This week has been huge for me personally. It's been an absolute cocktail of emotions, including fear, panic, overwhelm, elation, joy, you name it.
This week I shared a huge part of my story. A part of my story that I kept hidden, diluted, and censored for a long time. I shared about the effect my parents drinking had on me.
1 in 5 children in the UK is affected by their parent’s drinking….1 in 5.
I am delighted to say that my Dad has been sober for many years now, and we are rebuilding our relationship but during this period of sobriety, I can honestly say that the effects of caretaking for my parents and seeing the effect that alcohol had on us for many years hit me like a tonne of bricks.
What has stopped me from sharing until now?
The reality for many people who were caretakers for parents from a young age is that we put their emotions and well-being before our own.
What if it upsets him/them? What if my sharing makes him ill again and breaks his sobriety?
What if I say the wrong thing? What if my memory isn’t correct?
What if they get angry?
My inner child was terrified of abandonment and rejection.
My inner critic was pummelling me…." Here you go, typical Jess. Things are going really well and now you are going to completely ruin it and cause chaos”.
The thing is, my Dad didn’t refer to himself as an “Alcoholic”. Despite the periods in his life where I thought alcohol would kill him, he still doesn’t use that language. I think for many years I just thought this was "normal" behaviour and how most parents deal with stress. I also heard about and witnessed my parents navigate some incredibly traumatic events, so my compassion naturally went to them first before myself.
I have always been psychology and trauma-informed, and could cognitively explain everything away without connecting with my own holistic experience, emotions and trauma.
It is sometimes hard to explain my internal experience as a recovering codependent and adult child. The journey of putting my needs and my voice first is INCREDIBLY challenging at times. I am, and probably always will be a work in progress.
So how did my experience manifest in adulthood?
As I reached my mid-30’s, I was battling with the following:
· Codependency and ‘rescuing’ others
· Regular burnout
· Numbing out my emotions with alcohol, drugs, TV, spending money
· Low Self-worth
· Loss of identity
· Struggles with intimacy and trust
· Angry outbursts
· Crippling people pleasing and fear of upsetting others
· High sensitivity and frequent overstimulation
· Hyper independence
· Avoidance and disassociation
· Struggle to make deep friendships
· Irresponsible with money
· Fear of failure
To name a few…..
On the face of it, I seemed to be thriving but I was crumbling underneath the weight of it all. I couldn’t stop my smiling masks from slipping. My trapped emotions were spilling over. I couldn’t let anyone in romantically. I was starting to experience suicidal ideation in 2017 and engaged in old behaviours with my finger firmly on the self-destruct button. The only thing stopping me from leaving this planet was the shame of my family having to deal with my £20k + worth of debt.
Thankfully, I discovered a podcast about codependency and started to feel seen and heard. My Self-development took a deep dive for the next 5 years and thanks to some INCREDIBLE holistic Coaches, therapists and healers, I am well on my way on my empowering path and are helping others to do the same thing as a Holistic Empowerment Coach.
I am starting to put my Self first and sitting with the pain, discomfort and grief that comes with that process.
I was fortunate enough to attend the House of Commons with the charity Nacoa UK yesterday. A vital charity that supports children affected by their parent's drinking. Alcoholism is at an all-time high and the funding to support children affected by this was cut in 2021, when we need it most. Nacoa relies solely on fundraising and donations to provide a safe space for anyone in need, whatever age you are, whatever your story.
I spent the day listening to the most inspirational speeches by Nacoa patrons, ambassadors and members. Hearing the tear-jerking statistics of why Nacoa is so important and it has totally reaffirmed my soul's purpose on this planet.
I am so excited to dedicate my life work to being of service to those adult children whose experiences in early life have impacted how they view themselves.
My mission is to help as many adult children realise their worth and find their voice.
You don’t need to deal with this alone. You can take that backpack of rocks off and start to put your needs first.
My mission is to provide as much support to children who feel the need to remain silent and preserve the family secret.
It was never our fault.
We are enough, and we always have been x
To anyone who is affected by others drinking, contact Nacoa UK – “Helping anyone affected by their parent’s drinking since 1990”.
Free helpline: 0800 358 3456
Listen to my story on The EMpowering PATH Podcast on all leading podcast platforms.
Anything's possible, we are in this together x