Children of Alcoholics Can Become Terrified of Abandonment

Real Stories From People Affected by Parental Alcoholism

Woman Alone on Steps
Are You Afraid You Will End Up Alone?. © Getty Images

Growing up with parental alcoholism can cause some children to become absolutely terrified of abandonment. Many times, the alcoholic parent physically leaves the family -- or, if they remain, is emotionally unavailable -- leading children to feel unworthy, rejected and abandoned.

As they grow into adulthood, their fear of abandonment can affect the relationships that they form. They find themselves holding on to unhealthy relationships or never allowing anyone to become close in the first place, out of fear of rejection and abandonment.

These experiences, although common in adult children of alcoholics, can represent the outcome of a variety of developmental issues, however.

Visitors to the About.com Alcoholism site in answering the question, "How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?" discuss the fear of abandonment, one of several common characteristics that children of alcoholics seem to develop:

Unrealistic Fears
I still struggle, however, with feelings of fear that those I love will reject me or abandon me and I struggle with self-worth. I constantly feel that I need to be doing more in order to feel worthy. I work too hard, sacrifice too much, and have unrealistic fears. -- Dragonfly

An Unhealthy Marriage
I suddenly ended an important healthy relationship and settled for an unhealthy marriage. I fear rejection and abandonment. I probably will need life long counseling. I've resolved many fears but it's hard standing up for myself. -- Emotionally Stunted

Often I End Relationships
I have constant approval seeking, fear of confrontation and trouble with romantic relationships. Most notably, I isolate myself from others when I am feeling bad. I also fear abandonment and often end relationships with others to avoid being left by them, in the future. -- Marie

Filling the Empty Hole
I was confused and still, to this day, have serious issues with abandonment and trusting others, little self-worth, low self-esteem, emptiness and depression. I am 30 and doubt I will ever be able to fill the empty hole in my broken heart. -- Erin

Feel Like I'm Unworthy
I can't stand chaos, or when people get very angry. I never take time for myself because I feel like I'm unworthy. I have also put up with a ton of crap because I'm scared to be abandoned. -- Anonymous

Sabotage Relationships
I have a really hard time with relationships because I have a fear of being abandoned because of my dad. Recently, I found a man that I really "let in" for the first time in my life at age 30. Unfortunately, I sabotaged that relationship because I have been made to be independent to a fault from being raised by alcoholics. I can't accept that sometimes I need comfort too. -- Jean

Were You Affected?

How about you? If you grew up in an alcoholic home, you may want to take this quiz to see just how much you may have been affected.

Return to: The Effects of Growing Up with an Alcoholic

Sources:

Janet G. Woititz, "The 13 Characteristics of Adult Children," The Awareness Center. Accessed November 2010.

Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization, "The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic," (Attributed to Tony A., 1978). Accessed November 2010.

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