Overcoming the Fear of Speaking Up

I’ve lived in fear of speaking up most of my life. I’ve only challenged it sometimes. Covid and quarantining makes you really have time to think. It gives you the time to work on things about yourself that you may want to change or the things about your life that you may want to overcome. Speaking up or writing about anything and putting it out there for the whole world to see, without fear, is something I struggle with.fearful

Fear. It’s hard to be a writer and to be fearful. As a writer, knowing that fear will hold you back, is a hard thing to tackle and overcome. I write a lot about personal or private experiences and my thoughts or opinions on many matters. I am not scared of sharing. 

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Though, I am scared of retaliation or backlash or just plain physical harm or threats because doing so. A friend and I recently spoke about speaking up. We both come from addicted childhoods. Alcoholism. Never being allowed to speak up is a condition that comes from growing up in a household that had alcoholism in it. We are supposed to be seen and not heard. You can never rock the boat in a household where anything can set off the alcoholic or the other adult that has to maintain some kind of household that has to deal with an adult that is constantly making a wreck of their lives. So, when I was speaking with my friend, I had mentioned to her that I was in fear of a physical response more than anything. Sometimes I have also felt guilty, too. Even guilty of speaking up when I was hurting. As most adult children of alcoholics do, we swallow everything and try to remain silent. We bury our feelings, our thoughts, our words.

Never being able to speak up was hard. Because for the most part, if you spoke up or confronted anything, you’d sometimes get hurt. A slap could come from anybody. If someone didn’t like what you had to say even if you were being honest, you could be backhanded. Even from a sibling. So, I learned to never be confrontational. Yes sometimes I slipped up, regurgitated my thoughts, but I am only human and it was rare for me to do so.  

speaking upSo now as an adult, I have navigated to try to learn how to speak up without fear of harm and in a more civil manner than shouting or fighting, which is what I saw growing up. It’s hard to learn something you were never taught, so it has been challenging at times, but necessary. We must speak up when something is wrong, we must speak up and ask for a raise at work, we must speak up in court when you’re battling someone that keeps lying and doesn’t want to pay you child support, we must speak up and say what we are looking for in a relationship, and we must speak up on how we expect to be spoken to or treated. But, when I write and have written over the years my fear comes from people’s thoughts and opinions on how I should not say something about something or someone, even though time has passed and I hold no resentment. I cannot help it if they are in so much fear of secrets being revealed, their own shame for things they’ve done, or just that they like to maintain an image that is clearly perfection. None of us are perfect. Time has passed and people have learned and grown. But, some of us are trying to speak up to break the silence, break the cycle of keeping secrets and toxicity, tell others that they are not alone, and heal by sharing and talking to one another.

This fear that I have keeps me back. I’m scared of what will happen to me. The fear is based on physical harm more than anything. It’s just what I was trained as a child, not necessarily that it would happen as an adult. Let me tell you, the PTSD is real, but at least nowadays I am aware what the panic is and where it comes from. The physical harm could happen, but more than likely it wouldn’t. So it’s been hard to overcome this fear of physical harm coming from speaking your truth. But this morning in the rarest of moments that I’ve had, I know that I need to challenge this fear and stop being scared and hiding. I cannot be scared of what someone might do. I cannot be scared of what could happen. Fear in some cases, is irrational and it is holding me back as a writer. I must let go and live my life to the fullest.

Without fear there is only abundance. Without fear there is only freedom. Without fear there is only true fulfillment and happiness.
I will live this day and the rest, moving forward, walking through fear and not let it hold me back.

Why anonymity in recovery?

So, recently I finally asked the question – why be anonymous in support groups for AA, Alanon, Alateen, and other recovery groups?

I have been vocal for so many years. At first I shocked many. My family never has liked it. But, after years of doing it and writing my memoir, Evolving to Grace, I have come to realize that I have reached many more people and there are more that understand that not everyone has the same upbringing, that there are highly dysfunctual families out there and more importantly, I’ve reached others that do not feel so alone anymore.

There are estimated 18-28 million adult children of alcoholics out there in the US & the UK. It can’t be shocking anymore? And, how many kids still don’t know that they are not alone? Like me when I was a teenager and pre-teen, I felt that what was going on was not normal, but nothing was out there that told me otherwise. And, then there was this notion that we should never talk about it. So, even if a counselor, or in my case, prinicipal at my school asked me — I’d never mention it. Never learning that I wasn’t alone and that we could get help. Or, I could.

I will have the respect to not to post their comments, but I asked a support group this:

Just want to throw out a thought that I’ve had several times and would like to ask you guys.
Why are most of the support for alcoholism, addiction, and COAs recovery, anonymous? To me I feel we continue the guilt and shame that has been associated with this and we really strengthen the stigma with comes along with the illness or something that we had no control over. I understand the judgment out there in the world, but mustn’t we stand up to end that?

Thanks for all the responses. I was just curious and would never think that everyone should have to be vocal. I just opened my eyes and began my recovery after reading, Keeping Secrets by Suzanne Somers and that term is so much of our role in alcoholism and growing up in that household – “keeping secrets”. I just thought the more vocal people are, the more people we will help and people wouldn’t feel alone. But, to each its own. Thanks! Much love

I’m not trying to blast the alcoholic. They were/are sick. We have to acknowledge and help others to understand that our parent(s) were not “our parents” when they were under the influence. To me, they were – she was, the alcoholic, not my mother. And, to also keep that from your children. Some parents do that, cover up their past. I believe I am the only one that has told my child, when he was old enough to understand, about my experiences of my childhood. I believe they learn and understand and can maybe have more compassion toward others, that everybody’s life isn’t perfect.

I’m not thinking everyone should reveal EVERYTHING that went on, but just to mention that they are/were affected from that circumstance would probably lessen the stigma, shame, guilt, and to connect ourselves to others, and heal more.

What are your thoughts? Does anonymity continue this cycle of the stigma and keeping secrets? Are you not as sick as your secrets?

#adultchildofanalcoholic #breakthecycle #breakthesilence #endthestigma #shamefree

Signed Book Giveaway! Enter soon!

Many years ago I had a calling ~ to share my story. As a teenager, I thought I was the only one that was going through what I was going through. But, there are millions out there that have been given a tough life. For those of you, please don’t give up.
Evolving to Grace is a memoir about perseverance, strength, spiritual evolution, and the choices one must make to change one’s path. I share my life’s experiences, my journey—finding my way out of darkness—discovering hope, positivity, strength, happiness and the right path for the life I choose to live. I write about many challenges I’ve had to face and overcome—either due to alcoholism, depression, violence, rape and being a single mother on welfare.

I could be labeled many things: illegal, ACoA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic), domestic violence survivor, excessive alcohol and drug user, rape victim, assault victim, hitchhiker, high school dropout, call girl, and single mother on welfare. But, these are just situations I ended up in when I was lost and broken. I’ve learned from my past and I am evolving to find my grace in this beautiful thing we call life. I believe by sharing my story, we all can learn from one another or at least find more compassion and understanding. We can change our destiny, our path.

And now I’m giving away a few signed copies of my memoir! Enter on Goodreads.com for your chance to win!

For book bloggers/reviews, please direct message me.📖
Also available at Amazon.com, ibooks, and B&N.com.

#nomoreweek #endthestigma #youarenotalone

I am an ACoA

I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic.

I do mention it from time to time, that my mom is an alcoholic. By the age of 10, I knew-believed-felt that something was wrong with the dynamics of our household. Back then, in the early 80s, the lingo wasn’t there. Not many people were out speaking about addiction, at least not in our neighborhoods. If it was going on in other households, they were doing as we were, keeping secrets.

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In the United States alone there are an estimated 28 million children who have alcoholic parents. This figure is staggering when it is considered that at least 11 million of those children are under the age of 18.
Not only are children influenced by parents use of alcohol, another huge risk factor is the attitudes of the parents towards using alcohol. If parents are extremely permissive when it comes to the idea of their children using alcohol during their adolescent years, those children have a greater chance of becoming addicted either as teenagers or adults.

Alcoholic Families Usually Have Other Issues

Families who have issues with alcohol addiction often have other problems in addition to alcoholism. Some of these problems include:

  • A partial or complete lack of effective communication

  • Poor or non-existent parenting skills

  • Poorly run and managed homes with no set schedules, structure or discipline

  • Ineffective role models for children who then grow up to repeat family issues in their own families

  • More conflict in the home including arguing, fighting and sometimes physical abuse

  • Family isolation from the community due to alcohol abuse

  • Financial issues and struggles that lead to a more stressful life

557874e21841bb523883b3db440212c1Being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic was a starting point for being lost and broken for many years. It, and possibly a predisposition, led me to be depressed and suicidal at times. It lead me to give up on life, drop out of high school, and dive into excessive drinking and using drugs. It lead me to being so blacked out that I lost-was taken-my virginity one night after a party in Chicago. It could have led me, or a combination of all the things prior, to becoming a call girl in my early twenties.

 

Despite my foundation that began with being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, my spirit has not been shattered. I was broken and lost for quite some time, but there was a fight in me from when I was about 13 years old. I despised what I was seeing when our lives were infused with the addict’s problem. I knew it was not how I wanted my life to be. The fire in me, to fight to not end up like my mother stayed lit for many years, thankfully never going out. I worked on my life, little by little, finding myself and the life I wanted to live in – peaceful, non-addicted, happy, funny, and most of all – always loving. the-best-top-desktop-fantasy-wallpapers-hd-fantasy-wallpaper-35

But remains is, I am still an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. That will never go away. But, I have learned to embrace it, learn from it (still learning), and know that I am a warrior because of it!

 

 

* Check out more statistics and information, click here.

* Get a copy of Evolving to Grace to read about my experience living as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, amongst other things.

* And, check out the Adult Children of Alcoholics page, if you need help, support and for further information.

 

#adultchildrenofalcoholics

She Was My Mother, Bless Her Soul

an old paper/presentation from my Speech class at SMC, 1996…..

Growing up in an alcoholic home has been characterized as similar in stress to being in the Nazi Concentration Camps of WWII, according to Dr. Vaillant. Alcoholism is like living with an air raid a day says authors, Middleton – Moz & Dwinell. Under these conditions chronic stress becomes normal.

This is how the majority of my life, all of my childhood, has been. Today, I want to tell you a little bit about Children of Alcoholics. I want to first begin to read you a poem written by Jane Middleton – Moz from 1980, that reminds me of my mother.

She Was My Mother, Bless Her Soul
I sometimes sit
in the corner
in the dark
and recall my mother
with a brown bottle in her hand
or the sounds of clanking ice at 2a.m.
she’d call me baby if she wanted another beer
or a slut if she hadn’t had enough
she’d make me cookies on Christmas
before she’d get too drunk.
Many nights
she would fall asleep on the floor
I’d cover her with a blanket
and put a pillow under her head
I’d awaken in the morning
to the sounds of her screaming
she wasn’t an easy woman to please
most of the time
we didn’t get along
Sometimes I miss her
and the lonelinessalcoholism-and-family-3-638

Alcoholic families live in a state of crisis which has become normalized. Maybe the most pathogenic factor in alcoholic families is the denial of the reality of the deviant drinking and its impact on the children. In many situations, the parents are not only suppose to be the “buffer” – standing between the child and the trauma, being a protective shield, but in these families the parents are the agents inflicting pain, also. Living with both the constant unpredictability of the alcoholic parent and the detachment of the co-dependent parent – who is preempted by the stress, is difficult enough for any adult who has a fully developed defense system. But, a child needs to employ massive amounts of energy merely to survive, so this puts their “normal” development process on hold. Which the end result will leave a child who is 5 feeling like they are 30, and 30 years old feeling like they are 5. Moz & Dwinell find 3 outcomes of Children of Alcoholics: 1) individuals who literally succumb to their destructive influences of their childhood through suicide, insanity or through being incarcerated most of their lives, 2) is individuals who use massive amounts of denial, repression, projection and other defenses to function but do so in a  restrictive way. Their lives replicate their lives of their childhood, and 3) is the ones that can re-experience the pain of the original trauma and work through it.

This tells you that victims can become alcoholics themselves, also workaholics or drug addicts. They tend to have low self-esteem, feel isolated and lonely, will have trouble with relationships and difficulty trusting people. Usually, children of alcoholics can’t just go and have a “normal” life, they get bored because there is no chaos or that horrible excitement. Most of them only feel something when there is a crisis, when no crisis appears they create one. Some believe that once they leave that environment their troubles will disappear, as Suzanne Somers thought. It isn’t true; it is just repressed. Everyone’s childhood is their training ground for life. Silence is deadly. Emotional freedom depends upon breaking the bonds of silence and to gain this freedom victims, such as myself, must find the courage to speak truthfully about their experience. When Suzanne Somers wrote her book, Keeping Secrets in 1988, there were an estimated 28 million Children of Alcoholics in the U.S. alone. As Suzanne, I also wanted to speak for the millions of children that hide in their closets late at night, the millions of children who suffer violence, emotional and physical abuse because of alcohol, the millions of children who feel ashamed and who don’t learn at school because they are exhausted physically because the alcoholic kept the family awake the night before, the millions of children who endure the humiliation and embarrassment of living with a drunk they also call “mom” or “dad”, and the millions of children of alcoholics that have not yet found their way to move on and break the cycle and code of silence of alcoholism.

#alcoholism

The Story of Her Life

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There are many journeys we all take in our lifetime. Many roads leading us to whom we are destined to become or to the life we are destined to live. Her journey had been a long one, sometimes extremely difficult to emotionally or physically survive from.

Her story begins in a different country than she came to know. She was born in Lima, Peru in 1970. She’s the youngest of four girls, the baby of the family. She was very quiet and soft spoken as a child; a very reserved, kind and loving introvert. Her parents were both from affluent families, but especially her mother. Her grandfather was a well-known surgeon in Lima. He had owned a hospital there. Her grandmother, though born in Peru, came from a wealthy family from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was an heiress and her family on both sides were millionaires. The Philadelphia family had created and operated a row of stores and one of the first bathhouses on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey. The Peruvian family had many ventures in both Peru and England that made them very successful, too.

She had been told that in 1933 when The Great Depression was making thousands of people homeless and hungry, her grandmother’s last inheritance was the property in Atlantic City and $3 million dollars. Not only was that a lot of money for that time but also it was a lot of money for someone who was living in Peru. Her grandparent’s house, that still stands today in Lima, is one she can only dream of ever having. After her grandfather’s death in 1959 though, her grandmother, her mother and her mother’s three sisters would never be the same again. Her father married into a family that any man would envy by all accounts, but he never saw that these women’s lives were taking a new path – destruction. Also, her parents could never imagine that their youngest daughter would end up being a high school dropout, would take drugs, drink until she’d blackout and later become a high priced call girl in Hollywood at the age of 21. She’d continue this new path of destruction for her own life. But, she would sometimes think, was it her destiny?

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