Children of Alcoholics

 Children of Alcoholics

The second week of February is designated as “Children of Alcoholics week.”

As a child of an alcoholic

I have the following characteristics and traits. I found the basis of these traits from this article from the Searidge Foundation.

  • I bury my feelings especially powerful ones. It was imperative for me to keep those feelings to myself to avoid any fallout from my father being drunk.
  • I did not want him to get mad so I made sure I didn’t do anything to upset him. Not just him. I learned the best way to deal with any drunk was to avoid any possible conflict. Don’t rock the boat. Stay under the radar. As a result I lost any identity of my real self or any self-esteem.
  • I feel responsible for the needs of others. I end up in relationships with men who need help. Thinking of others mean that their judgments of me are important. I need others to approve of me. I need those pats on the back.
  • I buried any feelings of fear. I would never admit to being afraid or threatened. Keep it in. Avoid conflict.
  • I have problems with my relationship with my husband because I find it difficult to express what I need from him. So I stew and get upset when he doesn’t give me support or understanding.
  • When younger I couldn’t go without a partner. I felt abandoned. That I needed to be taken care of too. I’m not sure that has changed but now I feel like I’d like to try to be on my own.
  • When stressed I feel that everything is out of control. One thing piles up on the other and life is sucks. It’s the all or nothing condition.
  • My body deals with a lot of physical issues. I have tight neck muscles, jaw pain, headaches and more. I suffer from depression. Along with suppressing feelings, I never really grieved any of my losses such as my childhood, my mother, my pets.
  • Although I never became an alcoholic myself I have an addictive personality and many traits of an alcoholic.

Here are a few links I found to help with alcoholism:

http://adstv.on.ca/

http://www.al-anon.org/

http://www.addictioncanada.ca/

http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/family.htm

http://www.camh.ca/

http://forums.psychcentral.com/adult-children-alcoholics/

Are you a Child of an Alcoholic?

My first Self-Help Book

Courage to Heal, Self-Help book

The Courage to Heal,
A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis

I first read this in the late eighties or early nineties. I remember how it made me realize I was not alone. That many others went through the same things I did. It understood how I felt, what I was enduring. It may have been my first form of therapy.

The book contains writing exercises. I’m sure I tried out some of those exercises the first time I read it but I don’t remember.

I started therapy in 2009 and it made me think once again about the book. I checked it out of the library in hopes that it would get things moving along a little quicker.

Writing is often suggested when in therapy

In the book they talk about Free Writing. Wikipedia describes the technique as – “The technique involves continuous writing” “The writer writes without regard to spelling, grammar, etc., and makes no corrections. If the writer reaches a point where they can’t think of anything to write, they write that they can’t think of anything, until they find another line of thought. The writer freely strays off topic, letting thoughts lead where they may.” thus that is the format of my answer. I had already been journaling on and off since 1980 with this same technique.

Free writing has helped me work out my thoughts and feelings.

Here is one of my exercises from The Courage to Heal

Write about the ways you’re still affected. “What are you still carrying in terms of your feelings of self-worth, work, relationships, sexuality?” How is your life still pained, still limited?

• I have a difficult time communicating.

• I went right into bad relationships, one after the other.

• I often feel powerless.

• I hate any conflict and avoid it at all costs.

• I am good at avoiding.

• I learned that I had to.

• I have a difficult time expressing anger.

• I keep it in until I explode.

• I have a hard time thinking when it come to what I’m thinking.

• I am often depressed and anxious.

• I can’t think of anything to write at the moment.

• I’m needy.

• I need love, support, understanding; I need pats on the back.

• I didn’t get it as a child.

• I feel like I still don’t get it.

• I don’t know how to ask for it.

• I need to be organized but have a hard time doing so. I wonder how if at all that fits here. (link to organizing post)

• I don’t know what I want from life.

• I just know I haven’t gotten it.

• I have an empty place where my family should be.

• I’m alone.

• I’m tired of looking after others.

• I was a wife at the age of 11.

• When do I get to have fun?

• I have no sense of spirituality.

• I carry all my emotional pain in my body. Headaches, neck pain, digestive issues, the list goes on.

As self-help books go this one is specific. I have read all kinds over the years that I plan on talking about in other posts.

What self-help books have you read?

I Don’t Want to Cry!

 cry

What is crying?

From Wikipedia

Crying is the shedding of tears in response to an emotional state in humans.

Crying is believed to be an outlet or a result of a burst of intense emotional sensations, such as agony, surprise or joy.

Why do we cry?

From How Stuff Works

We have three types of tears.

Basal tears are always in our eyes. These tears are what keep our eyes from drying out

Reflex tears, which protect our eyes from irritants

Emotional tears

According to WebMD crying is a release from built up energy from emotions. Weather it be sad or happy.

  ‘When you cry,” she says, “it’s a signal you need to address something.” Among other things, it may mean you are frustrated, overwhelmed or even just trying to get someone’s attention

I Hate Crying!

I have always hated crying. Most of that reason is because I didn’t really know why I was crying. I am not so tuned in to my body. I’d cry and someone would ask what was wrong and I hated trying to tell them when I didn’t actually know myself. Also my father didn’t like it when you cried and told you not to. Even my husband was uncomfortable when my daughter would cry.

I would cry at a stupid commercial or at someone singing and of course at sad movies. So I got to the point that I would stifle my crying.

For various reasons, a lot of people push down their tears; they suppress them,” Sideroff says. One of the consequences is we sort of deaden ourselves, to suppress or not even notice we have those feelings inside. The way that looks to the outside world is depression.

This just added to my confusion of what I was feeling.

better to acknowledge feelings such as sadness and hurt, he says. “Feelings are not about good or bad, it’s just what is.”

When I entered therapy I learned, reluctantly, that I needed to cry. While I did plenty of crying during therapy. I had to watch sad movies to get my tears going at home. However I still hate trying to converse with someone while crying.

WebMD has some good advice for someone responding to a crier.

Be aware that if you do nothing, you can make the crier feel worse

Try to do something supportive. What that is depends on the situation and how well you know the person, ”So hugging someone you aren’t very close with might not be appropriate, while simply listening in an empathetic way would be suitable,”

Don’t assume you know how to comfort them. ”The less intimate the relationship, the more it is appropriate to begin by asking how you can help and be supportive,”

Know that criers who tear up in a very large group generally feel more uncomfortable than those who cry in front of one or two people they’re familiar with. But even in a large group, the criers welcome support from those they didn’t know well.

Do You Cry Easily or Do You Try Not to?

My Bad Relationship with Men

man and woman holding hands

This is my experience with bad relationships between ages 17-19.

When I was young, I felt all grown up. Now that I’m over 50 I know how much of a child I really was.

The first guy I met once I was on my own, was Victor. He was a nice guy who had issues of his own. He needed me maybe even more than I needed him. I was pregnant and he was happy to be a dad to my child. We lived together in an apartment above his mother’s store. I had my baby and we played house together.

One day, someone came to visit us and brought over their friend, Tracy. I was attracted to him. He had this magnetic personality. I couldn’t help myself. I ended up leaving Victor for Tracy. I had such strong feeling for this guy. Gradually he started showing his jealousy and over protectiveness. He would have an angry outburst but then be so sweet and sorry.

Tracy introduced me to drugs. He seemed so responsible about it thought. He would only let me try speed once as he knew it was addictive. However when he tried to get me to use hash I declined.

It Got Pretty bad!

So there we were lived together and I was on assistance and I had very little money to pay rent and feed my child. I found myself begging for food to feed him. I remember having nothing but a bag of potatoes in the house at one point.

Eventually I became afraid of Tracy even though I loved him. He would physically abuse me but mostly it was emotional abuse. He would violently throw things and punch walls. He started hitting my son. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid. He made me feel as if I couldn’t leave him. I also didn’t want to be alone. I loved him and hoped he’d change. All those excuses we battered women come up with.

Eventually our community Child Care Services became involved and I lost temporary custody of my son. I never lost contact with Victor during this time and I ended up getting into a relationship with his older brother. I really felt I loved this man and wanted to stay with him for the rest of my life. “Could it be that due to his age he was a father figure to me?” It turned out that he was not ready for another relationship as he was going through a divorce. “I just kept picking winners!”

I moved and got a court order against Tracy and was giving my child back. We were doing well. We had lots of agency help and despite having money and health issues, life went on, until…

turn-on-436880_1280

Here we go again

He showed back up on my doorstep. He knew the exact buttons to push and weaseled his way back in. He of course got violent again and I finally told someone. Things were so bad that I was considering putting my son in Child Care custody to keep him safe and check myself into the psyche ward.

I talked with my social worker and had people come home with me so I wouldn’t be alone with him. But he’s a smooth talker and convinced all of us that he would get help for his violence and that he and I would not live together until we both got our act together. This would never be true.

I needed a babysitter as I had an appointment with my counsellor and Tracy was the only one available. I didn’t want him to but agreed. Then I went to my friends’ house and ended up having her babysit. I left Tracy a note. I spent some time at my friends’ house and got to know a boy who was staying there, Scott.

I found out that Tracy was trying to find me and was at my house. He told me to come home or else. Not wanting any trouble to start, I went home. He had to report to his probation officer and ended up being held on a warrant for failing to appear in court. He called and asked me to visit him in jail and I did. He asked me if I’d wait for him and I tried to say no. He asked me to wait until he got out so we could talk and I said yes.

When I got home I enjoyed having my freedom back. There was some of Tracy’s beer in the fridge so I invited Scott over for a drink. He had to go back to my friends’ house to babysit and I decided to go with him and stay the night. The following night I went home and the next day Tracy showed up as he had gotten out on bail. Now the situation got much worse. I had to tell him what happened to his beer and when I told him about Scott he went crazy and hit me. He finally calmed down but then Scott called and he went into another rage, worse than the previous one. I tried to stand up to him but it just got worse.

I went to my support meeting and broke down and told them all about it. My social worker got involved again and said either both of us go to a women’s shelter or I stay with Tracy and my son goes into Child Care custody. I chose my son and we went to the shelter. My worker escorted me home to get things from the apartment and Tracy was there. He wanted me to choose him and place my kid into care. I said no, that I was going to leave, and he started to threaten me and my worker. He also threatened to kill all my friends. I believed him. He told my worker that if he tried to help me leave he would jump him. So my worker left and returned with the police. By then he had me so worried about what he would do to my friends that I didn’t go with the police. So they took my child into custody.

The next several days he kept me by his side and didn’t allow me to go anywhere. Then I had to go to court, Children Services was asking for a one month adjournment hoping that Tracy would be in jail and then I could have my son back. So I went to the shelter and waited to get my child back. It was so hard to be in that place and not have my boy. It didn’t happen. I had to wait until court and have the judge decide if and when I got him back. My worker was helping me get him back. It would involve a supervision order that would state that I can’t associate with Tracy. I decided that I was not going to go against anything Child Services said. I was so depressed that my son was not with me. I did get visitation but that was difficult for me as I thought he would not want to leave but he was fine with it. I took that to mean he didn’t love me like he used to. I was a horrible mother.

According to my landlady, Tracy left with bags of my stuff. I went to court and signed the supervision order and got my baby back. I was so happy to see him, but I was still depressed. I hadn’t had a counseling session in a long time and my past was bothering me. I still had daddy issues. “Why do I keep going through this stuff over and over?”

I was told that Tracy was getting out of jail. He managed to get off of a previous charge of armed robbery. He had another charge of breach of probation but knowing him I figured he’d get off on that one too. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to move before he got out and found me again. I dreamt every night about him coming to get me or sending someone to get me. I came home and expect to see him at my door or even in my house.

I got a call from a police officer asking me if I would testify against him in the matter of the threats against my social worker. I told him I didn’t really want to as I was afraid of him. I was worried he’d come after me if I testified. The officer told me he would try to keep me from being subpoenaed but wasn’t sure if they could or not.

Victor stayed by my side off and on during this whole ordeal. I was torn, he was a good father to my son but he was too needy. I wanted to be able to meet other guys.

Things went on like this for a while. Tracy come back, weasel his way back into my heart and I’d be in over my head and trying to figure a way out. Luckily I had plenty of support. In the end we went to the shelter again. After a long gruelling time he stopped coming around, I moved and he went to jail. The last I heard from him was a letter from jail. I never replied.

After being alone for a while I finally met my husband. But that’s another story.

I have since learned that my poor choices in men was due to what happened to me.

What ‘wrong’ men did you get involved with?

Addictive Personality

 Addictive Personality

Things could have turned out so much worse for me. It’s a wonder I managed to not get hooked on drugs and alcohol. I had plenty opportunity. I was already addicted to cigarettes and the caffeine in my tea. I watched as most of my family of origin often got drunk. I had a boyfriend who introduced me to drugs. Lucky for me he worried I’d like the stuff too much and kept us from over doing it. When I did drink I got my hangover the night of so drinking wasn’t so much fun so I didn’t do it very often.

A Friend Turned Me on to Wine

I found that wine did not give me a headache. I was finally able to have fun. I didn’t get a chance as a teen. So I could drink and have some fun but I never became an alcoholic. I could very easily though. When stressed I want a glass of wine or chocolate or sugar (I quit smoking.)

What Does it Mean

An addictive personality means you have personality traits that can lead you to addiction. If you tend to use pleasurable activities to cope with stress you may be predisposed to addiction.

My Addictive Personality Quiz Results

I found this quiz at www.RoyNelsonHealing.com

The questions I answered yes to were

You feel different or that you don’t belong

You worry a lot

You have a racing mind

You worry what others think of you

You think that if someone knew the real you, they would not like you

You struggle with anxiety or depression

When you open a bag of chips (or in my case, candy) you have to eat them all

You hold your feelings in

You feel alone even among family and friends

When you stop one habit, you pick up another (I quit smoking and started eating mints)

You easily get bored

You grew up in an abusive home

You start projects but don’t finish them

Although you are lonely, you feel more comfortable being alone

You don’t trust people

You impulse buy

You try to change things with self-help but it doesn’t work (big time me!)

My score put me as definitely having an addictive personality. It said I was challenged by my emotions and have a hard time relaxing. All true.

What to do?

About Health has 10 things you should stop doing.

  • Eating to feel better
  • Socializing with Alcohol
  • Using Internet all the Time
  • Thinking Sex mean Intimacy
  • Shopping to feel good
  • Thinking you have the Right to Smoke
  • Using Drugs to Self Medicate
  • Using Marijuana to Relax
  • Believing you Can’t Quit
  • Most of which I do or have done
Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

 

 

Abuse and Body Betrayal

Abuse and Body Betrayal

body betrayal

One aspect of my abuse that was difficult for me deal with was the fact that my body behaved like it enjoyed it. I felt like I was to blame as well. I must have wanted it. Between my bodies reactions and the crap he told me, when ever I wrote about it or later talked about it, I made it seem like something between consensual adults.

Why Did My Body Betray Me?

I never used the word ‘rape’. I never considered it rape until my therapist called it that. She explained that what my body felt was a natural thing and that it in no way made the abuse my fault. Nor did it mean I liked it.
I believe many victims have felt this way about their body. Perhaps even hating their bodies because of it. Because it was a sore spot for me I want others to know that it is a biological thing and you did not want the abuse. I found two sites that talk very well about this topic and I urge you to read them.

angela shelton quote

Resources

The first is the Survivor Manual. Angela Shelton, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse put this site together. Angela is awesome and had a small part in my road to recovery. I believe you can find a lot of help through her.

The other one I found on Kali Munro Psychotherapist. They both explain how and why your body reacted like it did. It touches on a subject not talked about enough. Please take the time to read one or both, then return here and leave me a comment about what you read.