This is Us

There's a good reason the TV show, "This Is Us," is so popular. Yes, the acting is great and the stories are heartwarming and at times heart wrenching. But at least for me, and I'm guessing for most viewers, the show is a mirror, a path into our own history, our own families, our own memories, because actually THIS IS US!

I can relate to the characters and their stories in nearly every episode, from Jack's mean alcoholic father and his co-dependent, passive mother, to Randall's desire to save and protect everyone in the family as "the hero." My own father was an alcoholic and a workaholic, and my sweet mother (a co-dependent) tried to appease my father and protect me while losing her own power. I can also relate to Kate, who overeats to stuff her grief and pain, and to Kevin, who doesn't feel good enough, and is always trying to prove himself to his dad and to himself.

The Pearsons are truly a dysfunctional family, and don't most of us come from one? Both my grandfathers were alcoholics, my dad followed suit, and my mother was a compulsive overeater and shopaholic, as was her sister. Since I am like Kate, Kevin and Randall, I became a food addict, both an anorexic and bulimic, a family hero and co-dependent, always trying to save, rescue or fix someone. I've never become an alcoholic, never tried any drugs and never smoked a cigarette, but being a co-dependent has burdened me all my life. This means that I have constantly focused on other people rather than myself, have put others first, been overly controlling, too responsible, worrying about people and things I can't control, often a perfectionist who fears criticism and wants to please everyone to avoid being rejected and abandoned.

No wonder I feel close to the characters in "This Is Us." Weekly they are acting out my own fears, hopes, mistakes and successes. They hurt themselves and one another and apologize and forgive; they keep learning about themselves and their childhoods and are working hard on healing themselves and the past. I'm doing this, too, with the help of an amazing program called ACA, not just for adult children of alcoholics but for anyone from a dysfunctional family, perhaps a family where there is mental illness or hypochondria, prescription drug addiction, perfectionism or any form of abuse. In reading the "Big Red Book," I have been stunned by all the stories similar to mine, and "The Laundry List" of traits, many of which are my own.

I wish I had found ACA sooner in order to be more healed as a mom for my children. I wish that "This Is Us" had come out sooner to trigger my desire to heal. And it's all okay, all in perfect timing. I can work on recovering from my own dysfunctional family. It's not too late for any of us to have a happy childhood, to welcome that child within us just waiting to be re-parented. It's not too late to change our current thoughts and actions, to feel our feelings, to listen to our wise inner self and to live a life of more joy and peace. This is us, people who are imperfect, who do our best, who are working on living the most authentic life we can, and doing so one day at a time.


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​© 2017 by Susan Allison Ph.D

Dr. Susan Allison, Self Help Author, Therapist, Counselor, and Radio Show Host.