Being the oldest in the family, I was unconsciously assigned the role of the family Hero.
From a very early age, there was a subconcious knowledge that my family had an issue. Alcohol was fluidly used in at both my home and the extended family.
All the male relatives started abusing alcohol at a very early age and quickly turned into addicts before turning teenag.
Without knowing it, I had to quickly step in to make my immediate family look good to all our acquaintances.
The thing that made me so surprised is that it always felt that I was living someone else’s life. It was hard to point out but the feeling of being unauthentic was constant in al my childhood and early teens.
In educating myself on how to help my addicted family member, I came across the family roles. I was quick to identify my role.
This was a relief because I was on one hand able to get the weight off my shoulders and on the other hand felt very confused on how to shed the role and reclaim my life as it should be.
The Alcoholic Family Roles: Hero
- The Hero mainly protect the family from the addict by doing really well. Hide the problem.
- The Hero also continue to excel in wait they do hoping that somehow this will make the addict stop being an addict. Hero Role as the prefect child.
Both of these things, I was.
I worked very hard in school to make up for what I considered my brother’s failures. I was never the gifted one academically so working hard to match and supersede my brother was extreme effort.
This of course was met with a lot of appreciation from my parents.
Needless to say I went on to being one of the first girls in my small rural town to go to the university.
At home, I was extremely diligent. Cleaning and cooking were never an issue and the house was spotless whether my parents were home or not. In trying to excel in school and at home, this had its own toll.
I remember growing up hearing my mom telling her friends that she never worries when I’m home as I was old enough to take care of my siblings. I was 11 years old.
With these characteristics and the pleasure that this role brought about. I had a hard time keeping close friends.
This led to me being very lonely and unhappy inside even though seemingly okay on the outside.
I took refuge to food. This had additional problems with the weight which was in total conflict with the hero personality of perfection.
The Alcoholic Family Roles Affects Everyone
After coming across the literature on the addiction and how it affects other family members, I realize just how much affected I was.
I self identified as a family hero, this was of course one of my family roles in an alcoholic family.
As a teenager, I never had the interest for alcohol or any substance. But I was just as “sick” as my addicted brother was.
No matter how much I told him to stop, bribed, begged threatened and in some cases became aggressive with him, I realize that there was no way he was going to be able to change if we didn’t change as a family.
How I Started Healing from the Hero Role Persona
Reading about the family roles didn’t not help me understand the steps of how to get out of the effects of the addiction. I knew I needed to heal and didn’t know how.
My healing started in getting coaching on how to reclaim my life.
I started the coaching training trying to help my brother and other relatives and friends with drug and alcohol addiction.
The more I got help for myself, the clearer I identified the roles being taken by my other siblings.
I realized just how much help was needed in my addicted family members.
The unplanned benefit was that i was able to counsel myself and my family and point them to the right direction for help.
Our healing as a family finally enabled my addicted family member to get help for himself. our roles were no longer feeding his.
The Step by Step to my Healing:
I took some courses in addiction counseling and one of the assigned book was of great help to me. The book was Grace and addiction.
This was an eye opener on my own addictions and literally how to be able to remove the log in my eyes before trying to remove the addiction spec in my brothers eye.
I also came across the addiction recovery coaching. I took the class in a local counsel school in Milpitas California.
The same information is available online a fee on the Recovery Coach training
The Specific Areas I needed to work were the ones that were directed related to my HERO Family role.
- I stopped trying so hard to be a people People-pleaser both at home and at work.
- The need for perfection is soon going away and I have become much better in being just good enough.
Today, i’m okay if the house is a little dirty or there afew dishes in the sink.
There is no urge to scrub my house top to bottom every single weekend.
Even when I was so sick, there was no way I could skip doing the dishes.
With much effort and what I have learnt in counseling, I’m okay to have a cup or plate in the sink even overnight if I have to and be okay with it. everything does not have to be perfect.
- Learning to say No when called for help did not come easily.
Most of the time, I would go out of my way to help people, sometimes even before they asked for help.
I still help people and seek ways to volunteer, but only as much as I can. I have no problem saying no and not sacrificing my time, my family’s time or finances to please anyone.
- The other area that I have worked on is my overindulgence in food.
This was an easy area to get away with from the outside as I have a thin frame.
No one knew about my suffering with weight except my doctor.
The doctor insisted I had to lose some weight as all my health issues were connected to the weight I was carrying.
I didn’t look overweight let alone obese by medical definition. but the Scars were not private though.
Making healthy choices is not easy when reaching out to food is the easiest consolation.
Fixing the mind made it easy for me to focus and lose weight that I have been unable to get rid of for a long time.
Recovery and Healing
One of the things that I like most about the healing is that I never thought that I was sick. But I never felt complete.
My Addicted family member was the only problem in my eyes. Now I understand that all of us a family were affected by the addiction.
If I didn’t find out about the addicted family systems roles, I couldn’t have been able to understand the rest of the family members.
I always thought we are so different from most people and the family dynamics looked so nontraditional.
Now that i have the understanding of these roles, I’m not only accommodating to my siblings and family, I have a basis to talk to them about the need for the healing as they can see it in me.
Most of my siblings are now working on their roles through counseling. For those that are not yet, we are 5 of us, its easier to empathize knowing what they are dealing with.
I totally believe that once a member of the family is addicted, especially for a long time, the rest of the family gets to adjust to cope with the addiction and this creates some unhealthy characteristics of all the family members.
It’s not enough for just the addict to get help.
The whole family will need to get help with the disease at an individual level.
If you identify these roles in your family or in yourself and would like to get help. Get some coaching on how to go about it for your self and the family.
If you have experience with the healing out of the addiction and family roles, or have any comments, I will be happy to hear from you. Please leave a comment below