Believe it or not, I worry about it too.
I worry about what other people think of me. I feel worthless, downright clueless in relationships. And, although I hate to admit it, I often feel just plain needy.
Back in the day, when I lived in Brooklyn, NY, I lived with a girl named Tara.
Like me, Tara was an Adult Child Of An Alcoholic and had issues with anxiety and depression.
At first I thought living with her was fantastic because, like Vogue, we had many issues.
But over time our friendship brought out the most insecure and needy parts of me.
I needed her to like me.
I needed her to approve of my choices.
I needed her to think that I was smart.
I needed her to guarantee that she’d never kick me out or move out and abandon me.
And Tara and I were just roommates. I mean, can you even begin to imagine what I was like in romantic relationships?
A complete sh*t show as I like to say:)
Relationships can be sticky for anyone and when you’re an Adult Child Of An Alcoholic anything that starts out as sticky can easily turn into a big pit of black tar.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why you feel insecure, needy and emotionally dependent in relationships then today’s post is for you.
We’re going to take a look at 3 core issues that may be triggering you. Today, my goal is to give you something to think about when it comes to how you function in relationships.
After you’ve read through today’s post, you know I want to hear from you in the comment section.
Where do you get tripped up in your relationships? When do you feel the most needy or insecure and what do you do about it? What relationship experiences can you share with the rest of the GUC community?
Your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
As always, thank you for reading, sharing and commenting.
Until Next Tuesday,
#1 Just Like Janet Jackson, You Want That Control
The first issue we need to tackle, is the issue of control. And, perhaps, your need to control. Now. What I’m not going to do here is tell you that you need to let that urge go. I mean, we all know that already, right? That would be the perfect solution for a perfect world. But that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Instead, I’m going to show you how your need to control could be translating into the insecurity and neediness you feel in your relationships.
As I’ve learned through my own experiences and research, the alcoholic family is chronically out of control. And when you grow up in that kind of environment one of the ways that you create stability, manage chaos and ward off anxiety is through control.
When I was a kid, I’d try to control my mom by dumping out her half drunk beers and filling the cans up with water. Or, I’d assert control by constantly obsessing about her and her safety.
If you “look under the hood” you’ll see what was driving my need to control.
Ultimately, I was afraid that my mom was going to either drink herself to death or be killed by my stepdad.
Control became my key to calm and certainty.
Fast forward some 20 years later and there I am living with my roommate Tara and I’m trying to stabilize my fears and create guarantees through control. But now all that drive to control was doing was leaving me feeling crazy insecure and needy.
I hope you can see what I’ve done here by “looking under the hood” for my need to control. Your history and the details of your story are going to be different but if you can start to make these connections, you’ll be able to better understand what could be driving your behavior.
I firmly believe that awareness and the “why” behind what you do is a crucial first step in recovery.
If you’re interested in going even deeper in understanding control, I’ve left a link to a fantastic book recommendation at the end of this post.
#2 You’re Projecting Like An Old School Projector
Okay, so here’s one that I catch myself doing all the time. I project onto others the personalities, behaviors and quirks of my alcoholic parents. As well as other people in my childhood that taught me everything I know about how to be dysfunctional in relationships.
Growing up, my mom and stepdad solved all of their problems by either beating the crap out of each other or filing for divorce. I think it’s safe to say that those two had no idea how to solve their problems through communication and compromise.
Even though my husband isn’t anything like my stepdad and our marriage is nothing like their marriage, I still think that every time we get into it, he’s going to leave.
This is a perfect example of how projecting can lead to feelings of neediness and insecurity.
Although I’m getting better at it everyday, it’s really challenging to take responsibility and recognize where I project in relationships.
A good way to sniff out these tendencies is when you feel needy and insecure. That’s the perfect time to take a step back and ask yourself, “Am I dealing with the person in front of me right now or am I reacting to someone or something from way back?”
#3 You’re Clueless…About Your Needs
Yep, this is a classic symptom of growing up in chaotic and dysfunctional environments.
It ends up that we spend all of our energy, as kids, tending to the needs of the alcoholic or addict in our lives that we are either –
- Completely clueless about what are needs are as adults
- We feel painfully guilty or selfish for having needs if and when we acknowledge them
- We are aware we have needs but have no idea how to satisfy them
When we don’t know how to get our needs met we often go about dealing with them in completely dysfunctional ways. Or we expect people that could never meet our needs to meet them. It’s like going into a bakery to buy gasoline. It’s not going to work.
My dad doesn’t have the ability to meet my emotional needs. I spent years banging my head against the wall trying to pull something out of him that he could never give. But once I accepted his limits and gave my needs the respect and attention they deserved, I was able to tend to what I needed.
Being clear about what you need, knowing how to get that need fulfilled and feeling correct about it is how you can begin to deal with feeling needy and insecure in relationships.
The bad news here is that there are no magic wand or one-size-fits-all solutions for these issues. But the good news is that with a little curiosity, compassion, perspective and patience, you can make improvements in these areas.
You better believe it takes work. But the work is worth it:)
If you want to go deeper with ACOA issues, check out Stephanie Brown’s book, Treating Adult Children of Alcoholics: A Developmental Perspective.