Many children have suffered growing up in households where there is an alcoholic parent. I Interviewed Jane Muthee, who was one of my guests on my Radio Show, Woman Transformed. She grew up in a home where there was an alcoholic parent.
Today, Jane and I will be discussing issues of alcoholism as she shares her personal story of having grown up with an alcoholic father. Alcoholism or an addiction to alcohol is a common problem in many homes. Someone with an addiction to alcohol may be consistently intoxicated and because of that, they may be abusive or withdrawn around their family. They may also spend large sums of money on supporting their habit rather than supporting their family.Children who live under these circumstances experience fear of losing control. Adult children of Alcoholics try to control the behavior and feelings of others. They do this because they are afraid and not because they want to hurt others or even themselves. They are constantly seeking approval and are weighed down with a very low sense of self-esteem no matter how competent they are. They are more comfortable living in chaos or drama. They will do anything to save a relationship, rather than face the pain of abandonment even if the relationship is unhealthy.
Jane, please tell us your story. My dad was a functioning alcoholic who was both verbally and physically abusive mostly towards my mom. It was a highly charged atmosphere of constant fighting including verbal abuse. We lived in constant fear and we never knew what to expect.
How did this affect you? I did not realize the magnitude of the damage this had caused to my psychological well being until I had a few failed relationships. I always dated men who were a lot like my father. My sister and I fought like cats and dogs verbally and in one instance physically. At work I would attempt to control my boss and tell him how to do his job. I tend to think the worst will happen so I am always on high alert. I understand that growing up in such a chaotic family background makes one develop a very difficult personality and character traits. I really did not realize I had this character traits and personalities until I started attending support groups.
When did you make the decision to start making personal changes? I drive for a living and while doing my job I like to listen to Christian channels and on this channel was a panel of highly experienced psychiatrists giving advice to different callers calling about issues in their lives and relationships. On this particular day one of the callers was a lady calling about her father who was a raging alcoholic and she wanted to know how this had affected her since she never seemed to have good meaningful relationships. The advice she got from the doctors was amazing and that is when I decided to do each and every thing they had proposed for her to do. She was advised to go to an ACA support groups which stands for Adult Children of Alcoholics and also to get with a counselor.
Tell us about the support groups. Two support groups I now attend are ACA which stands for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctions which is designed for children brought up in alcoholic homes and dysfunctional homes. Dysfunctional homes consist of a home that has an alcoholic or drug addicted parent, a militaristic or very harsh parent, a parent with mental illness, a parent who is a hypochondriac, and a parent who is emotionally unwell. The other group that I attend is al anon which is for family members or friends of people who have an alcohol or drug related addiction.
Tell us how this groups have helped you. These groups have helped me build character. With the ACA group I have come to understand how living with an alcoholic father made me develop what we call survival techniques to avoid having to face the wrath of my dad. Survival techniques for example are being a people pleaser. We learnt to constantly please him so that he would not yell or beat us. The only problem is after 20 years of learning how to be a people pleaser we tend to carry these traits into adulthood without realizing it. We lost our identity in the process so we tend to adopt our friends or partners, likes or dislikes because we did not develop any of our own for living in constant fear. We are afraid of authority figures like policemen and bosses the same way we were afraid of our fathers. We live our lives as victims always thinking that others are out to get us. ACA has helped me regain my confidence and I have learned to recognize the dysfunction in me and I am now developing tools to help me develop relational skills for better relationships. I have had to go through 3 important stages
The first stage is hurting. In this stage hurtful emotions that have been hidden far away in our bodies begin to come to the surface and the more we talk about our experiences the more we move towards healthy healing. This is the hardest stage. It took me around one and a half years and it involved a lot of crying. The second stage is healing whereby we begin to become aware of the dysfunction in us and we heal by developing different attitudes and beliefs. We are re-parenting ourselves. We learn how to grieve the past and we get to a place of acceptance. The 3rd stage is helping. We look for friends who have been hurt or are hurting because of the effects of alcoholism and we begin to mentor them. Right now I am mentoring two of my friends by encouraging them to attend meetings and read and work the programs. I am also a very active member at the church since learning to connect with people and form meaningful relationships is important for the healing process. I also support other women who have a ministry similar to what I do.
For those who cannot afford a counselor right now, I would encourage them to go to TV.newlife.com and subscribe. It costs 9 dollars a month which is very affordable. These doctors have changed my life and they talk about a wide range of problems that people face and they provide solutions or steps that need to be taken to solve those problems. Some great topics I have benefited from include addictions, depression and anxiety which most children of alcoholics develop. There is also advice on how to enhance your marriage, topics about kids etc. Its a wonderful resource for those who really want a change in their lives.
If you come from a dysfunctional home, it is not too late to seek help.
- Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) for adults who grew up in alcoholic of dysfunctional homes and who exhibit identifiable traits that reveal past abuse or neglect. Their website is www.adultchildren.org.
- Al-Anon; this organization gives strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers. Their website is al-anon.org.
- TV.newlife.com which is affordable for those who cannot afford a counselor.
Tune in to my radio show, Woman Transformed on, http://www.pinnacleofpraiseshow.com