If you’re anything like me then you’ve probably spent time punishing yourself for what the alcoholic said to you. Maybe not in an obvious way, but you may still believe what they told you. The hurtful words they shared and criticisms they offloaded onto you.
That stuff hurts and it can stick with you, throughout your life and affect you in all sorts of ways.
Unfortunately drinkers say and do things they don’t mean, because they’re not thinking logically. They are also human beings with their own values and beliefs. My Dad used to say things like “pick a job you can do, you won’t get a job doing that”, or one of his favourites, “When are you going to change”.
These comments aren’t just relevant to drinkers, we can all say things that are hurtful to others. However, in the chaos and difficulty of living with a drinker, they can cut a little deeper.
Impact of listening to the words of a drinker
If you’re a child growing up with a drinker that’s your parent, you can be subject to their harsh words, their hurt and pain comes out in all sorts of ways.
How do you cope with it when you have no control? Well it’s hard. As a child you suck it all up, take it all in. You trust the people that are your caregivers, because what other choice do you have? If you have a sober parent that’s supportive, hopefully they can offer some sort of support and protection but not everyone has that.
If you’re the partner to a drinker (or have been) then you’ve probably had to manage the chaos that their drinking brings. But harsh words, calls in the early hours, lies, deceit and more become too much to bear. It’s hard to let go and all you want to do is control the situation.
The impact this can then have on you and your life are vast. Some examples you may relate to are listed below:
- Comments that bring into question your character/behaviour – e.g. “you’ll never amount to much”, “You’re disgusting”, “You’re a disappointment” – this affects your self-esteem, confidence and self-worth
- Being questioned and challenged with what seems reasonable justification – this can develop self-doubt
- Direct criticisms that are about your physical appearance – it makes you feel inadequate, self-conscious and you can develop body image issues (e.g. anorexia, obesity and other issues)
How are you still punishing yourself for what the drinker said to you?
When you have heard, seen and experienced things over a period of time and frequently it stays with you. You start to believe it and don’t think to question it, especially as a child.
What I would say is this, we’re all imperfect human being. We can say and do things that aren’t right, helpful or loving. So how aware are you about what you still believe and listen to?
I’d suggest making a list of all the things you believe about yourself that you know for sure have come from the drinker in your life. This isn’t an exercise of blame, I don’t think that’s helpful.
Maybe you’re list looks something like this:
- I’m not worth loving
- I’m a horrible person
- My life isn’t worth living
- I’m fat and always will be
- I need to change
- They’re only drinking because of me
Look at your list and then flip it around. So you get something more like this:
- I’m worth loving
- I’m a nice person
- My life is worth living
- I’m the size I am and I can choose to change that if I want to
- I’m OK as I am
- They’re drinking because of them
Obviously more work needs to happen on a deeper level, but this gives you an idea of the negative words you’re probably telling yourself and believing that just aren’t true. No one has that right.
Do you want to keep punishing yourself for what the alcoholic said to you? You deserve more!
If you’d like to be part of a group of people just like you, with the same struggles then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here – let me know your Facebook email so I can then add you to my Change Your Mind group.