While on vacation, I came across an article online that spoke to me in so many ways. The article is titled 10 Things The Adult Child Of An Addict Wants You to Know. Yeah, a hell of a article to read while on the sunny beaches of Saint Maarten, huh? When I saw the title of the article, I didn’t hesitate to dive right into it. There’s no secret that I am the product of 2 drug abusers/alcoholics and the long term effects of my upbringing seem endless at times but the most prevalent reminders of my upbringing come out in my daily anxiety and OCD tendencies.
In the article, the author outlines 10 things that we (adult children of addicts) want you to know and 3 of those things that the author laid out really hit home for me. I wanted to touch on them one by one in my next few blog posts so here’s the 1st one:
We had no peace in our childhood. We don’t know peace. This is ironic, because we believe only in perfection and yet we create chaos. Chaos, stress, unrest: these are comfortable for us. We feel at home in these circumstances, not because they are healthy, but because they feel normal.
Can you imagine that? A childhood with no peace?
My entire childhood, up until I moved in with my grandmother at the age of 12 was riddled with chaos, fear, abuse and stress. There were days that I had no food to eat, got beaten for eating what little food was in the fridge, days when I would come home from school to find all of our belongings on the sidewalk (yeah, eviction is a bitch when you are a child) and other days with no electricity, heat, water… it was an absolute mess!! I remember going to school and having the teachers yell at me and/or send me to detention for not paying attention in school or not having my homework done and I always wanted to run to them and tell them of my family life at home but was told to NEVER speak of our situation “or else”. Growing up with a father like mine, the words “or else” always meant a beating — a severe one at that.
One day in particular I remember hearing the school bell ring for dismissal and instead of going to the bus, I hid in one of the bathrooms. I hid there and waited until the school was empty and then roamed around the school in the dark to try to find a comfortable space to sleep and something to eat. I must have just fallen asleep because I woke up to the sounds of alarms going off and shouts of adults hollering my name. Yep, at about 11pm that night, the police came to find me there hiding in the school cafeteria. Humph, here I thought that my parents wouldn’t even report me missing and perhaps I would just disappear into the darkness but no, I was sent home to my parents where I was again abused by my father — to the point that I missed school the following day.
You would think that by having a childhood filled with so much chaos and unknown that I would welcome a smooth sailing, peaceful, no drama adult life but actually – I thrive on/in chaos believe it or not. It is what I was born into and what I grew accustomed to during my childhood. Growing up through my teen years, young adult years and adult years I continued to draw and create more chaos into my life. Sad, huh? While I know that peace is the way — I am used to having something to worry about, fix, address, concern myself with..etc! It is very rare that I absolutely let myself go and free myself of troublesome thoughts of what may or may not happen.
Here’s what I do know:
- I can’t remember one teachers name from Kindergarten up until the 7th grade.
- I can’t remember not one childhood friend from birth – 12 years old.
- I don’t ever remember being read to as a child.
- I’ve told all 3 of my children about my childhood and I always wanted them all to feel safe, loved and secure.
- I feel that EVERY child should feel loved, safe and secure!
So, what about the now almost 46 year old me? Well, I am continuing to learn to stop the slippery slope of my anxious thoughts. I often seek out help from my other half/future husband, who by the way lives life to the fullest each day and is in a good mood/worry free 98% of the time. My best friend Kim who just “GETS ME!”, almost to the point of being able to read my mind. She is able to help me rationalize my fears/anxieties and helps me to keep on stepping. My Chicas and friends who want nothing but the very best for me and dammit, will tell me when I am trippin’ and will hold a mirror up to me when I need to make a change. I spent the last 3 years of my life making my “Tribe” smaller and smaller — weeding out those that do not want the best for me and I continue to surround myself with love and inspiration. I realize that I did break a cycle – and for that I am proud. I just have to continue to find my ‘new normal’ and settle into it and so far, I am doing a helluva good job!