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The past

Old 11-06-2003, 06:49 PM
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The past

Hi everyone,

I just started seeing a psychiatrist this last week and he's pointed out a really interesting thing for me. I don't know how to feel about my childhood especially the alcoholism.

He asked me about it and I gave him a detailed description of what happened and feeling pretty satisfied with my understanding, waited for his opinion and insight. But he didn't give one, he asked me how I FELT about it. Well, that just floored me I've never even known how I FEEL about it!

I tried to think back but all I could come up with was that either I felt I was making a big deal out of nothing, just as I was told, or there were so many emotions going on at once that I couldn't recognise any of them. A lot of those emotions I couldn't even name if I tried to seperate them.

Now I have to look back and consider what my response would have been and that seems so difficult for me to do. I have no idea why, I guess I'm not really sure what that would even be. I'll just have to try and be objective and non-judgemental about it. Why is that so tough?

Amy
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Old 11-06-2003, 07:09 PM
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Hi Amy,

I struggle with my feelings about my childhood and my dad's alcoholism b/c even though I clearly see how it affected me, I still feel that I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Things just weren't that bad! My dad worked at the same job, a great paying job, for 33 years, rarely missed a day of work, we lived in a nice house, my parents always drove nice cars, and by all appearances we were a successful middle-class family. So, why am I so screwed up again?

I try to give myself a break, but it's hard. If asked how I feel about it, my first and pretty much only thought is that I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Yes, both parents were emotionally unavailable. Yes, my dad was emotionally abusive. Yes, I was pretty much raised to take care of myself and everyone else in my family. No, I wasn't really allowed to be a child. But I still feel I should have turned out stronger, should have dealt with it better....

I have a lot of underlying emotions about my childhood - anger and sadness primarily, but the strongest emotion by far is disappointment in myself, that I didn't handle it better, that I turned out so screwed up. And when I do try to be objective and non-judgemental, I find it hard to do. I still think I really have no legitimate complaints....
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Old 11-06-2003, 10:47 PM
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Asking me how I "felt" at the beginning of my recovery really brought me into focus. I didn't "do" feelings. I am allergic to feelings.

Today, I can tell you how I feel in a nano-second. Once recovery takes off......watch out!

Glad you're here!
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Old 11-06-2003, 11:14 PM
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I think I understand Amy , I am having huge difficulty since my recent sobriety, feelings from my childhood 9 which was crappy ) to say the least , are flooding me the last 2 days. I have never " felt " them before, cos I drowned them in booze , before they got hold.
But , being sober, i have had them overwhelm ne the last couple of days . I feel quite weak, cos I have always scorned the " I had a bad childhood " excuse , but it is true , that that is where my insecurity and low self esteem came from.
I am not using that as an excuse , but my "feelings " were the catalyst to my first drink
HUGXXX
Lee ps . today is the first time I have EVER spoken of my childhood , or my " feelings " I am finding it quite liberating , I always felt ashamed of the way I felt
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Old 11-07-2003, 01:02 AM
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Amy,

I don't see why you would expect yourself to objective and non-judgmental about growing up in an alcoholic family. It is understandable to me that you would have a hard time identifying your feelings about that. Growing up that way is a big deal, no matter if the parent/s are functioning or not. My mother was a functioning alcoholic in that she went to work every day, took care of us, in that we were clothed and fed, etc. But the rest was a nightmare.

How can a person learn to have worth and self-esteem when they are treated poorly by their primary caretakers. Sometimes it is very hard for us to feel anger at our parents for things they have done that have hurt us. It's hard for me to feel that way about my mother.

If I were to be asked how I felt growing up in an alcoholic family, I wouldn't be able to do it in one concise sentence. There are so many years of memories, feelings involved I wouldn't know where to begin.

Understanding how you feel about this can take some time. It is a process. I'm sure you know that journaling can be helpful in this. Just let whatever feelings, impressions come and don't worry abuout how they may seem to someone else. These are your feelings and you have a right to them.

Juls
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Old 11-07-2003, 03:33 PM
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Maybe I am different (maybe??) because I can give it words. Emotionally neglected is what comes to mind immediately. That left me wanting more and being needy. It left me with low self worth due to lack of nuturing. I was abandoned causing me to hold on too tightly.

I have been identifying characture defects and working on them for some time. I have not delved deeply into my childhood but each and every characture defect is a roadmap back to that time.

Hugs,
JT
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Old 11-07-2003, 03:40 PM
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Juls : that is exactly how I feel! As I said , I have never had these feelings surface before , and thus , have never adressed them. I used to just drink , before they overwhelmed me . So they are a whole new thing for me to deal with.

I guess abandoned emotionally , would describe me fairly accurately too. Always wanted to be " invisible " , I have been able to voice some of this to my new sponser , which is a big break thru for me , cos I have NEVER spoken the words before !
And I did it sober ! another first
HUGXXX
Lee
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Old 11-07-2003, 04:06 PM
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FEELINGS

Amy,

Reading your comment, I immediately started humming the old song "Feelings!" Geez, they are such a bear to deal with, but then they are equally a blessing!!
The hardest part for me, is to stay out of my "head"!!
I constantly have to "sensor" my thoughts...Whenever I catch myself saying, "I think", I FORCE myself to replace it with "I FEEL"!
When it comes to my childhood, esp. the rotten 15 yr. adoption I endured, the foremost feeling is "anger/rage." However, I am getting much better at handling it, because I learned long ago in therapy, that my "past" is my "legacy", and because of it, I am a pretty fantastic person today!!
I cannot change one single thing that happened to me as a child, teenager, college kid,or drug shrouded adult; BUT.....I CAN change how I LOOK at it!! I can either have a constant pity party,
or I can look at the past, and take from it, ONLY that which makes me a better person today!! I have chosen the latter...
Give yourself time...The majority of the adult influence in my life, were "sick" people, and I suffered the consequences. However, I refuse to stoop to their level, and be "sick" too! That's their problem, and if they don't care to do something about themselves, that's their choice..All I can do is take care of me in the most positive way possible...
I believe, atleast for me, that THOUGHTS are what hurt you; FEELINGS heal you."


"What you are is your folk's fault. But if you stay that way, it
is your own fault."

Smilefully,

Bonnie!
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Old 11-07-2003, 06:22 PM
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Thanks everyone for talking about this. I thought I must be missing something that was pretty obvious, but now I can see that it is just a difficult thing for anyone to do.

I was told to look at it "objectively" as if it were another person, because I have so much trouble knowing what I have a right to feel. Even now, my head will jump in straight away to censor me. That's a good point, Bonnie, I will have to watch for that judgemental attitude.

I know that I need to be patient and kind to that part of me protecting the pain, but that's hard to do when it gets so defensive! It doesn't make any sense to fight with myself over this, but that's exactly what I do.

Anyway, journalling is a great suggestion I will try that. For some reason, I often think of journalling as a kind of test. It has to make some kind of sense and include some solutions as well. It was so good to be reminded today that all I need to do is write whatever I feel.

Thank you all and to anyone else just starting out on this journey, at least we can know we are not alone!

Amy
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Old 11-08-2003, 02:43 PM
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Is the past intruding into today????

Amy,

Thanxs for the reply! I was just sittin' here thinkin' bout something a therapist said to me long ago...
I was sittin' in her office rambling away, and when I paused for a second, she said, "Bonnie, why is the past alive and present in today?" I imediately copped and attitude, and said, "EXCUSE ME! What the heck do you mean by that??!!" She calmly replied,
"Well, I've sat here and listened to you ramble for 45 mins. now, and all you've gone on and on about is how miserable you were as a child...Why is the past alive and present in today??? Y'know Bonnie, you lived thru the hell of your childhood. You don't NEED those survival defenses today. You've already survived it all."
Made a HUGE difference in how I reacted and thought about things!! Even now, many years later, when I find myself "reacting" to something, I slow down enuf to ask myself, "Bonnie, what are you REALLY reacting to??" It's a great reality check!!!!

Later!
Bonnie!
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