006 | Emotional neglect and co-dependency: Growing up with addiction/alcoholism
Updated: Jun 28, 2020
Hello, hello! I'm so happy you made it to this episode. Today, we're diving into talking about emotional neglect, growing up with addiction + learning to rid yourself of any soul-sucking energy humans that are hanging out in your life + taking up space + taking up way more energy than we realize. So, in today's episode, we're going to be talking briefly on my story + the reason that I think my story kind of went "unacknowledged" for as long as it did + the ways that it has impacted me as a child, a teenager + then also, a 26-year-old adult.
We'll also touch on some questions that were submitted via The Souls Undressed Podcast Instagram Page by some listeners, which I am super excited to talk on that. Like I've said to you guys, the goal through this podcast is to embrace you, to hold space for you + to be able to heal together + really dive into the shit that nobody is talking about. I am very excited to address those questions as well. Finally, like I said, just ridding the people in your life who are weighing you down.
Outside of talking about ridding those humans, to carry on with the same style of every podcast, we are going to end with talking about ways that people can help. I like to call that segment, How Can I Help? And that is for the people who listen to these episodes as someone who cannot understand it from a first-person perspective, but has someone in their life who they love or who they work with closely who may be struggling with or dealing with some of these topics. So, today's quote:
"In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you."
I saved that quote from the Homebody Club Instagram page. Just like the rest of the quotes, that one is from my vision board. This one is actually from my 2020 vision board, so I think it is awesome that it is accompanying this episode that is part of this dream that I knew was going to come to fruition in 2020. I really cannot wait to dive into that quote + I think you're going to understand as we talk more why it connects so well, but before we get any further into the show, I just want to make sure that I let you guys know that a reminder, my disclaimer, I am not a therapist, I am not a medical professional. I can only ever speak to you through my own personal experiences in my own life + my own personal experiences through therapy + through different coping methods that I've navigated + sought out + been handed + made my own. I will always, always, always do my best to share with you my experiences on a topic before speaking on it. I think that is important for you guys to understand why I think that I have a space in this corner of the world to talk about it.
So, with that being said, we will just dive right in!
Today, this topic is very close for me. If you follow along on The Souls Undressed Podcast on Instagram, you have maybe heard some of the stories that I have been posting asking for your input + talking about little bits + pieces of my story + kind of how i've ended up where I am, but I've really just been waiting for this space to dive into it.
This is the first episode I am recording in my home studio, so I am very excited about that. I've moved out of my studio that was in Morris, IL. + we are recording out of my in-home studio that I am so proud of + just so excited to be recording in.
My story: I have an early, early on connection to emotional neglect that I feel is in thanks to alcoholism. I talked about addiction + alcoholism intertwined in my stories on Instagram + even in the title of this because I think it is a very broad topic + just like one of my Instagram questions that was submitted to me had mentioned alcoholism looks very, very different, just as addiction does from person-to-person. I think that this kind of plays into things going unacknowledged or unnoticed or people, especially kids, suffering in silence.
The reasons that I feel that the emotional neglect that I was navigating through was unnoticed or unacknowledged, is because I grew up in a house that heavily consumed alcohol. Mostly beer, not really any hard liquors, no whiskies or anything like that super often, but beer was just the normal beverage to consume. From an early age, I cannot say when, I would say confidently from age 7 on it was a super commonly consumed beverage in my house.
I think that knowing it was the "norm" + knowing that alcoholism looks different from person-to-person, it is very common, especially in the 90's that you did not interfere. You didn't question moms very often, you didn't question families. You didn't really interfere with things that didn't quite make sense yet. Like we are really just getting into the "advocate" era now I would say. That was a hard pill for me to swallow, i'll be honest, but I am coming to grips with it now, I am understanding it a bit better.
I think that early on, when something is the norm, it's just what is our norm, it's what has become our expectation, it has become what we use to rule + measure everything else. When I was surrounded by alcohol all the time + then eventually in turn, surrounded by "being drunk" not me personally, but my mom, I started to just assume that this was the norm in every household. I think that the people around me in my life, other adults, other family members, they were kind of seeing behaviors that didn't look like they were anything to be concerned with. If your parent works a regular, full-time, 40 hours a week job, if your parent is able to attend some sporting events here + there, if your parent has what looks from the outside + even to the child a really great relationship with the child these are things that are not really raising "red flags" for other adults in life, for yourself as the child, these are just your norm.
Growing up, I kind of knew that things weren't "normal" at home because my dad lived in a different home + his evenings didn't look the same, but I also always dealt with moms of friends in town or other coaches on teams whispering or talking too loudly in front of their children about how much they thought my mom was consuming or whether they thought she was sober or not when she attended a sporting event or anything like that. So, earlier on, I started navigating that a bit as like, "hmm, maybe this isn't normal?" but it was still normal to me.
One of the Instagram questions was or requests was to talk about the ways that alcoholism or addiction looks differently. I will maybe touch on that again when we get to our How Can I Help? segment, but for me, I think that because the alcoholism in my home looked differently, it allowed things to be more easily ignored. I grew up with a really confrontational drunk. I wouldn't even really say an angry drunk, it wasn't that she was angry all the time, but very confrontational, like to the highest degree. If you know me, or you grew up with me in high school or late middle school, especially, I was just a very outspoken, very strongly opinionated, very much so carried my own, verbally + emotionally I was a force to be reckoned with, you couldn't really shake me very much. Inside I knew you could shake me + that's why I got so angry + so defensive of my friends + myself. I was just feeling things so deeply, but I knew that I had to defend myself + I had to be ready to go if someone was going to challenge me. That's one way that I really recognized the influence on me at our nightly routines we were having.
The routine behavior was when my parents would get home in my mom's house, they would crack a beer when they got home + they would start relaxing from their day, which I was always trained to believe was "I need to shut off, I need to not listen to you talk for a while, I need to be able to drink a beer, I need to relax, I need to turn on the TV," which to me, led me to believe that this was a norm, but since being an adult + going through therapy + reading different self-help books + things from other doctors + psychologists I've learned that this is really just a way for our parents or our guides in life at that time to convince us of "their norm". What I've really learned since navigating this as an adult is what a child needs, a child needs. There's no wrong need. There may be an ignored need, which is then portrayed as something that is in excess or unnecessary or making you "needy" or whatever it may be, but as a child I was always made to believe that if I had too much to say right away, that it was too much too soon or if I had a problem with the tone or what my mom or step-dad was saying when they were drunk, I was wrong, it was the tone I was questioning as them the parents + not what they were saying that was hurting me that was telling my intuition that it wasn't right, which is why I was questioning it as a child.
So without getting too deep into my own person soapbox, that is my story navigating those things as a younger child + then into my teenage years. I am also going to be sharing an episode on childhood sexual abuse + navigating that from the start to the "finish". The emotional neglect also plays in to that, as well as the alcoholism, which are two separate episodes for a variety of reasons, but initially were separate episodes because I didn't think that they connected, which I think shows where I am at in my healing journey as well + how much room I still have to grow is not wanting to acknowledge that the abuse that happened to me as a child was also tied into the emotional neglect + neglect because of alcoholism that was happening because of my own caretaker, which was my mom.
So many of us navigate this life believing that whatever our parents said is best + whatever our parents did with us was the best they could do + was the best for us. I'm not here to tell you what's right + what's wrong for your own life + how to live your life, but that's just not true for my life. I think everyone makes mistakes + everyone has to be given space + grace to make mistakes, but where I'm at in my life is allowing the grace for the mistakes, but also absolutely 127% requiring responsibility to be taken. I think that this is where you have to come through + decide- is it time to rid someone in my life who is making me feel emotionally neglected or are they still providing purpose in my life or are they still creating space for me?
I first want to talk on another topic that was asked through the Instagram page, which was for me to talk about codependency. So, the woman that submitted this question or this request, had mentioned that codependency wasn't something she had learned about until she was in her late 20's + I think that once you realize what codependency is + how much it plays a role in your life, it is kind of like, "oh shit," I've been acting through this place of need for so long. I wrote down the definition for codependency + then I'll kind of tell you what it looks like for me in my life. The definition of codependent:
An excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner.
For me, codependency in my life often looks like taking things personally or feeling abandoned or having a fear of being abandoned. Usually there's not even a real chance of being abandoned, just the fear that exists that it will happen. I need constant approval, whether it be for a decision in your day-to-day, or to feel that someone approves of something that you've already done, or completely destroying yourself because of self-doubt because you're waiting for someone else to confirm that what you did was the right thing. All of these things in my experience are the fallout or the result of codependency. Through therapy + through reading, I have learned that I am intensely codependent. Through my relationship I have learned that + I have plans for Andrew + I to record an episode together about our relationship + I will make sure we talk on navigating codependency in a relationship because it is not just the person who is codependent who has to process + deal with that, but the person who is being over-relied on + the weight that that is putting on their shoulders + making them also carry around in their day-to-day.
To me, the codependency comes from a lack of consistent trust as a child. Whether the lack of consistent trust comes from inconsistent behaviors from parents, so not knowing whether mom was going to be sober enough to make me feel comfortable that night, or whether mom was going to be too drunk to even have a real conversation with me, whether or not home was going to be safe with the men that were around or whether or not you were going to have 3 meals a day or whether the only meals you got were at lunch at school, whether or not when it got cold out, you were going to have the resources you need- warm coat, warm shoes, enough socks to get you through the week- all of these different things are different examples of the ways that your ability to have a trust and consistency have been broken at some point earlier on in your life so in order to overcompensate for that as adults, we are trying to pre-map what we need + make sure that we have it when we need it. It's almost like we're like emotional quarters because when we have this lack of trust that what we need is going to be there, we are constantly overanalyzing, over-stressing, over-worrying, overcompensating to fill that void that really doesn't even exist anymore, or doesn't exist yet in our current situation, but still exists from earlier on in our lives and hasn't been acknowledged.
I was able to recognize how codependent I was because of my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, saying, "I can't entertain you all the time," like we would fight about how upset I would be when he would go off to play his video games when he got home from work or when I was so heartbroken that he didn't care to watch whatever show I wanted to watch because he wanted to do what he needed in that moment + to me it was like, "how could you abandon me like that, how could you not want to sit + talk to me, clearly I need that, clearly I'm upset..." + he was like, "how could you not recognize that I'm my own person, too + I also need to recharge + I also need to breathe + I also need to be able to process my day." It wasn't until processing all that + then going to therapy + realizing through my therapist that I was placing all these expectations + all these needs on top of Andrew that were not of his concerns. Yes, they were his concerns through me because he loves me, but they are not his concerns to solve. He is not a therapist, he is not a doctor, he hasn't been through the same traumas I have been through so he cannot even speak from experience, yet here I am, this woman that he loves, just sobbing, a complete puddle of a mess, "fix me, fix me," and that's such bullshit, but we don't realize it until we're so miserable + we have blamed everyone else in our lives for making us that way + then we finally hit rockbottom + we find someone that we trust + know is educated who says, "Look. You're holding yourself there. You are keeping yourself reliant on other people because you're too scared to make the moves to save yourself." I will tell you what, there is a single person in this world who may listen to this podcast + hear me say that who will say, "Hold the phone. This hypocrite just said whatttttt?" I have had quite a few tiffs with other people about that phrase, "saving yourself." I think that everyone goes through a state of trauma + healing where they are not capable of saving themselves, which is why this podcast is here + why I want to bring people together who can talk about these things as they've navigated them because it is impossible to save ourselves until we're taught how to have the tools + how to find the tools + how to hold on to the tools + how to take care of ourselves when we forget the tools.
So, to talk about how to recognize your codependency. If you've been feeling red flags raised while i've mentioned the last few things that i've mentioned, that's a good sign that you're probably dealing with some of that. If you're someone who takes things personally, that was one of my biggest red flags. I cannot tell you how many friendships + professional relationships that I have probably slaughtered because of taking things personally + assuming that everything that everyone else does, thoughtful or unthoughtful, was in connection to me, The last few years have really taught me that nobody has time to do all of the things that they need or the capacity to process all of their own emotions let alone being so worried about what I think that what they did was to hurt me or what they didn't do is to hurt me. So those are some ways that you can recognize that. You can also talk to a therapist or a life coach on codependency. You can research some books for that, which I will do that + try to share those on the Souls Undressed Podcast Instagram stories + the Souls Undressed Community on Facebook to share those things further. If you have any other questions or experience with codependency, I'd love for you to reach out, write something on the Facebook wall, shoot me a DM on Instagram, I'd love to talk more + dive into that topic with you.
After recognizing it, I think the next step is to combat it. Learning to fight against the "need" that we have. I say it like that, because we don't really have a need, but PTSD in some way has lead our brains to try to preemptively protect ourselves, which tells us we NEED to do this to feel safe. Things that I started working through after a suggestion from my therapist is journaling during those times. When Andrew would get up to go game, I would feel abandoned + I would pick up my journal + start writing. Usually within a paragraph or two, I have worked my way to what is actually bothering me. So, it would usually start off with, "I'm so mad, I'm so hurt, Andrew doesn't understand that I needed to talk right now," + it usually eventually within a couple of paragraphs ends up talking about what it is that is actually bothering me on my mind, whether it is that I am sad, whether there are things that are on my mind that are making me uncomfortable, that I haven't looked for coping skills to take care of yet + I was just expecting Andrew's presence to be that coping skill.
Having a list of coping skills. Create a physical piece of paper that has, "When I am feeling anxious I can...." "When I am feeling abandoned I should....." Have those things be like calling someone that likes to have small talk with you, or texting your therapist if that's something that your therapist does, or journaling. Maybe it is hopping on Pinterest + looking for vision board quotes or quotes that will inspire you. These are just some different things that I like to do. I have definitely noticed, though, that journaling is my go-to because I cannot avoid myself when I am journaling. Your brain says whatever it wants, especially when you've practiced enough to let it flow.
Finally, the toughest topic I would say, is learning to rid the people in your life who are primarily bringing in heavy energy. What do I mean by heavy energy? I mean people who are weighing you down. People who's presence in your life are not lifting you up. Maybe someone who's presence used to be lifting, but now when you try to access that energy it is just no longer accessible, whether it is because the person has changed or there are different circumstances that are happening that are stopping it from being accessible. Just recognizing the people who make you feel less than desirable after you've spoken with them or interacted with them or read something that they said or listened to something that they've said. These people are going to be all through your circle if you've never thought about this. They may be people that you considered your best friends, they may be your siblings, they may be your parents, they may be a co-worker, or your boss, they may be your significant other, but it is important to sit back peacefully with yourself + just really pay attention to what you feel after you've interacted with someone. Do you feel recharged? Or do you feel bottomed out + empty? Only you can decide that.
The next thing I want you to think about is, if I had to guess, if there are people that are still in your life that bring this negative energy, they are still in your life because you have a belief system that, they aren't really impacting your day that much, or they've been in your life literally since you can remember so it is just at this point easier to have this forced friend than to "break up with them", or they are my mother. I could never cut out my mother. Do you know what she's done for me? She carried me for 9 months. She birthed me, she raised me. Yes, yes she did + I am not ever taking anything away from the work that goes into being a mother, however, if your mother now still at this point in your life, is bringing more negative energy, more heavy energy, more stressful energy into your world, than she is love, support, or happiness- you have some things to consider, my friend. Same for your dad. Same for your brothers + sisters. Same for your boyfriends + girlfriends. Your husbands + wives. I want you to consider the fact that when you allow someone + their behavior to be a norm in your life, you are also setting the norms for your life. Because of that, you are doing double the work when it comes time to identify real relationships or healthy relationships or trusting relationships.
You are shifting every bit of truth + honesty in your perspective when you allow people who are mistreating you to stay, to have access to your energy. You are literally just squeezing out every last bit of good + positive energy that you have when you're willing to give it to people who are only sucking it out of you, who are only selfishly fulfilling their own needs + just being present in your life, just being there, just being accessible by phone call or being accessible by text message. Those people are impacting your decision making. I have a quote that is from the Souldippidy Instagram and it written by Gabor Mate:
"People have two needs: attachment and authenticity. When authenticity threatens attachment, attachment trumps authenticity."
I am break that down a little bit because I know it can be a mouth full. So we as humans have two dire needs: attachment, which obviously we know we need other humans, + the need to be real, honest, to be authentic to ourselves + to the world, but when the desire or the pursuit of being authentic or being honest + real to ourselves, threatens our attachment, your attachment will always trump authenticity. It means it will always win in your mind before authenticity will. So, why did I read you that?
When you are faced with the decision to remove someone from your life who brings excess negativity or excess negative energy to you, you are quite literally facing the decision to cut someone off and mourn them, at some point in your life, your attachment to them has been a source of survival, it has been a source of pleasure, maybe even a source of love, but if you're going to cut them out because they are no longer serving you, that's very possible and very capable even after they have loved + served you in the past, you are going to have to cut off that desire for attachment to them. When I tell you this quote, it is to show you how naturally and innately we cling to attachment over anything else. I want you to realize how hard the work is to create a decision that is going to work against attachment purely in the pursuit of authenticity and staying true to yourself because that is really all authenticity is- staying true to yourself. When someone is threatening your ability to stay true to yourself, they are threatening you, but we always innately cling to the attachment anyway + we say the hell to being true to ourselves I want what feels good + shit, cutting someone out who I am attached to, that does not feel good + that shit is hurt, no bit of it feels good. I am sure it is just like grieving someone in real life, it does get easier with time, but that's a hangnail that will always be there.
It is important work, because who else is going to look out for our well-being? If this person on your mind right now in your car, in your bed, on your floor, in your kitchen, at work, at your computer, if this person is on your mind, right now, that is bringing this heaviness to your life, can you honestly say they're looking out for your best interest? You can't. I bet you can't. Otherwise, their loving nature would outweigh the heaviness they carry with them + they wouldn't be on your mind after listening to me talk about everything I have talked about for the last 1/2 hour.
How am I practicing letting go of this weight? I say how am I practicing because it is not something I've mastered. It isn't something I have come even close to mastering. It isn't a straight shot goal, it isn't going to ever be finished. It is never over. I am practicing letting go of that by journaling every single day. Because of a really awesome spirit guide, named Jade Electra, I am working on not calling my morning writing, "journaling," I call it "morning pages," because then it is no longer as pressurized. It doesn't need to look nice, it doesn't need to sound poetic. It is just writing my thoughts + getting it out. I have noticed when I am missing someone or I feel that something is missing for me, like i've lost a part of me, which is natural when you're grieving or letting go or cutting out excess energy for someone who has been super close + important, those thoughts are usually present with me first thing. If I don't clear my mind + write every morning + get the thoughts out, I carry them with me, I bring them throughout the day, I acknowledge them so much more often than if I process them in the morning. I acknowledge my natural biases that stick with me from the time I woke up because I am sad + then I can move through them.
I also decided to take 30 days from talking with my mom through the month of March + the two of us are still navigating that separately. We haven't actually spoken one-on-one. I have shared some more thoughts since taking those 30 days, but I think the most important part of that is recognizing that those 30 days helped me acknowledge the ways that I was resting on routine + habit + I was no longer seeking things out because they were benefitting me or they were serving me in any way. I think that in taking time away from anything, whether it is a substance that you are codependent on or a person or an activity, I think that it allows us to see what our lives look like when not attached to that thing, it allows us to see what parts of life are hard without that thing, what parts of life we were running from when we were distracted with that thing, what parts of our life are lighter + more carefree without that thing. I will tell you, the first 20 days of the 30, at least, + even times up until the last couple months have been earth shatteringly hard. You definitely have to accept that you are mourning someone that has been a key role in your life when you're choosing to cut things out. Some people you are cutting out are going to be more important or less important than others. You have to be prepared to process that + mourn that + acknowledge the ways that some of these things are holding you back more than they are providing you with comfort.
I'd like to wrap up with the, "How Can I Help?" segment. How can you serve a little love in your life who is processing this, whether it be your husband or wife, whether it be a child, a niece or nephew, someone you teach, if you know that they are experiencing heavy addiction at home + they experience emotional neglect or from anything else, I want you to hold space for them. What does that mean holding space? That means letting them know that you are here without judgement, without the desire to fix them, you're just there. Ask them more than once, in a calm + non-threatening way if they'd like to talk + reassure them that you are there to listen, even if they don't want to talk right now, but they do one day. For people processing emotional traumas like this, those people are most likely in a state of reliving those things, like periodically throughout their entire day, day in + day out. When you are learning to let go of someone who has hurt you, your brain is constantly having to remind you the ways that they've hurt you in order to remind you of why you're letting go of them. By just holding that space for those people + allowing them to yell, to vent, to cry, to sit silently next to you while you touch their leg, or you don't touch them, or they rest their head on your shoulder. The biggest thing you can do is hold space for them, just let them know that you're there.
Also, encourage + offer some help + support for them to find a professional of some sort, whether that be a therapist, a life coach, a social worker. Everyone needs a friend first, someone that let's them know that they are not alone, but it can be detrimental or almost halting your healing, to not get input from somebody who has professionally studied this + can legally + wholeheartedly advise you on ways you can work through your problems + find coping skills. Offer to help them seek out different therapists in the area. Maybe make suggestions to them or suggest that they look into the different types of therapy whether it be trauma therapy, family therapy, addiction therapy, someone who specializes in PTSD , different things like that.
Then, finally, don't search for solutions. Don't search for solutions before seeking to support that person. There is absolutely no undoing what the person who has gone through the emotional trauma has been through. You cannot undo any of the memories that are engraved in their brain. So really, you can't fix it. You can help them fix themselves, currently, but you can't fix it for them at all. That person has to be guided + supported + loved enough to feel confident that they can fix themselves because at some point that tenderness + that innocence has been ripped from them. Hold space, encourage them to seek out professional support, + don't seek out solutions before seeking our support. Just be present, be with them, hold their hand- metaphorically or physically.
I feel ten million times lighter after sharing this with you guys. I am really looking forward to continuing to share my stories with you. I hope that if you can resonate with this + you can connect with this that it has been insightful + a little inspiring to go out + seek the support + the help that you need because there is such a fuller life on the other side of living only through the lens of your trauma. You did not choose to be traumatized. You did not choose to be neglected. You did not choose to be set aside for something else as a child or an adult. So, I hope that you can choose to take control back for yourself now.
I hope to hear from you either in my DMs on The Souls Undressed Podcast page on Instagram or through the wall on The Souls Undressed Community on Facebook. I am sending you so much love, I hope we can chat more about this, + as always if you have any sort of differing opinion or perspective, I would love for you to share that with me so that I can continue to share that as well + educate everyone on alternative perspectives. I love you guys, have a beautiful day.
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