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Some struggle with alcohol or other addictions themselves. Addicts are often unpredictable, sometimes abusive, and always checked-out emotionally (and sometimes physically).
You never knew who would be there or what mood they’d be in when you came home from school. There may have been a lot of overt tension and conflict.
People-pleasing You have a strong need to be liked and accepted.
This again stems from experiencing rejection, blame, neglect, or abuse, and a core feeling of being unlovable and flawed.
These may have been practical (like paying the bills) or emotional (like comforting your siblings when Mom and Dad fought). Anxiety keeps you trapped as whenever you try to move away from the other eight traits, it flares up.
Now you continue to take responsibility for other people’s feelings or for problems that you didn’t cause. Childhood fear and trauma left you in a hypervigilant state. If you identified with some of this list, like many other ACOAs, you developed these coping strategies and personality traits in order to deal with your dysfunctional family. Healing can start by simply knowing that you aren’t alone.
They show up as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, stress, anger, and relationship problems.The effects of growing up in an alcoholic family are varied. Usually, everyone’s tiptoeing around the alcoholic, trying to keep the peace and avoid a blow-up.Many ACOAs are very successful, hard-working, and goal-driven. Your needs must be met consistently in order for you to feel safe and develop secure attachments. You really can’t understand addiction as a child, so you blame yourself and feel “crazy” because your experiences didn’t line up with what adults were telling you (namely that everything’s fine and normal).You’re incredibly hard on yourself and struggle to forgive or love yourself.During childhood, you came to believe that you’re fundamentally flawed and the cause of the family dysfunction.
Groups like Al-Anon and ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) provide free support and recovery.