When I was 43 years old, I came across the Big Red Book. This is the Adult Child of Alcoholics version of AA’s Big Book. I ordered it, and once it arrived and I began reading it, I was amazed. I had no idea all the “personality traits” that I possessed were actually the traits of an adult child. My anxiety, depression, panic attacks, perfectionism, and obsessive/compulsive tendencies were all common to adult children.
The line in the book that truly spoke to me was, “you had a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.” That was my Ah-Ha moment. I cried after reading this. All these years, I had thought I was such a fuck up. I had no idea that the misery of my childhood wasn’t over when I left our family home at age 18. That misery had shaped me, the very neural connections of my brain, into the person I was.
I was neglected, and witnessed many things no child should ever see or hear. This leads to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, also, explaining a great deal of the issues I have in my daily adult life, and the struggles with relationships with others.
I developed a set of skills as a child that allowed me to survive. The problem is, these skills don’t translate well into healthy, adult relationships. Now, I am learning to put those old tools aside and develop some new ones.
The hardest part of all this right now is that it’s not my fault that this happened to me, but I am most definitely the one paying the price for the ignorance and poor choices of my parents.