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Adult Children of Alcoholics - Page 2
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  1. #21

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    I went to my first mindfulness meditation class today. When we got to the part where we focus on our heart and love, I felt like my love was all choked up. My husband has commented before that I'm not all that demonstrative with my girls. The feeling I had today was one of cautiousness. I am sharing that here because it feels like an ACA thing. I don't want to interpret or predict or anything, just share the moment. I do plan to go back to class. That's all for now.

  2. #22
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    Carol,
    I think the feeling of cautiousness you describe could be an ACA thing.
    Sounds like an interesting class that has already given you a gentle glimpse into yourself.

    I've recognized in myself that I sabotage my own happiness. Or used to. Couldn't just accept it.

  3. #23
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    Thank you for sharing, Carol. Up until I had my daughter, I would say I was the same - been burned enough times, you become afraid to love. With my little girl, I can't shut it off. I think it has to do with knowing that she is a fresh, innocent life. She has no baggage to get in the way and no underlying intention of harm or deception.

    And sabotaging your own happiness? I understand that, too. Don't think I've ever felt like I was allowed to be happy, just take care of others and go through the motions. I am finding that, now that I am trying to find my own happiness, I'm trying to give responsibilities back to others that I have wrongfully assumed on myself. It's not as easy as I thought it would be. For one, they don't WANT them back, I've done them all along so they still feel it is my place to do these things, and I'm being met with adversity. Two, I have feelings of guilt for daring to think of myself. And three, said adversity is only amplifying the guilt feelings and making it even harder for me not to feel like I should have just kept my mouth shut.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  4. #24

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    Erin, I've been thinking of you. Glad to hear from you.

    Ah, not allowed to be happy, I remember that.

    When I was going through my divorce, I spent some time with a male very direct counsellor who helped me confront a lot and start to heal. That was when I was doing a lot of reading about ACA. I've grown a lot since then, processed a lot, and gotten older which I think helps too.

    I may not be as demonstrative but I know my girls know I love them, and so does my husband. I am looking forward to opening my heart through this meditation class, and I am thinking what I may find is love for myself. Sounds exciting.

    Boundaries remain the #1 thing I think about re: ACA. Setting them at all, holding to them. I remarried, to an ACA, who had strong boundaries in some areas and not in others, e.g., he'll let some people walk all over him but he was able to help me learn to set boundaries with my daughters. While I was learning though, I made some mistakes, setting arbitrary boundaries, etc. Still, I'll never forget the time my younger daughter was talking about a friend who was in trouble and said "mom, her parents don't care about her, she doesn't even have a curfew". This after pushing me all the time! I don't know that it would have made a difference in the long run, but I was a doormat in my previous marriage.

    So yep, establishing boundaries and not taking everything on yourself, you'll get pushback. You'll make a few mistakes with boundary setting, but so what, you are worth it!!

  5. #25
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    "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn." ~Gloria Steinem
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  6. #26
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    "He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty." ~ Lao Tsu
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  7. #27

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    Erin, I like the quotes. This one has been nagging at me all day though. Yeah, I get it about mastering oneself instead of fighting or lording it over others. But it feels like I used to spend so much time beating myself up, over drinking of course, but over not being good enough, blah, blah, and "conquer" conjures all that up. Now I'm focused on acceptance of myself. Funny how that concept can also bring up, "what are you perfect, nothing to change?" But that's not it. Accepting and loving myself as a valuable human being, valuing myself. Back to the oxygen mask analogy someone mentioned recently and I seem to be picking up on a lot.

  8. #28
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    I understand where you're coming from, and I agree on accepting and loving myself, but for me, "conquer" does fit in some places. For example, the treatment that I allow from other people. That is something I would like to conquer, not accept. My fear of stating my opinion, even if it doesn't match that of others, that's something else I'd like to conquer.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  9. #29

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    Erin, oh, good points. As a former doormat with my ex-husband (even though I was high-powered at work), I totally agree, don't let people treat you like that. Conquer on, warrior woman!

  10. #30
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    I am reading a book I borrowed from my aunt a few years ago - "Conversations with God." (I'm most definitely not a religious zealot. I usually read Dean Koontz, before this I read Marilyn Manson's autobiography for probably the 10th time. I just like to think and learn.)

    Supposedly, the author was writing an angry letter to God asking why his life is the way it is, why is he always the victim, etc., and God started answering. I'm not trying to start yet another theological conversation by talking about this book. But I'm only 100 pages into it and a few of the things mentioned really make sense to me and could change your (my) perspective.

    For example, "God" tells this guy that what IS cannot exist without what ISN'T, so in order to know who we are, we must experience who we are not. Therefore, not to look at past choices as mistakes, and not to look at them with regret, because the choice you made brought you a step closer to finding who you are. Instead of beating yourself up over a past decision or wishing things were different, learn from it and decide, "Well, that didn't work for me, I will choose something else now." It's a whole lot deeper than that, but I'd have to type out everything I've read so far to make it make sense here.

    I'm posting this here, rather than in the "Reviews" or "Random Chat" thread, because it's my opinion and observation (and personal experience) that people that deal with an alcoholic/addict and that person's behavior tend to be super-critical of their own actions.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  11. #31

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    Erin,
    That seems to be the lesson in Siddharta, too. Siddharta "learned" that he could not be "taught" the way to total enlightenment from an enlightened one, he would have to learn it from within. He had many less than honorable experiences along the way toward enlightment, but felt they were necessary just for the reasons you cite above.

  12. #32
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    I'm bumping this thread to make it easier for a friend I just made to find and read. I think (and hope) some of the discussions here may be helpful!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  13. #33
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    I can't explain the affects that going to Al-Anon meetings have had on my life......I can't explain the support I get. From my first meeting, I knew I found a piece to the puzzle of my life.

    I attend both regular Al-Anon meetings as well as two Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings a week. I do not have an active alcoholic in my life but the meetings are not about the alcoholic. They are about sorting through your own life.

    Here is an excerpt from the Al-Anon website

    Did You Grow Up with a Problem Drinker?

    Al-Anon is for families, relatives, and friends whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. If someone close to you, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, has or has had a drinking problem, the following questions may help you determine if Al-Anon is for you:
    *1. Do you constantly seek approval and affirmation?
    *2. Do you fail to recognize your accomplishments?
    *3. Do you fear criticism?
    *4. Do you overextend yourself?
    *5. Have you had problems with your own compulsive behavior?
    *6. Do you have a need for perfection?
    *7. Are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly, continually anticipating problems?
    *8. Do you feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?
    *9. Do you still feel responsible for others, as you did for the problem drinker in your life?
    *10. Do you care for others easily, yet find it difficult to care for yourself?
    *11. Do you isolate yourself from other people?
    *12. Do you respond with fear to authority figures and angry people?
    *13. Do you feel that individuals and society in general are taking advantage of you?
    *14. Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?
    *15. Do you confuse pity with love, as you did with the problem drinker?
    *16. Do you attract and/or seek people who tend to be compulsive and/or abusive?
    *17. Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone?
    *18. Do you often mistrust your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others?
    *19. Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?
    *20. Do you think someone's drinking may have affected you?
    If you have answered "Yes" to any of these questions, Al-Anon or Alateen may help you. Find a meeting now.

  14. #34

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    Beth, this post has really stayed with me. I've really been in #7 and didn't know why. My brother and one of my sisters visited my former alcoholic mom this weekend and there was drama. Suffice it to say there's a lot of water under the bridge with my mom. I was able to comfort my sister and help deal with my mom. She's a lot more mellow in her 80s but can still hurt like a knife. It didn't occur to me until I saw your post that the feeling of unease I had even when everything seems to be going fine in my life might be an ACA thing triggered by recent events.

    Thank you.

  15. #35
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    Carol, yes 7 & 8 are the ones I most identify with.

    At my meeting last night the topic was the fourth step. I'm understanding that the first meeting of each month is devoted to the step that correlates to the month....so April being the fourth month is for the fourth step.
    Starting my sixth month in the program I had no desire to work the steps past 1 through 3. I have not gotten a sponsor mainly because I haven't met anyone that I would want to be my sponsor. Mind you, I am (was) at a very low point in my life......I was (am) struggling just to make it day to day. I was two months sober and desperate to stop being sick (crazy) when I reached out for a counselor who is the one who recommended Al-Anon.... who is also in the program.
    So last night as we went around the group.....about 25 people.....all sharing how they worked step 4. The first 20 people all confirmed why I wasn't going to work the steps.......it was EXTREMELY HARD to face the 4th step. They all said how scary it was.....they were afraid.....took years to get to the point where they could do it. I could tell that most of them really hadn't worked it how it was suppose to be worked....and some admitted after being in the program for years still had nit been able to do it. But then came Judy, a quite over weight older woman who simply said that the fear of the 4th step is unnecessary if you want to really recover.....which is why we are there. I was flushed with emotion by her words. I desperately want to recover! My life has been so dysfunctional my entire adult life and now that I have found Al-Anon I know why. So I approached her after the meeting and thanked her for her comments. I couldn't say much more because I was on the verge of tears. She gave me her number and said to call if I wanted to. I am amazed by the meeting last night. I was looking for that "right" person to ask to be my sponsor......actually searching during the meetings to see if there is anyone that could fill this shoes. Judy would be the last person I would have ever considered. But today she is at the top of my list.

  16. #36
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    Beth, I'm so happy for you!! Sometimes what you're looking for comes when you stop looking. I'm really glad that the meetings are helping. I know that feeling of thinking you're just f-ed up, and then when you start uncovering the past, it actually makes sense for the first time, and while sometimes (usually) extremely painful at first, there is major healing in it all.

    I just went and looked up The 12 Steps, because it's been a really long time since I've been to a meeting or picked up my Al-Anon books. It's kind of funny that, looking through the list, I have unconsciously done the steps! When I was TRYING to do the 12 steps, I couldn't do it. I did what you did, got through the first three and couldn't seem to face Step 4. Or, I would "fake" Step 4 (admit the easy and obvious things I didn't like about myself) and get stuck. I am looking back at where I am from where I came, since starting Al-Anon or even just joining this site, and I've had this sense of peace lately that I really can't explain. People I work with, friends and family members have noticed a difference in me. It didn't happen overnight and I didn't even realize anything had changed. I guess it is true that the process can't be forced.

    Thank you for sharing that!!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  17. #37
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    I am happy for you also Erin! I now can identify with what you say about not being able to explain it.....because everyday there's something different. Nothing of grandeur, just Hope. Which is far from where I started.
    Thank you for all you share with us!

  18. #38
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    It occurred to me just a little bit ago that the weight loss/transformation thing I'm in the process of doing right now isn't just about losing weight. I know I've mentioned it elsewhere before, so I probably sound like a broken record to a lot of people (apologies), but my "comfort eating" began when my dad passed away (I was 9). My mom's drinking began the next day (or maybe the same day, but I remember finding the first bottle of whiskey the very next day). I didn't get any therapy or counseling for my grief, therefore, I shoved my feelings, took care of my mom and little brother, and medicated myself with food. Not too different from how Mom coped... an addiction is an addiction, in my opinion. Along with getting fatter, I got lazy... plus I then lost any confidence I might have had, which was probably barely developed at age 9.

    This weight loss means a lot to me. It's like I'm leaving the past behind for good. Shedding those coping mechanisms which "saved me" in the past, that I no longer need in the present/future. I am finding confidence that is 100% new to me. I have never experienced loving the "imperfect me" before. I have always found flaws with myself and cut Erin down faster than anyone else could. I've learned how to accept myself as I am. I'm not even close to my final goal weight, and I can already look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

    Forgiveness has had a lot to do with it, too. I forgave my mom, even though she's not here anymore, for failing me. Then I forgave myself for a lot of things that might sound dumb to someone else - for being a "grown-up child" that could not save her mom; for all the resentment and anger I harbored for so long; for failing and neglecting myself all these years due to preoccupying myself with someone else's problems (I realized that I've applied the relationship I had with Mom to every other relationship I've had since); for not being perfect. It's good to set the bar high for yourself, but not so high it's unachievable.

    Here's something else that might sound stupid: This is the first time I've ever set a goal for myself in ANYTHING... much less ACHIEVED it. Even just small goals - setting them and then following through - I never knew how good it could make you feel.

    My mom did what she could do at the time. It took me nearly 32 years of life, but I finally love her unconditionally! I wish I'd gotten to this point before she died, but I'm still thankful for getting there eventually. Not all of my childhood was awful. I do remember how my mom was before she drank... "radiant" is probably the best single word I could choose for describing how she was. I feel the best way I can honor my mom is to take the parts of my upbringing that I benefited from and use them in raising my daughter. The things I longed to have different between myself and Mom - wanting that strong mother/daughter bond, knowing I was top priority in her eyes (all of us kids), making me the scapegoat for all her problems, the yelling and impatience - are very important to ME to make sure my little girl KNOWS. At 2-1/2, I can tell just by looking at that child that she is comfortable in her home, very secure in herself, and knows she is very loved. It is awesome not to have to wonder - I know my mom would be proud of who I'm becoming and how I'm raising her granddaughter.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  19. #39

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    Erin, sweetheart, good for you! I was going to reply to your post on the 30 day challenge that you must look like a goddess, but this is even better. I am so happy for you. There is tremendous power in forgiveness. And finally being able to set and achieve goals for yourself without feeling ashamed or guilty is awesome! How lovely to be able to remember the good parts of your mom. Your little girl is so lucky to have you as her mom, and I know grandma is smiling on both of you. Good job, girl!!! You rock.

  20. #40
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    A bit late, but skipping around reading past posts tonight and happen to see this. As you know, I'm going to Al-anon now and also CODA (codependents anonymous) and boy oh boy what an eye opener. I thought because my mom has been sober for 26 years and in my late 20's I made peace with my mom for being an alcoholic as I was growing up that I was healed. It was only recently that I realize in going through all this with my partner and his drinking did I understand my triggers, my behaviors and why it hurt me to the extent that it did. I was still a broken little girl in a woman's body. Now I am working on my recovery in nourishing that little girl and helping her grow up and out in a healthy way that no one could do for me at the time. Better late than never

    Quote Originally Posted by _Erin_ View Post
    I just stumbled across this book review for "The Complete ACOA Sourcebook: Adult Children of Alcoholics at Home, at Work and in Love." You can read it in full here: http://www.alison-andrews.com/adult-...lcoholics.html (and I think it would be worth your time). I could identify with pretty much everything that was said, but there were a few parts of it that I could especially identify with, excerpted below.

    Adult Children of Alcoholics guess at what normal is. Nothing in an alcoholic household is 'normal.' There is no frame of reference for how things 'should' be or what patterns of behavior are appropriate and acceptable. Consequently adult children of alcoholics have to guess. They look at TV shows, they look at other families that appear to be normal and try and mimic that. ...Woititz points out: 'in a more typical situation one does not have to walk on eggshells all the time. One doesn't have to question or repress one's feelings all the time. Because you did, you also became confused.'

    Adult Children of Alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end. (This is a trait that is with me big time, and it aggravates the hell out of me! In myself, though, I find two separate reasons why I don't follow through: Because I don't know how, as the article references, and fear. I get so many great ideas and start on them, then give up before I see a result, because I'm almost as afraid of accomplishment as I am of failure.)

    ACA's have difficulty with intimate relationships. 'To be intimate, to be close, to be vulnerable, contradicts all the survival skills learned by children of alcoholics when they were very young.' Because of the contradictory message the child receives constantly through their childhood, that of 'I love you. Go away' adult children of alcoholics may find the person who is warm and loving one minute and cold and rejecting the next, to be absolutely addictive.


    ACA's constantly seek approval and affirmation. Even when you receive approval and affirmation, you find it very difficult to accept. You would have to be 'bombarded with encouragement' to 'begin to accept it.' In my first few years as an employee I almost killed myself trying to be the best employee that had ever lived. If I did a thousand things right I would take it in stride, as if it was nothing, but if one thing went wrong I would agonize over it and feel that all my good work had just been undone. (This is so me, I could have written it.)


    ACA's are either super responsible or super irresponsible. You either do it all, or do nothing.I have played both parts. At certain times in my life I was so responsible it was frightening. At other times I behaved so recklessly that it was amazing I survived. (This was actually how I found this page. I have also been on both sides of the spectrum. Today, it occurred to me that I assume responsibility for things that in no way ARE my responsibility, and I'm about to give them back to their rightful owner.)



    ACA's are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. 'The alcoholic home appears to be a very loyal place. Family members hang in long after reasons dictate that they should leave. The so-called "loyalty" is more the result of fear and insecurity than anything else; nevertheless the behavior that is modeled is one where no one walks away just because the going gets rough.' For adult children of alcoholics this translates as, if someone cares enough about me to be with me, to be my friend or my lover, than I have a duty to stay with them forever. 'The fact that they may treat you poorly does not matter. You can rationalize that. Your loyalty is unparalleled.' Because the message you constantly received as a child was that the terrible behavior of the alcoholic, was 'not his fault', you have no idea about what is reasonable behavior. No idea about what can be deemed acceptable and what not. Therefore, almost any behavior can be empathized with, understood, and rationalized away. (Cannot count how many times I've been through this!)

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