Did you have no power or control as the child of an alcoholic?
Feeling out of control isn’t a nice feeling at all and if you’ve been the child of an alcoholic, you’ll know that feeling all too well.
If you’ve lived with a parent that drinks too much then it’s likely you won’t know any different. As an adult you’ll probably prefer to be in control, changes and the unknown will feel uncomfortable.
I hated not being able to make decisions for myself, maybe I felt I needed to because I didn’t think the choices my parents made were good ones. I struggled with not having the power to choose, to change anything which made me feel powerless.
Living in a home where a parent drinks too much can make you feel like you have no power. No power over the drinker, how you’re treated and what you can do about it. Sometimes the sober/non-drinking parent will protect you. Not in all cases.
When you’re young, you trust that your parents are teaching you the right things, looking after you and your best interests. When they don’t it can create anger and resentment, or at the very least teaches you to accept the dysfunctional family life you’re living in.
What does Control mean?
the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.
How does not having control as a child affect your adult life?
By not being able to influence how your parent(s) behave feeds into the powerlessness you feel as a child. You have no control over their behaviour or the course of events that unfolds in your life. I remember my Dad’s drinking getting so bad he didn’t even recognise my sister and I. I wanted to get out of that house so many times.
I even tried to run away, that was the only control I felt I had. To get away from the unsafe feeling I had living at home. I hated living with foreign students, which we had pretty much all year round. I hated not having my own room a lot of my childhood, the only way I could change that was begging my Mum to sleep in the caravan we had.
Thank god she let me and that made me feel so much better, I could get out of the house and have my own space, freedom at last!
When you have no power or control as the child of an alcoholic, you tend to want to control everything as an adult. For example, I’ve developed OCD with organising and being efficient. It helps me to feel my life is in order and I have total control over that. Of course I don’t, but it gives me a sense that I do, I do recognise that by wanting to control everything takes away the fun of things happening naturally.
Does controlling your life really help?
It might feel like it does, but ultimately it stops us being in the moment. When we control things too much, if takes away spontaneity and allowing life to happen.
Sometimes when we allow life to just happen, the right things come and with very little effort.
Controlling things can be very exhausting, because you’re constantly full of fear and trying to avoid the worst happening. e.g. If I don’t have everything in order, my life will be chaotic and then I won’t cope. I won’t manage and I’ll die.
This isn’t true, but in your mind it feels real. People use all sorts of ways to control their life, the use of drugs and alcohol, self-harm, OCD, workaholism all manner of other addictions.
Being in control can also be very addictive in itself. You enjoy the feeling it gives you, just like any addiction. The problem is life happens and will continue to do so. Being at peace with the process is ideally where you need to get to. Then you won’t feel you need to control it.
What can help to start to let go of control?
Meditation is a good tool to start to be present in the moment. I know for some this may be a challenge, because doing nothing can be boring. Focusing on yourself will start to really get you connected. I’ve done mindfulness and I need to get better at meditating daily, if only for 5-10 minutes.
I really advocate Emotional Freedom Technique and if you want to have a session to try it out, get in touch with me by clicking here.