Attribute #2

Children of alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.

Apparently we (ACoA’s) belive that we are prime procrastonators, but that is not an accurate way to describe us. I do better in a “crisis” situation than one where I need to plan a long-term project. Turns out that due to our chaotic childhoods, we don’t know how to complete long-term projects, because it is a learned behavior and requires being taught the steps. When you live in utter chaos, the focus in on survival – not on planning and learning how to plan. The goal is to get through the day as emotionally intact as possible – which is unfortunately harder than it sounds.

I always used to dread science projects at school; or the long-term papers in college because I do NOT know how to put together a plan that will get me from point A to point B. This isn’t as much of  a problem now that I am an adult and working as a nurse. In fact, it gives me a distinct advantage because I can perform under pressure very naturally. It does, however, cause me great difficulty in managing my family’s finances. I can do paycheck to paycheck just fine, but for stuff like establishing a savings account, or setting up retirement, I am effectively stymied. These difficulties, of course, feel like massive failures, which then starts the emotional battering I give myself any time I fail. It is a terrible cycle that repeats itself, even though I know better by now.

The other issue here is that of the constant broken promises. Dad always had magnificent ideas, and plans and they very nearly never got done – but credit and praise were both expected for the “thought”. The problem is that it isn’t the thought that counts – it is the action. It is very difficult to develop skills for completing projects when you are taught as a child that it is the thought that counts. I am so very, very sensitive to this in my own life. I take great pains to not commit to my children something that I think I might not be able to complete. Of course, this makes for plenty of missed opportunities with my family, which leads again to feelings of failure, which starts that whole internal flogging cycle again. A perfect example is the 2/3 completed paint job of my son’s room! I haven’t even started the girl’s rooms because of the track record from my son’s room. I  hate that I am unable to do more for my kids, because in some ways I am crippled by my inability to plan a project from beginning to end and stick with the plan.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 07:02:51

    Thanks again for posting. I see this in me as well. I think in me it comes out as an urgency to get things done RIGHT NOW! I too have trouble with getting long-term projects done and I am afraid I am teaching that to your little sister. How can I teach her what I don’t understand myself?

    I only wish you could move beyond seeing these results in your life and accept that you are doing fine and God will take care of the rest!

    I LOVE YOU!!


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