That was my attitude the first time it came up in therapy. What little I knew about it seemed far too dysfunctional for me. At that time, I was still clinging to the fantasy that every bad relationship I’d had was the fault of everyone but me.
Although I didn’t know it, I’d struggled with codependency throughout my adult life. Plagued by abandonment issues, my romantic relationships were my lifeboat, as I happily turned over responsibility for my identity and self-esteem to my partner. This unhealthy attachment to my relationships kept me grounded until they inevitably blew up.
I have a confession: For most of my adult life, I’ve had no idea what the fuck I was doing.
Like many of you, I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACA). I’ve done my best impersonation of a functional adult, convincing myself that I was normal and well adjusted. But all the while denying my difficult experiences as an adult child of a dysfunctional family.
Dysfunctional families are not limited to alcoholism — many of us came from homes that also struggled with other addictions. Sometimes there was no addiction, but we still suffered from trauma, abuse, and neglect.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
As an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACA), no words could be more threatening or hurtful.
I never handled it well. I’d get angry and defensive, triggered because I was a wounded child panicking at the thought that I’d been found out:
I’m a fraud — I am a flawed, damaged man unworthy of the love I’ve always craved.
For ACAs, perfectionism in our relationships is our way of life — a way to recreate ourselves as self-motivated, well adjusted, and seemingly unaffected by our dysfunctional childhoods. …
Here we go,
here we go again
The fire burns
I’ve waited so long
for this love to call my own
Finding comfort in the heat
Tangled up in sweat soaked sheets
can this be mine,
will it stay this time
Can I turn my lonely story
on its end
to the child in me
can I make amends
Warm breath against my neck
I feel once more
But everything found I’ve
In the darkened
together with threads
made of fear begin to
I’ve lived my life in black and…
The view from the top was spectacular
stars alive and bright the
air is thin, hard to catch my breath
dizzy, caught in the whirlwind of romance and new love
Beginning slowly, almost imperceptibly the
fear of disappointing you takes root in
my heart intertwining with the cells themselves as
I slowly begin to sacrifice
at the alter of codependency
Little things at first, plans with a friend, the class I
loved to teach, progressing to bigger ones And
before long people and passions once
sacred vanish before my eyes
Passionate kisses and slow dances replaced by the slamming of…