I am changing things up a little bit this week
So, there are many of us wandering around that grew up with an addictive parent(s). Now adults trying to function in the world, after a childhood of chaos. It may be hard to understand what that is like, it is even harder for us to explain. People who were raised by addicts may have certain traits of dysfunction and not even realize it. For me, it took a few years of therapy to discover how many of these held true to me. I obviously knew that my childhood was toxic, but I made the steps down the harder road to be different, to be normal.
Assuming that I was not like them, therefore, I was not affected long term by them. I was just wiser because of them, I thought. Overcoming all the damage with the bad experiences, holding on tight to the good until you just can’t. So what is left for me to rid the stigma? Just get over my own feelings on it, get out of my head and move on, right? I wish this was the case. I can’t escape the longterm effects no matter how I hard I try. My childhood or lack thereof is part of me, it shows in the things I do every day. So, all that is left is to learn to navigate through them.
Normal equals Perfect
Normal equals perfect in my mind. Do you have any idea how many years I have wasted trying to be “normal”? A lifetime of searching for perfection is like walking out the door and falling on your face every morning. Every day you get up and try to walk out the door hoping not to fall, but you continue to fall every day. It causes such fury and frustration within your being.
When I became a mom, I had a delusion that if I was normal my kids would be perfect. Jokes on me! These kids could be monsters and I am a normal mom. I am attentive, sensitive, caring, loving, I volunteer at school, I help with homework, I provide life lessons and I even give in whenever asked for the toy in the impulse aisle. Yet, here I am ready to rip my hair out as my daughter hits pre-teen and is a mouthy little shit who thinks she knows everything. No matter how normal I am they are not perfect, I am NOT perfect. They are kids, being kids, testing boundaries and making me wish every day that they have one just like them.
One of my other dysfunctional traits is fear. I still struggle with seeing this as a dysfunctional trait, but I have family that would beg to differ. I fear anything that can cause any type of reaction or alter to my being. What this means is that no matter what kind of pain I am in I will not take anything outside of Motrin. Pain medication, drugs, anti-depressants, alcohol, even taking vitamins causes anxiety. I have this thought that I do not want to depend on anything to function throughout life (foolish I know). I can not be around someone who is on drugs. It causes immediate anxiety just imagining the lack of control they have. I fear to drink for many reasons, but one is, what if something happens? Will, I respond or react accordingly? What if my kids get hurt? Could I make the best parental decisions in the immediate moment? I don’t trust that myself or anyone else could.
The last dysfunctional trait that I have acquired is control. This very much ties into the previous ones. I do not like to do things that I have no control over. Let’s face it, I do not have as much control as I would like to think. However, I still will not do certain things, such as fly. I feel like I have more control over my car. I at least have a chance to avoid another car or be aware of my surroundings to avoid someone’s reckless decisions. In a plane you turn all of that control over to complete strangers, if something goes wrong there is nothing you can do to prevent the outcome. This type of stuff scares the shit out of me. Drugs and alcohol also cause you to lose control. They alter the brain, your senses, and reaction. I like to think I am always ready and aware of anything that can possibly be thrown at me.
So much more
This is just a short list of things that I have identified along my journey to recovering from my addict parents. We search for normal in equal to perfection. We are afraid of things that we can not control. We are afraid to have children, we are afraid we will ruin or wreck them. We feel guilty if we try to take care of ourselves. We are used to giving and not receiving, so receiving is something we have or need to learn. We are controlling and inflexible. We seek to control our work, our home, and relationships. We seek approval in every aspect of our life as we did not get this as children. For women who were raised by addicts, we are in charge of everything even if we don’t want to be. This manifested from an addicted mother who could not carry out her responsibilities, so we step up and take that role on as well.
The layers run deep and they all tie together in one way or another. The first step for me is to be able to identify them and where they play the biggest role in my life. Be aware and allow me to try and watch it unfold. There are many moments of feeling uncomfortable in your skin or environment. There are ups and downs throughout the journey of healing. You can easily fall into self-pity and a feeling of defeat, but you need to pick yourself back up and keep moving along. This is not an easy task. It feels like our own addictions.