How has having an alcoholic parent ruined your identity? Do you even think it has?
My Dad played a big part in my identity. Being the opinionated person he was, he cultivated my identity.
This wasn’t always done in an obvious way mind you. Over the years growing up in an alcoholic home, I learnt that being me wasn’t OK.
Being Me Wasn’t OK
I had no idea what the “right Jo” looked like. Today it was helpful Jo, tomorrow it was stay out of the way Jo. It was so confusing, everything depended on the mood of my Dad.
Most of the time I probably had stupid ideas and dreams as most kids do, but they were usually met by negative comments that made me think nothing was possible. I wanted everything to be possible. To live a life of creativity, to experiment, have fun, take risks, feel alive.
As I write this, that is true for me today. All of that was stripped out of me. It just felt that any kind of optimism, hope and dream was squashed in a second. Leaving me feeling deflated and unhappy.
It’s not that I didn’t do creative things, I did make clothes with my Mum, did painting and drawing and learnt how to use a computer (which I still love to this day). I suppose it’s more than that, not sure a particular task or activity but a sense of living. It’s part of your make-up, to be free, creative and experimental.
For me all of that came in the confines of strict rules. Dad was ex-army and he was exceptionally strict, so often I struggle to know if it was the alcoholic Dad or the strict Dad coming out. That’s just who he was a person and the drink just emphasised it, maybe?
Lack of Self Confidence
All of this criticism in who I was, both from my Dad and my Mum (even though she wasn’t the drinker) has a big impact on me. Feeling low about myself and lacking in confidence, I had a lot of self-doubt because every time I thought I was making a good decision, I was beat down and told it was wrong or criticised about it.
When that happens for an extended period of time, it changes you. You lose the person you are to become what others think you should be. They aren’t accepting of you as a whole, they like and accept the bits that they can cope with and is acceptable to them but nothing more.
Not having the choice to explore and discover really limited me. I may have wanted to find out about religion but that choice was taken away from me. Who knows where it may have gone but it could have really defined me as a person. Maybe I would have embraced spirituality a lot younger.
Learning to Adapt
As I grew up I realised that being me wasn’t OK. As an adult and particularly in my relationships I “customised” myself to fit in. My boyfriends would love me because I was always the type of person they wanted, because I’d change to suit what they needed. I couldn’t keep that up forever, then eventually realised how unhappy I was and the relationship ended.
After a lot of work on myself I realised that there was a lot to learn about myself. Part of my healing and recovery process after my Dad died was to change myself, after all I was use to that. It was during that time I started to learn the things I liked and didn’t like. How I had beliefs that weren’t mine and so I could change them if I wanted to.
I now embrace spirituality, with some apprehension but I do it. I know what I like and don’t like. I’ve worked on my self-esteem and confidence so I accept all aspects of me. Even the bits my parents may have struggled with.
Change is Possible
If you truly want to find out who you are, then I really suggest you waste no more time. Not everything your parents/caregivers told you was right. They were coming at life with their own baggage, which unfortunately gets passed onto you.
If you feel you’re lacking something in your life, then start to discover what that is and how you can get it (with the help of others if needed). The only limit in your life is your thinking. I know this first hand, I was a terrible over-thinker, worrying about what may or may not happen. I’ve learnt to embrace mindfulness and to trust that everything will work out as it’s meant to.
This process takes time, but I highly recommend it. There are small steps you can take to start feeling more empowered and really discover you.
Please do join the closed “Change Your Mind” Facebook group that I’ve set up. Click this link and I’ll be there to accept it. We’re all there to support each other and whatever it takes, move our lives forward in a positive way.