Being one myself, I have done a lot of research over the years on the affects of this as well as Co-Dependency which is part of what develops most commonly in children and continues to affect us into our adult life. Here is a list of common traits of a child of an Alcoholic compiled by Dr. Janet G. Woititz in 1983 in her book “Adult Children of Alcoholics”.
- ...guess at what normal is.
- ...have difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end.
- ...lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
- ...judge themselves without mercy.
- ...have difficulty having fun.
- ...take themselves very seriously.
- ...have difficulty with intimate relationships.
- ...overreact to changes over which they have no control.
- ...constantly seek approval and affirmation.
- ...feel that they are different from other people.
- ...are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
- ...are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
- ...tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self loathing, and loss of control of their environment. As a result, they spend tremendous amounts of time cleaning up the mess.
This can be very frightening to discover as you look into your own eyes and ask yourself, “Who am I?” Just remember that you are exactly who you are meant to be. Granted, you may have many or even all of these traits but it does not take away your identity and many of these things can be changed with the help of an understanding Dominant.
Another trait that I have personally noticed in myself is that there is always a lack of trust due to the thoughts of being abandoned. Being a child of an alcoholic we have to take care of ourselves and in most cases even others if you have siblings, or take care of the parent themselves. Your partners may never do anything wrong, but you may always doubt, making situations like Poly extremely difficult. Not for yourself, but for your partner, as you may do everything you can to make sure the attention is focused upon you and not someone else as you need that sense of security at all times. You may even do this subconsciously. This is where you need reassurance; don’t be afraid to ask for it.
My mother was an abusive alcoholic who was very strict, a perfectionist, very into appearances of herself, her home, and me. I was never good enough in her eyes, yet was paraded around as her perfectly mannered little pet that served her friends, curtsied when I left their presence, and asked permission for everything except to go to the bathroom. Now, I find myself needing this, even the pain. Is it because of the abuse that we need this? Perhaps, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Needs are not bad, nor are the needs for release. Even in some rape victims have a need to safely relive a rape scene as it is now under “their” control; it is not damaging, and is a release. These are coping mechanisms just like writing, etc. and you should not be ashamed of them.
Reading Dr. Jan’s book really opened my eyes, and it is my hope that by sharing this information, those who relate can begin to work through some of these traits and break out of the binds of the past and explore the future where anything is possible. I would personally recommend talking to your Dominant about this and decide upon what the next step will be. A few things to remember is that you can do it, you can get help, and you are not alone.