Posts Tagged ‘Adult Children of Alcoholics’

lilac Syringa vulgaris in bloom

lilac Syringa vulgaris in bloom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no concept for ‘normal’ for most ACoA individuals. Not how a healthy family functions, not how a healthy relationship unfolds, not for what acceptable emotions and behaviors may be for any type of situation that for non-ACoA people would be obvious. This creates challenges when an ACoA person desires to move on in life and embrace change because they have no foundation on how they should be thinking, feeling or acting as they take their steps in growth.

People who have grown-up in an alcoholic home learned at a very early age that the only consistency they had was the fact that life was completely inconsistent. We became survivalists in this arena. It was always expected that the alcoholic parent would drink, we just never knew when or where it would start or what the outcome would be; would they simply pass out until the week-end was over or would the police be called to the house…..again.

When I was growing-up in the 60’s and 70’s there was still a lot of stigma and negativity towards alcoholism. My dad being an alcoholic was the biggest secret all the neighbors knew. I just didn’t know they knew, so was always walking on egg shells trying to cover the tracks. My stomach was tied in knots and I was always scared someone would see or hear my dad when he was drunk.

I only had one friend I’d invite into the house who I felt comfortable with if she knew he drank. When she moved to Europe it was three years before I invited anyone else in again. This is not ‘normal’ but for me it was my only option.

If you’ve grown-up in an alcoholic home you know how good you became at lying. It’s not like we set out with lying as our intention, but it became much easier than telling the truth. How did I get the black eye? Oh, I tripped and hit the doorknob in my bedroom. I soon had the reputation of being a klutz. Making up stories like that is not normal but again, at the time, it was my only option.

I was clueless how I was supposed to think and feel in various situations. To hide my insecurities I became the class clown. If I made people laugh I’d feel comfortable and when I got in trouble for it, at least it was because of something I did and not because of what was happening in my home. Of this one aspect of my life I had control.

It took a lot of years of inner work with myself before I was confident in expressing my feelings. I remember one night sitting in a meditation class; we had our eyes closed and our teacher was asking us questions about something and he said “raise your hand if you think this….. raise your hand if you think that…..” I would peek and see how people were answering and raise my hand accordingly. Then I got busted because he said “Debi, it can’t be both ways, which is it for you, A or B?” I was paralyzed in that moment. I was filled with fear of saying the wrong answer and fear that I’d be in trouble for it, when the reality of the situation was we were only being asked for our perspective. Again, not normal!

Hypnosis is an incredible tool to help individuals rise above their ACoA traits. Why? Because all those patterns of behavior and emotions are stored in the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is like a computer; it will continue acting on the same program until the program is changed. This is why an adult child of an alcoholic has difficulty in learning what ‘normal’ feelings and behaviors are, because their subconscious mind is filled with the old patterns and pain from the past.

I have been working with many ACoA individuals in my hypnosis practice, helping them create a ‘new normal.’ We work on releasing the old negativity and patterns of thoughts and behavior that has been controlling them for so long. It’s like preparing a canvas to paint a picture. Once the subconscious mind has been cleansed, they start focusing in on the type of person they yearn to become, which is setting the foundation for their new normal. This takes time because getting in touch with new positive emotions with the permission to feel and express them is a whole new way of living life. But the journey is empowering and worth every step.

Love & Blessings to all who wander by to read this!

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Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) – are you one of them? I am.

• Are you afraid to rock the boat or upset people?

• Do you work overtime making sure everything is ok and everyone is happy?

• Do you care more about what people think of you and less about what is best for you?

• Does it bother you if someone doesn’t like you?

• Is it easy for people to control you – even if you think you are just being easy to get along with?

• Do you work hard and still think you never do enough?

• Do you worry a lot?

• Is there a nervous knot in your stomach more often than not?

These are not official ACOA questions, though you can find them on the internet. These are questions based on my own experiences in life. I grew up in an alcoholic family. I had all the classic text book symptoms of being an ACOA, I just didn’t know it. And even after many years of being involved in a metaphysically based spiritual teaching that involved lots of inner work, growth and change – I discovered there were still deep psychic soul wounds in need of releasing and healing. Hypnosis is the step that has allowed me to access these deep pockets of old emotional pain and patterns of behavior I had developed as a child.

The subconscious mind is the store house of memory for all our life experiences, both positive and negative. Permanent memory, habits and patterns are all attributes of the subconscious. And emotions. Our emotions are stored in the subconscious mind. And they never go away unless we take the time to clean them out. This is important to understand if you are on a path of healing as an ACOA.

When I was in my twenties I was living in a house in Berkeley with several other people. One Saturday morning in summer I woke up and was listening to the sounds in the house. I heard one of my housemates crack open a metal ice cube tray on the kitchen sink. Before I knew what happened my body was locked in a fetal position, my stomach was clenched and I couldn’t breathe. Part of me was observing as if from the other side of the room and carrying on a conversation that went something like: Well this is interesting, how did we get here? Do you plan to stay like this long because I really want to go hiking.

At some point my room mate, who was practicing being a therapist, came in and saw me all balled up. I don’t recall exactly what she said but somehow I was able to figure out that the sound of the ice cube tray cracking on the kitchen sink triggered a memory buried deep in my subconscious mind. I remembered that if we woke up on a Saturday morning to the sound of the ice tray being cracked open by dad we knew it would be a week-end from hell because he was starting to drink early. That sound bite with all the emotions of fear, worry and dread packed inside had been in my subconscious mind for years and years. That is just one example.

Think about all the times your alcoholic parent was drunk. Now think about the feelings you were experiencing. Fear: Was there going to be another fight or lots of yelling? Were neighbors going to hear? Is mom going to get beat up again? Sadness: Why is mom crying all the time? How can I fix this? Guilt: This is my fault. I said something and now everyone is pissed at me because the drinking and fighting began. Worry: Are they going to show up drunk in public? Will we go on the vacation or is it going to get canceled… again? Shame: I can’t let anyone know about this. What if my friends find out my dad has a drinking problem? Are the neighbors going to ask me again why my parents didn’t show up for the neighborhood get together?

You get the idea. So all these feelings have been imprinted in the subconscious mind. They helped to create the patterns of behavior we adopt as a child living in an alcoholic home. I was the loud obnoxious kid in school. Nothing bothered me. I was the tough one. I was the one getting sent to the Principles office from kindergarten all the way through junior high. I lied. About everything. Because the truth was far more scary. And I was scared. All the time. But nobody ever knew.

I have been blessed to have had a teacher/mentor who worked with me in hypnosis. He helped me access these pockets of emotional wounds and showed me how to clear them out. I was able to see how the qualities of being an ACOA had carried into my adult life and was able to use hypnosis to release, rise above and become the individual I wanted to be.

And that is my message to all of you – adult children of alcoholics. You can go into your subconscious mind to uncover and release those old pockets of emotions that you still carry today. You can say hello to and acknowledge the inner child of you who never really grew up, who is stuck in the past still waiting for the next disaster to hit. You can heal, which simply means to create a positive change, the child in you that acts out in your adult life today. You can do this. You owe it to yourself.

Does being healed mean you never have issues again? Of course not! But your perspective will change about yourself and the world around you. I am still growing, learning and unfolding – thank God! Soon I will be writing about how I allowed myself to revert back to old ACOA tendencies in a 10 year business relationship. Now THAT’S a funny story!

Love & Blessings to all who wander by and read this!

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