The Adult Children of Alcoholics Laundry List

The ACOA Laundry List

These are some characteristics we seem to have in common due to being brought up in an alcoholic household.

  • We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  • We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  • We are frightened by 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 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.
  • We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  • We become addicted to excitement.
  • We confuse love with pity and tend to "love" people who 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 the disease even though we did not pick up the drink. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

(Adapted version) Tony A., 1977 Reprinted from WSO Newcomer, Page 2, with permission from Adult Children of Alcoholics, World Service Organization, P.O. Box 3216, Torrance, CA 90510 310/ 534-1815.

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2 thoughts on “The Adult Children of Alcoholics Laundry List

  1. I am 72 years old, raised four children, which were born before I was twenty one years of age, in a home where the father became an alcoholic and drug user. Having to work full time and being a mom full time under these circumstances were not easy to say the least, but I dd the best that I could.
    In the years that followed there were nine grandchildren, which I helped raise and now twelve great grandchildren. One of the things I never expected, no one ever tells or perhaps they don’t live long enough to know that there are surprising , unexpected “shifts in life ,that change your position in the family and it is confusing and startling until you realize that this should be normal as the family grows and continues to age.

    After much thought and contemplation about these life changing things I came to the conclusion it is perfectly normal and I was the one that needed to adjust to the changes and enjoy my own life as it is:) It has given me more peace of mind and freedom to live with my husband in our later years with out so much responsibly and more freedom for our selves to really enjoy out last years together.

    That isn’t saying that we are no there if our family needed us but we have lives of our own also and some day they will be in our place in life and I hope to let them know ” shifts ” come so it won’t be as hard on them as it was on me since we had been a very tight knit one for over fifty years.
    I am remarried and in the ministry with my husband now for thirty years and life has never been better <3
    Elizabeth Noel

  2. Pingback: 50 of the Most Read Articles January 2008 « Alcohol Self-Help News

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