Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dirty Laundry

One of the key documents in the ACoA compendium is The Laundry List, which is a list of behaviors and traits common to an adult child of an alcoholic.  While an ACoA may have some of the behaviors, no two have to have the same ones.  The Laundry List is this:
  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened of angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. 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.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue."
  10. 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).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. 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.
  13. Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics [co-dependents] and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.
    Part of the step work that we do requires that we identify which of these apply to us with examples.  And so, if I may...

    Number 2 showed itself in my tendency to try to warp myself to my woman's expectations in order to keep the relationship going rather than being myself.  If I was with a woman that liked, say, the Atlantic Monthly, then I would start reading the Atlantic Monthly.  There was a time when my first girlfriend broke up with me that I had to actively rediscover what was me and what I had added to me in order to get along with her.

    Number 3 applies, except frightened is not quite the right word.  The best replacement that means how I felt it is kryptonite.  Anger and personal criticism weakened me, it robbed me of my vitality and resolve.  There was one particular son of a female dog in radio who would ride me so hard that on my lunch hour I would drive someplace relatively far from the radio station and just cry.

    Number 4 happened in a couple of different ways.  There was a time that I got briefly serious with an active alcoholic in a relationship.  She was a great gal when sober but a complete mess when drunk.  And I was seriously trying to figure out how to make it work.  (After all, my mother made it "work" with my dad.)  Her dumping me for questioning the viability of the relationship may have been the biggest favor ever done me. The other way it happened is that I found a woman with rage issues to basically "play the part of my mother" in my family drama.

    Number 6 has manifested itself over and over again.  I am constantly doing things for other people without making sure I have time for myself.  I do homework every night with my granddaughter, not at all an easy thing to do.  I thoroughly cleaned the ex-girlfriend's house for her twice and seemingly always had a chore to do when I visited.

    Number 8 tends to show when I am participating in internet forums.  I would post a strong opinion.  Someone would counter.  I would furiously type back again.  I would refresh the page over and over again, looking for a response so I could pounce and immediately defend my position.  It was in such a situation at the ACoA board that I finally realized that this was one of my problems too.

    Number 10 is the corked bottle phenomenon.  I try not to feel things because when I feel them it hurts too bad.  Feelings are irrational and uncontrollable.  There was a reason I found Star Trek's Vulcanism fascinating.

    Number 11 I have tried to explain to people is split for me.  I am easily my own harshest critic.  It was a fear of my eviscerating myself that kept me from completing even this simple exercise.  However, my self esteem is not really low.  You at this point would point out my unlovability problem as evidence to the contrary.  But I would argue that my belief of unlovability was a conclusion based on evidence and not a belief that there was something wrong with me.  I guess I am saying that I was unlovable, but that was the world's problem and not mine.

    Number 12 is the relationship addiction that I have talked about several times here.  I have done a number of questionable things to keep a relationship alive.  I somehow need to have tangible proof of my lovability in order to believe it.

    The last two are phrased so differently than the others that I cannot decide if they apply or not.  I will revisit them when I am less tired.  (This is being written at 1:17 AM on Monday Night / Tuesday Morning).

    So far, so good.  No overwhelming flood of emotions.  I have decided that this is my week to get moving again on the ACoA steps and so I am doing my step work out loud, both here and at the ACoA board.


    I'll light a candle for good luck...

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