The Nuts and Bolts of Recovery (Part One)
Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic/dysfunctional family.
We had come to feel isolated, uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat.
We either became alcoholics ourselves, married them, or both. Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment.
We lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an over-developed sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We somehow felt guilty when we trusted ourselves, rather than giving in to others. We became reactors rather than actors, letting others take the initiative.
We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with dysfunctional parents.
These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us "co-victims", those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we often confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue.
Even more self-defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable relationships. This is a description, not an indictment.
An Operational Statement of The Problem
This addiction [to excitement] can be seen as an endogenous, or internal, addiction to conflict, a continuously repeating cycle of alarm and collapse, or fight, flight and exhaustion. Children learn that they can pull themselves up out of depression and despair by focusing on the conflicts going on around them which they then internalize in symbolic form. Their world is filled with the sights and sounds of conflict that drive them until they collapse in exhaustion only to get back up and do the same thing all over again. Children are forced to remain in this pattern of addiction in order to stay above the ever-increasing sense of demoralization they feel at being trapped in a cycle of despair and the cycle becomes self-sustaining .