On Being Different

For the majority of my adult years I have defined myself as a person who is an adult child of an alcoholic. I  let the circumstances of a handful of years shape my identity. Yes, I am an adult child of an alcoholic. But I am so much more than that and I am starting to actually see it and believe it.

I’ve noticed that I haven’t been thinking about my dad like I used to. What I mean by that is, I don’t feel choked by the grief of it all anymore. My father was many things and among them, he was a drinker, and his drinking impacted my life. But it does not have to set the parameters for my emotional state.

I think about my dad now, miss him, and sometimes wonder what it would be like if he had lived and we had gotten to know each other. As a grown up, I feel a deep sense of sadness for him because I can empathize with how much he struggled against his demons and ultimately lost. And while I feel sad I also think that his life was a lesson for my life. I have been in therapy off and on for most of my adult life and through it, have found an acceptance of myself and a sense of peace I don’t know if my dad ever felt. I didn’t really know my dad, the man he was inside. I’ll probably always be sad about that on some level.

But, and this is a big but, I no longer want to define myself within the confines of the role I played in a dysfunctional family dynamic. Not wanting it and not doing it are different though. The awareness of my role and how it has shaped me is one thing. The unlearning old patterns of behavior is quite another. But I’ve been doing just that- working diligently to not do the same old shit with results that are less than satisfying. I don’t want to be the one with all the answers, the one who handles everything, the one everyone can rely on no matter what, the one who says “it’s ok” and dismisses my own heart when my feelings have been hurt.

This is a new thing- this saying “that hurt me” to someone. I have spent my life being the strong one. I have avoided vulnerability because I didn’t want to live without my protective armor up. The other day I had an angry reaction to something Mr. Darcy did. I was on my way home and was just stewing in the negativity of the feelings but I couldn’t seem to pinpoint the WHY of it. I knew there was something deeper than the surface issue. So instead of going home and ripping Mr. Darcy’s face off with a diatribe of vitriol, I called a friend. Luckily she answered and through venting to her, I found out what the heart of the problem was for me.

Two things are amazing about this: 1) I called someone instead of just going off half-cocked and being reactionary or arriving home, clamoring around the apartment angrily but saying I was “fine” (old way of being, meet new way of being!) and 2) I was able to sort through to the deeper issue that was triggering me. It was not the surface issue that was the thing getting under my skin. It was that I didn’t feel valued and I needed to tell Mr. Darcy that.

GULP.

And tell him,  I did. It was not an easy conversation because I was trying to be brave through the fear of admitting that I had been hurt. And I had to manage my own disjointed, chaotic emotions while being confronted with his reactions to what I was saying. But I did it. And that’s the point- I stopped an old pattern and tried a new way. It was scary and uncomfortable and . . . the right thing to do. Loving Mr. Darcy helps me grow in an abundance of ways. I’m so grateful to have a partner who works through this muck with me.

This is just one of the ways I am noticing my shift in my definition of myself: I’m actually embracing the fact that my feelings matter.

 

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21 thoughts on “On Being Different

  1. I need you to be my life coach! 🙂 I am forever getting hurt over things, but unwilling to admit it. So I race around frantically doing chores so that I don’t have to talk to Best Fella….and then days and days later he pulls it out of me and I end up crying and STILL trying to keep from admitting that anything was wrong in the first place. Why the hell?! You are inspiring…and even if you’re trying to not always be the strong one, you are still very strong. In a very good way.
    PS, LOOOVE the hair. I’ve been on the growout for about six months, and I’ve been toying with saying ‘screw it’ and getting my old cut back.

  2. I can relate to this, not because my parent was an alcoholic, but due to other issues of abandonment and abuse in my childhood. My biggest lesson learned as an adult has been to “lose the justification,” or “drop the excuses.” Sure, I’m justified in being angry about things, and I have some good excuses for my reactions to situations, but is that really who I want to be? An angry person with an unpredictable temper? I’ve worked really hard to calm down, not jump to conclusions, be patient, and most of all, give people the benefit of the doubt instead of reading false motivations into what they’ve said or done. It’s so easy to feel slighted, betrayed, and suspicious. It’s hard to be trusting and forgiving.

    Good for you for forging a new path for yourself, especially when it is hard.

  3. Congratulations! I, too, have been on a path over the past 5 years of healing and re-learning due to a family dysfunction that left me mangled. It was nice to read your post to remind myself of some things.

  4. Great to read this. I too often find saying “I’m hurt” or expressing those negative feelings to be very difficult. Change is good, particularly when you feel like you are being true to yourself.

  5. You are such an amazingly courageous person, Sizz. Seriously. Too many people in your shoes would ignore their history and let it play out in their lives in unfortunate ways. I had a few thoughts as I was reading your post…
    Do you watch Parenthood? There is a similar story line about kids and alcoholic fathers and I know every story is different, but it makes me think of yours.
    You said, “I didn’t really know my dad, the man he was inside. I’ll probably always be sad about that on some level.” You know what? I think that’s true for a lot of people. With healthy fathers and sick fathers. Still living fathers and those who have passed. We don’t always know the full story about our parents and I think this is particularly true with fathers.
    I am so impressed that you weren’t happy with the old you and though incredibly difficult, you are making long-term changes to a better you. Keep it up – I love following your journey!

  6. I worry incessantly that if I’m not “perfect,” my Mr. Darcy will get sick of me and bail (wonder where that came from… 😉 ). I am trying very hard to let myself react to things when they bother me instead of just glossing over everything…but it’s still hard, even though I’m with someone I know loves and values me, just the way I am.

    I believe that most of the time, which is a start.

  7. Ah, honey, I really get a lot of this. I can’t wait until one day when we actually get to meet. Not so we can sit down and rake over years of therapized realizations together, but just so we can share that feeling of knowing in person. And so I can tell you how proud I am of you in person.
    xo

  8. you are so awesome. i’m still trying to teach myself that it’s ok to Feel my Feelings. it’s a slow road, but it’s nice to have the encouragement of seeing your progress!

  9. Miss Sizzle, you are in inspiration to me. I can identify with this post so much. I’m also an adult child of an alcoholic and so many things you discussed in this post are frighteningly familiar.

    I actually have a post in my drafts folder right now about confronting problems instead of letting them go, or not digging through to the root of the matter. I’ve built up a lot of resentment as a result of doing that, and I don’t want that anymore. It’s a learning process, for sure, but it’s nice to know there are others out there who are working through this as well.

  10. Good for you, Sizz! All your hard emotional work is paying off. It may still be uncomfortable but you’re making sure you are heard and that’s huge.

  11. I don’t know you and this is the First post that I have read in your Blog. On the other hand, I was touched by your blog entry and wanted to say; Well Done for Moving on and Not Holding Back. Yes, Express your feelings, Discuss your emotions, Share your life experiences and Yes Learn, Absorb and inhale the results… Then, embrace your life with a huge smile on your face. You owe it to your self.

  12. Wow what a strong story! You know what Joe Dirt said, sometimes you just gotta “keep on, keeping on”. Another part of growing up like you have discovered is, no matter how much you might want to blame something on someone else, it’s pointless and a waste of energy because all you can do is move forward. Good luck on the journey!

  13. You are such an inspiration and I love you for writing about these things on your blog. It’s one thing to go through them – it’s quite another to share them so that others can relate to – and learn from – what you’re going through. Thank you. And kudos to you. So many people don’t do the kind of emotional work you’ve done because it’s too painful and hard. You are amazing for trekking on through it – and it’s so wonderful to hear how your hard work is impacting your relationship with Mr. Darcy.

  14. just found your blog through citizen of the month. I related HUGELY to this.I’m also the adult child of an alcoholic and working very hard on changing my behavior. The stewing but not being bale to pinpoint the feeling is very much a daily battle. I’v elost entire friendships cause I haven’t been able to say when something hurt my feelings. I just get angry, hold a grudge and then don’t even remember the initial insult. All that remains is the anger which can be crushing. Thanks for posting. I’ve started writing about this myself. Looking forward to exploring more and relating more!

  15. I am so happy for you! I know how hard it is to break old patterns, I struggle with this in my relationship too. Good for you for braving it and giving it a try. Go Sizz!

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