The Body Keeps Score
Today: There are some 6.6 million children live in a home with at least one alcoholic parent.
As written in the New York Times best seller THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. Just because you might have have survived a traumatic childhood, (traumatic event) your body has held onto the memories.
If you have grown up in an alcoholic household like I did....we probably have or have had similar traits:
Low self esteem
Fear of authority
Tend to isolate
Fear of abandonment
Have an overwhelming sense of responsibility
Stuff their feelings
You put your feelings on hold. You had to- to survive. I put the ability to "feel" anything on hold well into my adult years. It was just too overwhelming for my ten/ twelve year old self.
I lived in unpredictability. I never knew when the other freaking shoe was going to drop. The chaos, the fighting, the unreliability, the sadness, the fear. Never able to just be a "child.
What I didn't know then ....but would later find out....that it would take me well into my forties to begin to really "heal" from the wounds of my past.
Taken from an article written in verywellmind June 27, 2019:
Many children of alcoholics develop similar characteristics and personality traits. In her 1983 landmark book, "Adult Children of Alcoholics," the late Janet G. Woititz, Ed.D, outlined a number of them.
Dr. Jan, as she is known, was a best-selling author, lecturer, and counselor who was also married to an alcoholic. Based on her personal experience with alcoholism and its effect on her children, as well as her work with clients who were raised in dysfunctional families, she discovered that these common characteristics are prevalent not only in alcoholic families but also in those who grew up in families where there were other compulsive behaviors, such as gambling, drug abuse, or overeating, or where other dysfunctions occurred, such as the parents were chronically ill or held strict religious attitudes.
She cited that adult children of alcoholics (ACoAs) often:Guess at what normal behavior is
Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end
Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
Have difficulty having fun
Have difficulty with intimate relationships
Feel that they're different from other people
Are super responsible or super irresponsible
remely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
Of course, if you're a child of an alcoholic, that doesn't mean that everything on this list will apply to you. But it's likely that at least some of it will.
I had most of the traits. Janet's book became my life line to normalcy or should I say what wasn't normal. The panic and anxiety I felt in my early thirties led me to seek professional help. I thought... OK therapy ...this will help... this will heal me. Although It helped me gain insight into my feelings and why I made the choices I did. It sure did not heal me. But, I think I was on my way. I felt like a child riding a bike for the first time, I fell, I got hurt, I cried, but got back on and tried again. I eventually got to ride the bike/ navigate life without always feeling that sense of doom.
I started attending ACOA meetings on a regular basis and while I didn't say much in the beginning, I felt at home. All of the people in the room knew how I was feeling ...I didn't even have to say a word.
My healing would take on many levels throughout the years. Layer by layer of pain and sadness would get peeled away, always replaced with a raw wound. By being gentle and taking care of myself.. over time, the raw wound healed. I was eventually led to to a place of peace and acceptance.
THEN....in my fifties....I wrote my memoir: "The Sensitive One," to be published August 24, 2021. The writing process triggered more sadness and pain...another layer peeled away and again eventually healed.
Delving into the painful past was essential for me to heal. My body had kept score of everything and Now...just when I think I am doing OK ....another trigger comes along. But, at least now, I know how to navigate the muddy waters and will rise to the surface like a water lily. Something beautiful comes out of the darkness.