We Are Frightened By Angry People And Personal Criticism.
One of the most corrosive and damaging aspects of an alcoholic household is the use of rage and incessant criticism to control the family’s behavior. For many ACoAs, abuse often accompanied anger. As a child, violent, angry movements and gestures absolutely terrified me. Our parents were unpredictable and out of control. We, the helpless victims, had few defenses. We were completely at their mercy and full of fear for our survival.
As very young children we were also painfully susceptible to the daily litany of verbal abuse. We were being ‘defined’ by our parents and we had no choice but to believe what they were telling us about ourselves. This ugly pattern of verbal harassment caused many of us to feel great shame and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. Spontaneity, trust and confidence fled before these repeated verbal assaults. As adults we may sometimes be revisited by these feelings of helplessness when criticized or become very distressed by angry outbursts. Continuous badgering of a child over many years can, unfortunately, lead to resistance in recovery. As adults our reactions to critical or even mild suggestions can be alienating or inappropriate.
Excerpt from Chapter 4 – The Recovery Process in The Laundry List by Tony A. and Dan F.