Talking with my therapist today made me realize how much alcohol has influenced my life. It was easy to deny anyone had any problem, I mean they aren’t drunk before noon or belligerent drunk. But, they are wasted drunk, dont remember anything the next day drunk.
Richard tells me I’ve internalized a lot of “constructive criticism” as a kid. I put that in quotes because its more like micro-manage, look over your shoulder, type of criticism. My dad’s not a bad guy, dont get me wrong, he’s probably the nicest person you’d ever meet, but, he has a drinking problem. And drinking makes things unpredicatable in a household. This past year of living with him, my aunt and cousins has really showed me that.
To understand, you have to understand my dad’s life. He grew up in Wisconsin. Lived with two other siblings with his mom. She was a single mother, had never gotten over her womanzing sex addict ex-husband, and was a drunk. She’d cry and cry everynight. She’d tell her little children how awful their dad was. They’d go to bed and she’d stay up drinking, watching tv, alone, sobbing and crying herself to sleep. When they got a little taller, old enough to drive, she’d start to get mean and nasty when she’d drink. Tell them they’d never amount to anything and that they were no better than her beloved brother, Jimmy, who had died of lung cancer. This continued to happen just about every night.
He was a teenager, so of course he got into drinking like everyone else in Wisconsin. Partying, drinking, doing whatever drug came his way. Come on, it was the 70s! But, then things started to not be so fun anymore. Came senior year and he didnt know what the hell he was gonna do. Next year and the year after that. Till he was 23 years old looking around and releazied he’d become a low-life just like everyone else in his hometown. I’m sure you’ve heard the story… So, he goes off to the military and things are looking up for him. He’s no dummy. Smart. Everything comes easy to him. He goes into nuclear egineering school in the navy and comes out able to make some good money. Here’s where the drinking comes to play.
He drinks because he’s depressed. He drinks to celebrate. He drinks because he’s bored. What ever the reason, he became dependent. And since 30 years old he “lost all motivation to do anything.”
Everything you expect, comes along with drinking; anger, frustration, sadness, shame, and isolation. Emotions are heightened, so you can only imagine what happens when everyone in the house drinks till they are glassy eyed drunk. Lots of nights crying, fighting, and collective feelings of guilt or shame. Not a great environment to be in…
Children of an alcohol dependent parent, I’ve come to learn through therapy, are very approval seeking because not only do they feel like they dont have a “normal” family, but, they feel the constant responsiblity to “fix” everything that’s wrong within the family. Or at least thats the case for me. I feel like I have to be the light house everyone can seek out for comfort. I’m an easy going person with my lack of confidence and constant need for approval lol. Enough said.
If you have a parent with a tendency to drink a little too often and in excess here are some traits you might have now as an adult.
1. Are more concerned with others than themselves.
2. Have difficultly following a project through beginning to end.
3. Exhibit black and white thinking.
4. Have difficulty have fun.
5. Judge themselves harshly.
6. Constantly seek approval.
7. Feel different from others.
8. ‘Love’ those who need rescuing.
9. Feel guilty for standing up for themselves.
10. Extremely loyal.
Read more about what each trait means @ https://www.thecabinchiangmai.com/blog/personality-traits-and-characteristics-of-adult-children-of-alcoholics/
I know I exhibit all of these.
Oh and I’ll list some of the positives if you are feeling a little down about all the things I just pointed out.
We are very resilient people over all. We tend to be much more loyal, responsible, intuitive, empathic, and driven individuals.
So, some good things came out of it right??
Anyways, I’m learning to seperate myself from the criticism and not internalize it so much. Any micro-managing I do get is translated to “You’re not adequate”, “You’re not smart”, or “I dont have trust in your abilities as a person”. I internalize all of it and can be unrelenting. But, it’s not me it’s them. Their guilt, their shame, and their dependency. They have this impluse to control because they arent in control. It hurts to be constantly belittled, patronized, and criticized but, it’s how I react to the emotion or thought that matters.
Not everythings my fault.
“That’s the problem with drinking. I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.” – Charles Bukowski