Hi, I am an not an alcoholic. I might seem like one but I'm not. I am an adult child of an alcoholic, also known as an "ACA."
Oh yea, my mother was a big time alcoholic, stumbling through her day in a drunken stupor.
Well into my teens, I was already familiar with the child and alcoholic parent relationship.
As You Can Imagine, A Drunk Cannot Properly Bring Up A Child
You cannot take your problems to a drunk parent and expect solutions. You cannot always count on them to provide you with a proper meal.
A normal life for me was the prolonged silence as my mom slept off her drunkenness before waking up to pick up another bottle of vodka and continue where she left.
At some point, you get used to it–somehow.
You imagine the dysfunction and a long list of unmet needs is what normal families go through.
You Withdraw And Get Detached Because The Feelings Of Neglect Overcome You
I remember looking forward to turning 18 and being declared an adult. I thought I would finally be free of the shackles of an alcoholic parent. I believed the effects alcoholism had on me would be behind me.
I have never been so wrong about anything.
In Reality, I Was Running Away; Not Going After What I Want
The issues I had kept inside me went with me wherever I went. I had to grapple with low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and a crippling desire for isolation.
I was also suffering from serious codependency.
Finally, I hit rock bottom. Enough was enough. I realized I knew nothing about living an independent life.
I did not know how to start healthy relationships. I realized I was shut down and incapable of connecting with people in a healthy manner.
Making Poor Choices Was The Only Thing I Could Do Without Struggling
I could not even choose the right people to associate with since an alcoholic was my gold standard.
After dozens of bad choices, I realized I was an ACA. I was damaged on some level, and I needed to make myself whole.
To succeed in this journey, I first needed to understand myself. What is an ACA like?
Here is a list my therapist handed me. It might help if you are in a similar situation:
1. We are far too responsible and do not understand how to take care of our needs
2. We can't always tell the difference between love and pity. When we feel the need to rescue something or someone, we think we are in love.
3. We are our own worst critics and we suffer from low self-esteem
4. Authority figures inspire fear in us
5. We feel bad when we stand up for ourselves instead of cowering under
6. We become alcoholics, or get married to them
7. We live in denial of our feelings since we have learned to keep them hidden
8. Excitement becomes our addiction
9. We are always seeking approval from the wrong people and losing ourselves in the process
10. We are drawn to weakness even in romantic relationships because we are used to being victims
11. We behave like alcoholics even when we don't drink
12. Angry people scare us, and personal criticism is almost impossible to handle
13. We wait to react to situations rather than taking action
14. We have learned to depend on people who need to depend on someone to lead normal lives, especially those with abandonment issues
I was all this, and I am glad I realized the truth because I worked on each of these issues and checked it off the list. I did so by changing my thinking and my behavior.
You have to make a commitment for you to heal. It will be a little challenging after all those years of living with an alcoholic. You might even need therapy or have to attend ACA meetings. But trust me, living a normal life after this is totally worth it. So, give it your best shot.