So here’s the deal. Over the past several months, I’ve figured out that my neighbors, across the hall, are running a brothel.
I know this seems like a really wacky way to start off today’s post but hang in with me. This is all going to make sense in a minute.
The brothel wasn’t something I picked up on right away. But as I started to pay attention to the number of random men going in and out of their apartment, along with a few other X-rated clues, the picture became unavoidably clear.
There’s a big part of me that wishes I never figured this situation out. But, if there’s one thing I know to be true about me, it’s that I’m incredibly observant.
I notice everything. I can pick up on the smallest change in someone’s mood and adjust accordingly. Before my husband even opens his mouth to speak, I can already read what kind of mood he’s in.
Like any true Adult Child Of An Alcoholic, I am a pro at assessing what’s going on around me before anything even happens. It’s a skill that I cultivated and needed as a kid growing up in a house where my life was in constant danger.
It was a survival tactic. And although I don’t need it like I used to, it’s still very much a part of me. So now, as an adult, I try to see it as a positive and use it to my advantage.
As ACOAs, we have skills and abilities packed away in our arsenal that we can use to our advantage.
But we don’t usually talk about the advantages. That is, until today!
Today, I’m sharing 5 reasons why being an ACOA makes you bad a**. Now please don’t get this twisted. I’m not trying to diminish anything you’ve been through or minimize the experience of growing up with an alcoholic parent.
But I do want to open your eyes to the other side of growing up in a chaotic, unstable and inconsistent environment. It’s time for you to cash in your assets. As this quote so beautifully says,
Life is like a coin. Pleasure and pain are the two sides. Only one side is visible at a time. But remember the other side is waiting for its turn.
After you’ve read through today’s post, meet me in the comment section and tell me one advantage you have today as a result of being an ACOA and why. What would you add to my list of 5?
What you share may be an advantage that someone else is waiting to discover.
Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing.
Until Next Tuesday.
#1 We Can Spot Bull Sh*t A Mile Away
Not only are we ACOAs good at reading environments and picking up on subtleties but we are also excellent at reading people. And we know a bull sh*tter when we see one.
I don’t know if it’s because a lot of us had to grow up way too fast or if we, through the years, have just developed a genius level of street smarts but I know for me, I’ve lost count of the number of times this skill worked to my advantage.
Just recently I was out to dinner with a friend when this strange man sat down at a table behind us. Before he even opened his mouth to speak to the waiter, I knew he had an ulterior motive. And as it turned out I was right.
He wasn’t there for a quick bite or a relaxing glass of wine, he sat near us because he noticed my friend’s purse dangling off the side of her chair. And just as I suspected he was gearing up to swipe it.
Luckily, I acted on instinct and urged her to move her bag. If I hadn’t, it’s very likely that he would’ve made off with not only her purse but her passport, credit cards and cash.
When was the last time you saved yourself or someone else from a disaster thanks to your genius level of street smarts? Give yourself credit for that skill right now!
#2 Harvard Can’t Even Teach The Things We Know
Ever since I can remember, Harvard has been the Holy Grail of education. But here’s one thing I know for sure. At Harvard, they can’t teach or give a degree in what we’ve learned about life and family as ACOAs.
Sure, they have a psychology department and the Harvard Medical School performs research on all sorts of topics related to addiction. But as far as living in the trenches with this stuff, they can’t teach what we know.
Now of course, I’m not trying to take anything away from the prestige of Harvard here but what I am saying is that our life experiences and the pain we’ve endured will forever have more value than any degree from any university will ever have.
When it comes to life experiences, we’ve all been to Harvard and graduated with honors.
#3 We’ve Handled The Worst And Survived
Almost a year ago, I interviewed a mom who tragically lost her son to a drug overdose. We talked about how embarrassed she felt to talk about what happened. Which makes sense right? Given the stigmas attached to addiction, I couldn’t blame her for the way she felt.
But after I thought about it some more, I realized that this woman who had been through so much by losing her son really had nothing left to fear. Especially not the judgements or ill-informed opinions of the people around her.
If she could survive the tragic death of her son, then she could damn sure handle whatever else life had to throw at her.
Well, the same applies to us ACOAs. We’ve been through so much in life and we’ve handled it. We’re still here. We have quirks for sure. We have plenty to work on but we are survivors. And it’s time we give ourselves credit for how resilient and durable we can be.
Sometimes when I feel really insecure about someone else’s opinion of me, I’ll recall the number of times my mom called me a bitch when she was drunk. And then I remind myself – If I could handle my own mother calling me a bitch, when I was really young, then I really have no other opinion to fear. I figure, if I could recover from that then I can recover from a lot of things.
So the next time that you catch yourself feeling weak under the weight of someone else’s opinion of you, I want you to repeat this mantra,
I’ve been called worse by people that have meant more.
#4 We Are Creative When It Comes To Life
As a kid, I came up with at least a hundred different ways to hide beer from my mom. My favorite trick was to grab her can when she stumbled off to the bathroom, dump half of it out and fill it back up with water. Every once in awhile she’d catch me but most of the time it worked.
The point I’m trying to make here is this. As kids growing up in environments where our safety and sanity was under constant attack, we had to come up with creative ways to adjust.
And if you’re reading this right now and you can relate to what I’m getting at here, well then give your self a pat on the back for being insanely creative. Because whatever you did and whatever ideas you came up with worked!
With the limited resources you probably had, you figured out a multitude of ways to survive your environment. And guess what. You can still call on that creativity today. Only now, it’s not for your survival but for creating a life where you can thrive.
#5 We Know The Wrong Way To Do A Lot Of Things
I left home when I was 18 and never looked back. Although I know today that leaving was the best decision I’ve ever made, I can still remember how frustrated and scared I felt as I moved out into the real world.
I remember how angry I was at my parents for never teaching me how to open a savings account, balance a checkbook or even how to search for an apartment. There were a lot of things that my parents couldn’t teach me because they were either too drunk or too consumed with their own problems to remember I was there.
But eventually I realized that even though they couldn’t teach me the right way to do a lot of things, through their reckless behavior and consistently poor choices, I actually learned a lot about the wrong way to do just about everything.
And here’s what I know – being shown the wrong way can be just as valuable as being taught the right way. All you have to do is be willing to learn.
Keep reading . . .
Whether you’re new to ACOA recovery or a battle tested veteran, my wish for you, after reading today’s post, is that you’ll feel inspired and understood.
And since I’m here to support you in any way I can, I’ve created a BONUS list for you. I’ve compiled a list of 4 recovery myths, I’ve seen derail ACOAs in their recovery over and over again. In this special bonus, not only do I reveal these myths but I’m gonna show you how to avoid them too.