Adult Children of Alcoholics Learning to Love the Self
by Lisa A. Romano
Adult children of alcoholics, as well as any child born into a dysfunctional family system were unable to get their emotional or psychological needs met by their caretakers.
As children we all needed our parents to mirror back to us a positive sense of self. When we looked into our parents eyes we were supposed to see love, acceptance, validation, respect, and joy reflected back to us. When we bumped into a wall, made a mistake, mispronounced a word, or tripped while walking, our parents were supposed to gently teach us that it was normal and acceptable to make mistakes. Most of us who have been born to emotionally inept households have instead been conditioned to fear coloring outside the lines, of appearing less than perfect, and of ever letting go.
There are many reasons why an ACoA, or a child from an emotionally dysfunctional home might be overly critical of Self today.
1) If your parents teased you, laughed at you, or ridiculed you in front of others, whether those others were family members, neighbors, teachers, or friends your soul has suffered a deep wound as a result. If this type of humiliation was common in your home, you had to learn how to stay 'on guard' emotionally and psychologically so to help you feel in control of the possible next attack.
The consequences of developing this type of hyper-vigilant thinking is vast. Because you have never learned to let your guard down, as an adult you may still be protecting those old wound of yours even though you no longer need to.
As an adult you get to decide who has the honor of being a part of your life or not. All you have to do is exercise that divine right. It is your free will.
2) Often times alcoholics as well as other dysfunctional mindsets like to point fingers at other people. Many dysfunctional parents talk to their children about other family members, neighbors, and friends mercilessly. Their finger pointing is a way to feel superior to others, and also allows for the spotlight to stay fixated on others flaws, so the focus is never on them. By conditioning their children to worry about what everyone else in the neighborhood is doing, like a double edge sword they teach their children that they--the parent is somehow correct and superior as well as condition their children to keep their eyes fixated on things outside the home. Fixated on their environment--the children never learn to analyze their home environment, which is the agenda of an alcoholic.
When you have listened to parents criticize others, sadly you have been taught to fear making a mistake and of appearing human. But you have also been taught to fixate on your environment and have not been taught to look within for any reason at all. As a consequence you have been conditioned and programmed to be a reactor. You react to everything and everyone in your environment, and very often fail to even contemplate the notion that perhaps your hypersensitivity to what is going on around you has sadly taught you to stay detached from Self.
Feeling Like An Alien?
Often times adult children of alcoholics, as well as small children of alcoholics and children of the emotionally abusive say that they feel like aliens in their own skin.
When you dissect what happens on a soul/heart level to an innocent being who has been born to beings who cannot 'see, hear, appreciate, validate or love them' it is not so difficult to understand how one might develop a feeling of alienation within.
If in your childhood the people you loved more than life itself failed to mirror back to you a sense that who you were on a soul level was enough, then your connection to Self/Source/Higher Self/Spirit is underdeveloped. If instead everywhere you turned your parents instilled the sense that nothing you ever did was enough--then the connection you needed to feel content within your own being has not been properly established.
If you feared criticism, you were taught to criticize Self as well as others. Unconscious thought patterns such as these create loops of negative thinking and are some of the causes of anxiety, self loathing, self sabotage, feelings of alienation, panic disorder and alike.
The Power to Change
The really, really good news is that no matter what your alcoholic parents or emotionally abusive parents ever did to you, you have the power to change how you see the world as well as Self.
Within us all is a connection to Self that no one can ever obliterate completely. Others can clutter our paths, throw wrenches into the spokes of our lives, taunt us, humiliate us, and try to break us down, but they would never be able to completely sever our divine connection to Self.
In our darkest moments it feels as if we are all alone. That feeling however is only the result of our being taught to rely on others for our sense of Self worth.
Once we confront our negative programming, and begin to understand that the emotional recovery work that we need to do exists in the unconscious realm, we can begin taking steps to heal by learning to drop our guard so we can begin finding the courage to uncover the invisible road back to our own Self.
You are a divine being. We all are. And deeper, you are and always were enough. Any idea that has you believing anything else, is an illusion. It is the result of being programmed to believe in fear and powerlessness by dysfunctional caretakers.