at the beginning of the Al-Anon meeting, one of the things that happens is people are asked to read documents aloud to the group. one of them is called The Problem. in the interest of checking in with myself, i am going to repost it here and highlight the parts that i believe apply to me.
Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional households. We had come to feel isolated and uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people-pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat. We either became alcoholics (or practiced other addictive behavior) ourselves, or married them, or both. Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our need for abandonment.
We lived our lives from the standpoint of victims. Having an over developed sense of responsibility; we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We got guilt feelings when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative. We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic or dysfunctional parents.
These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us “co-victims”, those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to stuff our feelings as children and kept them buried as adults. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we often confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue. Even more self-defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable solutions. This is a description, not an indictment.