firegirl sent me this in an email recently and it obviously struck a chord with me. i feel compelled to share it. i read over this list and thought--omg, this is ME.
common characteristics of adult children of alcoholics
• Adult children of alcoholics guess at what normal is. (uh, all the damn time.)
• Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty in following a project through from beginning to
end. (YES. hello unfinished afghan, novel, scrapbooks, etc.)
• Adult children of alcoholics lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. (been there done that, but i don't do this anymore.)
• Adult children of alcoholics judge themselves without mercy. (i'm my worst critic.)
• Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty having fun. (i don't THINK i do, but the hubs had told me through the years that i've fogotten how to do this.)
• Adult children of alcoholics take themselves very seriously.
• Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty with intimate relationships. (hmmm...explains a lot about my ability to be a friend.)
• Adult children of alcoholics over-react to changes over which they have no control. (as in my life for the last two years?)
• Adult children of alcoholics constantly seek approval and affirmation. (YES! tell me i did a good job--even if it was just cleaning the house and cooking dinner. i crave nice words.)
• Adult children of alcoholics feel that they are different from other people. (if by different they mean i think i'm more fucked up than everyone else, then yes.)
• Adult children of alcoholics are either super responsible or super irresponsible. (hmmm...i wouldn't say super, but i can be a bit of both.)
• Adult children of alcoholics are extremely loyal even in the face of evidence that the loyalty
is undeserved. (ah yes. the hubs has told me this when i've defended friends who've wronged me or my parents.)
• Adult children of alcoholics look for immediate rather than deferred gratification. (i don't think i'm impatient when it comes to THINGS; i'm probably impatient when it comes to other forms of gratification.)
• Adult children of alcoholics lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious
consideration to alternate behaviors or possible consequences.
• Adult children of alcoholics seek tension and crisis and then complain about the results.
• Adult children of alcoholics avoid conflict or aggravate it; rarely do they deal with it.(this is me, head in the sand all the time.)
• Adult children of alcoholics fear rejection and abandonment, yet are rejecting of others. (i think i fear rejection from other people, not my close people, if that makes sense.)
• Adult children of alcoholics fear failure, but sabotage their success. (i have been doing this all my life and have no idea how to break this cycle. i am a HORRIBLE procrastinator. HORRIBLE)
• Adult children of alcoholics fear criticism and judgment, yet criticize and judge others.
• Adult children of alcoholics manage time poorly and do not set priorities in a way that works
well for them. (this goes hand-in-hand w/ my procrastinating.)
In order to change, adult children of alcoholics cannot use history as an excuse for continuing
their behaviors. They have no regrets for what might have been, for their experiences have
shaped their talents as well as their defects of character. It is their responsibility to discover these talents, to build their self-esteem and to repair any damage done. They will allow themselves to feel their feelings, to accept them, and learn to express them appropriately. When they have begun those tasks, they will try to let go of their past and get on with the business of their life.
ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS
Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up
in an alcoholic household. We had come to feel isolated, uneasy with other people, and especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same, we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat.
We either became alcoholics ourselves or married them or both. Failing that, we found another
compulsive personality, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment. We lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an over-developed sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We somehow got guilt feelings
when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative. We were dependent personalities --terrified of abandonment--willing to do almost anything to hold onto a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic parents. These symptoms of the family problem of alcoholism made us "co-victims"--those who take on the characteristics of the problem without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue. Even more self defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable relationships.
This is a description, not an indictment.