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for adult children of alcoholics

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Denying Our True Thoughts & Feelings to Feel Safe

“The harm we received as children often sets us up for continued harm as adults. If, as children, we had to deny our true thoughts and feelings to be safe, as adults we are likely to continue to deny what’s true for us. Telling the truth feels very unsafe, a threat to survival. What a dilemma. Denying ourselves feels safer, but it obscures our sense of who we are.”

I’ve spent many years wondering why I have trouble with the truth. I’m not a liar, but I’ve had a tough time being honest with myself and others. A tough time identifying what I need and having the courage to say it. I do it with big things and little things. I say yes to a great many things I really don’t want – agreements at work, in relationships, with friends. And that creates so much angst and internal tension because now I’ve agreed to do a thing I don’t want to do but am going along with it because I said yes. And it’s been true my whole life: saying what I need, being honest with someone about how I feel, feels extremely unsafe. A threat to my survival.

The good news: I’m learning to listen to myself. I’m finding the courage to say what I need. In big things and small things. It’s scary as hell. And people in my life who are used to doormat me are not loving the new vibe. But that’s on them. Here’s to me. And honoring what I need and how I really feel and saying so.

Quote from Anne Katherine’s book BOUNDARIES. I’ve been reading and sharing these pages each night this week on stories and this one in particular resonated with all of you.

Choosing Yourself

I’ve known how to ride a bike since I was a little girl. But on my 18th birthday, I was hit by a car while riding a bike. Hit so hard I slid under a parked van, still on my bike. In those first moments of non-motion after so much terrifying motion, I was confused. Was I alive? Was I ok? What was broken? Could I move? Turns out I could, in fact, move. And aside from terrible road rash on both shins and both arms that required me to wear “second skin” patches to catch the dripping from the wounds for weeks and weeks and during my graduation speech, I was ok.

And so I don’t ride bikes, really. I don’t find it fun. My body remembers and isn’t interested in any more than a bit of a ride near a cute hotel that offers cute bikes to guests along the ocean. But I can do it. And sometimes, I get up just enough speed and the ocean air is in my windy hair and the breeze in my face feels so so good. So free.


I’ve been working on setting boundaries in my life. Saying no to what I don’t want. Holding a perimeter around where my needs are and where others’ needs are. Standing firm on what I need and saying so. It’s scary at first. Just like riding a bike for me. My body remembers every time I tried to set boundaries with my parents and was punished with yelling or silence or both. But I’ll tell you: when you really choose yourself over others and ask for what you need, say no to what does not feel good for you, it’s like ocean breeze in your hair as you pedal down a beautiful boardwalk. It feels so good. And I know it will feel even better with practice.

Here’s to more of that. For me and for you, however wobbly we may be as we start.

Why Home = Safe

Home. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I’ve always been someone who wanted to make their home as lovely as possible, as comfortable and inspiring and relaxing as possible. I want everyone who visits my home to feel good, cared for, loved, inspired. I want to feel that way too. My home has always been the ultimate self-care: giving my childhood self everything she never got in her home growing up.

I’ve been thinking about a why a lovely home has mattered so much to me over the years. And why it has been tough to let go of homes that I adored. Tougher for me than so many people in my life. And it’s so clear to me now: I have gone out of my way to create spaces that feel SAFE. And what a heartbreak to realize that my inner little girl has wanted nothing more for all these decades than to simply be somewhere safe. Where the fighting could not get to her. Where she knew exactly what she’d be walking into after school. Where she could simply BE without fear of insults and yelling and drama and danger.

The next time someone questions why I care so much about my homes, why I really spend time making them feel oh so lovely, I will simply smile. Knowing I’m taking care of me the best way I know how.