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Old 07-16-2018, 03:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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My ACoA Mom and a Question


I would love some input from the experienced ACoA members here. To be honest, I'm not sure how to even describe an issue that has always been a problem in relating to my ACoA Mom. Her mother, father, and stepfather were all alcoholics. The only one who finally got sober was her stepfather. But when she was a child, he would pick her up from school and stop off at the local bar for a drink (or 3) leaving her in the car.

Anyway, I guess you could say that she has a hard time with emotions, strong emotions, at least. If someone around her is sad or having a problem in life, she does not deal with it well and wants it to go away--for everything to be OK again ASAP. This is especially pointed at my sister and I. She almost, who am I kidding, always gets mad when there is something going on in our worlds that makes us sad or is a problem.

It comes across as though she thinks somehow our "dysfunction" reflects on her and that people will judge her based on what is going on in our lives. She even had to blame my diabetes diagnosis on my Father. We tend to get that "stiff upper lip" speech and a lecture about how it's all our fault--regardless of what is happening.

Basically, my sister and I never talk about anything other than the weather, clothes, and food with our Mom.

I guess I'm wondering if that is an ACoA thing? Maybe because her own childhood was so out-of-control and her own self-esteem is so low that she needs for us to be perfect? I don't know
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Seren,,

It could be ACoA and it could be generational. All of my grandparents were impacted by the depression and WW2. Both of my grandmothers dealt with alcoholism. Both of my Grandmothers behaved like borderlines when I was younger. My parents were constantly whipsawing to their machinations. My paternal grandfather lost his mother as a young child and never showed emotion as an adult. My parents passed on a lot of ACoA to me and my sister. They’d often cryptically say, ‘you are lucky we aren’t alcoholics.’ No one in my family understood that how we buried emotions and dealt with problems with stoic silence were signs of a multigenerational impact of addiction/maybe mental illness.

Do you remember when the term codependent was a newer cultural awareness and a lot of people were dissing it and joking about its and arguing against the concept? I think was the 1990’s? Well now the newer thing to deride is snowflakes and triggers and safe spaces.

I think our culture is shifting to more emotional honesty about who one really is; however, there is a lot of backlash. People who don’t want to work on themselves seem the hardest at pushing back. Have you looked into Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability, shame and perfection? It might help you with your mom. Brown has a TED talk & a website with a very accessible review of her scholarly work.
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Old 07-17-2018, 07:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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As an ACoA myself, it feels familiar--though I did not express a reaction to strong emotions that way, my mother did. She, in addition to being an alcoholic herself, was also likely an ACoA.

In our house, only my mother was allowed to express her feelings (usually anger) about a situation. So I know this doesn't help that much, but I don't think it's a linear clear-cut thing. She may have stuffed her own emotions in service to the alcohol parent, which then manifested as extreme discomfort around other people's strong emotions, which she then deals with in a way she also learned from the addicted parent.

Being aware and taking care of yourself is paramount, of course.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Really, no one was allowed to express strong emotions in my house growing up. Anyone who did was deemed out of control and looked upon as though they needed 'professional help'--a bad and shameful thing in my family.

I have moved well past that attitude over the years, but I still don't talk to my mother openly about anything negative that goes on in my life because I know what the reaction will be. I express myself with my friends and other family members and have sought counseling in the past.

My parents are both still alive, but elderly...and I doubt that much will change at this point. I just hope that understanding it all a bit better may help me, and help my sister.

Thank you for giving me more to think about!!
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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This sounds very very familiar to me.. it sounds just like my Mother and it sounds just like me (once) and it sounds just like my sister(s).

It also sounds just like Laundry list trait 6: Overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

Which I interpret, from my Mother... Your feelings are my fault, my responsibility. If you're unhappy it's my fault. If I can't make you happy, I'm at fault. Be happy, or I'm faulty.

It also sounds codependent, from the patterns and traits (Coda)

" are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings"

Similar to my interpretation above - I don't want you to be sad, upset, hurt especially if I take on those feelings... so stop it please!

" avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance"

Again... if I'm responsible for & I take on these emotions & feelings it's really going to spoil my day. It's got to stop and you've got to stop it. If you could feel happy and calm and nicey nicey... well then I can take on those feelings AND be pleased at myself.

The interpretations that I've made, above, is exactly how I thought and behaved. It's exactly as my Mother behaved and I'm pretty sure -although, obviously I now know, I can't 'really' read minds :-) - it's how my mother thought & behaved.

When I listen to my sister(s)... they sound the same too.

What you've described, in my opinion is pure ACA, classic codependent. where both these two terms are inter changeable and are best summarised (for the purposes of my response)... really badly flawed thinking.
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Old 07-29-2018, 06:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seren View Post
Really, no one was allowed to express strong emotions in my house growing up. Anyone who did was deemed out of control and looked upon as though they needed 'professional help'--a bad and shameful thing in my family.

I have moved well past that attitude over the years, but I still don't talk to my mother openly about anything negative that goes on in my life because I know what the reaction will be. I express myself with my friends and other family members and have sought counseling in the past.

My parents are both still alive, but elderly...and I doubt that much will change at this point. I just hope that understanding it all a bit better may help me, and help my sister.

Thank you for giving me more to think about!!
Dear Seren
My family of origin was full of food and sex addiction. My mother controlled things (she thought) with anger.
You can probably imagine that our whole "family secrets" culture was very powerful.
My parents are both deceased, and today I am not on speaking terms with my sisters. They are carrying on the old family traditions. My middle sister is the new matriarch, and the younger one is obedient to her.
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you, everyone! Truly!
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Old 11-03-2018, 07:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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This is so validating for me. I am getting through a nightmare of my ACOA mother and my functioning alcoholic father changing in mood and personality after they retired. When I was having a hard time financially, my mother took it personally, like it was a poor reflection on her and the way she raised me. They stopped visiting, and when they came for a long over due visit, they acted weird. Finally there was a blow up and confrontation, and both came out with a lot of judgment for the choices I have made in my life. It was so confusing because they were acting weird and would never come out and say that they were thinking so much negative toxic thoughts about me, because the family culture is we don't talk about hard things. It's like they are living on another planet. I finally found Al-Anon and am reaching out for more support, because we are barely talking to each other. Is one of the answers to just keep it to minimal and superficial topics with my parents?
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Old 11-04-2018, 05:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seren View Post
I would love some input from the experienced ACoA members here. To be honest, I'm not sure how to even describe an issue that has always been a problem in relating to my ACoA Mom. Her mother, father, and stepfather were all alcoholics. The only one who finally got sober was her stepfather. But when she was a child, he would pick her up from school and stop off at the local bar for a drink (or 3) leaving her in the car.
As someone else posted here, these things tend to be generational unless someone in the family chain learns new coping mechanisms.

Quote:
Anyway, I guess you could say that she has a hard time with emotions, strong emotions, at least. If someone around her is sad or having a problem in life, she does not deal with it well and wants it to go away--for everything to be OK again ASAP. This is especially pointed at my sister and I. She almost, who am I kidding, always gets mad when there is something going on in our worlds that makes us sad or is a problem.
She is very enmeshed in your emotions. This is not fair to you or to her. She is taking on your feelings, instead of separating herself from them. Maybe she feels like a bad mother if she can't fix her children's emotions. It doesn't matter if she has good intentions or not. This is not a healthy dynamic in the least. Your mother needs to deal with her feelings about her life and let you and your siblings deal with your own feelings in your own lives. What you are describing is a very co-dependent and enmeshed relationship.

Quote:
It comes across as though she thinks somehow our "dysfunction" reflects on her and that people will judge her based on what is going on in our lives. She even had to blame my diabetes diagnosis on my Father. We tend to get that "stiff upper lip" speech and a lecture about how it's all our fault--regardless of what is happening.
It's a weird type of projection or reflection of some sort. You're right, it definitely seems like she's not allowing anything normal of life's ebs and flows to happen in your lives, because of what people might think of her as a mother. It's completely irrational to blame someone's diabetes on another human being. She sounds like a control freak which in my opinion is really a person who feels like their life is so out of control, that they try to control everything around them.

Do not stand for the speech and lecture. Walk away. End the conversation. You have the choice to take the verbal beating or walk away. Don't give her your power to make herself feel better.

Quote:
Basically, my sister and I never talk about anything other than the weather, clothes, and food with our Mom.
That is excellent. Keep your personal life private unless she changes.

Quote:
I guess I'm wondering if that is an ACoA thing? Maybe because her own childhood was so out-of-control and her own self-esteem is so low that she needs for us to be perfect? I don't know
Absolutely sounds like it. People who grow up in chaos, dysfunction and alcoholic homes grow up feeling out of control of their surroundings so they become controlling adults--especially in family dynamics. I also agree that her self esteem might be so low that she needs her children to appear "perfect" because of how you reflect back onto her. She's extremely worried about what people think of HER. See how it's all about HER? Where do you and your sister fit in here? That's not love. That's not fair to you and your sister. She wants you to be perfect--which is humanely impossible--just so she can feel like she's a good mother and other people will think she's a good mother. She's not giving you the freedom to live a normal life with normal ups and downs.

Be free and live. How your feelings and personal life effect her is HER problem. Not yours.
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Old 11-04-2018, 06:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think it's a control thing, and it likely isn't conscious. Being raised by an active alcoholic teaches children to try to mitigate the chaos through hyper vigilance, and barring that, mitigate the appearance of chaos by locking down negative emotions.
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Old 11-09-2018, 12:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I can absolutely agree with what Pathwaytofree said. My mom was an alcoholic, and this describes how I feel perfectly. I bet it describes your mom as well. Quoting Pathway......Absolutely sounds like it. People who grow up in chaos, dysfunction and alcoholic homes grow up feeling out of control of their surroundings so they become controlling adults.
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Old 12-18-2018, 12:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I can only answer from my own experience. I am an adult child of an alcoholic and I don't think I do this to my kids. If anything, I am the one always drawing a breath, letting things slide, rarely yelling, etc. Trying hard not to do all the things my parents did.

However, my mother and alcoholic father did it to me all the time. I was not allowed to be angry, hurt, or upset about anything, even now, with adult children of my own, this is still the attitude: that I have no right, ever, to have any emotional reaction to anything that is done or said to me.

And if I do, I'm told (as is everyone else who will listen, for the next 25 years) how it's all my fault anyway.
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Old 12-21-2018, 05:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Thank you everyone for your continued comments! Lots of think about, and I'm grateful for your time!!
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