Growing up in a dysfunctional alcoholic home does not create a strong foundation underneath your feet or a feeling that you have a lot of choices. You often feel as if you have to say yes to whatever is presented to you because a. this might be the last good thing that comes your way and b. God only knows what would happen to you if you dared to speak up and say, “no.”
Maybe you can relate to that feeling or perhaps you did not grow up in a home that constantly made you feel less than while simultaneously requiring that you be the adult despite a lack of adult role models.
What I do know is that fear presents itself in three ways whenever I am asked to make a decision. I am afraid that I am not good enough. I am afraid that I am not going to get enough. I am afraid that I am going to lose what I have. Fear is a bully, and in moments of real vulnerability, it appears real and can dominate your decision-making abilities.
So how does an adult child of an alcoholic navigate opportunity, big decisions, rejection, or expansion? The first step is usually to doubt yourself. After spending your formative years being told that the sky isn’t blue, you tend to not trust your own judgment even in situations where you are the expert. The next step is to imagine in great detail all the perceived deprivation that will befall you once you make up your mind either way. After that, you pull from each and every moment that built up your self-esteem in this life and list all the times you have made good decisions and didn’t immediately die. It’s quite a process.
What does it feel like to stand at a crossroads while holding the weight of yes and no in each of your hands?
It feels both difficult and necessary. The process of building up muscles of discernment, faith in our intuition, and the ability to trust our perception are all steps on the path to wholehearted living. Sometimes saying “no” even when you feel as if you don’t deserve to say “no” is the one thing that opens you up to that next level of confidence in your self and the world around you. A firm (or shaky) ‘No” can often reveal your “yes.”