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Old 03-21-2014, 07:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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ACOA and friendships?

I'm not an ACOA, but my children are. I usually post in the Friends & Family of Alcoholics section, but I wanted to pick your brains over here a bit about how growing up with an alcoholic parent has affected your relationships -- with friends as well as partners.

I think part of the answer is probably similar to what I as a codependent ex-wife see in myself (trust issues, not always able to identify red flags) but I believe some things are unique to having grown up with an alcoholic parents.

So here's what I see in and hear from my kids (all teens):
"She doesn't have any other friends and I want to prove to her that she is worthy of having friends, that she's a sweet person, and that people can love her."
"Everyone else hates her and calls her a b***h but she's not, and I want people to see that."
"I've told her again and again that I won't put up with her lying to me" (still continues the friendship even though friend keeps lying)
"Normal people don't understand me."
"I don't have anything in common with normal people."
"I hate those blonde girls in their skinny jeans and uggs, they just walk around school JUDGING everyone."

What I see is my children choosing relationships and friendships with other broken people. My daughter says "I feel good about myself when I can help someone else" -- even though it affects her negatively.

Can you tell me about your friendships/relationships, and what you have done to overcome whatever tendencies you may have or have had to get into codependent/dysfunctional relationships?
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
So here's what I see in and hear from my kids (all teens):
"She doesn't have any other friends and I want to prove to her that she is worthy of having friends, that she's a sweet person, and that people can love her."
"Everyone else hates her and calls her a b***h but she's not, and I want people to see that."
"I've told her again and again that I won't put up with her lying to me" (still continues the friendship even though friend keeps lying)
"Normal people don't understand me."
"I don't have anything in common with normal people."
"I hate those blonde girls in their skinny jeans and uggs, they just walk around school JUDGING everyone."
I'm not sure what you are asking, but all of the above is me. I'm an ACA but the home is what makes the child. To correct it? All I can do is accept it and wear it as a badge of honor. People from fragmented homes (ACA's) are giving people. What is so bad about that and why should it be corrected? Normal? What is that? Ask even a normie, they couldn't tell you. Having something in common with people? That is called uniqueness if you don't. As much as I felt uncomfortable about being out of place as a teen, now looking back, I would embrace it. Let'em. JMHO
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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All of those things are me, for sure. I have issues in taking responsibility for myself, since that's what was modeled for me as a child. I spent my whole childhood and young adulthood in an A home. I believe that if someone had intervened early on, I would have turned out mich differently. Modeling normal behavior and getting them to therapy are the best things you can do.
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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This is me as well, always "fixing" the broken people. The inventory of my friends fall heavily into that category for the most part. I guess we are drawn to it, and lets face it, we have a lot of experience of what needs fixing with no one listening to us so when a friend does listen and they do "fix" their problems it's a pleasant experience. I realize these people aren't healthy enough to give back emotionally to me, but what is healthy? I view healthy people as arrogant and unemotional, totally self absorbed in their small perfect world. Healthy people don't give back to me emotionally either because they are focused on what color granite countertops to pick out and spend weeks anxiously focusing on it, or other such materialistic goals.

I understand your concern but unless they have a normal life modeled they will pick up these tendencies as a way to deal with the chaos in their heart. Just wondering are your kids still living with the alcoholic?
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
"Normal people don't understand me."
"I don't have anything in common with normal people."
These two largely me...others not too much. I certainly hung with people I related to, tended to be "broken" but did not feel need to fix. I felt so broken myself that not able fix anyone else...couldn't fix father or mother, so thought how I fix anyone else? I guess I differed that way. But the two I quote, largely what I felt all through teens and still now (I'm 22). Hard form relationships with people when feel unable to connect because you just not feel "normal." Hard to trust and build bonds.

One way I find overcome "broken" people relationship is to talk to people with common interest, not common experience...though sometimes common experience be beneficial, keep that in mind. As long as it's about sharing experience, not "solving" problems not able solved.

If daughter has need for fixing people, therapy probably only thing that really help. But it won't help unless she want to do it. If she get good feeling from help somebody though...not bad thing. Only detrimental when she trying "fix" people can't be helped.

Quote:
"She doesn't have any other friends and I want to prove to her that she is worthy of having friends, that she's a sweet person, and that people can love her."
"Everyone else hates her and calls her a b***h but she's not, and I want people to see that."
I actually see no issue with these unless person she is being friends with is being mean to her some reason, bullying her. It takes lots guts be friends with unpopular person in school... shows your child is not conceited, which I applaud. I was quiet, shy, and distance myself from everyone in school (even now sometimes)...did not many friends, "unpopular." I would be wary, but also happy if child like yours try be my friend when I was in high school. Would not feel so alone. To me this is kind of like making friend with kids with down syndrome at school. They automatically unpopular. Some kids be friends with them because we all know disability not make you bad person, want help down syndrome kid feel included. Makes you feel good and them. Others too afraid let reputation suffer being friends with "that kid." By statement quoted above, seem like your children not that way.
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Old 03-26-2014, 03:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thank you all for your responses. They're no longer living with the A, and have no contact.

I do tend to agree with you that it's not a bad thing to be compassionate, helpful, and listen and want to help. I guess what concerns me is that when you have that basic tendency, you're easy prey for "users" -- and I'm not just talking users as in addicts, but users as in people who use people. I've seen that a couple of times -- the boy who was dropped from the school wrestling team dating my daughter until he got his grades up and was allowed back on the team; the row of cute girls using my son as Rebound Boy... etc.

I know it's their lives and that I can't protect them from this. But I think because I have those same tendencies (including the "Normal people judge me") and they've led me into some pretty hellish relationships, I would want to do everything I can to help the kids NOT make those same mistakes, if that makes sense?

Yak, I really liked this:
Quote:
One way I find overcome "broken" people relationship is to talk to people with common interest, not common experience...
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Good comments regarding "easy prey" and "common interests". I'm accused of overthinking things as a major fault; it was an essential tool but now, its a millstone. Being too involved means you're not allowing that person to grow. When I thought I was building social skills, I was perceived as weak. Having an intelligent contribution is far easier when its a common interest. I think good communication is a worthy goal, but if you need to be understood its usually immaturity.

Being understood requires knowing someone for many, many years. There's no condensed version. Socially I've always disagreed with average observations because I over-think. That's me! I wish everyone the best but, don't get me started on my opinions.
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Old 03-27-2014, 08:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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What I see is my children choosing relationships and friendships with other broken people. My daughter says "I feel good about myself when I can help someone else" -- even though it affects her negatively.
I do the same, lillamy. I did it as a kid and I do it now. To be honest, I really hadn't thought much about it until I saw your question. There are several reasons that I do this. One is because I want to help them, good codependent that I am (as your dd says though she likely doesn't recognize the codependency in the friendship.) Another reason is that I don't feel like I belong with the 'normal' people. Even as a kid, I recognized that I didn't belong with the 'cool kids.' I couldn't verbalize why I felt that way, I just knew that I felt that way. Now I understand that it's insecurity. Not feeling like I'm 'good enough' for the "blonde girls in the skinny jeans with uggs." I feel like they'll reject me if they know me; therefore, I have to reject them first. Protecting myself from further hurt. Finally, the 'rejects' make me feel better about myself: "See, my problems aren't as bad as hers."

Honestly? I still really struggle with this. I'm in a group with several other women who you could classify as the "cool kids." I struggle with authenticity. I hold back from the group... then feel like I don't belong (when how can you belong when you're presenting them with a facade?) This is just another long list of my ACoA traits that I am/will be working on in al-anon and therapy.

My children also struggle with this. Especially dd14. She has held onto a friend who was verbally abusive to her, another who stole from her, and others who were frankly kind of scary to me. It makes me sad for her and angry at STBXAH... and angry at myself for not leaving sooner and not getting help for myself sooner. She's in therapy.... and is thisclose to agreeing to alateen. Next year, she will be attending a small charter that is not cliquey. I'm so hoping she's able to make some good, lasting friendships there.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
I'm not an ACOA, but my children are. I usually post in the Friends & Family of Alcoholics section, but I wanted to pick your brains over here a bit about how growing up with an alcoholic parent has affected your relationships -- with friends as well as partners.

I think part of the answer is probably similar to what I as a codependent ex-wife see in myself (trust issues, not always able to identify red flags) but I believe some things are unique to having grown up with an alcoholic parents.

So here's what I see in and hear from my kids (all teens):
"She doesn't have any other friends and I want to prove to her that she is worthy of having friends, that she's a sweet person, and that people can love her."
"Everyone else hates her and calls her a b***h but she's not, and I want people to see that."



What I see is my children choosing relationships and friendships with other broken people. My daughter says "I feel good about myself when I can help someone else" -- even though it affects her negatively.

Can you tell me about your friendships/relationships, and what you have done to overcome whatever tendencies you may have or have had to get into codependent/dysfunctional relationships?
The bolded items above really resonate me and I just ended a 10-year friendship with someone who fits that mold. I'm in ACA and reading the BRB helped me realize the dynamics of my relationship with this person. Thing is, people don't like her for a reason - she's rude, she has not brain-mouth filter, she argues about everything, she always has to be right, she is insulting, she is self-absorbed, she blames everyone else for her problems, she bullies/belittles/badgers people. I always gave her a pass because of her dysfunctional upbringing. But in so doing, I allowed her to hurt me over the years and I never stood up for myself. Finally I had enough when she didn't support me in my own sobriety and instead pressured me to drink with her. That was the last straw.

I encourage you to help your daughters really explore why they choose the friends they do. I, too, never felt like I was "good enough" to be friends with "normal" people, so I chose friends who were "damaged" in some way. That made me feel like I was doing something good for them, yet at the the same time I was undermining my own value.

This is not to say that damaged people don't deserve compassion, heck, everyone is damaged in one way or another. But if her friends are people who don't treat others well, it would help your daughter to learn skills to really stand up for herself and not allow herself to be bullied or used or taken advantage of in the name of "friendship" that is really one-sided.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I feel like they'll reject me if they know me; therefore, I have to reject them first. Protecting myself from further hurt. Finally, the 'rejects' make me feel better about myself: "See, my problems aren't as bad as hers."
I think this is exactly what I'm seeing. And it's also what their father did -- it's sort of an "you can't fire me, I quit" reaction?

Quote:
This is not to say that damaged people don't deserve compassion, heck, everyone is damaged in one way or another. But if her friends are people who don't treat others well, it would help your daughter to learn skills to really stand up for herself and not allow herself to be bullied or used or taken advantage of in the name of "friendship" that is really one-sided.
Nodding my head here. Yes, we are all broken in one way or another. I'm not opposed to my kids befriending broken people, I'm opposed to my kids being taken advantage of in relationships.

My parents set a really good example for me in not ever interfering with who I chose to be friends with, or trying to bar me from befriending certain people. What they did do, though, and what I do too, is talk a lot with their kids. Ask about friends. Ask about what they like about other people. Not to tell them but to encourage them to think.

And let's face it -- some people are just going to be "helpers" who feel that is their mission in life. One of mine is definitely hard-wired that way; I would be surprised if she didn't end up in a "helping" profession when she grows up.
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