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One day at a time

Old 08-02-2011, 07:07 PM
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One day at a time

I haven't posted on here for quite a while now. I am an adult child of an alcoholic father and pill popping mother. I have had relationships with chronic alcoholics. I have been battling my own addiction/obsession to people, places and things.

When I first posted, I'd come out of a long term relationship with my partner. He, unfortunately, is in the grip of chronic alcoholism. As they say in AA, alcoholics don't have relationships, they take hostages. It's now two years since I separated from this partner and I still find it difficult breaking away from my him, but I'm getting better and have learnt through my own 12 step recovery program to detach a lot more.

I've also discovered my own addictions. I was attending Al-Anon and finding I was getting agitated and frustrated with during the meetings. It was no accident I found myself in an AA meeting last October, this time not as a support for my adddicted partner, but for myself. I felt I was going insane. It's no accident I found myself relating during the ID meeting. I too had always felt uncomfortable in my own skin, had the feelings of restlessness and irritability, had fears and phobias. I too, in the last two years had found myself picking up a drink and not being able to stop, binging large quantities of alcohol in an attempt to disassociate from the pain of my break up but, I was not like the other alcoholics there, not like my exes, not like my father. I wasn't a daily drinker. What does that make me then?

I decided to find out. I discovered the characteristics of an adult child of an alcoholic. This gave me some relief from my mental confusion when I came to realise I have the characteristics of the alcoholic whether I pick up a drink or not.

I already knew I was a codie...I couldn't ignore that one. I was chronic and my dis-ease had progressed. I was in the last stages of co-dependency.

I found one person in AA I connected with straight away. He's an older, sober member. He is not my sponsor as it's suggested women have female sponsors, men have male sponsors. He has helped me understand and work out where I'm at.

I was finding I didn't fit in Al-anon and was questioning whether I had a right to take up a chair in AA. I felt a huge burden on my shoulders. My friend knew this and asked me this question. It was asked of him when he was trying to work out whether he was an alcoholic, drug addict, gambler or codie.

"What did you pick up first?" My answer was easy. "Alcohol", I replied. "I was 15 and I had my first drink and was paraletic and I continued to drink like that for years until I stopped". His answer to that was "Well, I would say, and it's only my opinion, that you're an alcoholic and everything you've done since, you've done alcoholically" Light bulb moment!!

I finally had my answer. Alcohol is in the bottle, the ism is in me. All these years, I've lived a chaotic existance. I've swapped one obsession for another. Alcohol, pot, fitness fanatic, addiction to unhealthy relationships, alcoholic partners, addictions to my tarot cards, alcohol, people pleasing..it goes on and on. Alcoholism, co-dependency, any addiction, is about filling the void within. It's about distracting myself from the pain. For me, guilt is a heavy contender. I've made many a decision to avoid the feelings of guilt as I don't like to see other people suffer. My own suffering is okay. I can handle it. Even as a child, I used to say I'd rather hurt myself than others.

Now I realise others may need to feel the consequences of their behaviours and actions. I have a hard enough time keeping my side of the street clean. No-one's there caretaking me. What gives me the right to take over someone elses's responsibility under the guise of being 'helpful'.

In the past, I believed I had a good heart and was helping people because I could. I was understanding and empathic. I still am, but I have my dark side, we all do. One person I wasn't helping was me. My friend from AA said to me a few months back that I would eventually need to do the steps, but it would take me time. I mentioned the fourth step and said I didn't believe I'd harmed anyone. I knew I'd been harmed my whole life. I was, however, a good person. I put other people before me afterall.

He, knowingly and gently said "That's fair enough but you may be surprised what you discover when you take that step".

He suggested I not take that step for quite a while. I went to the steps meeting anyway. I came out crazier than when I went in. Me having resentments? Since then, I've realised I have so many resentments. Obviously they were there all along, it's just that I'd distracted myself for 40 years with people, places and things in order to avoid looking at myself to deeply. Maybe the denial served a purpose at the time. It kept me alive. Continuing to stay in denial now though, will be the end of me.

My resentments keep adding up. They're all coming up in order to be let go of. "Nothing will make an alcoholic (or anyone with the isms), sicker than resentment and self-pity", my friend from AA tells me. And he's right. My buried and repressed anger has caused havoc in my world. Many of my decisions have been made to 'help others', to have them accept me. I've looked after others and haven't looked after me. Why did I skip having pap smears for six years? I was focused on my partners health. I have just recently been operated on twice for 'cancer in situ' in my cervical area. Was my self esteem so low that I didn't think I was worthy of looking after myself? Did it take a serious medical situation for me to start caring for me?

Self pity...I asked for an explanation about that one as I didn't want to chalk up another resentment. Self pity...the explanation is obvious. It also includes feeling unworthy, not good enough. I'm guilty of that. As for guilt...I now feel my guilt and try to live each day and make decisions that are good for me even if I attach unwarranted guilt to it.

Planning...my AA friend told me that alcoholics (or other people with the 'isms', adult children etc) can plan "but don't plan the outcome" he said. He said "when we make plans, we seem to plan all these amazing outcomes. This will happen, that will happen, we'll earn this, live here, do that. We live in a fantasy world where everything will turn out exactly as we fantasised in our head". Then when things don't work out, we build up resentments, we lose hope, blame others...all things that see the progression of our dis-ease.

He said the dis-ease is progressive whether we pick up or not. (picking up includes relationships and obessions with other addicts, substance abuse etc). I couldn't understand that one and asked for an explanation. He explained that our dis-ease is three fold. It's mental, spiritual and physical. Removing the physical part of the disease, ie, the drug of choice whether that be a person or a substance, still leaves the mental and spiritual. He said this spiritual malady is what needs addressing daily otherwise the madness will progress. This I related to as I've noticed over the years the madness in my head progressing.

I've learned to take things one day at a time. People don't understand that I can't make future, long term goals. It's not healthy for me to do so right now. I can only take it a day at a time. What a relief! I now ask for God's will in situations. When I get the feeling to help someone, or do something for someone, I ask myself whether God has put that in my heart or whether I'm feeling 'obligated' or 'compelled' to help which is part of my addiction. I don't want to add to my resentments so I stand back now and hand over my control issues and allow others to walk their journey as I have decided not to do for others what they're capable of doing for themselves. This does not mean I don't care for others. It means I check my motivations first. And, I don't get it right all the time. I still continue to fall off my codie wagon. Except now, I'm learning to put the whip away and not be so hard on myself.

The fantasy has gone out of my relationships. The magical thinking doesn't have a place in my life anymore. I'm starting to catch up on years of neglect. Neglect for my health, physical, mental and spiritual. Cleaning out garages, the ones in my home and the ones in me. I'm slowly starting to get some order in my life. Order out of chaos.

I'm so very grateful to sober recovery, to my special AA friend and to the 12 step program. Recovey is a journey and it's not an easy road. It's a very rewarding road though and I'm glad I'm on it...one day at a time...
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:21 AM
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Amazing post - this just speaks to me on so many levels. You've given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

Alcohol isn't my DOC - food is...
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Old 08-03-2011, 05:06 PM
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No worries bookwyrm. I think it was almost cathartic writing out my journey from late last year to now. As for food, yeah, I've had my issues there too! I'm now trying to lose the 10 kilos I've piled on recently...I just look at a carb and it instantaneously manifests itself to my butt and thighs, lol... That just reminded me, about a month ago, I had the compulsion to drink (I'm a binge drinker, not daily drinker...(yet and god willing, never) and felt I was going mad! I inhaled a massive slab of rocky road and then a crunchie (which is chocolate coated honeycomb). I felt sick but the compulsion to drink left me. I do know though that I was swapping the compulsion to binge drink with the binging on sugar.....Oh well, one day at a time!
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Old 08-03-2011, 05:43 PM
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Thank you so much for this deeply personal and honest share.

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Old 08-04-2011, 12:38 AM
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I've been thinking about your post a lot.

Originally Posted by Floss View Post
I discovered the characteristics of an adult child of an alcoholic. This gave me some relief from my mental confusion when I came to realise I have the characteristics of the alcoholic whether I pick up a drink or not
I've been wrestling with the definition of being an adult child for a while now. I just couldn't see it in me. LOL. Denial is so strong! Anyway, I've been reading 'Becoming Your Own Parent' - a book that was recommended to me here. I've been reading it for months! I pick it up, read a few pages and put it down without it really connecting with me. A few nights ago I read:

In co dependent relationships it's not only that we are taking care of people; we use them as an alcoholic uses alcohol. People become a medication, a drug of choice as a way of staying out of touch with ourselves. We don't like how we think, so we stay busy and we don't have to think. We don't like how we feel, so we work on our husbands or wives in order not to deal with our own feelings. We don't like the way we look so we stay at the office 16 hours a day so we don't have to do anything about it. All of these things are really drugs in lots of different forms.

You think you have power, but the truth is you're powerless. You think you have to win when the truth is what you have to do is surrender to win.

Codependency is not a guarentee that you're going to feel bad about yourself but it is a guarentee that you're never going to know who the hell you are. All co-dependents are clinically definable as depressed. The cumulative effect of not talking about what you feel or not expressing the things you think is that you have to repress who you really are. Another word for repression is depression.
This really struck me. Maybe I am an adult child of a dysfunctional family (read the thread http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...-chapters.html for more info on my background...though you may wonder why I thought I wasn't affected by my childhood!!). And then I read your post! You're further down this recovery road than I am but you're showing me the way. Something sure is trying to get me to look at this whole adult child thing a bit more closely.

Putting the whip away? But it's MY whip! I've held it for so long! What would happen to me if I stopped using it??!!

Anyway, sorry for the hijack. It's just that you've really helped me with your honest share.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:19 AM
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Wow! Thanks bookwyrm! I got what that passage from the book said and I identify with it sooo much... I've been talking a bit with my head shrink about repression as I certainly have done what the book says although I wasn't even aware at times what my feelings were...I haven't heard of that book. I'll be sure to get a copy of it. I'll go and read the link for the other post...firstly, yeah, the whip! Don't we just love using it? I'm starting to wonder what happens when we stop using it on ourselves? Will be back to comment on that link!
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:25 AM
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Just started reading the post! Wow, that's full on hey? Scary! Are those chapters from the same book or is it from another book? Will have to read more tomorrow..time for bed! Early one tomorrow...
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by bookwyrm View Post
Maybe I am an adult child of a dysfunctional family
That's my qualification! Neither of my parents are alcoholics, but dysfunctional is the order of the day.

I completely identify with adult child characteristics and issues!
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Old 08-04-2011, 02:00 PM
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Hi Floss, no the thread I posted was about a different book - 'Why does he do that'. I just linked to it because I talk about my family life in it and didn't want to type it all out again!

Neither of my parents are alcoholics Freedom but my paternal grandfather was one by all accounts. The gift that keeps on giving...

Being able to identify as an adult child is opening my eyes to a lot of things. I will have to go to the start of 'Becoming Your Own Parent' again I think and read it 'properly'. Another book recommended on this forum (for adult children I think) is 'The Journey from Abandonment to Healing' which is also sitting on my shelf. I don't know why I'm so reluctant to identify these traits within me - I'm clinging hard to my denial. I've wrestled with depression for so many years - it's one of the reasons that passage really struck home.

Sometimes (like around about now) I get so overwhelmed by everything I 'need' to do. How do I know where to start? How did you?
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Old 08-07-2011, 03:49 AM
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Hi Bookwyrm. Both books looks pretty informative....the reparenting one and 'Why does he do that'. I haven't heard of 'The Journey...' book. Thanks for letting me know about these books. Too strange, I've been saying that quote you wrote a lot lately..."the gift that keeps on giving". And you're right. The gifts seem to be never ending...the good, the bad and the ugly!

Isn't it amazing when the penny finally drops. We're adult children and now, we have some explanation and hopefully a way to work through it all...

The denial thing...I was talking to my psychologist last week about denial as I had been in denial that I had any resentments or anger for most of my life. (He's another person my HP led into my life and he's helping me unravel 40 years of abuse etc)...as they say, when the pupil is ready, the teacher appears). When I spoke about my denial, he said something like "...what if it isn't denial. What if it is that you weren't aware then and now you're starting to become more aware of your feelings, what's happening inside?" I thought that was a good way of looking at things.

We also spoke about how I'm starting to feel, and get angry sometimes (I too have struggled with depression most of my life which I think is because I turned my anger in on myself, swallowed it and then repressed it) and how I'm now starting to assert myself. I gave him an example of when my sister came to visit and she and her partner started to critisise me because my eldest son (he's almost 18) has a lock on his door and he's the only one with the key. I don't see a problem that he locks his door. He's not up to any mischief. He just likes some privacy from the other kids in the house. She was giving me all the shoulds...You should tell him he can't have a lock on his door. His partner (who has no children) told me I should remove the lock etc etc. My reponse to my sister and her partner was..."I do the best parenting I can. If you think you can do it better, how about we swap for a week and you both see how easy it is to raise five kids on you're own. I'm up for it. I'm ready to move out. What do you reckon?". They didn't reply, lol.

My psych smiled and said...firstly..."I see no problem that your son has a lock on his door. Every human being has a right and a need for privacy. Secondly, he asked me if I was more or less wanting to tell them to f**k off. I said "yes, I was.". He laughed and said that's my all or nothing thinking coming out again and suggested I may be behaving rebelliously. The nothing being compliant and the all being rebellious with a f**k you attitude. He was right on the ball. It's the f**k you attitude that triggered my binges in the last two years. He suggested I could have said something like "This is the way I parent. If you don't like that, then you're free to leave". I liked his suggestion better.

I think what I'm trying to say is, it takes time. I used to feel so overwhelmed about everything I 'needed' to do.... Taking time, keeping things simple and asking God to provide the right help for me has helped settle me down. This has given me time to actually feel my feelings and check my motivations. I can honestly say I felt I was going insane last October, I had reached my rock bottom. Living the way I was, feeling the way I did was too painful. It was then I found myself into an AA meeting. I didn't understand why I related. In time I found out why I did. In AA they say that in the first year of recovery, you can feel even madder than you did when you first walked in. Then things start to ease. All recovery is like that I believe. I also started taking medication in April...anti depressants/anti anxiety medication. It's controversial in AA as to whether taking medication is swapping one for the other. All I know is I needed some help with my depression and the paralysing anxiety I felt at times and I believe I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I hope, in time and with more recovery under my belt, I will come off the meds as many in AA have done too.

The other thing that propelled me into getting into recovery more deeply was my life had become unmanageable and now I was facing a serious health condition. I knew the stress and neglect of my past had led me to the situation I found myself in. It was time to take stock. Time to make a change. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I was obviously insane, lol. So, I started doing things differently and slowly trying to balance out my all or nothing approach.

I was so confused early in my recovery. I knew I was a codie. That was painfully obvious and I'd known that for years. I knew I was an adult child but I didn't know what that meant. I knew I felt agitated when I went to Al-anon because I no longer lived with an A and I became increasingly frustrated during the meetings because the meeting I went to was not a fit for me. I was scared when I found myself in AA because I didn't think I was an A because I wasn't like 'them'. I'd had many A's in my life and had compared myself to them seeing the differences, not similarites. And yet, somehow I related to 'them'.

Discovering the characteristics of an adult child cleared the air for me and helped me understand why I felt like I did. Understanding that even though I'd been mostly dry the last twenty years, that when I did drink I binged and being a dry drunk is not sobriety and I certainly couldn't say the last two years I'd been dry either. I've only just started to find my way. The path is becoming a little less hazy.

Recovery is a process, not an event. It takes time. It's a work in progress and we will never stop learning. I would highly recommend face to face recovery work, whether that be meetings, counsellors who understand alcoholism and it's affects and SR. We can make it bookwyrm because we want it. We just have to know we're worth putting the hard work into. Think about all the energy we've spent on 'them'. Now, if we could just do the same for ourselves, one day at a time, one step at a time...

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Old 08-07-2011, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Floss View Post

The denial thing...I was talking to my psychologist last week about denial as I had been in denial that I had any resentments or anger for most of my life. (He's another person my HP led into my life and he's helping me unravel 40 years of abuse etc)...as they say, when the pupil is ready, the teacher appears). When I spoke about my denial, he said something like "...what if it isn't denial. What if it is that you weren't aware then and now you're starting to become more aware of your feelings, what's happening inside?" I thought that was a good way of looking at things.
I think that looking at it like this helps - stops me beating myself up for being 'stupid'. Thanks Floss!

I always have a problem with anger - expressing it or hearing it from someone else. Way to go with asserting yours! I'm scared if I let mine out I won't be able to stop...

One day at a time is all we can do. I need that reminder today. Patience with myself is something I find really hard to do.

Thank you for sharing your journey. And you're right, it is a process and not an event. It'll never stop!
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bookwyrm View Post

I always have a problem with anger - expressing it or hearing it from someone else. Way to go with asserting yours! I'm scared if I let mine out I won't be able to stop...
I understand what you mean. I had a real problem hearing other peoples anger, probably because most of the people I had attracted in my life weren't able to express their anger respectfully. They were being abusive. They weren't safe people to be around. Abuse can be overt and it can be ever so subtle. We need to listen to our intuition, our gut feelings instead of ignoring them. If we sense danger, there's usually a reason for that. I also understand about feeling like you won't be able to stop if you let out your anger! I've been on that road on and off for the last two years. The thing I've realised is I'm not an abuser like some of the people in my life and it's okay to feel anger and to acknowledge it instead of stuffing it so far down I don't even notice it's there. I may at times have the "f**k you attitude when I'm dealing with unsafe people, but I'm starting, slowly, to learn to balance this now so I no longer act in the all or nothing approach...
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