You might be an adult child if…

My new mate from chickendee.wordpress.com has given me some insight, bless her.

I heard the term “adult child” bandied around a few years ago while I was playing institution-institution. At the time I sort of parked it to the back of my mind, thinking that I had bigger issues to deal with other than going along to a group meeting and drinking really bad coffee.

This morning chickendee.wordpress.com emailed me a list of “You might be an adult child if…” and I looked through the list.

Initially I thought, I would mark the ones that applied to me, but then I realised short of three I was marking them all.

So though I am not a huge proponent of “cutting and pasting” to my blog, I really liked this list, and I probably could not describe myself better.

So ask yourself, are you an adult child if ….

You attend a party that you were invited to.  When the hors d’oeuvres  are passed around, you decline… so not to be a burden, certain everyone is watching you, and taking stock of how much you eat, what your wearing, how your acting. (It is funny but this is just the way it is, but at the same time exhausting being this self involved …)

You don’t use public restrooms… and if you do, you don’t make any noise if someone else is in there. (I am laughing now, I used to be at boarding school and did not use the toilet from Sunday night through to Friday afternoon.  When I was fetched on a Friday afternoon, I was shaking with the anticipation and shall we say build up.  If we had to stop on the way home to do shopping, it was excruciating!)

You turn down the volume on your car stereo at a stop light because you think the person next to you will judge your taste. (The only exception is if I am listening to Nickelback, or Prime Circle, then I have a bit of a “fek them” attitude.)

You eat an entire meal that you hate because you don’t want to hurt the chef’s feelings.

You always make sure everyone else’s feelings are taken into account before you even notice your own.  (I have notched this one up a bit, unless my needs are being totally ignored – consciously by me- or I am actually being inconvenienced in some way – usually by my design – I am not truly satisfied …. )

When you go through the drive-thru and get a sprite instead of the fries you intended to order, you would prefer to drive off with something you don’t want rather than risk irritating an employee. When you finally muster up the courage to point out the mistake, you can’t believe what a non-big deal it turns out to be!  (I have sent Kennith back into shops several times to get change when I have been over- charged, to get me the right thing …. and so on and so on…)

Your significant other is upset at something, and you ask what you did wrong.  (Sometimes I don’t ask, but I know I did something wrong, because really what else could it be, it is all about me!)

You play the “victim” role in order to get attention, and when someone asks you what is wrong you answer:- “Nothing.”

When you are legitimately sick and in need of rest, you painfully make the decision to call out of work, feeling guilty about it, and then when you call your boss…, you try to make yourself sound sicker…. cough, cough, sniffle, sneeze, wheeeeze… (I practice a bit before I make the call….)

You’re in active labor with your first child, but instead of calling your midwife you spend at least 30 minutes reading a book just to make sure that it truly is labor. You’re scared to wake up the midwife with a false alarm.  (I feel guilty every time I go to the doctor, even though my arm has fallen off and is being dragged behind me by a mucus thread, I still convince that I am making it up, and I am just bothering them.)

You figure you’ve only gotten one response to the topic you posted recently because it’s boring and nobody else can relate or you’re not suffering enough for people to sense this and answer, or you didn’t express yourself well enough. You want to go in and readdress it, but now apathy is taking over and you decide, “well, at least I got it out,” and decide to move on.

You are the last one to respond to a post and no one else responds, and you think:- “Crap. I angered them all. I was too honest, or too much, or not enough…”

You go out for lunch, get your order, then see that only tables for 4 are open, and start thinking that people are going to be upset at you if you sit there. But you sit there anyway, because there are no other tables, and look around wondering when someone else will go by and give you a dirty look.

You feel guilty for making your bed the “Lazy Way” by pulling up the bed spread and throwing pillows on top, rather then the way you were taught as a child, to tuck the sheets into perfect corners, and lay the spread OVER the pillows and tucked in.

When you are being introduced to someone, afterwards you don’t know their name, in fact you haven’t even heard it, because you were just too busy with how you behaved towards them, how you came across to the other person when you were being introduced.  (Is this phrase too long to have it printed up and put on a t-shirt, that I can wear ALL THE FLIPPING time?)

Even though you want to simply read a book, you feel obligated to talk to the person next to you. You end up listening and talking for most of the flight and sharing way too much personal information in an attempt to make this stranger “like you”.

You do everything in your power to be a good mom. In fact if someone mentions that they do this or that for their kids you immediately think you should probably do it too. Everyone tells you you’re a good mom, people compliment you on your children, but you lie awake at night feeling like a bad mother and promising yourself you’ll try harder tomorrow.

When you are in therapy and apparently telling such a sad story, it brings tears to the eyes of your therapist, and then you feel guilty about making her sad (while you’re paying her big time and it’s her job..)

If everything is going well, but you’re looking around wondering what’s going to go wrong next instead of just enjoying that everything is fine for now and now is all that matters for a moment!

If you wait to flush the toilet in a public restroom because you certainly wouldn’t want to disturb the lady in the stall next to you talking on the cell phone!

Someone offers to take you out to dinner at the restaurant of your choice, and you base your decision on where you think they would like to eat and let them know that if that’s not okay, then we can go somewhere else instead.

When members of management at work go into a closed door meeting in one of their offices, you automatically think they’re plotting your demise.  (Oh my heavens, see early Facebook comment regarding my persecution complex last week.)

You’re at work and you hear someone laughing a few cubicles over and assume they’re making fun of you. (This statement is totally incorrect, because I know for a fact that they are making fun of me.)

You think that every time someone honks their horn that they’re honking at you and they’re angry, even if you know you’re not doing anything wrong.

You approach your child’s teacher in the morning to chat for 3 minutes because your daughter is struggling with a certain subject and you need help. She readily agrees and offers your child free extra help after school.  You walk away after only chatting for 3 minutes feeling you took up too much time and am a burden to the teacher and probably the most painful mother in the class. (Or you can just save her the burden and not approach her about anything ever, that is also a good tactic I find.)

How many adult children does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: None… they are all waiting for the light bulb to change.

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22 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post ReluctantMom!
    I call it my “neverending guilt complex” – regardless of the situation, my inner demon will find some way to make me feel guilty or anxious about not upsetting people. My latest self-flagellation has come in the form of a simple Gumtree sale, I did not sleep Saturday night for worrying that my Graco Travel set and Graco swing were in less than the immaculate condition I had advertised them as – they are perfect by the way, I know this, i walk past them every single day…
    The sale went through, the couple LOVED them and yet now I sit worrying about the phone call saying “such and such doesn’t work, or is broken” as I am likely to just outright offer them all their money back WITH interest.

    Reply
  2. Shooeee looks like we can create our own support group right here.

    Rachel I do that ALL THE TIME. At my daughter’s creche as well, too scared to ask if they have something that might have gone missing in case they get pissed at me.

    Reply
  3. Ha ha, until I read your blog, I thought that either a) I was deeply messed up and insecure or b) everyone has these thoughts, and I vacillated between the two, depending on whether I was having a good hair day or not. I never considered a third option, that I wasn’t alone in a). Stupid huh? or just very self-involved?

    You can add this to the list. If you’re too scared to ask the maid to look for something that’s gone missing in case she thinks you think she’s stolen it. When you finally pluck up the courage to ask her to have a look around for said object while she cleans, you feel guilty and worry that she’s thinking you thought she stole it and looking at you squiff because she thinks you’re a racist madam.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  November 11, 2010

      Oh Rachel, you have reminded me of my “must write” madam guilt blog, will get cracking on it and it needs to be dedicated to you …. have I told you about the one where I gave the maid a plastic basket we were using …. and then realised she was actually just asking me to pass it to her …… oh dear, I love these stories ……

      Reply
  4. julz

     /  November 11, 2010

    Guilty as charged. Love the mucus plug one. I would rather die than be taken to emergency for something in case it is nothing.

    I feel bad taking Dylan to the paed incase he isn’ t that ill and I have taken an appointment another sick child could have used.

    I always feel bad sitting at a 4 seater table.

    I book the isle seat so as not to annoy another passenger when I have to go to the loo even though I sleep better at the window.

    We could start a support group but would probably feel too bad to go for fear of having others put up with us.

    Reply
  5. leon

     /  November 11, 2010

    How many adult children does it take to change a light bulb?

    Answer: None… they are all waiting for the light bulb to change.

    Well that sums up my life really-always waiting, never finishing, never seeing the light bulb changed! How about all the projects started that start with a bang- and then just as abruptly-are gone.
    Thanks-your post has challenged me!

    Reply
  6. Tammy

     /  November 10, 2010

    I hope you don’t mind, I’ve linked this on my blog – http://midlandsmadness.blogspot.com/2010/11/hero-worship-or-case-of-adult-child.html – I’m still not entirely sure whether etiquette means I should ask permission or forgiveness?

    Reply
  7. There are two types of “Adult Children of Alcoholics” groups. They are nationwide and international.

    One is affiliated to WSO (World Service Organisation) and the other affiliated to the normal AA you all know about (not the car one !). They work off different paperwork, but it’s all very similar. There are groups in JHB and in CT.

    Anyone who is interested in more info, can mail me on adultchildrondebosch@gmail.com.

    <I can give you the bona fide list of behaviors and not the joke ones !)

    Also look at http://www.drjan.com…..I think that's the right address. She is a really easy to read author of adult child stuff (and what got me involved in the first place !

    Hugs

    chickendee aka Diddy !

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  November 11, 2010

      Thanks for that – I think there are more of us that “hurt” and say nothing than we care to admit.

      Reply
  8. I can’t remember how I found your blog.. but I’ve been reading for awhile and today I just thought I’d write back. It’s like you’re someone who’s living mylife .. and being able to voice all these thoughts that run through my head that I’m so afraid to say out loud. And even though you’re oceans away (I’m in chicago) sometimes you could be living right next door. Thanks for blogging without fear. When I come to your site I feel released. I have my own blog – it started out as me wanting release to, and then I got afraid … that somehow i would word it wrong and someone i love would get hurt.. so it morphed into being just a way of recording the important things in my life. Right now I’m going through so much again it may be a good time for me to change it back into a release.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  November 11, 2010

      Natasha, what a truly truly lovely thing to say …. not about you hurting, but the fact that you fine solace here. I also must confess after my “excuse me while I emotionally puke here” post I thought, I had maybe gone that little bit too far, and should maybe back pedal. I have considered deleting it a few times … but I have chosen not to.

      The post was how I felt – and how I am feeling – as is this entire blog …. it is me, warts, smelly feet and all …. I totally get it might offend some people, and at the end of the day the blog is about me for me – the fact that others read it and like/benefit/give me a little shoulder squeeze, is just a total bonus!

      Reply
  9. Jessica

     /  November 10, 2010

    Oh my word, I can relate to this! This is like transactional analysis by Eric Berne. I feel that I have either too much “child” or “parent” in me, and I need to cultivate that inner wise adult. It’s good to be aware of how we react to things. Good post. 🙂

    Reply
  10. gloeiwurmpie

     /  November 10, 2010

    Wow, I feel stupid now. There are LOTS of books written about us!
    Here is one that looks good: http://penguin.book.co.za/blog/2010/08/26/judy-klipins-life-lessons-for-the-adult-child/

    Reply
  11. gloeiwurmpie

     /  November 10, 2010

    O boy, you say there is hope for people like us?? Do they have support groups?

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  November 10, 2010

      Actually they do ….. it is a bit like AA, but it might be okay after the ACA meeting to go out for a drink, where at AA meetings they do frown on this sort of thing. There is a Cape Town based group, but I am not sure if there are others up-country.

      When you read this list (and clearly it is not a medical factual list – it is a tongue in cheek, but to be honest it raises so many obvious issues) doesn’t it suddenly explain so much. Adult-Children (and I totally paraphrase) are often the result of parents who were abusive/alcoholics/mental disorders and so on. I am really not putting it as eloquently as I should, but I am sure you get the gist. But it is a recognised condition (not sure if that is the right word) and understanding it, often assists being able to then recognise your actions and reactions to things.

      Reply
      • gloeiwurmpie

         /  November 10, 2010

        I don’t know if I should laugh or cry about this!? I was laughing all the way through reading the post, but now I feel like phoning my therapist and asking her why she never told me I have “adult children syndrome”?
        I need to look into this!

        Reply
  12. Claire

     /  November 10, 2010

    Oh hell, this is pretty much me too ! Thanks for bringing the term to my notice.

    Reply
  13. Kennith

     /  November 10, 2010

    This is the one that should be highlighted with red flashing lights and you did not even comment on it,

    “If everything is going well, but you’re looking around wondering what’s going to go wrong next instead of just enjoying that everything is fine for now and now is all that matters for a moment!”

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  November 10, 2010

      I think I might have missed that one – I am sure I commented on it, but I think I hit refresh at the same time that I was updating my comments ….

      Reply
  14. natasjap

     /  November 10, 2010

    I feel terrible that this is EXACTLY how I am… Scary to think I don’t have a life, but spend mine trying to impress people I don’t even know! How do I change, it is such a waste of time!

    Reply
  1. Adult Child at home question….?

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