I’ve always wanted to be loved. I say that, and for some reason it still makes my feel uneasy. I don’t really know why, I’m no expert, but I know that I’ve always wanted to be loved. I think everyone does right?
Well, alcoholism has a way of snatching that ability to feel loved away from us. I think this is a concept people can perhaps begin to understand in the case of the alcoholics themselves, but I am of course, here to talk in the case of me as the child of an alcoholic.
Why is it I should struggle with love? Well I’d like to try to explore this a little if I can, again let me stress, I’m no expert, I’m just simply laying some of my thoughts out there, based on my own experiences.
Ever since I can remember I have sought approval. I could sit in a room full of people, despise every single one of them, and still be desperate to be liked.
I would be imprisoned by it. I would base my feelings of self-worth on the reaction of the people around me. So in order to feel anywhere near good about myself, I would need to be receiving some kind of gratification from others. The clown was my favourite get up. I just played the fool, and if you were laughing I was ok.
Because of this, until my drinking reached another level, people often enjoyed my company, I was liked, people knew me and I lapped it up. But when I left that crowd to go home, I left my sense of well-being there with that crowd. I couldn’t expect my family to continually gratify me every single second of the day, so I was confused, I was scared. Ultimately I was well liked by most, but completely alone. It made no sense to me.
I look back at when I was a child and my home life and I can begin to see where this narrative comes from. I actually don’t have clear vivid memories of back then but, using quiet time, I can allow myself to be that boy that I was. And so I can see that I was fearful of the chaos, fearful of the upset, and this was at a time when I was growing most. My mind was creating its perception of the world and how I should react to it based on those fears, rather than on love, the way it should be.
So, I guess, using some of the natural character traits I was born with I adjusted to world in which I saw. I desperately used the resources I had to make the people around me feel better. I saw my mums worry, and felt a sense of duty perhaps to make her world a better place, and when it worked and I made her smile, I received emotion for it, and that’s where I found my place in the world.
You see, my actions were based on fear of a scary and frightening world rather than on love and the connection of a caring world.
But it worked. I often got the gratification I craved but the problem was that it was at the expense of myself.
I lost the sense of who I was as a person at the expense of gratification from others. At school I was bright and enjoyed learning but that was completely lost in what quickly became my absolute need for people to like me. And the reason it was an absolute need was because I had grown to base my own happiness on the way I made others around me feel.
Being whoever people wanted me to be meant I was surrounded by people who liked what I portrayed, but I was completely unable to connect with any of them because I was so lost being who they wanted me to be, so that I could be liked and in part, feel something like ok about myself.
This way of living, is tiresome and devoid of emotion, lonely and not least confusing. I had no idea about any of this at the time. I just had a deep feeling that I didn’t belong.
None of this can be an excuse for the path of which I took, but it becomes easier for me to see why I had that feeling of needing to take the edge off as I tore through the world finding any way I could to receive gratification and ultimately to feel connected.
Talking about this, and writing about this has given me the opportunity to identity how it is effecting my life today. When I say talking about this, I don’t mean on a public level, I mean talking with someone I trust, who isn’t going to judge but who is going to allow me to soundboard and give me the dignity of recognising my issues and of finding my own solutions to manage this. This can be anyone you trust, and if you feel there’s no one to turn to, then Nacoa offer life saving love and compassion, and you can remain completely anonymous.
Talking today is still as vital to me as ever, because knowledge of myself is only the starting point to managing this for me. I say managing, because, for me, that need for love hasn’t disappeared but I can integrate it into my life today as something positive.
Take for example with my home life, I still notice my need for my wife’s love and gratification! That hyper sensitivity to people around me is still there.
“Is everything ok?”,
“It’s me isn’t it?”,
“You’re annoyed with me aren’t you?”.
If I’m not remembering the reason these thoughts come into my head then
these are things you’ll often hear me saying to my wife if she so much as loses a smile. It’s unrealistic and naive to think that anyone can live every second with an acknowledging smile of approval to me.
Thankfully today I’m a different man. I can recognise why my thoughts of this nature are there. Because prior to knowing this….. It was impossible to love me enough, and all I knew was that I was desperate to be loved… a conflict that left me feeling only alone, and like there was no solution.
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