Jo Huey has returned with a second piece for us. You can find out about Jo at her website
If you need any help and support as the child of an alcoholic you can contact Nacoa. If you would like to share your story then get in touch.
I decided to start my own business in 2016 based on my experience of living with an alcoholic father. This didn’t come to me overnight; in fact, it’s probably taken about 6 years to get here.
So how’s this relevant? In order for me to help others, I had to help myself.
My journey of self-development started some 20 years ago. At that time, I was living with my then fiancé and life was OK. I had a full-time job I enjoyed and my first home.
Relationships had never been easy for me. In my late teens and early twenties, I used sex with strangers as a way of making myself feel good. I felt wanted, valued and attractive. Ultimately it wasn’t good for me, I had little or no respect for myself. I put myself in dangerous situations because alcohol was involved. Not to mention I only just met these people, on a night out.
It wasn’t just interactions with the opposite sex but with friendships. I’d always struggled at secondary school; junior school was fine but once I got to an all-girls secondary school it was a nightmare. I was bullied for one thing or another, my honest opinionated approach didn’t go down well. I felt even more isolated than I already felt at home.
I was self-conscious and forever trying to fit in, to change myself and to do things that others liked. The problem was it felt false and they could probably sense that too. There were the cool girls who were forever taking pictures of themselves and beautifying themselves.
There were the geeks and the ones that were quiet and kept themselves to themselves. I had a couple of main friends I stuck to, three in particular and then in my last years I hung around with a small group of girls. One in particular was known to be a bit of a “hard nut”, no one messed with her.
We all got on and really had a laugh when we were together, but I just wanted to get out of school as I just felt I didn’t fit.
I left school at 16 and went to college to learn about Hospitality, there I saw one of my old school friends (I use that word loosely). She didn’t much care for me but if I’m honest I probably didn’t like her, but if she was nicer to me I would have been more receptive.
She told my now best friend not to talk to me and that I wasn’t very nice. Thankfully my friend knew better and decided to get to know me. Thank god she did! We can’t always take someone else’s opinion because, we’re all different and what one person dislikes another person likes. This is something that made more sense as I learnt to accept myself.
Changing myself depending on who I was with was what I did, once I realised that wasn’t sustainable and authentic I learnt to change it. I learnt I can’t change myself for person A and then be myself for Person B. It was ridiculous but I’d done it for so long.
My opinionated nature was the cause of a lot of my relationship issues, that together with no tact, anger and resentment created a fireball of issues. It was when I was in my early twenties, when I was living with my fiancé that it all changed.
It wasn’t long after the death of my father that I realised after a few big disagreements with friends and being uninvited to a wedding that really got me thinking. I was humiliated and was really hard on myself. Criticising my behaviour and character and thought I can’t do this anymore.
Change needed to happen and things needed to get better. I didn’t want to keep losing friends and upsetting them. I wanted to be happier and let go of some of my anger.
Well it’s now 20+ years later and that journey still continues. I started with one to one therapy that I went to each week, sometimes twice a week. I learnt about something called Parent, Adult, Child. I also learnt about the “Drama Triangle”, I’ve written about this topic on my blog if you want to read it.
I’ve recently read the book “How to break free of the drama triangle and victim consciousness” and for those affected by someone’s addiction, you’ll totally get it. It has some amazing techniques to try and it’s only a small book. It really explains the behaviour I had and where it came from.
It wasn’t just therapy I did, I spent time going to self-help events and learning whatever I could about myself and my past. I read endless self-help books about living with an alcoholic, co-dependency, positive affirmations and more. I tried different techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Clean Language and Hypnosis.
Not only was I reading, doing therapy and attending events. I decided to go on a course about Neuro Linguistic Programming. I learnt more about human behaviour and how we process information. It was fascinating, I then went on to learn about hypnosis and another course in something called Emotional Freedom Technique.
This all happened over a period of 20 years, I did have an obsessive period of wanting to fix myself and getting frustrated I wasn’t changing quick enough. Thankfully a very skilled therapist made me realise I needed to stop the self-help books and just be for a moment. Acceptance was my biggest learning.
The therapist introduced me to a book “Women who love too much”, that I’d read years before. But the second time of reading it had a different impact. That’s when I decided to attend an Al-Anon group (support group for families of alcoholics). It helped me so much and made me realise that I wasn’t alone and others were just like me. I felt like a weight lifted and the connection I sought for most of my life was finally over.
As the years went on I continued my love of self-development and learnt all about Mindfulness Meditation, I went on a retreat for a week with periods of silence. More recently I took a three-month trip to America, ON MY OWN!
This was the biggest risk I’d ever taken by myself and it was the best decision of my life. I learnt so much about myself and built up confidence I’d never had. Soon after my return, I started my business up to help others like me.
So why am I telling you all this?
The point of this post is to inspire and motivate others for change. For you to know we don’t have to accept what we’d been dealt in life. We can make change and we’re the only ones that can make that
2 Comments Add yours
Hi Jo, I really relate to this. I am still learning to be authentic and not change and mould myself to fit in. It’s scary at times but being authentic is one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves! 😀 I’ve been on a rollercoaster of a journey since I was 21 too, Al-Anon is a big part of my story and therapy, reiki and tapping have all played their part too. I have been in some very dark places and healing has felt frustrating and pointless at times, but it so isn’t. Even when I felt I wasn’t moving forward, I can see now it was all part of the process. I’m 37 and in the best place I’ve ever been and I am very grateful. Keep sharing, keep being brave – one day at a time – there are miracles unfolding for all of us 😇
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Hi, thanks so much for your comment. Sounds like we have had very similar experiences! So happy to hear you’re in the best place you’ve ever been too. Here is to more of the same as we grow and learn. Al-Anon is a great resource. Happy Christmas and have a lovely new year. Jo
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