Sweet defense mechanism, or is this ACOA-driven?

Old 01-11-2010, 11:40 PM
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Sweet defense mechanism, or is this ACOA-driven?

Looking around it seems this might be the best forum for this. I'll try to keep this as brief as possible without leaving out pertinent details.

The issue: possible lack of trust in relationships, or just a great emotional defense mechanism?

Background: I'm now 24. Male. My mom is a recovering alky. I was never abused or anything like that, so sometimes I'll be reading ACOA literature and not really understand some of the 'typical' events that take place in the life of your usual ACOA. Though in some of my ACOA reading I've done I've seen a few ways I've been affected. But as far as I can tell, up to this point I've been lucky to have not suffered some of the same problems other ACOA's have suffered. (I don't know if it's possible for such a thing to come off as "braggy," but if it is I certainly apologize.)

I've been in two relationships in my adult life...for the first one, I liked the girl half to death and we got together. I found her to be ridiculously attractive. The moment we kissed, I felt myself sort of detach, I felt like we were moving too fast. We continued on for almost two years, doing a whole lot of fighting [she had a VERY conflict-loving personality due to her home life - and no, no alcoholism in her family], which scared me half to death at first but eventually I got kind of used to it. However, only on rare occasions did I really feel the warm fuzzies about the relationship; her attitude always brushed me the wrong way whenever I really felt good about us. I spent probably the last 3/4ths of the relationship telling her "I Love You" and not truly being sure inside of me if I really did. Certainly I loved her, cared for her, sacrificed for her-- but I didn't feel the warm fuzzy kind of love. I eventually suggested we consider splitting (since we fought literally every day together, and saw other red flags. She's admitted since then that indeed, she was much the cause of many of our problems), and we did in fact split.And it didn't bother me too much, until approx. 2 months later, and it then it hit me like a cannon ball.
It was a defense mechanism, I realize now; I put myself emotionally at bay so that I could do 'the right thing' and split us up as a way to prevent what I perceive would be inevitable divorce down the road.

Second relationship began a year after that first one ended, I thought the girl was somewhat attractive, but not like the first girlfriend (just sayyin'). I also saw a red flag or two (just things like different religion and different expectations regarding our roles in the marriage if we were to ever get to that stage. Yes, I asked that sort of thing on the first date). In other words, I was already only half-sold on this one. We've been going out five months now...certainly no warm fuzzies. Recently I built a legit case as to why I don't 'like' this girl. That said, at some point in the relationship I actually felt pretty great about things and a liiiiiiittle bit warmfuzzy, but as soon as I remembered those red flags my feelers' ran away, I suppose.

Now, one thing I'm not asking from ya'll, is arguments recommending I marry someone who doesn't match some of the values I've happened to mention over the course of this post (like matching religion). I'm very happy with keeping these standards. What I am asking from you is clarification as to if I just have a kick-arse defense mechanism for when I do find a person who matches my values and whatnot, or if you read this and caught things that are typical ACOA things and I'm just not seeing it.
I sort of figure that if I find a girl with the right values and everything seems to match fine and I still can't develop warm-fuzzies, then I know I probably have a real problem. But I'm also afraid that I'm chasing a pipe dream of the 'perfect' girl who will never exist (must have these values, and these looks...) and this is all some sort of mental headgame driven by a fear of intimacy, and i.e. this sort of thing is somewhat more-or-less typical amongst ACOAs.

Or, maybe it's both a) driven by being an ACOA and B) a worthwhile defense mechanism?
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:51 PM
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Hi Kickmeplz

Welcome to SR.

I never like to analyse anyone's relationship on the basis of a post.

I do think it's clear you have some issues, and you've identified some of them - fear of intimacy, trust issues etc...I think counselling might help you deal with them, but I'm just speaking generally from my own experience and issues: I have no experience with being ACOA.

We do have an ACOA forum too
Adult Children of Addicted/Alcoholic Parents - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information

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Old 01-12-2010, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Dee74 View Post
I do think it's clear you have some issues, and you've identified some of them - fear of intimacy, trust issues etc
Is it clear? I guess I've never been 100% sold that these little nuances I've mentioned are ACOA-related or not. Or maybe I should say, I'm still not sure my behavior or thinking is unhealthy or illogical (the real test in my mind being if I were to find the girl with the right values and still not feel warm fuzzies). In my mind, I'm not sure I want to be like other people, who often seem to jump into relationships haphazardly and irresponsibly ignoring red flags, in my personal view.

I know this is probably a big 'nono', but I'd have to be pretty convinced I can't think myself through this problem before I'd consider therapy or whathaveyou. For example I had light anxiety (I say 'light' because if it were the same anxiety others feel, I'm not sure I could have gotten around it without taking medication or therapy or other such things that other folks must do, right?) in high school and some years afterward yet I've, for the most part, outgrown that by putting myself through some tough situations and made myself get over it. I feel like I have made advancements on my own, and I'd have to be convinced this problem couldn't also be handled in such a way before getting professional help.

(Thanks for your referral to the ACOA forum, by the way. Appreciate it! )
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:13 AM
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no worries

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Old 01-12-2010, 06:43 AM
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Hello and welcome.

You don't say how old you are but speaking as someone who is over 40 now and has had crap relationships/encounters/flings or whatever all for the wrong reasons/co-dependancy etc, I can tell you now that unless I get that warm fuzzy feeling (as you call it) the next time, I am not getting involved!

I learned the hard way to not sell myself short relationship wise. I may be on my own for a long time but at least I know I will be happy. It can be more lonely in a bad relationship than being single.

You may or may not have other issues which you need to explore to help you engage effectively in relationships.....only you can tell that but if it doesn't feel right, then why not just move on?
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:56 AM
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kickmeplz welcome to SR, I am a recovering alcoholic, my experience is on the other side of the fence so first let me give you my take on your relationships..... mind you they are just my OPINION and not based upon any experience.

To be honest it sounds as though you got into 2 relationships you simply were not into.

I would suggest seeing a therapist that has experience with ACOA. They may be able to help you see what is up or possibly what is not up with you and help you out either way.

Hang tough, seek some type of professional therapy, I wish you all the best and wish I could speak to you with some real experience, but I can't, I have not been where you are at.

BTW celebrate with your mom her recovery, I can speak from experience there, recovering from alcoholism is not easy, but it is one heck of a wonderful ride. I pray you and her are on good terms, if not perhaps that is something the 2 of you can work on that will help you both.
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