People who become alcoholics later in life usually do not have a close emotional connection with their parents, especially their mothers. They tend to be people who consider themselves very independent – not needing anyone. Of course, everyone needs help and support. Many of these types go on to become ‘stars’ at work though having wrecked personal lives – bad marriages, no real friends. To further compound this problem, people naturally come to have high expectations of this type because of their high level of performance in the workplace. This is a recipe for psychological disaster. Behavior such as this also tends to get reinforced by those around this type. Because it is difficult to get to know this type of person in any meaningful way, what they are feeling or thinking is often a mystery. The pressure to live up to ‘star’ status in the workplace combined with personal isolation and depression in their personal life lead to the familiar pattern of alcoholism. Alcohol becomes a band-aid on a bullet hole.
Another predictor of alcoholism is an individual who never becomes fully independent from their parents, especially their mother. Denial allows them not to acknowledge their deep dependency. This is usually compounded by a denial of needing friends, as well. Most alcoholics find themselves in one these two patterns. The key factor in both is an unhealthy relationship with their mother. Freud would be so happy.
Unfortunately, these types tend to chose mates that repeat the same life patterns – especially the dynamic with mom. Is there any way out of this downward spiral? There may be. If you identify with either scenario, the first step is to let those around you know that you love them and that you need them in your life. Let them help you and take time out for therapy to understand the unique path that led you here. That is half of the battle.
Very similar family patterns also apply to children of alcoholics. Once these children become adults they form intense emotional attachments with people in their lives. However, they go to great lengths to avoid letting anyone know how deeply they care. The pattern is very predictable: the individual convinces those around them that they are very self-sufficient and don’t need anyone – though nothing could be further from the truth. The end result is that they let people down, break promises, miss meetings, etc. because they are so exhausted from keeping up a perfect persona on all fronts. The energy required to maintain this is not sustainable and the results, as shocking as they are to everyone, are inevitable. When the persona comes crashing down it is not a pretty sight – friends and family are almost always shocked when the truth is revealed in full color for all to see.
If you or someone you love has a problem with drinking, please seek help from Alcoholics Anonymous or National Council on Seniors Drug & Alcohol Rehab.