(14 Traits of an Adult Child)
These are some characteristics we seem to have in common due to being brought up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional household.
- We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
- We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
- We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
- We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
- We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
- We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
- We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
- We become addicted to excitement.
- We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue”.
- We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (denial).
- We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
- We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
- Alcoholism is a family disease and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
- Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors
Tony A., 1978
But wait… there’s more…
The “Other” Laundry List
- To cover our fear of people and our dread of isolation we tragically become the very authority figures who frighten others and cause them to withdraw.
- To avoid becoming enmeshed and entangled with other people and losing ourselves in the process, we become rigidly self-sufficient. We disdain the approval of others.
- We frighten people with our anger and threat of belittling criticism.
- We dominate others and abandon them before they can abandon us or we avoid relationships with dependent people altogether. To avoid being hurt, we isolate and dissociate and thereby abandon ourselves.
- We live life from the standpoint of a victimizer, and are attracted to people we can manipulate and control in our important relationships.
- We are irresponsible and self-centered. Our inflated sense of self-worth and self-importance prevents us from seeing our deficiencies and shortcomings.
- We make others feel guilty when they attempt to assert themselves.
- We inhibit our fear by staying deadened and numb.
- We hate people who “play” the victim and beg to be rescued.
- We deny that we’ve been hurt and are suppressing our emotions by the dramatic expression of “pseudo” feelings.
- To protect ourselves from self punishment for failing to “save” the family we project our self-hate onto others and punish them instead.
- We “manage” the massive amount of deprivation we feel, coming from abandonment within the home, by quickly letting go of relationships that threaten our “independence” (not too close).
- We refuse to admit we’ve been affected by family dysfunction or that there was dysfunction in the home or that we have internalized any of the family’s destructive attitudes and behaviors.
- We act as if we are nothing like the dependent people who raised us.