If you’re like me, and your mother is an adult child of an alcoholic, you may have grown up feeling more like a specimen in a petri dish, than a carefree–joy-seeking, innocent little child. If your mom is an ACOA who has not done her recovery work, you may have grown up feeling like something was always wrong, but because there was no alcohol abuse to point at you may have sadly learned to presume that the angst you felt within–that you could not name–was ‘you’.
Adult children of alcoholics who have not done their recovery work, are unaware as to how severely their emotional selves have been impacted. Because their priorities in life were ranked according to their needs to simply survive, often times unaware ACOA’s are stuck, and do not even realize it.
Because alcoholism is such an insidious disease, it seeps into the crevices of psyches like a fog. To make matters worse, because alcohol consumption is often times so glorified socially, it is difficult to grab hold of the idea that people who abuse alcohol are acting irresponsibly, not only to others, but to Self as well.
If your parents were emotionally neglected as children because their parents were alcoholics, they may be unaware to the extent of just how ‘disconnected’ they are to their own Self/Selves. When a childhood is lived saturated in fear, survival is often the only thing on a child’s mind. Because the basic instincts of a child must be on hyperdrive, in order to simply survive, there is little time to mature emotionally, and to connect to the spiritual side of Self. And when these adult children of alcoholics have children of their own, they parent blindly and detached from any notion that they are disconnected emotionally from within at all. As a result–many times ACOA’s are unable to form authentic paternal bonds with their children–simply because they are totally clueless as to what they are NOT giving their child.
ACOA’s, like the rest of us–are doing the best they can. But unfortunately many times they are blind to what it means to ‘feel’ loved on a psychological level, because they have no experience of ever ‘feeling seen psychologically’ themselves–as a result of being raised by self absorbed, inebriated, non-sensical, alcoholics. Because they themselves had alcohol to point to as the reason to ‘why’ mommy or daddy was not there for them–later on in life, many ACOA’s make the conscious decision NOT drink, presuming that by choosing not to drink–their adult lives will turn out just fine. What they fail to understand however, is that alcohol is not the problem. An aching sense of self alienation–is.
If you are the adult child of an emotional manipulator, alcoholic, narcissistic mother, drug addict, sexual abuser, verbal abuser and alike, you have been raised by an individual who is cloaked by the curse of self alienation. Because they are so alienated within Self–they are unaware and sadly unable to ‘see’ you in an authentic way. You were raised like one might attempt to raise a couch. You were supposed to sit there, to be still, to be quiet, and to not get in the way. You were supposed to magically one day grow up, be happy, and move on. Your adult child of an alcoholic parent–of course would have been totally dumbfounded by any claim by you, implying that they did not do enough to instill in you a true sense of worth. Their reaction to your claim might sound something like, “You ungrateful little brat. Don’t you see how hard I tried to make you happy. I brought you into this house, fed and clothed you. There was always heat running through the walls, and I always said ‘good morning and how was your day’, what more did you want from me? Did you want me to wipe your ass for you too?”
Any attempt by you–the adult child of the adult child of an alcoholic–to try and make your parent ‘see’ or ‘understand’ the emptiness or disconnect you felt with them–would have been met harshly and with insurmountable loads of guilt. You would have been made to feel like the lowest of the low for daring to insinuate that there was something that your ACOA parents failed to give you. In their minds, because all of your basic needs were met, unlike theirs as children–they would have been unable to comprehend that there was anything they could have missed. In their minds, they didn’t drink, your home was always clean, and there was always food in the fridge. Because you never ever had to worry about where you were going to sleep at night, in your parents minds, they are at a loss as to what ‘disconnect’ you are trying to express.
In all fairness to our adult children of alcoholic parents–if they did not choose to drink–they did in fact make much better choices as parents than their own parents. Although we–their children may have grown up feeling lost in the abyss that is the fog that lingers long after our alcoholic grandparents die, it is not our ACOA parents fault that they were raised by parents who were so drunk, and self absorbed that they couldn’t see them psychologically.
On the road to recovery, you will be confronted by many hidden secrets. If part of your soulful excavating has you staring at the fact that your parents are adult children of alcoholics–congratulations–you have found another piece of the puzzle that is you.
Moving forward, you will need to embrace the lack you feel within–that has been the torch of self alienation that has been past down to you by your ACOA parents. Healing requires you to embrace the lost shattered facets of Self. Try not to spend too long of a time in blaming your parents for time lost. Instead, see it–acknowledge it–welcome your soul home–learn to forgive–and finally let go.
Hire a therapist or Life Coach to move you along your way in life, so that you can begin making healthier life choices for your future.
Read as much as possible about what it means to be an adult child of an alcoholic, as well as what it means to be the grand child of alcoholics. Attend 12 step meetings, and on line social communities that are geared towards raising self awareness. Learn about codependency, enabling, denial, projection, and fantasy type distracting based thinking. Begin meditating in the mornings before you start your day, and do another as you drift off to sleep. Start taking baths, rather than showers. The goal is to learn to embrace Self, rather than avoid Self any longer.
Congratulations and good luck to you on your transformational journey.
You are loved.