Adult Children of Alcoholics--And The Dry Home--Wounding WIthout The Alcohol
by Lisa A. Romano
Children from homes run by alcoholics are children who are not having their developmental needs met consistently.
If you wanted to build a skyscraper that you knew would last hundreds of years, much time, effort, thought, care, and diligence would go into nurturing that project. The reality is, people research buying cars, shopping for insurance and building skyscrapers more than they do on how to raise children. In this society raising children is considered a no-brainer. And yet in spite of the overwhelming evidence that clearly indicates that our societies children are in trouble, we continue to fail at getting to the root of the true issues. Generally, parents clearly have no idea what the hell they are doing.
I was raised in what is considered a 'dry home', meaning--my parents were not obvious alcoholics. In fact, I never saw my mother drink--ever, and only once was I aware my father was drunk, although he drank beer or wine almost every night after work.
My home looked perfect, but it felt ill. The contrast between what I saw with my physical eyes and with what I felt on an internal level--often made me feel dizzy. Gaps in my thought process filled with anxiety, as what I saw never matched what I felt.
If I had grown up with an inebriated caretaker I could point at, I believe things might have been a bit easier for me as a child. But because I could not name what I felt, nothing about my world made sense, except presuming I was just messed up.
The research I have collected over the years on Adult Children has surely helped me piece together my past. I am forever thankful for all the work so many recovering ACoA's have done, as well as the many authors I now consider heroes.
One of the greatest lessons that has so aided my emotional transcendence has been found in understanding that dysfunctional families do not always have to involve addictions per se.
Anytime a family dynamic centers around explosiveness, aggression, chaos--whose agenda is to keep others calm so to avoid being physically, verbally, sexually or emotionally attacked, dysfunction occurs.
As helpful as the term ACA has been to me, I so wish wounded children understood that what they feel is real, even if no one in their immediate family drinks, drugs, gambles, lies, cheats, hits, beats, condemns, or crucifies.
The bottom line is, when parents are more concerned with keeping their families 'image' intact than they are the developmental needs of their children, foundations for healthy adult lives are weak.
Children don't develop into healthy adults on their own, any more than skyscrapers build themselves.
Children, like skyscrapers, require proper blueprints.
It has helped me tremendously over the years as a parent myself, to understand how precious each of my children is, as well as what emotional stage of development they may be in at any given time. But these understandings came only after I began to take my emotional recovery more seriously. Sadly much of the foundation I had laid in my own home was dysfunctional as well. I still work every day at healing the damage my unawareness and ignorance has done.
Dysfunctional homes are any homes, regardless of what they might look like on the outside, in which attention is directed at keeping emotions under control. Perhaps the unwritten rule is that we must keep mommy calm, or daddy peaceful at all costs. Perhaps a sibling is drinking too much, and the entire family dynamic becomes fixated on fixing that sibling. Perhaps a parent is ill, and the entire family unit is centered around catering to the needs of the sick parent. Perhaps a parent is mentally ill, and the codependent parent has taught the children to suppress their emotions and their needs so as not to add to the caretake-ing parent's plate. Perhaps parents are so pre-occupied about what the neighbors think, that more attention is paid to the neat lawn than it is on what each child in the family needs.
When attention is outer-directed, or when there is a lack of honesty, integrity, clarity, and authenticity present in the home; when there is obvious trauma, stress, and dysfunction occurring that is ignored, pushed or swept under the rug--faulty programming and blueprinting is being laid down, upon which all future adult relationships will be had.
Alcohol is not always the issue for we--the wounded children.
At the end of the day, all beings want the same things. We all want to feel at home in our skin, and at peace with our own minds. We want to have confidence in the emotions we feel, as well as with the actions we take. We want to feel like we belong, and as if we matter. We want to be able to feel like we have lived authentic lives, and as if we were real.
It is so true; the truth shall set you free. And it is also true that the 'humble shall inherit the earth'.
Freedom can only be found through integration. And it is not possible to feel at peace in one's own body unless integration between mind, body, and soul can be had--and without truth and humility, neither peace nor freedom can ever be attained.
It helps to understand that if you are unhappy--it is because your programming is all wrong.
The good news is--programming can be changed--alleluia!
Just as it is possible to tear down a huge skyscraper so to build an even taller and stronger one, so too is it possible to scrap the old mental programming of childhood and re-write your own new mental blueprint.
And I am here to prove it can be done.