Did you feel that you had no power or control as the child of an alcoholic parent? Is this still showing up in your life as an adult?
What is control?
Control is essentially the power to influence or direct a person’s behaviour or the course of events.
It isn’t always a bad thing, it just depends on exactly how it’s used and the intention.
Living with a controlling parent
If you’ve lived with a controlling parent, it’s likely that you weren’t able to be free as a child. To play without concern or worry that it would cause a problem. When you live with a drinker it can be chaotic, you want to be able to do something, to stop the arguing, the chaos but you can’t.
Each person’s experience is different (although the behaviours are often the same), but generally the home environment is unpredictable. I remember just wanting the arguing to stop, the uncomfortable on edge feeling to go away, to be able to go and play instead I had to do as my alcoholic father said.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I didn’t want to have rules and boundaries, but in my house there were so many of them you couldn’t move. I got so frustrated and I wonder if you can relate to this? I wanted to be part of what was going on with friends, I felt like I was always missing out.
How did not having control affect your life as a child?
When people (whoever that may be) asserts their power and control over you, it can be intimidating. Especially as a child, but even as an adult it isn’t a healthy way to act in relationships.
When you think about your own childhood, what situations have made you feel that you didn’t have control? That you weren’t able to assert yourself and show who you are and were respected for that.
Maybe when you experienced difficulties in your home environment you wanted the drinker to act differently but they wouldn’t listen. You might have wanted the sober parent to do something to protect you and they didn’t.
Did it cause you to feel frustrated? To feel isolated and unable to stop the pain you were experiencing?
Having no power or control as the child of an alcoholic can impact you as you become an adult.
How does control show up in your life as an adult?
When you’ve been used to being controlled as a child it’s common to either follow that path and subconsciously find people that will control you, or you go the other way and are very aware of anyone or situation that asserts control over you or your life.
If you were to reflect on your own life now, take a moment. Do you identify with having people that control you, or do you seek out to be the controller?
You may recognise some of the examples below, these are ways that you can have control:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – OCD e.g. cleaning, organising, repetitive checking
- Planning everything to the most minor detail
- Criticising people’s behaviour and expecting them to change
- Being bossy
- Taking over the conversation to others can’t speak too much
- Asking someone to do it, but it has to be done YOUR way
- Wanting things to be the way you think they should be, that would make you feel happy
If you need control in your life, it’s because you don’t want anything bad to happen. You don’t feel comfortable with the unknown and want to minimise the risks.
You may be the one being controlled and this will often affect your confidence and self-esteem. People will be taking advantage and potentially mistreating you. They may not do this in a malice way, but their needs and wants are usually what’s important. They may think they are doing what’s “best” for you, but don’t actually ask you if it’s what you want.
Do you want to let go of control or be more in control?
If you recognise yourself in the examples I’ve given you may be curious about having more control in your life, or less. The decision is yours. You may not have realised the impact it’s having on your life, or the lives of others. If you’re the one being controlling now, think about how that may affect others. Do you care?
You may be controlled by certain people, if you are, do you want that to continue, does it make you happy?
It’s food for thought, but ultimately you will now have a better idea of which camp you lie in and if you want to do anything about it or not. There can be benefits to both, being in control makes you feel like life is in order, being controlled at times may make you feel you’re looked after and you don’t need to think for yourself.
It really depends on your perspective.
My blogs often bring up lots of questions (and this is a big topic) so if you’d like to discover more about control in your life, join me in my Change Your Mind Facebook group. It’s a safe place for you to explore your experiences and feelings so you can get answers to your questions, clarity on your experiences and most of know you aren’t alone.