A book has come my way from "The Adult Children of Alcoholics Series". Entitled "The Self-Sabotage Syndrome: Adult Children in the Workplace". My parents are not apparently alcoholics, though at times they have not behaved well with alcohol but ACoCs is a term that can be used for anyone who has grown up in a dysfunctional family.
As an aside, I wonder how many people it takes for a family to become dysfunctional? Is just one mad parent enough and then everyone else runs around them? Or are we all within the family dysfunctional in our own sweet ways?
The term "adult children" speaks to me. Just by itself. And then the book begins with ascertaining that because of their upbringing ACoCs have no sense of what is "normal" saying "Adult Children of Alcoholics Guess at What Normal Is". Oh yes, that so resonates. That feeling of being always out on a limb and never being sure, of always feeling that I was making things up, of making up my own definitions to anything and everything. Which means that at any moment everything can come crashing down. Because I just made it up. Because I'm a fraud and I'm going to be caught out.
There is an aspect about ACoCs that I've read so far that I don't identify with and that is concerning my relationships and friendships. In fact just this month I have been realising that my friendships are one area of my life in which I am blessed and function really well. I'd don't feel all the pain and angst that I feel in other areas of my life and I wonder why that it is. Why, when my parents have not set any good examples of friendships in my childhood or since.
Laying in bed this morning thinking about this, with my constant self-analysis: stepping stones that tangle across my mind sometimes leaving me marooned in scary waters with no clear way across; I had a eureka moment. As a child we moved house and location about every two years. I never had good friendships as a kid so the moving actually became quite useful. I may not have had to face up to difficult situations in the long term, on the other hand I had plenty of experience of starting again. I actually welcomed the chance to start again and each time we moved, and being a kid, relationships were my priority. And I had plenty of chances to experiment. They were never right and I took a lot of hard knocks. I learned not to expect anything from anyone which was probably mainly due to my relationship with my parents, but reinforced by childhood relationships. I'm not sure what good things I learned from those times but I think I had the chance to find out what didn't work.
Since the age of seven I had the companionship and love of my little sister. This can not be under-estimated. I "had" to love her and protect her from the madness that was my mother. I became a mini-parent but more than that I was able to love her and she let me. Physical affection came from her, even if it was me holding her hand. When it came to me choosing between life or something else at 16 I had to walk away and leave her. Without saying a word. That was incredibly painful but she was already on her own destiny pathway and I knew she would make it. And she did. And we are very close now, but I think I still don't know the half of what she went through which makes me feel a little sad and selfish.
So when I left home at sixteen for the world of work I became the perfect ACoC employee and was easily exploited. But I was wide-eyed and enthralled by adult people. I loved meeting people and listening to them. I still am that wide-eyed girl and embrace people and situations in that way. I suppose luck comes into play that some beautiful people came into my life at different times throughout my life. I have had some friends come and go and I am still able to move on from places and leave people behind which does sound rather harsh and cold-hearted. But a core of people remain very special. A growing core even.
Boundaries in my friendships might have been a problem but I sorted that one pretty early by, on the one hand being able to love and be truly interested in other people and on the other to keep a tight reign on myself and not actually truly say too much about me. It wasn't until I was 31 years old that I told one of my girlfriends about some of my more difficult memories and then years go by and I only let out little tiny snippets. And then with my darling Mr Doris, one of my dearest friends, early on in our relationship I gave him something to read that I had written about me. Because I wanted him to know about the deep and dark depths I have. I didn't want to con him or for him to be shocked by someone different one day "when I might leak out". And then into my life comes someone who I had known of for years but suddenly we click and become immense friends and I find myself sharing depths. And then I get to my blogging years and I am haemorraghing all over the blog but in a way that has been constructive to me and now another friend is drawing depths out of me too that I didn't know I could share and I find I am changing.
Always a work in progress, for the first time in a very long time I feel like I am making progress. And this brings me to my anger. With the current financial situation in this world, life has dealt some interesting cards. Such that it seems likely when we sell our house, it won't be at a loss but there will not be much in the way of a profit. We will go into private rented and will start again with a clean slate. No debts. Just going forward and reconstruct. And in my self-analysis this morning I realised I am not scared of starting again. Picking myself and starting again is second nature to me. What I recognise is that I am so flaming angry about having to start again. My anger is such that it seethes underneath and leaks out in all the wrong places at the wrong times to the wrong people. Usually my kids but mainly directed back at me and internalised. I can feel it like a pit of badness inside me that I know has to stop or I'll be thoroughly ill.
Part of the ACoA thing is anger and anger issues. They flip out at the wrong time and inappropriately. I said that already but this is what the book says. I've never been allowed to be angry. Never known how to process anger properly. It always had to be subsumed and hidden because only my mother (or brother) could be angry. For a few months I have been aware of my feelings of anger. Like arrows flying off in all sorts of different directions and yet always avoiding the target but I don't know what the target is or should be. I don't want to be feeling this as I am not an angry and aggressive person but I suppose that is where the problem lays. I can not just feel anger and move on from it because I have seen anger as something to do with aggressiveness and as a whole character trait when that should not be the case. This area is a work in progress. And another diversion from what is probably needed - another ACoA trait. Apparently ACoAs have procrastination down to a fine art.
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Eeeek! June is out and I didn't manage to squeeze in a quick post. Oh well. It was just to say that one thing and another I've been utterly busy and distracted. Done some good stuff and not done some other stuff. But I did manage a post on my other blog about last weekend at Sparkle.