If I were to teach a course about overcoming the emotional damage and the misconceptions picked up from alcoholic parents, this would be the semester’s assigned reading. You’ll see me quote from these books from time to time, and I often send them to my coaching clients when I need to get them on the same page, FAST!
1. The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome by Wayne Kritsberg
I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted, or how to connect with or express my feelings, and, after reading this book, I finally understood how deeply I’d internalized “the rules” of an alcoholic household.
Here are just a few illustrative subheadings:
- Shame and Guilt
- Thinking in Absolutes
- Compulsive Thinking
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Crisis-oriented Living
- Manipulative Behavior
- Intimacy Problems
- Inability to Have Fun
2. Fearless Living by Rhonda Britten.
Not Measuring Up
Ever notice how hard you work to cover up your worthlessness, to prevent people from discovering the ugly truth about you, even though you’re not sure, exactly, what that is? “Fear wants you to believe that, fundamentally, there is something wrong with you.”
3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Vulnerability, Shame & Guilt
If Brene Brown writes a VCR user’s manual, buy it. Whatever she writes is packed with insight that will make you drop to your knees and weep. Particularly if you’re an achievement whore, like someone I know. Here’s the subtitle of this book, which says it all in a nutshell: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
4. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.
Yes, another Brene Brown book. Why must you argue?
Here are a few chapter sub-titles to help you see why Brene is my girl:
- Letting Go of What People Think
- Letting Go of Perfectionism
- Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
- Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
- Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
- Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
- Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
If you grew up in an alcoholic household, then, no surprises here, you had really crappy role models. It’s no wonder you have no idea what is your responsibility, and what belongs to other people. Why you think its your job to take on all the woes of this world while others sit poolside sipping umbrella drinks. If you don’t learn to hold people accountable, particularly your children, you do them an incredible disservice.
6. 10 Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives by Dr. Laura Schlessinger
You may think the controlling/abusive/cheating/fill-in-the-blank husband is the problem, but really it’s you. Nothing will change until you acknowledge that in your attachment to this man who has disappointed you so, you, all along, have been running from your self. Dr. Laura Schlesinger calls a spade a spade. “Want self-esteem: Get it the old fashioned way…earn it.” A must read for every female over the age of six. If you’d like to read more, click Here.
7. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
For years I tried to cover up some dismal experiences, experiences I would have had a hard time explaining to people like my mother. Anne Lamott throws a spotlight on all the bad stuff that lurks in our hearts. All the fears we have about ourselves, about our own worth. In a book about finding God, about Grace, and personal salvation, Lamott writes about the less than admirable life that led to her transformation. Her raw honesty inspired me to share my shameful secrets, thereby releasing me from their hold. She gave me the permission I needed to get real. When’s the last time you told the God’s honest truth about yourself? If you want to read more, click HERE
8. Lit by Mary Karr
When we can’t connect to ourselves, we can’t connect to others. When we are afraid of being judged, we become judgmental. When we hide how we feel, we can’t trust others. Dismantled by small kindnesses, we figure there’s got to be some catch. But what if we can turn all of our stuffed feelings, all of our defensiveness, fear, and guilt over to something bigger? What if we can actually be absolved? Mary Karr made me want to cut people some slack, so I can relax about myself. Forgive those who have trespassed against me, so I can forgive myself. Bust out of my bad self. Reach out. And allow in. People. Kindness. New experiences. Want to read more? Click Here
9. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
Beating Your Head Against a Brick Wall
Because we demand very little of others, we draw sociopaths to us like a hobo to a ham sandwich. If you suspect you are in a completely one-sided relationship, receiving no love and doing all the work, you MAY be dealing with someone who is physically incapable of reciprocating love. Run for the nearest exit. NOW! Because this is some scary shit.
10. Emotional Unavailability by Bryn Collins
This is all about spotting the folks who will never love you back AND coming face to face with the stuff you need to fix in yourself before you can create an intimate relationship. Believe me, there is nothing more shocking than coming across a description of your emotional doppelganger. NOTHING. My personal favorite? The Intellectual Ivory Tower. Now that’s a nice,safe place.