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  • ACOA issue

    Hi, I'm not an alcoholic myself but I am an adult child of an alcoholic and so share in the family dysfunction and sickness.

    I was the youngest in my family, the "lost child" for those of you who are familiar with the phrase. I was the one hiding in my room, under the bed. The one that you could slap, rape, yell at etc. and I wouldn't say "boo" back or raise my hand to defend myself or tell anyone about it.

    Recently, I felt ready to clear the air between my older (by 10 years) sister and myself. She has been pushing for a closer relationship with me, and I've been avoiding her all my adult life because of how she used to slap me all the time (not because I did things wrong but just because she wanted to) and put me down a lot and snap at me/yell at me all the time.

    She no longer slaps me, but whenever I am around her, she does snap at me. I know it's not just my imagination (I'm not being overly sensitive etc.) because my husband noticed it too and supports my efforts to bring this subject into the open and discuss it.

    I sent my sister a long letter, telling her I was sorry I had avoided her all these years, and also telling her I was afraid of her because of all that had happened. I said that I felt reluctant to be around her unless she was willing to restrain her temper and not snap at me or treat me with contempt. I asked her if she could change how she interacted with me. I told her that if she was not willing to, I felt for my own sense of safety and mental well-being, that I could not visit her anymore.

    Well, she wrote back basically accusing me of being 1) a very bad person for bringing this all up and 2) crazy.

    She didn't really take any responsibility for the abuse and was not willing to change how she interacted with me. So I felt I had no choice but to tell her that I was not comfortable at this time visiting with her.

    Now I'm feeling kind of shaky, etc. I feel like a "bad" person because I finally stood up for myself when it was against the rules for me to stand up for myself. She's not talking to me, my neice (her daughter) isn't talking to me....who knows what my sister told her...

    I guess I could just use some support. I know in my head, I had the right to try to change things, to defend myself, and I also know that it was foolish of me to have hoped for positive change. I know that abusers, once they have a victim, almost never change their pattern of abuse - they get too much satisfaction from being abusive. That the only thing you can really do is distance yourself from an abuser. So I know I did the right thing for me, but...it's so hard, after a lifetime of just taking abuse and never speaking up for myself.

    Thanks,
    Love, ICY

  • #2
    grouphug grouphug grouphug You are taking care of you. That is what Alanon teaches. detach with love and it is hard to do but you can do it. I will be praying for you and your sister. I have a friend at work who is very negative and I had to step away and not talk to her , I just do my work and go home. I need to take care of me. You did the right thing. You are taking care of you. we are here for you. One day at a time, one minute at a time, one hour at a time. grouphug grouphug
    Hang in there , There is hope.
    There is hope. Prayer works.

    Love, Debbie

    Comment


    • #3
      Oh, Betsie, thank you!

      It means so much to me to read your words, I am going to read them every time I get this shaky, scared feeling inside.

      Part of me thinks I should crawl back to my sister and apologize for bringing this all up, that maybe I deserved the abuse.

      But I just read something at an ACOA site that kind of helped to remind me, most of us ACOA's have this problem of finding it hard to say "no" to abuse just like an alcoholic finds it hard to say "no" to a drink.

      This is what helped me realize that what I am feeling is normal for an ACOA and it doesn't mean I was wrong to stand up for myself, that my fear is a "sick" fear instead of a healthy fear.
      XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
      ACOA'S frequently stay in abusive situations. Abusers may be parents,
      employers, spiritual advisors, lovers, spouses, friends, sponsors or yes,
      therapists.

      Abuse arises from a sick need, (frequently of someone who was
      also abused) to control, vent anger, boost a sick ego, or to stamp out signs
      of health, dissension, independence, love, kindness or joy--expression which
      the abuser resents or doesn't understand and may thus label as "weakness".

      Abuse can produce effects similar to toxic drugs: borderline functioning,
      disorientation, loss of identity, depression, false confidence, no
      confidence, acted out anger, lying, self isolation, or shame. Other effects
      might be: to follow orders as if sleep-walking, (often against one's better
      judgment) or even to perceive the abuser as "wonderful", "my protector".

      A common response to abuse in ACOA'S is to blame ourselves, often in a
      FIERCE Fourth Step: "dishonest, lazy, scattered, procrastinator, selfish,
      intolerant, spiritual midget", and on and on. In fact, all of these
      behaviors may frequently be necessary, to defend the psyche against further
      disintegration, in the face of continuing abuse.

      SOME SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS/ALTERNATIVES:

      - Listen to your Intuition, Higher Power, Inner Child: suspect that abuse is
      indeed happening if you hear rumblings

      - Get outside validation that the abuse is occurring (meetings, therapists,
      etc)

      - Gradually gather awareness and strength to put the abuse down

      - Learn NOT to pick up abuse, as an addict learns not to pick up his drink,
      his food, his drugs, his work, his anger - one day at a time

      - Prepare exit lines ("I have to call Chicago now"), and walk away from any
      situation which threatens to become abusive

      AS A RESULT, either: - the abuse will stop
      - or you'll be asked to leave
      - or you'll CHOOSE to leave the situation, for good!

      Any of these actions will be a step towards reintegrating your personality
      and living freely - and happily.

      from A New York ACOA, March, 1987

      Comment


      • #4
        I know that shaky feeling, too. I still sometimes get it when I need to set a boundary with someone. I imagine it was that much harder with a family member. kissing

        It sounds like you did a good job of taking care of YOU and that you were very compassionate and not aggressive in doing it. I think after a couple of days you will feel better about it. Just try to focus on the fact that you did, in fact, do the right thing for you, and that her reactions are hers. They are her responsibility and her problem.

        Then give yourself a big HUG and a pat on the back for doing such a good job of taking care of you. It can be very scary. So scary that some people avoid ever doing it with certain people. Bravo!
        Kim

        Diagnosed August 2001

        Current IC meds: Elmiron (since 2001), Levaquin (one pill after intercourse to prevent UTIs), Effexor (for depression & anxiety)


        Past IC meds: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Hydroxyzine (Vistaril), Detrol LA, Lexapro (for depression & anxiety, but also helped my IC) (They all helped, but I was able to discontinue them.)

        I've been virtually symptom free and able to eat & drink whatever I'd like for about 8 years now.

        *****************************

        “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl

        “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” ~ Brian Tracy

        Comment


        • #5
          Here is a good passage talking about this:

          Family Buttons

          I was thirty-five years old the first time I spoke up to my mother and refused to buy into her games and manipulation. I was terribly frightened and almost couldn't believe I was doing this. I found I didn't have to be mean. I didn't have to start an argument. But I could say what I wanted and needed to say to take care of myself. I learned I could love and honor myself, and still care about my mother - the way I wanted to - not the way she wanted me to.
          ~ Anonymous

          Who knows better how to push our buttons than family members? Who, besides family members, do we give such power?

          No matter how long we or our family members have been recovering, relationships with family members can be provocative.

          One telephone conversation can put us in an emotional and psychological tailspin that can last for hours or days.

          Sometimes, it gets worse when we begin recovery because we become even more aware of our reactions and our discomfort.That's uncomfortable, but good. It is by beginning this process of awareness and acceptance that we change, grow, and heal.

          The process of detaching in love from family members can take years. So can the process of learning how to react in a more effective way. We cannot control what they do or try to do, but we can gain some sense of control over how we choose to react.

          Stop trying to make them act or treat us any differently. Unhook from their system by refusing to try to change or influence them.

          Their patterns, particularly their patterns with us, are their issues. How we react, or allow these patterns to influence us is our issue. How we take care of ourselves is our issue.

          We can love our family and still refuse to buy into their issues. We can love our family but refuse their efforts to manipulate, control, or produce guilt in us.

          We can take care of ourselves with family members without feeling guilty. We can learn to be assertive with family members without being aggressive. We can set boundaries we need and want to set with family members without being disloyal to the family.

          We can learn to love our family without forfeiting love and respect for ourselves.

          Today, help me to start practicing self-care with family members. Help me know that I do not have to allow their issues to control my life, my day, or my feelings. Help me know it's okay to have all my feelings about family members, without guilt or shame.

          from Melody Beattie
          Kim

          Diagnosed August 2001

          Current IC meds: Elmiron (since 2001), Levaquin (one pill after intercourse to prevent UTIs), Effexor (for depression & anxiety)


          Past IC meds: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Hydroxyzine (Vistaril), Detrol LA, Lexapro (for depression & anxiety, but also helped my IC) (They all helped, but I was able to discontinue them.)

          I've been virtually symptom free and able to eat & drink whatever I'd like for about 8 years now.

          *****************************

          “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl

          “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” ~ Brian Tracy

          Comment


          • #6
            I've replyed to many post on alcoholics and on annv I posted the annv date of my hubbys being sober..every one got wow thats great and congrats... I got squat! hope you all stay sober and drug free
            Brat
            'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.'

            Comment


            • #7
              Hang in there, you took the big step and it was the right thing to do. You will feel better for having confronted her about your concerns.

              Brat, I am sure it was not intentional that no one responded to your post. Sometimes as you well know the post can get buried if it is a busy day on here. Please don't feel that you were being ignored. This is not an area I have much input in but the ones who follow this board are ususally very responsive to the post.

              Jolene
              Jolene

              "Life is what happens when you are making other plans" John Lennon

              IC diet cheat sheet....http://www.ic-network.com/diet/dietcheatsheet.html

              Information for Patients can be found here.
              http://www.ic-network.com/patientlinks.html


              Jen's tips for great IC sex..http://www.ic-network.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22522&highlight=jens+tips[/url]




              Newbie Angel...I will be happy to answer any questions or just listen. Email me at [email protected]

              "IC Angel Volunteers are not medical authorities nor do we offer medical advice. In all cases, we strongly encourage you to discuss your medical treatment with your personal medical care provider. Only they can, and should, give medical recommendations to you."

              Comment


              • #8
                Brat - please PM me if you have a post here that doesn't get answered. I truly missed it, I guess.
                Kim

                Diagnosed August 2001

                Current IC meds: Elmiron (since 2001), Levaquin (one pill after intercourse to prevent UTIs), Effexor (for depression & anxiety)


                Past IC meds: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Hydroxyzine (Vistaril), Detrol LA, Lexapro (for depression & anxiety, but also helped my IC) (They all helped, but I was able to discontinue them.)

                I've been virtually symptom free and able to eat & drink whatever I'd like for about 8 years now.

                *****************************

                “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl

                “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” ~ Brian Tracy

                Comment


                • #9
                  I just looked at all the topics on this board for the last year and didn't see any started by you, Brat. I am wondering if you mentioned it within another person's post and that's why it was missed.
                  Kim

                  Diagnosed August 2001

                  Current IC meds: Elmiron (since 2001), Levaquin (one pill after intercourse to prevent UTIs), Effexor (for depression & anxiety)


                  Past IC meds: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Hydroxyzine (Vistaril), Detrol LA, Lexapro (for depression & anxiety, but also helped my IC) (They all helped, but I was able to discontinue them.)

                  I've been virtually symptom free and able to eat & drink whatever I'd like for about 8 years now.

                  *****************************

                  “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl

                  “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” ~ Brian Tracy

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Here is my little bit of 'wisdom' about having an unpleasant childhood - don't know if it will help at all. My parents were druggies, also swingers and party animals so they left us alone a lot. when they were home they fed us drugs. My dad was mildly abusive to me but very abusive to my big brother, and he took it out on me while they were gone, so much that I am rather surprised to be alive and with all my parts. My brother managed to get ahold of his violent tendencies in his teen years, but would certainly never, never admit what he did to me. My mom apologizes, maybe I am supposed to be all sloppily happy about that but actually it doesn't interest me. My dad thinks he did a good job - and the funny thing is, in some ways he did (mom too). There is good and bad in everyone, as well as good things that can come from bad situations. Anyway, he is very obtuse so trying to prove to him he was 'bad' would be futile. Anyway, when my brother (3 yrs older than me) was in his late teens and early twenties, he was kinda a loser, and spent an inordinate amount of time analyzing and lameting his childhood, always trying to figure out WHICH of his parents messed up his life, fluctuating between being hostile to mom and hostile to dad. I watched that as a teen and made a very conscious decision: IF MY LIFE IS NOT MESSED UP, I WILL NEVER HAVE TO WASTE TIME TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHO MESSED IT UP. And I made sure my life was not messed up. Now I don't blame anyone, don't have to. I live in the same town as my parents and have an enjoyable relationship with them. I see my bro once a year on thanksgiving. We always get on well. No reason to dredge up that old stuff, I have come to terms with it and hope for their sake they have too, but that is between them and God. I have my peace with God, no need to frustrate myself trying to get 'closure' with these nutty people! My CHOSEN companion is my husband (and I made a good choice), the identity of the rest of my family is out of my control, so may as well enjoy them if possible and certainly learn from them. This reminds me of something a professor once said in nursing school, when we were complaining about the conduct of the nurses on our clinical floor: "EVERY nurse is a role model, some are just a role model for what you do not want to be". Same is true for family - you can learn so much even from their negative behavior. Like how to be a GOOD parent. ICY, I am sure many would disagree with me, but if it was me I would not waste time trying to get my sister to 'own' her behavior. She will own it on judgement day. Enoy her if you can, otherwise avoid her. wink

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      kim i pmed you
                      Being a wife of an "abusive" alcoholic was not a fun trip. many nights out drunk driving doing god knows what and god knows who! yes all drunks do and it really is usless to tell me otherwise. A night in jail thousands of dollars in fins coumtiy service every weekend an lost his license going on 5 years now has really put a damper on life.. yes I am bitter and angry but not at any moment did I stop loving him... there was nights that I wished he wrapped the car around a tree and kill his self.. there were nights when I was called every godawful name he could think of and wished him dead... but I am not the only one...
                      I have been to alanon which was a WASTE of my time. the only group that was offered in my area was in a uppty area and I was not in there "click" I tried very hard but I wasnt married to an alcholic, lawyer, doctor, GM rep...... so I was just down town trash to them...
                      The end result he's been sober 19 months today Dec 1, 2003... he now has hep c and in stage 2 liver disease! My husband will eventually die of this because his chances of response of treatment is very low its the worse type of hep c, and my best friend died of it witing 5 years, and i have to live with the fact that i have wished him dead because at times i hated him so much for being a drunking moron. ok thats my story!
                      Brat
                      'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.'

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ohhhhh Brat. You and I have talked about this before, so many times, and each time you tell me my heart breaks and my eyes tear up. I wish that you and your hubby didn't have to go through this. You know that I am on your side no matter what. Don't give up the fight, I have faith that he can beat this thing. And you're such a wonderful person and wife, with you on his side and the love you share, you can conquer anything.

                        Hugs and love,
                        Jess grouphug kissing
                        Mommy to 2 crazy, wonderful kids and wife to the most amazing man in the world!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Brat, you certainly have been through some very rough times in your life, and come through them with dignity. I have a lot of respect for you, and the way you are handling your health problems, and still give your time, compassion, and support to us all on line in the IC family, you definitely are one of our IC angels. Thank you and hugs to you Brat, Iris kissing grouphug angel
                          Today and every day you are loved, so don't be anxious about tomorrow, God will take care of you tomorrow; Live one day at a time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oh, Brat, you have been through hades and back. I am so sorry for the torture you have lived through.

                            Please, please do not blame yourself for your husband's illness. I am certain when we pray for someone to die (I've done it too) that God understands the pain and sorrow behind what we say and certainly does not cause that person to die. What kind of a God would He be, if he did that?

                            Illness is unfortunately just a terrible part of life (I know that sounds so trite but it's true) and even if you never had an unhappy thought in your whole life, you would still have IC and your husband would still have Hepatitis.

                            I am so sorry, too, for what you are going through right now with his illness. I said a prayer for your peace and comfort, that God would hold you during this time and hug you.

                            Love, ICY

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow, thank you everyone for these wonderful, heartening replies! I feel much stronger now, much better about my decision.

                              Karen, I hear you about not spending much time trying to get family members to own up to stuff...I gave each family member one shot. How they reacted, determined what kind of relationship I would choose to have with them. This was my sister's one shot.

                              Because she chooses to continue to be abusive to me, I feel I have no choice for my own peace of mind but to avoid her.

                              There may be others who are strong enough to tolerate continued abuse, but I'm not one of them. When I am abused by her with each visit, each phone call etc. I feel humiliated, I hate myself, I feel depressed etc. and to be honest I just don't need that in my life. And I do not have the power within me to just shrug off repeated abuse.

                              But, I am very happy with my own life. Away from my family of origin. My sister is eating herself to death and has been abusive to her own children, and I won't even talk about what she's done to herself career-wise and marriage-wise, my brother sexually abused his own daughter and lost his marriage, is close to being on the street, has a drug and drinking problem (active), my father is a dry drunk who at almost 70 years old still abuses his wife and cheats on her. Shrug. None of those things are my problems, and I don't spend much time at all thinking of them.

                              I am in a good marriage, I do not abuse substances, I am at peace and finally happy in my life. It took me many years to learn not to tolerate abuse from others, but I have finally come to understand that I am a child of God and deserve good treatment and not abuse.

                              My taking this step with my sister is just a part of that peace, a part of the strength I am gathering with each year, the strength to walk away from abuse instead of tolerating it.

                              But it's still hard.

                              Love, ICY

                              Comment

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