One of them was ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS by Janet geringer Woititz.
She lists a whole bunch of characteristics of adult children of alcoholics, and goes into detail about each one, with some thoughts on how to overcome these things.
When I looked at the list, I was gobsmacked. I'm a 'yes' to many of the items. (My mom was an alcoholic from around the time I was born, and my dad was abusive.)
This is her list. It applies to loads of people... pretty much anyone who grew up in an environment of abuse (alcohol, substance, gambling, emotion, physical, sexual) will have some of these characteristics.
Adult children of alcoholics...
- guess at what normal behaviour is. (Yup.)
- have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
- lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
- judge themselves without mercy. (Yup.)
- have difficulty having fun. (Yup.)
- take themselves very seriously. (Yup.)
- have difficulty with intimate relationships. (Yup.)
- over-react to changes over which they have no control. (Double-yup.)
- constantly seek approval and affirmation. (Yup.)
- usually feel that they are different from other people. (Yup.)
- are super responsible or super irresponsible. (Super responsible is me.)
- are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. (Yup.)
- are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviours or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self loathing, and loss of control. They spend a lot of energy and time sorting our the resulting mess. (Yup.)
Breaking up with 'S' was an impulsive act. I felt 'compelled' to clear up a specific issue, and that led to really awful behaviour on my part, putting 'S' on the spot, and giving her no options.
Luckily, most people have some of these characteristics. It's just that adult children of alcoholics DON'T KNOW WHAT NORMAL BEHAVIOUR IS. So we tend to think that our own behaviours 'don't fit', or are abnormal. So while a certain amount of impulsivity is normal for people, when I experience it in myself, it seems overblown, crazy, too much. So I come down hard on myself. With no mercy. Yup. Hard stuff.
But it can be dealt with. And that's what therapy is for.