Tag Archives: 14 characteristics of ACOA

Thoughtful Thursday – #248 – The Solution for Trauma Recovery

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Trauma recovery is my favorite subject. Mostly because I have experienced it for many years. Here are some characteristics of victims of  dysfunctional upbringing. This includes dealing with alcoholics and the mentally ill.

Janet G. Woititz, PhD wrote the book for Adult Children of Alcoholics in 1983 and in her book she lists the following.

  • Guess at what normal behavior is
  • Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end
  • Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
  • Judge themselves without mercy
  • Have difficulty having fun
  • Take themselves very seriously
  • Have difficulty with intimate relationships
  • Overreact to changes over which they have no control
  • Constantly seek approval and affirmation
  • Feel that they’re different from other people
  • Are super responsible or super irresponsible
  • Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved
  • Are impulsive—They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsively leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.

Of course, if you’re a child of an alcoholic, etc., that doesn’t mean that everything on this list will apply to you. But it’s likely that at least some of it will.

Quoting from Adult Children of Alcoholics book:

The solution is:

The solution is to become your own loving parent.

This involves finding the right meetings, therapist, safe place to re-learn how to become the person you are meant to be. Find a way to unburden the unexpressed grief you hold, see your family dysfunction for what it was, and keep the focus on the here and now. None of it was your fault but it is your work to heal.

It is not easy to do this work, just start where you are and take as much time as you need. You are worth it.

Adult Children of Alcoholics

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Adult Children of Alcoholics
World Service Organization, Inc.

The Laundry List

The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.

We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.

We are frightened of angry people and any personal criticism.

We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.

We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.

We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.

We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.

We became addicted to excitement.

We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”

We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).

We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.

We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.

Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.

Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

Tony A., 1978

Note: The Laundry List serves as the basis for The Problem statement.

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