13 Signs You're An Adult Child Of An Alcoholic — And It's Affecting You Still Today

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Are you an adult child of an alcoholic?

Most of us know if Mom or Dad drank. What we may not know is that it impacts our adult life a lot more than we think it does.

There are common long-term effects among those of us with drinking parents, alcoholic parents, ill parents, and parents we couldn't count on that follow us to adulthood.

RELATED: 9 Struggles Adult Children Of Alcoholics Know All Too Well

Here are 13 signs you're an adult child of an alcoholic and it's still affecting you. 

1. You have extremely low self-esteem.

Adult children of alcoholics judge themselves without mercy and need a lot of approval and love from other people.

2. You feel guilty.

Many times, you think there’s something wrong with doing anything good for yourself or feeling good about yourself — that it would mean you're egotistical or selfish.

Or whatever goes wrong or whoever is unhappy, you feel like it’s your fault somehow.

3. You have no mind of your own.

You look to close people around you before you decide how you should feel and what you should think.

And it’s always, "What should I feel or think?” not, "How do I actually feel or think?" no matter what the situation is.

4. You're emotionally numb to yourself.

Many times, how you actually feel comes so late in your experience that you're grinding-ly, wrenchingly miserable before it dawns on you how you actually wanted or needed things to be.

You say "yes" to please others, believing it will all turn out fine (because they think it will) and then you're a long way down the wrong road before you see how badly you're hurting and know you need things to change.

I know an adult child of an alcoholic who actually felt suicidal before he ever questioned how his significant other was treating him and whether it was normal or not. (It wasn’t.)

5. You often say, "But I have to."

You feel obligated to meet your family’s needs and wants and make everyone else happy. You feel as if you're bad people if you can’t or don’t want to do this.

When someone else’s needs or wants conflict with yours, you feel fused with their upset feelings, as if you have no choice but to make them happy — no matter what you wanted, or what it will cost you.

You may only see one or two extreme options for what to do when really you might have many other choices and they just aren’t showing up on your radar.

6. We think, "Is this how most relationships are?"

You feel like you don’t really know what’s healthy or normal in a relationship.

7. You have a million unfinished projects.

You have trouble finishing things.

RELATED: The Death Of My Alcoholic Father Made Me A Better Mom

8. "You always want to please others."

There’s a classic book called "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty." That title really is the adult child of an alcoholic theme song.

You don’t want to upset anyone by saying "no" so you say "yes" to things you know you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do.

Then you conveniently "forget" them or try to weasel out of them.

9. Any raised voices scare you.

You'll do or say just about anything to avoid an argument, including lying about your true feelings.

You do a lot of giving in and going along, then later, you're angry when something didn’t turn out at all comfortable for you and now you have to live with it.

You say, "yes"... and resent, "yes"...a nd resent.

10. You believe that the world’s a somber and sad place.

You don’t get many of your own needs met, you work all the time, you don’t get a lot of rest, and life never feels like a whole lot of fun. You never got to have any fun as a kid and you still don’t.

You have this sense that you just aren’t like other people. Deep down, you just know there’s something wrong with you and that’s why no one will ever really love you.

11. You can’t find that middle place that’s just right.

Either you're the person who always finds yourself having to take care of everyone else or you’re the person who just can’t seem to do very well.

Maybe you're still living at home, or you can’t get or hang onto the kind of job or salary that your intelligence or abilities suggest you should be able to.

Or you're the spouse, significant other, or parent of someone like this and you're the one pulling the weight for that person — and resenting it.

This kind of imbalance in your relationships is common, where one person pulls too much weight and the other pulls too little.

12. You stay in a bad relationship a lot longer than you should.

You get a lot of treatment from others that make you feel bad, but you always have a reason why we "should" or "need to" or "have to" stay.

13. You're very unhappy.

But you don’t see a whole lot of options for how to change your life. And for the options you do see, you find yourself saying, "But I can’t do that because…"

Your relationship tends to swing from close to distant to close to distant, from good to bad and back again, over and over.

If this sounds like you, the worst thing you can possibly ever do is stick your head in the sand and say, "I can’t do anything about it."

It can feel very scary to start therapy or to pick up a book on adult children of alcoholics or about codependency.

You feel as if you are about to be told exactly what’s wrong with you that no one treats you better, and how it’s all your fault, but I can assure you that’s not what’s going to happen.

I had a lot of these same feelings being raised by a parent with a personality disorder.

Trust me, the best thing that can happen to you is for you to be able to raise your eyes above the horizon of your childhood, how you’ve always been treated, what other people will say, and how life’s always been for you.

You're not going to hear a lot of terrible things about yourself. You're not crazy or stupid. You just need a bird's eye view of your life.

There’s a lot of missing pieces in your understanding of why your life’s turned out the way it has, and it can get a lot better. But it never will if you’re scared of information and good help.

RELATED: No, Your Love Isn't Enough To Get Them To Stop Drinking

P.D. Reader is a student astrologer who blogs as The Thinking Other Woman. She used self-help books, videos, therapy, (and, yes, astrology!) to make sense of her affair, her life, and her broken heart, and you can, too.

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