We Became Isolated And Afraid Of People And Authority Figures.
For many ACoAs isolation and fear were the most natural, almost spontaneous response to living with angry, abusive, hypercritical parents. Our parents were our first authority figures, and they loomed large over us in an almost God-like manner.
Alcoholism distorts human relationships, and the effects of alcoholism are particularly devastating to young children who naturally seek love, acceptance, respect and consistency. To be verbally or physically abused during the most vulnerable and innocent years can create either a fear of, or hostility toward authority, and a hypersensitivity toward angry, oppressive individuals. Many ACoAs continue to retreat into isolation, avoidance and distrust of people and relationships in order to ensure survival. As adults many ACoAs found that their reactions to authority figures either put them at the feet or at the throat of those they viewed in this way. As one member said, “I either wanted to kiss them or kill them.”
Acquiring a more balanced approach toward those seen as authority figures is sometimes a difficult task. Until we learn to separate out and see that we are reacting in the present in much the same way as we did in our abusive family, we are bound to have troubled relationships. Just watching one’s typical reactions – be it withdrawal, fright or hostility – and modifying this response takes real effort; but it’s an essential step toward recovery. Don’t expect that knowledge alone will miraculously produce a new set of healthy responses. For many it takes painful trial over many months or even years.
Excerpt from Chapter 4 – The Recovery Process in The Laundry List by Tony A. and Dan F.