Coming to terms with a survivor status

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integrity

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Coming to terms with a survivor status
« on: February 25, 2019, 11:10:54 AM »
Hey all,
I'm doing my 12 steps in an adult children of alcoholics group and I just did step 5 over the weekend where you tell somebody your whole story.

I disclosed a few things that I said I wasn't sure whether they were sexual abuse or not and my sponsor said yes they definitely were sexual abuse; these events have to do with my dad who I always adored and put on a pedestal. I have come to realise as well that I actually had an emotionally incestuous relationship with him. I was responsible not just for his emotional needs but for my whole family's, actually.

I'm having a really hard time coming to terms with this. I feel so devastated that such a huge burden was put on my little shoulders; that I felt responsible for my dad for such a long time, even up until now. Somehow talking about it with someone in so much detail made it feel really real.

It's bringing up a lot of inner critic stuff. I know now that I have been codependent and still haven't got rid of these tendencies completely. I also wonder what this means for the future of my marriage - I mean, I think I only got married because:
  • he's like my dad
  • I had sex before marriage and as a christian felt so guilty that I felt like I had to marry him
  • my mum bullied me into it
  • I was so terrified of being alone

The marriage has been on the whole a safe place for me to grow - but at the start he really pushed on my sexual boundaries (he's better with this now), he's a game addict/workaholic and I always subjugated my needs to his - so now I'm not sure where my boundaries should be and whether my goals in life are actually even compatible with his... or what they even are some times!  :fallingbricks:

I'm so scared of what the future may hold, and I'm worried I can't cope, even though I've coped with stuff around my narcissistic mum. I thought the point of ACA was to make me feel more sane - but I feel less sane!

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Three Roses

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Re: Coming to terms with a survivor status
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2019, 06:05:42 PM »
I'm sorry you're going through this! ACoA groups will help you through this, I'm sure, but looking at your past with open eyes is bound to bring up additional issues that ACoA groups may not be equipped to help you with.

For me, the difference is this; ACoA will help you find different ways of interacting with the world and people, & will bring awareness of your responsibility in family dynamics, but will not address the traumatic impact your brain and body have been through. CPTSD can be seen in brain scans, and somatic (body) memories are real as well. These things are not in the way you think, or a figment of your imagination, and will not be addressed thru the 12 steps imo.

We all seem to be attracted to the person who most resembles the parental figure with whom we have the most unresolved issues. This seems, at least to me, to be universal and not just people with traumatic childhoods.

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I know now that I have been codependent and still haven't got rid of these tendencies completely.

It may not all be codependency, though. Have you read anything by Pete Walker? I find the times that I'm feeling the most unraveled are the times I'm in an EF, or emotional flashback. Try this if you're up to reading a chunk of text - http://pete-walker.com/flashbackManagement.htm

My own marriage started out very dysfunctionally, but we've managed to stay married (that's a long story ;) ) for almost 37 years. Yes it's true he's been dysfunctional and abusive, but so have I. We're each working on ourselves now, and not each other! :rofl:

Best wishes to you, & a safe :hug: if it's OK. Hang in there. ❤️

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Kizzie

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Re: Coming to terms with a survivor status
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2019, 07:40:31 PM »
I also went to ACoA years ago and it gave me part of the answers I was looking for, but it wasn't until years later when I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD that I realized my family actually was traumatizing and that I did not bear any responsibility for that.

To my mind there's a huge gap between dysfunctional and abusive/neglectful that ACoA doesn't seem to address. (This may be changing now as there is a book by Tian Dayton that does talk about the traumatic effects of being parented/living with someone who is addicted.    The ACOA Trauma Syndrome: The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships:Idunno:

It was (almost) a relief when I learned about having CPTSD b/c I finally felt like I had all the pieces, but it was also a big shock to find there was so much more to my story than I realized.

I can imagine you are reeling right about now.  :stars: I hope you will continue to post about this - here to listen and support  :grouphug:

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integrity

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Re: Coming to terms with a survivor status
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2019, 11:56:03 PM »
Thanks for the responses :) I'm feeling a little better today.

For me, the difference is this; ACoA will help you find different ways of interacting with the world and people, & will bring awareness of your responsibility in family dynamics, but will not address the traumatic impact your brain and body have been through. CPTSD can be seen in brain scans, and somatic (body) memories are real as well. These things are not in the way you think, or a figment of your imagination, and will not be addressed thru the 12 steps imo.

Yeah this makes sense - in our one we touch on this stuff - step 5 addresses trauma in the body now, but it's definitely true that the steps themselves can't fix it - they recommend counselling. I've found a somatic experiencing practitioner so I might go to her to process some of this stuff.

We all seem to be attracted to the person who most resembles the parental figure with whom we have the most unresolved issues. This seems, at least to me, to be universal and not just people with traumatic childhoods.

Quote
It may not all be codependency, though. Have you read anything by Pete Walker? I find the times that I'm feeling the most unraveled are the times I'm in an EF, or emotional flashback. Try this if you're up to reading a chunk of text - http://pete-walker.com/flashbackManagement.htm

I have read Pete Walker - I started out there actually it was one of the first resources I found out about and it has helped me so so much! I think of codependency as just some of those behaviours; I'm trying not to judge myself for it.

Quote
My own marriage started out very dysfunctionally, but we've managed to stay married (that's a long story ;) ) for almost 37 years. Yes it's true he's been dysfunctional and abusive, but so have I. We're each working on ourselves now, and not each other! :rofl:

Best wishes to you, & a safe :hug: if it's OK. Hang in there. ❤️

Thank you :) It's nice to hear that your marriage has succeeded. For me it's more like I feel a bit guilty: yes we were codependent at the start, but we have grown together and the relationship has been by and large a positive force in both our lives. He's really very loving and dedicated to me. I feel sad and guilty because the truth is I have never been as dedicated to him as he is to me. My reasons for marrying had a lot more to do with my own neediness and abandonment fears than loving him for who he is. I like him yes and I enjoy spending time with him, but if I had a choice would I do it again? Or would we just be friends? That's what I don't know the answer to.
One of the ACA daily meditations recently was talking about how to really choose something we have to feel like we're able to not have it, otherwise it's not really a choice. That's what I think I need with my husband but I don't want to hurt his feelings. My ACA sponsor said that I just need to keep working through it and I'll know what the right choice is eventually; I think that's right and I can trust myself and my process.  I just have to be patient!

I also went to ACoA years ago and it gave me part of the answers I was looking for, but it wasn't until years later when I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD that I realized my family actually was traumatizing and that I did not bear any responsibility for that.

To my mind there's a huge gap between dysfunctional and abusive/neglectful that ACoA doesn't seem to address. (This may be changing now as there is a book by Tian Dayton that does talk about the traumatic effects of being parented/living with someone who is addicted.    The ACOA Trauma Syndrome: The Impact of Childhood Pain on Adult Relationships:Idunno:

It was (almost) a relief when I learned about having CPTSD b/c I finally felt like I had all the pieces, but it was also a big shock to find there was so much more to my story than I realized.

I can imagine you are reeling right about now.  :stars: I hope you will continue to post about this - here to listen and support  :grouphug:

Thank you Kizzie :) That means a lot. I think ACA might have changed a fair bit since you both did it - there's a definite emphasis on not being responsible for what happened and some of the other members of my group talk about CPTSD as well so that's good. I guess it's getting more well known now.

It's just hard to come up against some of this stuff! It's been such a huge part of my identity that letting it go feels a little bit like dying, I guess!