcoholics guess at what normal is. Nothing in an alcoholic household is 'normal.' There is no frame of reference for how things 'should' be or what patterns of behavior are appropriate and acceptable. Consequently adult children of alcoholics have to guess. They look at TV shows, they look at other families that appear to be normal and try and mimic that. ...Woititz points out: 'in a more typical situation one does not have to walk on eggshells all the time. One doesn't have to question or repress one's feelings all the time. Because you did, you also became confused.'

Adult Children of Alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end. (This is a trait that is with me big time, and it aggravates the hell out of me! In myself, though, I find two separate reasons why I don't follow through: Because I don't know how, as the article references, and fear. I get so many great ideas and start on them, then give up before I see a result, because I'm almost as afraid of accomplishment as I am of failure.)

ACA's have difficulty with intimate relationships. 'To be intimate, to be close, to be vulnerable, contradicts all the survival skills learned by children of alcoholics when they were very young.' Because of the contradictory message the child receives constantly through their childhood, that of 'I love you. Go away' adult children of alcoholics may find the person who is warm and loving one minute and cold and rejecting the next, to be absolutely addictive.


ACA's constantly seek approval and affirmation. Even when you receive approval and affirmation, you find it very difficult to accept. You would have to be 'bombarded with encouragement' to 'begin to accept it.' In my first few years as an employee I almost killed myself trying to be the best employee that had ever lived. If I did a thousand things right I would take it in stride, as if it was nothing, but if one thing went wrong I would agonize over it and feel that all my good work had just been undone. (This is so me, I could have written it.)


ACA's are either super responsible or super irresponsible. You either do it all, or do nothing.I have played both parts. At certain times in my life I was so responsible it was frightening. At other times I behaved so recklessly that it was amazing I survived. (This was actually how I found this page. I have also been on both sides of the spectrum. Today, it occurred to me that I assume responsibility for things that in no way ARE my responsibility, and I'm about to give them back to their rightful owner.)



ACA's are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. 'The alcoholic home appears to be a very loyal place. Family members hang in long after reasons dictate that they should leave. The so-called "loyalty" is more the result of fear and insecurity than anything else; nevertheless the behavior that is modeled is one where no one walks away just because the going gets rough.' For adult children of alcoholics this translates as, if someone cares enough about me to be with me, to be my friend or my lover, than I have a duty to stay with them forever. 'The fact that they may treat you poorly does not matter. You can rationalize that. Your loyalty is unparalleled.' Because the message you constantly received as a child was that the terrible behavior of the alcoholic, was 'not his fault', you have no idea about what is reasonable behavior. No idea about what can be deemed acceptable and what not. Therefore, almost any behavior can be empathized with, understood, and rationalized away. (Cannot count how many times I've been through this!)

carol
10-14-2013, 12:27 PM
Quick post for now, I only have a minute but I need to tell this story so will be back. Visiting my mom who's in her late 80s for a week and a half as I do several times a year. Waiting for the doctor talking about neighbors when she casually brings up my brothers suicide attempt some 40 years ago. I was already out of the house so have only heard bits and pieces. She talked about the neighbor doctor administering CPR, calling the minister, etc. of course the word suicide was never used. I'm silently freaking out. I had managed to forget how truly f***** up my family was growing up and how at the age of 10 as the oldest of 4 I was figuring out how I'd keep all the kids together if something happened. Gotta go for now and take care of mom as tho nothing is wrong. I'll be ok, I'll write more later. Thanks for listening

_Erin_
10-14-2013, 12:58 PM
Awww, thinking of you, Carol, and I'm glad you are letting it out. It's crazy how sometimes we think we're "all better," only to have something unexpected throw us completely off our game. Interested to hear the rest of what you have to say, just wanted to make sure you knew you were heard!

And Periwinkle, somehow I missed your post a week ago (I would have replied immediately if I'd seen it!), but I'm really glad to hear that Al-Anon is helping you! Haven't heard from you lately, I hope you're still doing great...

Thank you both for waking this thread up again!! It really means a lot to me. I am still finding things out about myself as well, and sometimes think about sharing and then wonder if I should bother. I appreciate you having the guts. :)

Periwinkle
10-14-2013, 04:17 PM
After trying on a few al-anon groups, I found a wonderful small group of women that I feel open to share with. I love that it's not just a venting, but encouraging group of hope and realizing so many similarities we have had through life, regardless of our ages or who the alcoholic was in our lives.

At this point in my life, I don't feel the need to go back to my mom for all of this, I think I have made peace with that part and forgiven her. Really, having her acknowledge it now wouldn't help in my recovery process, it's really work that I have to do regardless of who is to blame. So, I just focus on the present and what do I have control of and let the rest go. It's really kinda liberating :)

Chad
10-14-2013, 05:17 PM
Carol,
Everything, we do as parents resonates for so long.. I am glad you are ok..:) Please tell rest when you have time..

Erin, you better share... You are important to this site and anything on your mind is important to me..:)

Chad

carol
10-14-2013, 06:52 PM
It's crazy how sometimes we think we're "all better," only to have something unexpected throw us completely off our game. . . I am still finding things out about myself as well, and sometimes think about sharing and then wonder if I should bother.

Erin, thanks, that's it in a nutshell. Oh, yes please share.

Peri and Chad, good to hear from you as well.

So I alternated for a while between feeling the anger of that time in the past, realizing it was really rage, but underneath the rage was tremendous sadness, and living in today where I'm a 60-year old grownup. I thought of a sermon I heard based on the sports analogy of the highlights they show of the game. Point was you can think of the lowlights of your life or focus on the highlights instead, and we all have both. There were definitely highlights in my childhood as well. I just had never felt the enormous sadness and loneliness my brother must have felt as the older kids left one by one leaving him to suffer the lowlights, so to speak, all alone. All us kids are high achievers, all of us have varying degrees of baggage. After my divorce almost 25 years ago I did a lot of work to face my issues and grow, found out about the whole concept of ACAs, which it turned out one of my sisters was practically an expert on, and it helped a lot. I continued to use those tools. Unfortunately one of the coping mechanisms I used was drinking which of course got progressively worse, and now I've created another generation of ACAs, more's the pity. At least they have seen me stop and grow.

At some point in the last year or two, after putting down a good foundation of sobriety, I forgave my mom. She has mellowed a lot. At this point if you met her you'd say, oh she's just old, older people get like that. But it's hard to have that perspective because of past hurts. I told my husband yesterday that the way I'm getting along fine is to act like I'm a 10 year old child before I started rebelling and do whatever she tells me to do. That was before I remembered that my 10 year old child was not so innocent.

So blah, blah, blah, how do I hold this? The only problem with the highlights approach is if you take it to the limit it invalidates the lowlights. Yet letting the lowlights be the story is being trapped in the anger and disappointment of the past. While feeling that rage and then sadness, I asked myself if I still forgive my mom. The answer came back yes. And I think that forgiveness helps free me.

I've also learned, and am still learning a lot, about boundaries. From what I've learned and experienced, ACAs are boundaryless. Setting boundaries is critically important to me and a key element in preventing relapse for me. A couple of visits ago, my mom was really mean and said some things I won't repeat that in anyone's book are unacceptable. I did the usual yelling and screaming, but then I also put my foot down and told her that if she continued I would book a flight and go home. It wasn't an idle threat. My hubby is the most kind-hearted person you'll ever meet, and he was truly shocked by what she said, and supported me. It didn't come to that, but I think it was a turning point.

I don't want to just peanut-butter over this memory but I also won't let the past hold power over me. It feels like there's still a lesson here to learn, I just don't know what it is yet.

Good night all.

carol
10-15-2013, 06:47 PM
Boundaries and forgiveness were my focus today. I'm still learning to set and hold to boundaries. Funny thing is that doesn't make me rigid, it makes me more free. Forgiveness even more freeing.

Oh, and being grateful every day. I have so much to be grateful for.

I go home tomorrow to my little cocoon with my husband. I'm doing a lot again with volunteering; I enjoy it but there again I need to not overcommit. So I may be going back to reading and not posting much. I'm still here, though.

Thanks for listening, y'all.

Chad
10-15-2013, 09:20 PM
I am so glad you are still here, Carol.. I would miss you so..:)
I am working hard on boundaries and forgiveness with my mother-in-law.. She has been such a destructive force in my wife's life and mine too.. She calls herself a recovered alcoholic but that is not really the case.. She doesn't drink, but relives her drinking in many other ways.. Shopping, eating, meddling in others lives, has been her drink of choice for many years..
I hope too one day be able to forgive her.. Maybe, one day..

Chad

Periwinkle
10-16-2013, 08:03 AM
big >hugz< to ya Carol!

_Erin_
11-07-2013, 07:45 PM
Ok, so a few weeks have passed since I last visited this thread... which seems unbelievable to me, but it's right there in black and white, so it must be true. Three weeks ago, I was considering posting a few things and never did. "Character flaws," I suppose is what they're referred to by some, but I once commented that I felt every "character flaw" was at some point in time useful, so I'm going to challenge myself to back that comment up and figure out how each one ever benefited me. Just thinking "out loud" as I type tonight... which leads my to my first one:

- Procrastination/perfectionism. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand. I put off saying anything at all on this board until I had the time to do it exactly the way I wanted to in my head, to convey every last little ounce of emotion I had while cross-examining myself. While talking with a good friend of mine the other day, I realized that putting off things I wanted to say sometimes conveys an absence completely rather than a pause for thought. Maybe it's less important to say the perfect thing, and more important to say SOMETHING. I am sure that this one stemmed from childhood, getting yelled at for doing something wrong, maybe even the walking on eggshells that happened pretty often because you didn't know what to expect upon coming home... so until I could do it "right," I didn't do it at all. I think this is something that I'm ready to work on letting go.

- Comparing myself to others. MY GOD, it's constant! Even since I've been working on my weight and self-esteem, there still must be some underlying feeling of inadequacy because I catch myself doing it all the time lately. It's not so much the "she's prettier than me," or "she's got a better life than I do" type of thinking that it used to be. Now it's more "she's losing weight faster than I am" or "she's attracting more attention than I am." Funny thing is, I KNOW that I am in charge of my weight loss - the lack thereof is due to my lack of effort lately. And I don't really WANT all eyes on me. That's not my style at all, but I find it odd that I am NOTICING it. This one, I'm actually at a loss to think of a way this could have ever been beneficial at the moment. Maybe it'll hit me later.

- Allowing BOTH of these things to stand in my way. I have been reading the new "fitness" thread, but didn't feel adequate posting there, because I'm not a fitness expert and I don't eat "clean." My good friend Chad (I sure hope you don't mind me naming you directly) asked my thoughts and wondered why I hadn't posted there yet. Earlier this week, I did the workout I always do three times in a row, back-to-back, without stopping but to restart the DVD. It's something I couldn't have done 9 months ago when I started working out... not even close. Something I really should be proud of, something that might motivate someone else. I still didn't think this qualified me to post there. Not only was I waiting until I achieved perfection... I was comparing myself to everyone else that's already "ahead of me." Being the good friend that he is, he pointed out the obvious, that this isn't a competition and the thread was never meant to be that. It's a place to swap ideas and gain new ones. I turned it into a comparison challenge myself, which is probably the worst way to sabotage your own progress in any instance.

I also noticed myself driving down the road the other day, looking at the beautiful pearly-white Cadillac Escalade in the rear-view mirror and calling him a "rich douchebag" in my head, for no other reason than what he was driving. I expected him to tailgate me because he had a nice ride, like driving a nice car means you're an asshole. lol Maybe dude was born into money... maybe he WAS a rich douchebag... or maybe he freakin' earned his way in life and earned his sweet car. Maybe I programmed myself to think anyone with nicer "things" than me looks down on me. Or maybe I'm just jealous. Or maybe I'm a "poor douchebag" for having pre-conceived notions about someone I never even met or SAW, just the car's logo in my mirror.

So that made me think. It was an immediate realization. It made me want to re-adjust the way I approach other human beings. On here, I look at everyone so compassionately. I see past all the flaws and wish only good things for every person I encounter. Out in the "real world," I guess I am slightly paranoid sometimes. lol I BELIEVE the world needs more caring, more kindness, more open-mindedness... but I don't always live what I want to see. I guess that makes me a hypocrite... or it makes me human. But either way, I feel like now that I've realized it, it's on my shoulders to do something about it, or I am just spinning on the hamster wheel again... not really making any progress, just talking the talk.

Anyway... I'd like to say something like, "I'm sorry if this post doesn't make any sense," but I'm not. Because it means I made a move to work on my perfectionism and procrastination, and on my "caring about what everyone else thinks" mentality... and maybe it'll sound stupid to the majority, but maybe it'll help someone else that reads it.

carol
11-07-2013, 08:18 PM
Hi, Erin, good to hear from you.

I procrastinate too. When we did the personality-type stuff at work, I was among other things "pressure-prompted", i.e., I didn't get things done till the last minute when there was a a deadline.

More recently, I ran across the following question to ask yourself: "what would you do if you knew you could not fail?" It has been a great question. I've known I'm a perfectionist but I had never correlated that with procrastinating. It never occurred to me that sometimes I procrastinate because if I follow thru and do whatever it is, I might do it wrong or fail. What would I do if I knew I could not fail? has helped me face some of that.

So you know me, I googled perfectionism and adult children of alcoholics, and found "Children from alcoholic homes are never good enough, smart enough, tough enough, fast enough, or "something" enough. They lived with constant criticism and eventually internalized it. They believe they have to be perfect or at least better than everyone else just to be equal. If they do something well, they tell themselves that it was nothing, that it was easy." Hmm, it says we judge ourselves without mercy.

Ok, now I'm depressed. Not really but it does being me down a bit. I am lucky that I did somehow grow up with an inherent sense of self-worth, alongside the constant trying to please my mom and getting shot down. I've managed to build on that and have grown a lot. Somewhere along the line, I was introduced to the concept of "good enough", and that has helped.

Here's where I'd like to say, here's the answer, but of course it doesn't work that way. Knowing where some of this came from, self-awareness, a willingness to change, learning to forgive ourselves, those all help. Erin, that's forgiving yourself! Had to say it again for emphasis.

And you get an "A" for waking me up to think and post!

Hugs, Carol

_Erin_
11-08-2013, 06:16 AM
Thank you, Carol. You summed it up well! I guess kind of like you visiting home, being reminded of things you thought you'd made peace with, and getting a few fresh emotions from it... I am just realizing (again) that this journey is never over... there's always something to learn or re-learn or remind yourself of. I was thinking of this post in the shower this morning, and I thought about all the books I ordered when I was going to Al-Anon. Thought maybe it's time to dig those out and read them again. I'm not trying to push Al-Anon (although it is a great tool), but it might even give me some ideas to put here. Anytime I dig something out I read a long time ago, I get a whole new perspective the next time I read it. Sort of how last night's post wasn't anything new to me, really, more of a reminder of what I need and want to work on. But I do have a whole new approach, because I didn't beat myself up or cry or even get sad when I posted it. I was able to look at myself with less criticism than before. That's a step in the right direction. :)

Periwinkle
11-08-2013, 09:13 AM
"So you know me, I googled perfectionism and adult children of alcoholics, and found "Children from alcoholic homes are never good enough, smart enough, tough enough, fast enough, or "something" enough. They lived with constant criticism and eventually internalized it. They believe they have to be perfect or at least better than everyone else just to be equal. If they do something well, they tell themselves that it was nothing, that it was easy." Hmm, it says we judge ourselves without mercy."

I resemble that remark. I too was a procrastinator because I wanted to do it just right or I won't bother at all cause why bother with a half ass attempt at something. I have learned going through recovery that it's about progress, not perfectionism. It's about me, not everyone else's progress. Al-anon has helped me understand the root cause of this from my childhood and I keep going mainly cause I stumbled upon a really wonderful group of women that I think we would relate to one another even if alcohol wasn't a factor just based on our experiences in life. While I have had drinking being a problem in my life, I have realized it wasn't about just quit drinking, it was something deeper that was causing me problems with coping and dealing with my life and that problem for me is called co-dependency. I read the Melody Beattie book years ago, and some of it I took to heart, but most of it was shoved out. I wasn't ready to get my head out of denial yet. Now I embrace it and enjoy her daily meditation book The Language of Letting Go. You don't have to buy it, you can find it updated daily on Hazelden http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/thought.view?catId=1904

I have accepted that I will never be "cured" or reach a goal and live happily ever after. It will be a lifetime of working at it, stopping every so often to smell the roses along the way, take a look back and see how much I have grown, then keep on keeping at it. Thanks for opening up and sharing and YES, YOU! Jump into the fitness forum. None of us are perfect or experts, just trying to be healthier and share ideas :)

Be proud of your accomplishments and don't worry about where everyone else is at in their progress cause YOU ROCK! :)

_Erin_
12-04-2013, 06:24 PM
Since my last post here, I have gotten back "on a roll" and feel like I'm making progress again. By that I mean growing spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and have gotten back to my exercise. I haven't been posting it, but I've still been doing it. I'm STILL learning that even the points in life that feel like a "plateau" are worth something. Usually it means that I'm about to make a new discovery and grow more, if I stay my course. Kind of like the "dull moments" that are being discussed on the main thread right now, I guess. If you're experiencing the "blahs" of life right now, keep pushing through and brace yourself for a breakthrough. I don't know, maybe being able to look at it in a different perspective will make it suck a little less for someone else.

I was writing a message last night and something occurred to me. I have been just completely humbled this week at the chain of events that happened by my writing that one little letter for my friend and her family. (This was a couple I went to school with, they lost their almost-10-year-old daughter to cancer last February, and have a 9-year-old surviving daughter.) It has seriously brought me so much joy to think that I did something that is going to give them even a moment's worth of happiness in a time that will probably be one of the hardest points in any of their lives. I am so excited for the event - we were all invited to a big dinner with catered food, games, Santa, then they present the family with a monetary gift to help them out and fulfill the children's Christmas lists. I get overwhelmed with emotion just thinking about it.

What hit me last night was I've come around full-circle with this caregiving thing. When I was a child, I was caregiver to my mother and younger brother. I was put in the situation without being asked - not to say I resent how my life played out - in fact, completely the opposite. But no one said, "Hey, 9-year-old Erin, do you mind practically raising your brother and hiding your mother's secrets while she drowns her sorrows? You'll have to grow up quickly, but you don't mind, right?" Anyway, I did it without knowing it could BE any different.

Then I got older and moved out. I still took care of my mom - drove her places, bought her things, let her cry on my shoulder - but I didn't like it. I call myself "caregiver with resentment" in this stage of my life. Taking care of others was all I knew, but I was pissed that I 'had' to do it. This is how I started my relationship with my current boyfriend, too. I did eeeeeeeeeverything for him, then got angry with him when he expected it.

Now, today. I am a "grateful caregiver." I LOVE being a mommy. My boyfriend is now contributing, I've found a happy medium in what I can do for him out of love vs. what he should do for himself, so the things I do for him, I ENJOY doing for him. I absolutely LOVE posting on this site and getting a "thank you" or a "you really helped me by saying this." It probably makes my day even more than the person sending it. I am becoming addicted to random acts of kindness, and to doing little things for people and they have no clue that I had any part in it. I am so grateful to have played a part in making someone else's Christmas brighter.

My mom and dad both died in January. Normally I am DREADING this time of year with a vengeance. I am usually starting to feel sad and depressed right about now. I have definitely not forgotten that my mom and dad are gone, but looking forward to this huge gift about to be given to this family, coupled with my daughter now being old enough to be excited about the holidays, has made me forget that I don't like this time of year!

I have always said that I didn't like calling the learned behaviors we picked up as children "character flaws." I believe there is a reason for each one, and I'm glad that I can look at my experiences with gratitude and got past the resentment. Life is not perfect, I don't wear rose-colored glasses and I'm not a hippie (lol), but man, there sure is a lot of good out there if you are willing to see it and receive it.

Periwinkle
12-04-2013, 08:40 PM
:) Happy post! Good to see you in a good place :)

Jim W
12-12-2013, 07:52 AM
ACOA its been a long time since Ive heard the term. I first started my recovery at a ACOA class in 1987
Erin Peri Carol Chad this one page says a lot about the characteristics Compulsive thinking, self judgment, commitments.

Have even come to accept some of the strengths I gained from being an ACOA once I recognized the negatives learned to drop perfectionism, still a little self critical and have learned to control or at least manage the compulsive thought game thank you for that thought now let me correct it with the truth.

Have always had a sense of calm under extreme pressure life or death situations,always had the ability to slow things down when the speed picks up. Learned that from a drunk father. I was always on high alert as a kid.

Was an amateur boxer, always been a weight lifter had the numbers for national level lifts and can still hold my own in martial arts circles, built several business's ,retired at 42 took 10 years and vacationed. Now I'm back in the game new business venture acquiring new skills.

The above paragraph sums up achievements that I believe my early ACOA training had a positive impact on not to say there aren't negatives, but ACOA's are survivors and when we can manage what I call high alert energy we can accomplish a lot more than most people. I think in reading Carol's posts I got the feeling she learned to manage this in a career setting.

Erin maybe try the thought game when the reflection comes thank it and replace it, start slow learn how to work out don't compare, if you do only compare your strengths. Picking up on Chads comment mother in-law John Bradshaw had at the time what seemed to be an excellent series on PBS about boundaries and cross generational bonding it a least helped me to identify the dysfunction that they (ex and mother in-law) thought was normal. Didn't help though, they passed it on to my daughters, I call it a generational curse.

Chad
12-12-2013, 03:16 PM
JimW, thankfully my wife and daughters steered clear of the "generational curse".. I guess my daughters better watch out as I am sure it will surface again..

Chad

reckbates
01-05-2014, 11:26 AM
I don't think it's just alcoholism that creates bad patterns in childhood that we carry around like a ball and chain. I think it's any dysfunctional family set up, whatever the cause is. I think the purpose behind ACOA or Adult Children of _______ (fill in the blank) is to make us aware of what we picked up in our past, and to motivate us to to create a better present and future.
I think a really good way to do this is to make friends with your inner child. There has been a lot of psychological ballyhoo about the "wounded inner child". But I think there is also the fun, playful inner child that is just dying to be our best friend. Every time my comes out to play, I just love it. She is the best part of me.
Peace.

_Erin_
01-23-2014, 05:30 PM
^^I somewhat agree with this, except I personally try not to judge those that feel that they have the "wounded inner child" as just "psychological ballyhoo," because what I went through was somewhat rough and was NOTHING compared to what some others went through as children. I do agree that the "inner child" can be your fun side, but it sure took a lot of work for me to have a "fun" inner child, or hell, an inner child AT ALL. I grew up too fast and had to learn how to have fun, loosen up, NOT be responsible... then I had to find the happy medium between uptight/responsible and completely irresponsible. But anyway, I think the "roomba vacuum" at the end of that message means I'm wasting my time replying to spam.

The reason I popped on here is because I just got back from the first of these Al-Anon meetings I'd intended to catch. When I walked in, it was my 3-year-old and me walking into a room with two older ladies. My first impression was, "Oh great... I will have nothing to offer here, I think I just wasted my time." But I'm really glad I went. Turns out one of the ladies started up the meeting, the other one has only been coming since July. The pain she's going through is still very fresh and talking it out is very new to her. Reminded me of where I came from... I told them a brief version of my story, how I used to attend Al-Anon meetings, how I came to this site for help after Mom died and stayed to help others. I shared with them how after I attended my first-ever Al-Anon meeting, my first impression was that it was "hokey" and would never apply to me, and that I would never reach a point that I could talk about my family without breaking down and bawling -- much less be at peace with it, learn from it, or be GLAD it happened the way it did.

The newer-to-Al-Anon lady shared how she never feels like she's making enough progress, or that she's easily distracted or thrown off track, or like she'll never get to where the other lady is. I told her everyone works through it all at a different pace, and in a different way, and I remember feeling just like she does now, and you really can't compare to another person because it's different for everyone.

I really felt like what I shared was minimal, I didn't feel like I had some huge message or majorly impactful words. But that lady hugged me, thanked me for what I said, and told me what I said was exactly what she needed to hear tonight. She said she was going home with a totally different attitude.

And THAT, my friends, is why you should share, even if you feel like it's no big deal. It is to someone. Keeping it to yourself isn't helping anyone else, and it's certainly not going to help you.

I'm so glad I went. I walked away from that meeting with a different attitude, too.

Periwinkle
01-23-2014, 09:45 PM
That's awesome! A few weeks ago we had a snow day and I was in such a hurry, that I didn't check my messages to find out the meeting was cancelled. So I showed up and here were two ladies not part of the usual group waiting. One was a visitor from another home group, but a veteran to Al anon and the other a newcomer. We had the meeting just the three of us, and while I've chaired a meeting before, it was with my peers, so I was a bit hesitant about it. However afterwards, I realized that all three of us were at the right place at the right time and it was the way it was supposed to be. I agree about sharing, I have learned so much from my group of wonderful women, and it's a very supportive and encouraging group who really work through the steps for our growth, and quit trying to fix the alcoholic, other people, situation in our lives. The lessons learned from this group I have heard over and over as testimonies that it has helped other parts of their lives, and through tough times than just where alcohol affected them.

I'm working through step 4 right now, inventory, good and bad events. I think the positive purpose of this is to recognize the significant events/people in our lives who have influenced us, the cause and effect it had on us negatively and positively, and the role we played, if any (if none, just release yourself of any guilt or shame carried over), or how it affected us to hurt other people, perhaps even years later in our lives by carrying this baggage of hurts or hangups. The most important part of this is to not lay blame or try to understand the why's of what people did to us, but simply to take an honest look at where we are, and what can we do now to heal that "inner child" ourselves so that we can move forward and be innocent children again. This past month, I have found myself so giddy and laughing and playing like I'm 6 years old on the playground, it feels great! :)

Great to see you blossoming through the years on the board Erin. You have been a breath of fresh air for us when we were gasping for air! :D


^^I somewhat agree with this, except I personally try not to judge those that feel that they have the "wounded inner child" as just "psychological ballyhoo," because what I went through was somewhat rough and was NOTHING compared to what some others went through as children. I do agree that the "inner child" can be your fun side, but it sure took a lot of work for me to have a "fun" inner child, or hell, an inner child AT ALL. I grew up too fast and had to learn how to have fun, loosen up, NOT be responsible... then I had to find the happy medium between uptight/responsible and completely irresponsible. But anyway, I think the "roomba vacuum" at the end of that message means I'm wasting my time replying to spam.

The reason I popped on here is because I just got back from the first of these Al-Anon meetings I'd intended to catch. When I walked in, it was my 3-year-old and me walking into a room with two older ladies. My first impression was, "Oh great... I will have nothing to offer here, I think I just wasted my time." But I'm really glad I went. Turns out one of the ladies started up the meeting, the other one has only been coming since July. The pain she's going through is still very fresh and talking it out is very new to her. Reminded me of where I came from... I told them a brief version of my story, how I used to attend Al-Anon meetings, how I came to this site for help after Mom died and stayed to help others. I shared with them how after I attended my first-ever Al-Anon meeting, my first impression was that it was "hokey" and would never apply to me, and that I would never reach a point that I could talk about my family without breaking down and bawling -- much less be at peace with it, learn from it, or be GLAD it happened the way it did.

The newer-to-Al-Anon lady shared how she never feels like she's making enough progress, or that she's easily distracted or thrown off track, or like she'll never get to where the other lady is. I told her everyone works through it all at a different pace, and in a different way, and I remember feeling just like she does now, and you really can't compare to another person because it's different for everyone.

I really felt like what I shared was minimal, I didn't feel like I had some huge message or majorly impactful words. But that lady hugged me, thanked me for what I said, and told me what I said was exactly what she needed to hear tonight. She said she was going home with a totally different attitude.

And THAT, my friends, is why you should share, even if you feel like it's no big deal. It is to someone. Keeping it to yourself isn't helping anyone else, and it's certainly not going to help you.

I'm so glad I went. I walked away from that meeting with a different attitude, too.

_Erin_
01-24-2014, 06:44 AM
Awesome story, Peri! I agree, you were all there at the same place at the same time for a reason. :)

And thank you, what a sweet thing to say. :) I could say the same thing about you! You are definitely not the same person you were when you joined this site, either. You seem so much more at peace now and I am very glad for you!

Jim W
01-24-2014, 07:51 AM
I agree 100% with inner child work for me it was an essential part of what I needed to put the puzzle back together. It seems impossible for ACOA'S to not have suffered some form of abuse,emotional ,physical,sexual. Abandonment,divorce some cases death.

For me knowing the math helped, understanding the why, it took some time I'm in my 50's and can honestly say I forgive my mother now fully ,happened this year actually,my father well that still has a little work left but its not consuming. Often times Ive found it to be my inner child who holds the key to my next step of growth.

_Erin_
01-24-2014, 08:12 AM
You worded it much better than I could have, Jim. :) We suppressed the child, once we are able to let the child out and explore, we learn all kinds of new things. Thank you!

Jim W
01-24-2014, 10:34 AM
I had a conversation one time with a fellow addict, he said my parents never drank, what is sometimes missed is a generation
may not drink but however was impacted by an alcoholic and the imprint is passed down and not recognized for what it is.

Unfortunately knowing this individual more than I would like, I said you have low self esteem and not an understanding of self worth,you just married a woman who will never let you measure up because you could never meet the expectations of your father and you drown in self pity because that's how your mother responded to you and unfortunately you don't understand how toxic you have been and are to your own adult children and the imprint you have had on their lives.

The blank look on his face turned to shock and then he said how did you know all that....lived it

Too me all addiction issues are a disease,where there is an addict, close by there will be a co-dependent or at one time there was. No one provides more drama for a co-dependent then an addict and an addict needs an enabler.

Was working an event with my wife one time and this beautiful girl maybe 23 came up to the booth. I looked into her eyes and mine filled with tears she weighed maybe 85 lbs, full blown anorexic ....that disease is mind boggling. I can understand all the
other addictions but that has to be one of the worst.

So what do we do, we fight, we win,we live life as it was meant to be.

_Erin_
02-24-2014, 07:18 AM
My little girl (3 years old) has learned how to maneuver herself on a computer. She only has access to educational sites, and most of the time I am sitting right next to her. Last night, she wanted to get on the computer and watch "Baa Baa Black Sheep," so I gave her a few minutes to play. I went to the bedroom to put away clothes and came back out to check on her every so often. After a while, I said, "Ok, it's time to get our jammies on and brush our teeth." She said to me, "I just want to watch one more, Mommy, and then I'm done." I said, "Ok, just one more..." and waited. She watched one more, then she "clicked the red X" (closed the window), turned down the volume, and got off the computer.

Seems like such a menial thing to get excited about, but it really hit me. I gave her a little lee-way, and she kept her word. My childhood, and her daddy's, was full of broken promises, and while I noticed it in him more than myself, I have to admit that I was carrying on the tradition at least some of the time. He and I talked about it when she was not quite a year old... I told him she doesn't understand now, but one day she's going to know that we told her we'd do "this" and we didn't follow through. I don't want to disappoint her, and I don't want her to be that way, either. We both made a conscious effort not to say we'd do something if we weren't 100% positive we were going to follow through (not just the intention).

I know it wasn't really "that big of a deal," but it just really made my night to see her do what she said she'd do, and yes, I thanked her for it. It kind of felt like we were breaking the cycle.

Periwinkle
02-24-2014, 07:39 AM
That's awesome Erin! :)

Jim W
02-24-2014, 07:44 AM
Hey Erin, myself and my daughters mother ex wife now, we also recognized the parts of our upbringing that we did not want to pass on (I )more than their mother, (she had a lot of denial issues) still does lol but the point is you can change the patterns... we did, my 3 daughters show no sign of addiction they neither smoke or drink and stay drama free, all have professional careers and generally are living a quality life.

At different times Ive shared my history with them and they said dad we never knew that. I said you were not supposed to,
acknowledging past... issues.... and working from there, that's all we did along with commitment and consistency.

_Erin_
02-26-2014, 01:53 PM
Thanks, Jim!! Really inspiring to hear you were able to break the patterns with your own daughters. I keep a journal for my daughter. I put funny things she did or said, milestones, and important events in it. I also share things with her that I want her to know, but not necessarily until she's closer to being an adult. For example, how things were when I was a child growing up in an alcoholic home, and why I try so hard to correct it for her. And my battle with weight issues, and her daddy's battle with bipolar disorder, so if she ends up dealing with anything similar in the future (hopefully NOT), she will know she's not just "weird" and hopefully have some tools to help her along. Plus, not a lot was written down from my family's past, and now that I'm older, I kind of wish it had been.

carol
06-17-2014, 03:27 PM
So I alternated for a while between feeling the anger of that time in the past, realizing it was really rage, but underneath the rage was tremendous sadness, and living in today where I'm a 60-year old grownup. I thought of a sermon I heard based on the sports analogy of the highlights they show of the game. Point was you can think of the lowlights of your life or focus on the highlights instead, and we all have both. There were definitely highlights in my childhood as well. I just had never felt the enormous sadness and loneliness my brother must have felt as the older kids left one by one leaving him to suffer the lowlights, so to speak, all alone. All us kids are high achievers, all of us have varying degrees of baggage. After my divorce almost 25 years ago I did a lot of work to face my issues and grow, found out about the whole concept of ACAs, which it turned out one of my sisters was practically an expert on, and it helped a lot. I continued to use those tools. Unfortunately one of the coping mechanisms I used was drinking which of course got progressively worse, and now I've created another generation of ACAs, more's the pity. At least they have seen me stop and grow.

At some point in the last year or two, after putting down a good foundation of sobriety, I forgave my mom. She has mellowed a lot. At this point if you met her you'd say, oh she's just old, older people get like that. But it's hard to have that perspective because of past hurts. I told my husband yesterday that the way I'm getting along fine is to act like I'm a 10 year old child before I started rebelling and do whatever she tells me to do. That was before I remembered that my 10 year old child was not so innocent.

So blah, blah, blah, how do I hold this? The only problem with the highlights approach is if you take it to the limit it invalidates the lowlights. Yet letting the lowlights be the story is being trapped in the anger and disappointment of the past. While feeling that rage and then sadness, I asked myself if I still forgive my mom. The answer came back yes. And I think that forgiveness helps free me.

I've also learned, and am still learning a lot, about boundaries. From what I've learned and experienced, ACAs are boundaryless. Setting boundaries is critically important to me and a key element in preventing relapse for me. A couple of visits ago, my mom was really mean and said some things I won't repeat that in anyone's book are unacceptable. I did the usual yelling and screaming, but then I also put my foot down and told her that if she continued I would book a flight and go home. It wasn't an idle threat. My hubby is the most kind-hearted person you'll ever meet, and he was truly shocked by what she said, and supported me. It didn't come to that, but I think it was a turning point.

I don't want to just peanut-butter over this memory but I also won't let the past hold power over me. It feels like there's still a lesson here to learn, I just don't know what it is yet.

Back from another weeklong visit to mom's. They are getting easier as she is mellowing and I am calmer and better about boundaries before the shit hits the fan. Back home, I had a dream about something she had done in the past, woke up feeling bad. I remembered posting here that I had forgiven her and went and found this. I think one of the lessons is that forgiveness isn't an event but a process. And by forgiving my mom, I am learning to forgive myself, which is freeing.

carol
08-07-2014, 11:09 AM
I said no yesterday to a volunteer activity. Mind you I'm organizing a different activity on Saturday that's taken off like wildfire and have a board meeting on Sunday. Still, it's something I usually would have said yes to.

Last month I ended up way overcommitted, plus I had out of town family health issues to deal with, and I started feeling overwhelmed. I fulfilled my major commitments, delegated a little, got help with the family and travelled to help myself. Family is all better, some remaining issues but more help came and I'm optimistic. After a week of recovering myself enough to think, I decided this was my month to say no. This is not something I've ever done. The aforementioned Saturday and Sunday events were things I had previously committed to. I have my head enough above water I'm looking forward to them.

Saying no is important to me for a couple of reasons. First, boundary setting. For the first time reader of this thread, ACAs have issues with setting and holding to boundaries. Learning how to set boundaries and take care of myself is something I've done pretty well with, but still can be hard. The second is that for a while in July I was so overwhelmed I thought about the possibility of a relapse. I didn't think about drinking, that's not what I mean. I'm aware that relapse is possible, the odds are toward relapsing, but on a day to day basis I can't imagine going down that path ever again. But that feeling of overwhelm carried with it the feeling of risk - oh, if I let myself be like this all the time I could see the possibility of relapsing to make the overwhelm go away. Much, much better to recognize it and recognize that I need to practice boundary setting again!

So even though I do feel a bit guilty about saying no, I'm holding to my "this is my month to say no".

_Erin_
08-07-2014, 12:01 PM
Good for you, Carol!! It's uncomfortable, especially at first, for someone that never says no to decline anything. I know that. For me, I know I need to back off a little when I start agreeing to do things, and then resenting the person I'm doing them for. Then it's not coming from a place of love, it's from a place of duty or obligation. I wouldn't want anyone to do something for me if they were going to resent doing it, so it's kind of an unselfish-selfish act. ;)

I'm happy for you setting the "just say no" month goal and sticking to it!!

harvjones
08-13-2014, 05:17 AM
My father was a gentleman drunk. Although I have no horrifying tales, I have learned through therapy that the resulting emotional neglect had been running my life.

_Erin_
08-20-2014, 12:32 PM
*Apologies for the swears, but it's how I feel*
(This is from a blog I posted on a health & fitness site. Most of you have probably already heard some of this before.)

I haven’t been logging my food because I am ashamed and SO TIRED of the same little merry-go-round I’ve been putting myself on. I will eat well all day, especially while at work, and then completely blow it at night. Even if I’m not hungry at all, in fact I can be extremely full, I will still reach for something to snack on.

I’ve been really angry lately. I’m a very sensitive and emotional person, sometimes it takes me a long time to identify what it is that’s REALLY bothering me. For almost a month now, I’ve been just… pissed. I’m a very optimistic and happy-go-lucky person by nature. I don’t like carrying this negative energy around, but I’ve been having a hard time shaking it. I think I’ve finally pinpointed what I’m really mad at: My mom. My deceased mother, who passed away over three years ago.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Let me explain. I’ve gotta back up a little (a lot) for it to make sense.

My dad died when I was 9 years old – Jan. 8, 1991. And on Jan. 9, I discovered my mom’s first fifth of Southern Comfort in our deep freeze. And damn near every single night after that, for the next 20 years, there was a fifth of whiskey in that freezer.

I will just go ahead and note here that there’s a whole lot of other issues that completely tie into my mom’s alcoholism, and the death of my father, that helped to build my unhealthy relationship with food. But that’s not the point of this particular post.

My mom drank for 20 years straight. She was diagnosed on Mother’s Day of 2000 with diabetes. She got her eyes checked and her sight was blurry. They took her blood sugar level and it was OVER 800 (normal is like 85). She was told she should have been in a coma. Years later, she was hospitalized for a heart attack, diagnosed with congestive heart failure, underwent quadruple bypass surgery, and had two toes amputated. She had to stop driving because A – she wrecked her car so many times, and B – her glaucoma had all but blinded her by that time. Eventually she did get her glaucoma taken care of, and in spite of the drinking, it was amazing to see the sparkle in her eyes again (literally). NONE of this stopped her from drinking herself to death. She would put it down for a week or so after hospital stays, then promptly pick it up again.

Fast-forward to Mother’s Day of 2010. I found out I was going to be a mother. I have PCOS and was told I couldn’t have kids, which was OK with me because I had always told myself I didn’t WANT kids… but if I ever had them, the kid comes first, because of how pushed to the side I felt throughout my own childhood.

My little girl came into the world on Dec. 17, 2010. My mom came to visit about a week after I had my daughter. She held her, gave us a new dolly and outfit for my little girl, and checked out the room we had decorated for her. (I still have the doll and outfit, they will be in the hope chest for my girl when she’s older.) I remember it as clear as if it were yesterday, her sitting in the glider rocker, looking around the room, then looking at me and says, “You have a very nice little family, Erin. You should be proud.” I can almost still hear her saying it. It is probably the most meaningful thing she has ever said to me in my life.

I was driving and missed a phone call from my mom at 1 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2011. I got another phone call from my mom’s house at around 6 p.m. that same night. This time it was my little brother, who had just walked in from work to find food cooking on the stove, and Mom face down and blue in her room. He’d called 911 but was pretty sure she was already gone.
I had a not-quite-three-week-old little girl to take care of, so I put on my big girl panties and dealt with the loss of my mother – I feel, quite well. I’d already lost a parent once, at a young age, and I remember grieving in an unhealthy way – thus began my overeating, locking myself in the bathroom and hyperventilating, cutting myself, and other stupid shit. So comparatively, breaking down and crying now and then was nothing.

Today...
• I am house-hunting (which should be a happy occasion). Every time we find one we like, someone else already got it. Or it’s too far away. Or it’s in a location we don’t like.

• I have a very beautiful, bright, enthusiastic-about-life three-year-old girl that has quite literally been my angel and my saving grace from day one. I don’t know how I would have reacted without knowing I needed to be strong for her. (My sister and brothers all got drunk the night Mom died – carrying on the tradition! I was breastfeeding or I probably would have partaken.) She is close to starting preschool, except there are roadblocks for it right now. My boyfriend’s family keeps her for us while we work – very thankful for them – but it’s not the ideal situation. My own siblings are unavailable for assorted reasons. I can’t really afford daycare right now. All of my friendships seem too superficial to ask for their help. I have one friend that has made an effort to maintain contact with me aside from Facebook.

• My job denied me my first request for a raise in 15 years.

Granted, there are a million things that could be worse about my life right now. (In fact, reading that, I nearly called myself a whiny little bitch.) It’s just seemed like the walls are closing in. “Normal Erin” takes it all in stride, shakes it off, learns a lesson from everything, seeks the signs in life. “Disgruntled Erin” has been more angsty than a 13-year-old listening to My Chemical Romance (are they even still around?). Everything irritates me, which in turn, gives me a good reason to stuff my face and sit on the couch feeling sorry for myself. And then I have the excuse to beat myself up about how I look and feel! Why have I been so irritable?

Because… GOD DAMN IT, MOM, YOU HAVEN’T BEEN HERE WHEN I NEEDED YOU! Not when I was a kid. Not when I really WAS an angsty teenager. Not when I was pregnant. Not when I had a newborn baby to care for. And not now, when I feel completely alone and lost, and I need my mom! I haven’t been able to share any of my frustrations, joys, fears, Proud Mommy Moments… never really had a mother-daughter relationship much at all with my mom.

I don’t know how to ask for help, writing this post out is INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. I don’t admit weakness or failure readily – it reminds me that I’m no better than anyone else. If I had friends that really wanted a close relationship with me, I wouldn’t know how to accept it, anyway! I keep everyone at an arm’s length, with the exception of that little girl that I pour my heart and soul into. Even as much as I love my boyfriend of 7 years, I’m afraid to trust him completely. Seven years is too long to know someone and not trust them.

Not her fault that she’s dead, I know that. But I have felt so, so alone, and I just realized that I’ve felt alone for a long time. And I’m so mad at her for KNOWING what was killing her, and yet continuing to do it!

And then, I look at myself. The way I punish myself - destroy myself - with my eating, and then the resultant way I think of myself… it’s my poison. I know it’s not good for me, I know it eventually would bring me down the same path as the one I resent that my mom took. But I still do it.

Do I think overeating is on the same level as alcoholism or drug addiction? No, but am I any better if I keep doing something I know is ruining my health, and robbing my daughter of her mother?

I don’t think I finished grieving my mom’s death. I think I put it on hold because my daughter needed me every moment of every day. Now that she’s becoming more independent, I guess it’s time to get back to fixing what’s broken.

carol
08-20-2014, 01:11 PM
Oh, Erin, my heart goes out to you!

Thank you for sharing - I know it must have been hard to out all that out there but I agree with you that letting it out can help the healing process.

You've had to do it all yourself, and you have done a great job! I am so glad you have that moment with your mom that she said she was proud of you. That may be the only time she said it but you should know she must have thought it many times!

More in a minute. . .

carol
08-20-2014, 01:27 PM
Continuing. . .

It sucks that your job won't give you a raise! They probably added on that there are many who would be grateful to have a job so too bad, so sad.

You've got to trust your gut. There are reasons you don't trust your boyfriend, even after 7 years, and there are reasons you stay together anyway. Let it be. It's ok to just let it be.

Moving into problem solving mode. . .

Would having a house help with the preschool dilemma? I'm just guessing that proximity may be an issue. I seem to remember you're way out in the country. Will having a house increase or decrease your financial concerns? I know sometimes rent is actually more than buying, there's the tax deduction and all that. It sounds like this is a dream for you and something you want.

And out of problem solving mode. . .

I only know you through this forum, so you will discount what I'm about to say and tell me that if I knew you in real life I wouldn't see you this way, but here's how I see you. You are a caring, compassionate woman who has had to be strong to survive yet who still has the ability to care. You have a hard time giving because you've had to do it all with no help, but you are able to give to your daughter and to us here. You are giving your daughter that all-important foundation of love which will last her a lifetime. And we are grateful for your help and support here.

It's ok to be angry!!!!! It's ok to feel! It's ok to let that sad little girl out to play. It's ok to cry. I wish I could give you a great big hug right now.

Thank you for trusting us with your heartfelt post.

I wish I could wave my magic wand and make it all better! I don't have a magic wand but I am sending good wishes and blessings your way!

Carol

_Erin_
01-06-2015, 01:07 PM
Today is 4 years since Mom died. Thursday will be 24 years since Dad died. Today, I have my moments of reminiscing and I wish they were here to enjoy my daughter with me, but really... I feel very peaceful inside. I have been doing my own soul-searching, "Higher Power" searching, looking for what works for me... I know who I am and what I believe and what life is all about to me. I have referred to some of the people on this site that have been sober for a long time as "evolved," and in a way I feel like I've reached another level of evolution.

I just looked back at what I posted five months ago, and I remember it, but it seems like so long ago. Almost a different person. One of the biggest lessons I've learned so far is your own personal happiness does not rely on anyone but you. It doesn't matter if another person is doing, saying, or acting a way that bothers you. Your happiness lies 100% in how YOU react to it. My mom wasn't around last August, but I still blamed her for me being unhappy. It wasn't a bad thing, it just was - I had to experience it to get past it. But if you still keep something or someone - in my case a family member - at the forefront of your mind, even if you want to be separated from them, they will still rule your emotions. You can't change another person, you can only change yourself. My surroundings didn't change - I still work at the same place, still haven't received a raise, live with the same family in the same area (although we did buy a house!), hang out with the same friends. Life isn't perfect... but life IS perfect. I don't think it would have mattered if I'd moved to Hawaii and had a million dollars to blow if my mind was still caught up in my anger. And in a way, that kind of ties in with surrender and acceptance. "OK - this happened. This person IS this way. There is nothing I can do about it. What am I going to do with ME from here?"

Carol, thank you for your reply to me! Your response was absolutely correct. It's ok to let it all be, and it's ok to feel it all. You can't defeat the dragon if you keep running away from it. If you stop fearing it, it gets smaller and smaller and eventually disappears.

Will all those feelings come back again one day? I don't know. They could. But I've never felt the calm inside of me that I feel now, ever before. I feel like I've moved ahead a level, but only just now have begun my journey. I guess that makes sense, if you put down the ball and chain, it's a whole lot easier to walk.

Chad
01-06-2015, 06:47 PM
Erin,
So proud of you for your attitude and maturity.. I'm on the otherside of that coin.. I'm the drunk that seems to have stopped drinking before my short comings influenced my children in a negative way.. Or, by just dumb luck, was able to hide it from them and not make them endure it as you did..Your strength and ability to forgive, I shall always respect..:)
You friend

Chad

_Erin_
01-08-2016, 08:30 AM
A couple days ago was the 5-year anniversary of Mom's passing, and today is 25 years since Dad's passing. I did have a day just before Christmas where I felt a little melancholy, but it quickly went away when I saw the joy and excitement on my little girl's face because SANTA IS COMING!! :) I've said since the very beginning that she's been my angel, and it's still true.

I had quite a few people come up to me on Monday and say they were sorry, or that they were thinking of me, or that their heart hurts for me on this day. I always appreciate when people think of me, but this year was so different! I almost felt like I should feel guilty for as serene and happy as I felt! I have completely forgiven my mom, and not only that, I THANK HER for how my life was. If I hadn't gone through that, I wouldn't be where I am now. Do I still wish I could hear her voice, have her physically here and know her granddaughter? Of course - in a way. My mom, the mom I remember from my childhood, died a long time before she left the earth. The mom I had for the last 20 years of her life did not know joy. She was suffering. She didn't even want to be here. Now she is free, wherever she is... which I don't think is ever very far... and she's with the man she missed for so long. How could I NOT be happy for her? It wouldn't truly be love for her if I wished her to still be here physically. It would be selfishness. My little girl DOES know who her Mimi is, even if she can't meet her in person. We carry on little traditions that I remember from my own childhood. I provide for her everything I was lacking as a little girl. That I am able to do that for her... I will be forever grateful!

So, for me, this week in January will from now on be a celebration of my parents' lives and their reunion. I know if I could see Mom's face right now, she would be grinning from ear to ear to hear that.

This journey never ceases to amaze me. I look at the post I left a year ago on this thread, and I thought I had it all figured out. Now I realize that I will never have it all figured out, but I will keep discovering along the way, and I'm excited to keep moving forward!

carol
01-08-2016, 10:37 AM
Erin, I'm so pleased with your growth! I love the idea of celebrating your parents' lives and treasuring the good parts.

My mom is still alive. She hasn't drunk in many years now, but although she has thankfully mellowed, the old patterns of behavior are still pretty ingrained. Like you, I have forgiven her. That was hard but freeing. It's still hard when I visit sometimes to not fall back into dysfunction, but I'm better at setting boundaries and taking care of myself, which makes me better able to take care of her.

I can just imagine your daughter's smile! I'm so glad you're happy.

alecpow
10-31-2018, 10:08 AM
My father was a gentleman drunk. I use thepricer (https://www.thepricer.org)to get info. Although I have no horrifying tales, I have learned through therapy that the resulting emotional neglect had been running my life.
I reached kind of a similar conclusion, and it's really changed my life :)