Being the child of an alcoholic was not a label I knew of or related to until I was an adult. As a child I did not know what alcoholism was, or what was happening in my home until I was a teenager. I did not know that my home was different than others, and that having to walk on eggshells, being vigilant to my surroundings and constantly monitoring the moods of family members was not normal.
As a teenager, drinking also became my coping mechanism, trusting people was very hard, and chaos was my normal. Everything that felt safe was boring, which meant I always craved chaotic and sometimes dangerous situations. I self sabotaged so many situations that would have been good for me, thinking that I did not actually deserve them.
A parent myself
Now at 30 years old and a parent myself, I have had to unlearn many beliefs I thought were truths. I still have trouble trusting others, when someone yells I still have hyper vigilance and get nervous. I still have trouble with self-worth and anxiety. While therapy helps, it takes a lifetime of learning who you are, and learning how to set boundaries so you can focus on yourself.
While I had to do a lot of healing on my own throughout the years, I am glad there is more awareness happening around this topic. The supportive communities make me feel like I am not alone, and we are able to discuss hard topics in a safe place.
Note from Jo
The description about walking on eggshells and constantly monitoring the moods of family members was very much my reality too. It was so exhausting, not that I knew that then. But it all gets in your head and you can’t think, feel and be relaxed, you’re on edge the whole time. I didn’t realise that wasn’t normal either, it’s not that I thought everyone lived with an alcoholic mother or father, I just didn’t have any concept of a different type of life.
So many sons and daughters of alcoholics have their own addictions, whether it’s a substance, gambling, working, shopping or something else. It’s not necessarily inherited but more environmental and being witness to unhealthy behaviours.
I spoke to my own therapist recently about what it would be like to find a man in my life that did attend to my needs, was there for me… immediately I smiled. I knew what I was going to say, and I knew what my counsellor was probably expecting… “That’ll be a bit boring”. So like the writer suggests, we crave that action, it’s what we’re so used to, but in all the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons.
The writer also raises an important point about sabotage, we act in this way not necessarily conciously, but sub-conciously. Anything that may be good for us, look after us, put our needs first etc will feel boring, we may not feel we deserve it, so we create the drama even if none existed. Underneath it, that sense that we don’t deserve love, we don’t deserve to have someone that is good to us, we have had that drilled into us for a long time.
I think that the writer highlights that this is an ongoing journey, we have experienced something as children which is truly horrendous, but as adults we continue to heal.
If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07732) 403305.
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Daughters of Alcoholics Facebook group, where other daughters of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.
I also run the Two Roads Travelled podcast with my sister, click here to find out more.