If You Love Someone with Alcoholic Parents.
This post describes what it’s like to grow up in an alcoholic family. As the years go on, the baby raised in a stressful, inconsistent home environment develops a battle-ready Fight or Flight response, does not develop the natural ability to trust, and thrives on chaos simply because it’s so familiar. When the child’s parent is alcoholic and self-centered, the child never gets help processing their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences–so they learn to ignore themselves and focus on the needs of others instead, as they were trained to do. What follows is in no way to be interpreted as an excuse for bad behavior, by the way. Just like anyone (adult child, or not), if someone has issues that are unresolved, the relationship will be used, in some fashion, to process the issues. That will often result in a short-lived relationship, but not always. Find out if the person you care for has done any self-improvement work to deal with their childhood, whether therapy, a twelve-step group, lots and lots of reading, or some other, structured, form of working through the problems that a childhood with an alcoholic parents creates. If you’ve arrived here looking for the answer to the hard question, “Should I end my relationship?” you may get some information you need, but I’m not sure it will make your hard, important decision that much easier. (A good rule of thumb, by the way, is to set a time-limit on your decision; put your decision to end your relationship on hold for 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 months, etc. Then, reassess things. This will help you know for sure, and prevent you from making a decision you’ll regret. Don’t ever think you’re “wasting time” in a relationship–relationships are never wasted time, not if you’re actively attempting to enjoy your moments with another person.) Here are some things that I think make us great in spite of our chaotic childhoods. We Have a Soft Core, But a Steel Wrapper We are extremely sensitive people and we are very sensitive to other people–all people, including strangers. And animals! We feel other people’s feelings. This makes us great listeners and really compassionate people. The problem is, we often forget to honor our own feelings because we make the mistake of prioritizing the feelings of others first way too often. Yet, because we were raised in chaotic environments in which we had to be ready at any moment for a family battle, our sensitivity is hidden in a hard-to-get-at steel wrapper. It’s hard to get at our soft centers, but not impossible. And worth the effort!
Here are our issues as described by the experts. Ideally, every baby born into this world is surrounded by unselfish, patient love and nurturing from at least one or two parents. This comes primarily form the mother in the very beginning, who is supported by a loving, consistent partner. It’s important from birth to around age 3 that the family environment maintains itself as loving and consistent–that is, free of chaos. Parents who aren’t self-knowing, grounded, and ready to raise a child have trouble delivering consistent, loving and patient nurturing to their child. The more inconsistency and chaos in the household, the more stress on the baby–which means more cortisol produced in the body. Stressed families = stressed babies. Stressed babies = babies that can’t develop the trust and calm that allows them to fully thrive.