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5 Things The Adult Child Of An Addict Understands So Well

5 Things The Adult Child Of An Addict Understands So Well

A lot of adults today may look back at their childhood with fond memories of playing with friends, going on trips with their families, and basically living a stress free childhood. Most don’t look back at stressful memories of having to take care of their brother or sister overnight because mom “was stuck at work” when she really had to stay the night in jail for a DUI. They don’t remember the need to get themselves ready for school or make their own meals, since daddy had been sleeping on the couch all day and night because “he was working really hard”–when actually he was passed out after a cocaine or heroin binge.

Growing up with a parent who’s an addict is a tough road. Learning to take care of yourself and your parents at a young age is something that no child should have to do, but it’s reality for many.

The silver lining to this is that according to research from groups like “Children of Alcoholics” and “Children of Substance Abusers”, roughly 75% of adults who grew up in a home of addicts are able to overcome adversity, and not get involved with the lifestyle that their parents have. Unfortunately, as these kids grow to become adults, the pain and memories still affect them even years after the problem of the addiction of their parents has passed.

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If you never dealt with this growing up, maybe this can help you understand what it’s like. And if you did have addict parents, please know that you weren’t alone.

As adult children of addicts:

We are always worried.

Regardless of whether our parents went through rehab and have been clean for years, we are always worried about the possibility of a relapse. If our parents are still known addicts, many of us have decided to not let them come around anymore. Even though we are over dealing with them directly, we still love and care about them, and pray every night that they are okay. There is also always the worry: What if it happens to me?

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For some that just seems irrational, but for us it’s a part of everyday life.

We are controlling (without realizing it).

We feel like now that we are adults, we have the strength to control everything that surrounds us, and we can keep those bad things from coming into our lives. From the outside looking in, you may see this as us not wanting to listen or not wanting to compromise, but that is never the intention.

We just try to keep everything going good and that’s the only way we know how.

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We constantly seek approval.

This bugs the heck out of those whom we seek approval from. We do not have a lot of self esteem, and we have been lied to a lot in the past, so we need to be certain that you are sincere when you tell us that “Yes, I think that it would be a good idea to change your major”, or “Yes, you should buy that new car”.

We know these are little things to you, but we need to hear from others that we are making the right decision on everything.

We define “normal” differently than you.

Our normal usually consists of constant disappointment, fear, and uncertainty. My normal was having to go to grandma’s after school, because my dad had gotten caught stealing DVD’s to sell so he could buy more drugs. And then having to stay at Mom’s for a few months because Dad had to stay in jail for a while.

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All of this may sound really absurd. But to me (and many others), this was how we grew up.

We had no peace in our childhoods.

No matter how we look at it, we can’t seem to find happiness in a situation. Rather, we see lessons learned. When we try to look back and seek out some joy, it is almost instantly plagued by betrayal, or some other let down. We are constantly plagued by repressed memories and we will never be able to forget it.

If you didn’t grow up with addicted parents, please try and understand us. And if you did, remember:

We’ll find a way to get through it.

Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/RyanMcGuire-123690/ via pixabay.com

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Michael Daws

Aircraft Painter, Sports & Lifestyle Blogger

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Last Updated on July 15, 2020

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

“Entitlement is an expression of conditional love. Nobody is ever entitled to your love. You always have a right to protect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being by removing yourself from toxic people and circumstances.” -Dr. Janice Anderson & Kiersten Anderson

It’s not always obvious if you have someone toxic in your life. A toxic relationship is one that is harmful to you. A toxic person can create distress to the degree you feel inadequate and isolated. So, what makes a toxic person?

A toxic person has toxic behavior, meaning it’s not that the whole person is toxic[1]. It’s what they do that counts. Most toxic people run from accountability and misrepresent reality to you. They misrepresent your worth and your ability to heal from them can be stifled the longer you keep them in your life. You have a role to play with it as well; if your values are dismissed by them and you don’t act on it, you have allowed room for toxicity to grow.

When you are in a toxic relationship, you feel less than. You feel as though you are not worth anyone’s time or effort. You feel unheard, and sometimes you feel unsafe. You don’t feel good about yourself in a toxic relationship, whether it be with a partner, friend, or family member.

You may stay in a toxic relationship for a number of reasons. You may believe yourself to be a burden, have a lack of boundaries, resist change, fear conflict, try to be a people pleaser, find yourself codependent, or are partially stuck in a pattern or unhealthy cycle of abuse.

Letting go of toxic people may not be easy. In order to do so, you have to know why or how they are toxic to you and read between the lines that they do not have your best interests in mind.

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Letting go of toxic people is hard because you are good and want to see the good in others. You think their apologies are authentic. You have trouble believing they are being dishonest. You don’t spend time healing from it. You get pulled back into the pain because you don’t want it to end. However, if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t right.

You should walk away from a toxic person because you need to preserve your peace. You need to feel like yourself again. And you need better support.

Letting go of toxic people can involve four major steps.

1. Recognize the Red Flags

Red flags are signs a person is being toxic. It’s when someone shows characteristics that you should feel caution about. It’s when you feel any level of dissatisfaction and distrust. Trust your gut. When you recognize red flags, you can evaluate whether a person is trying to manipulate you or not. This gives you some level of control over what you allow in your life. The earlier you detect these behaviors, the better off you will be.

Red flags can include:

  • They always put themselves first.
  • They point out imperfections and sabotage your self-esteem.
  • You may feel drained or used when you’re around them.
  • What you give isn’t reciprocated. They don’t return the goodness you provide as a friend.
  • They ignore your boundaries and get angry when you tell them “no.”
  • You catch them in half truths or outright lies when you confront them about anything.
  • You are the villain; they are the victim.
  • Second chances always lead to repeated patterns of behavior.
  • They may engage in abuse.

2. Set Boundaries

There are emotional boundaries that one can set, but there are also physical ones[2]. You can leave any time. Setting boundaries is also an important part of self-care.

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You shouldn’t walk on eggshells. Tell them how you feel. Are they respecting you, fulfilling your needs, and listening to you? If not, it’s time to set up a healthy emotional distance and start letting go of toxic people around you.

There are levels to this. You have your inner circle, which could include family, and then you have acquaintances and strangers. If a toxic person is in your inner circle, it’s time to pull back and put up some boundaries for them to follow. If they can’t hear you out, you can cut off the connection completely.

You can give second chances, but you have to be careful. If someone knows they can get away with something, they will do it again. If there’s any chance for the relationship, they have to know not to cross certain lines.

3. Invest in Yourself

You deserve to know you are worthwhile. Try to remember that things will get better and that anything is possible. How do you do so? Invest in yourself.

This means self care, goal setting, surrounding yourself with positive support, and feeling a sense of peace. Your greatest ambition should be to love yourself. Without self-love, letting go of toxic people will be difficult.

Every relationship is a risk, but if you know yourself and what you will allow, toxic people will have less of a hold over you. If you are a giver or people pleaser, you are most at risk to being in a one-sided relationship. You shouldn’t be punished for caring, but sometimes trust needs to be earned. If you have self-love, you are treating yourself the best way possible. You know that others need to meet your standards; otherwise, they don’t get to be a part of your life.

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It’s possible that you can love yourself and still not see the signs. It can be difficult for some to be aware that toxic people exist. However,, if you know how much you mean to others in your life and what you are worth, you will be less likely to take on a relationship that is harmful to you or repeat negative patterns. Self-love is how we get out of toxic relationships, but it’s also how they never begin.

4. Know When Forgiveness Is Possible

There are times a person will prove their worth to you. They may make a mistake that makes them seem like a horrible person. They may forget to be good to you because of their own issues. They may just have no example of what a healthy relationship looks like. They may have an inflated ego that really comes from insecurity. The list goes on.

If they apologize, that’s a start. Look at their actions. Are they changing for the better because they really want to change or just seeming to in order to manipulate you? A person may control others with their image or perceived personality, but if you see through them, you may be able to discern the degree to which they are willing to be there for you.

If they start to do the right thing, you may begin to trust them again. Don’t start forgiving them until time has passed and you are sure there is growth, even if they show vulnerability or remorse. You can give a second chance if they truly have an awakening. Otherwise, it’s best to get out. Don’t let them walk all over you; let them walk out the door.

If you do give a second change and they still refuse to change, you have every right to remove them and continue the process of letting go of toxic people. The moment you even want to leave may also be a good time to get out. You don’t have to compromise yourself in order to care for them.

Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger[3]. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. You have to go back to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from someone. You don’t have to let them back in. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

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Remember, forgiveness is ultimately for you, not them. You don’t need that person in your life in order to forgive them, and if you give them a second chance, proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts

Recognize the red flags, set boundaries, invest in yourself, and know when forgiveness is possible. This is how you cope with a toxic person impacting your life. You have power in the direction of your life and the people who accompany you as you move forward. Use it.

If a person is worthwhile, they will prove themselves through their actions, not their words. If they cross certain lines that really harm you, you owe them nothing. You have every right to feel what you feel and to be upset. Honor your feelings and communicate them because it’ll only continue to keep happening if you don’t.

If this is happening to you, it’s time to put a stop to it. It’s time to take control. It’s time to live for yourself, not for what others say about you. It’s time to set your standards higher than they’ve ever been before. And most of all, it’s time to let go.

Resource reminder: A physically abusive relationship is ALWAYS toxic. There are resources for you. Always speak up.

If you are in such a cycle or domestic violence or abuse reach out for help. For example, there is The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) which can be reached at 1−800−799−7233. There are other ways to get help if you simply ask for it. 

More Tips on Letting Go of Toxic People

Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

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