Saturday, January 23

Keeping the Past in the Past

Past trauma need not rule my present and future.

When I think of all the days that I kept the secret of growing up in an alcoholic family.

Today I tell whomever I can. Oftentimes, as I mentioned yesterday it is to elicit sympathy.
Every time I do this though, my past is brought into the present.
I’m pretty sure recovery does not mean inviting the past into the present  but rather inviting healing into the present and future.

The disease of parental alcoholism does not have to define us unless we want it to. We had and have no control over what our parents did while we were growing up.

What are some of the ways that we bring our past into the present?

  •    Repeating old patterns we adopted as ACA’s  
  •     Looking for sympathy, falling into “victimhood”
  •  Sabotaging current efforts-blaming any of our current problems on our past to accommodate fear of success and not wanting responsibility.

 It takes pain and stepping out of our comfort zone in order to grow. Re-parenting ourselves means we eventually have to grow up and that means accountability and responsibility; we can no longer hide behind the label of ACA.

What are some other ways we bring the past into our present and keep us from moving forward?

Friday, January 22

Recovery is discovery

My husband and I met with our pastor and his wife for dinner last night. 

I mentioned we were planning to come to an upcoming movie outreach and  that I was planning to bring my parent, and then mentioned that parent is an alcoholic. 

I explained that the parent had been involved with a church but since had stepped away; the alcoholism is again taking over their life.

We prayed about it but I didn't feel good. 

I tossed and turned that night wondering if I'd said too much. I asked myself why I even shared this small fact. I felt vulnerable. Guilty that I had confessed, that No, I am not the smiling friendly, gregarious person the church family has come to know; I too have unhealed wounds. 

Admitting you are far from perfect should feel freeing. Instead I felt like I placed my hands in handcuffs. Why?  I know how to be solution-oriented, but my default setting is to drop back into victim mode. 

I felt guilty because I was expecting the pastor and his wife to feel sorry for me. Manipulation is something we adult children get very good at doing.

They only sympathized. Then they asked us to join them in prayer.

"Let Go and Let God" reminds us of the spiritual cornerstone--and power-- we have when we surrender to our Higher Power. 

It takes humility to surrender and it takes strength. 

We're so used to being adult children we don't want to become adult. All along in re-parenting ourselves we have been preparing ourselves for the moment we drop the "children" label, but isn't it easier to keep it? For how long have we tried to be an adult and sunk with a  weight being hung around our necks? Adult feeling too much of a burden? 

I don't want to be an adult.
I've found a lot of help, even if I've had to manipulate people to get my way. I've sought and found plenty of people who willingly enable me to stay an adult child. A child!

At nearly 40 years old, I remain a child. 

At nearly 70 years old, that alcoholic parent remains a child. 

Life moves on, and as children we can choose to stay behind. To stunt our growth so we don't have to feel the pain of growth. 

How interesting, though. Christ asks us to be like children, so that we can grow in faith and trust in Him. But, even though we revert to being children in His sight we also are expected to grow up again, Spirtually-abled and conditioned to lean on Him for everything. 

Since ACoA is spiritually-based, is this where the name "adult child" came from? 

Thursday, January 14

Grant Us Serenity

I love this. In today's affirmation written by Tian Dayton in her book One Foot in Front of the Other: daily affirmations for recovery, she writes about serenity and the importance of keeping it front and center in our daily priorities. To find peace amidst the chaos that is all around us when someone we love is an addict.

Our song "Movin On" about a woman moving on from abuse the lyric goes: "I lost my life's dream but didn't lose me along the way. I'll cross that wide stream, maybe find serenity today."
from " Movin' On"  c. 2011 The Purple Song Project 

The song is not just about recovery, but about finding serenity in the acceptance that healing may never truly be over. It gets better and better and we become stronger as we go, but there might always be triggers and flashbacks. In the Adult Child's case, perhaps the alcoholic returns to drinking, after a time of being sober. It is painful for loved ones to stand and watch the addict we love get sucked back into the whirlpool of addiction. 

It hurts, because we've seen the effects of their addiction. They have seen  and felt the effects, and most likely they know what they are giving into once again and they surrender anyway. Maybe it is because whatever they are facing is a lot worse and more fierce and to be feared  than the traps of their addiction. Or, I imagine they are. I don't know for sure, do you?

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." 

Lord, help me to fall into and trust your divine direction, your Good Orderly Direction because only You know what is best for me. We have to trust you are there, too, for the addict in our lives and as we pray and rest in Your mercy and glory, we can trust there is  a Spiritual battle going on that we may not know about, but to understand you are working in Your perfect and divine timing to free the addict, and to free us from the chains of secondary addiction. Thank You, In Jesus' Holy name, Amen. 

Wednesday, January 13

ACA Community

noun  com·mu·ni·ty  \kə-ˈmyü-nə-tē\
Simple Definition of community
Popularity: Top 1% of lookups
·    : a group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood)
·    : a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.
·    : a group of nations

When I sought out to find an Adult Children of Alcoholics group, I knew what I needed. I logged on the the ACA world site and searched for groups within my home state. My then-fiance drive me all over our state so I could experience different groups. Turned out the one I felt most at home with was the one nearest to my home—that was helpful! I was ready to travel over an hour to find the group I felt was right for me.

But,  just like  a church community, even though we would like things to stay the same, the people that we’ve come to know and trust eventually leave. And, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Coming to recovery means you are supposed to be a part, take part in the studies, do your own work, share that work with the community, and grow up, and eventually away from the group. We are  supposed to outgrow the group when we feel we don’t need it anymore.
An occasional check-in is fine.

I checked in almost three years after I had left. The group met now in a different room in the church. The table was a different height. The coffee didn’t taste the same. I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew, but I did.  I instantly recognized three or four people, and they recognized me.
Here I was, back for  a refresher. But I couldn’t help but wonder, had these people never left? Why?

Does a part of our recovery have to be stunted? Or, perhaps we find such a home coming and the group replaces, in a way,  their real family—the family that brought them to seek out ACA recover in the first place. I don’t know. But, I do know after my few years of faithful attendance I was better off heading out into the world, armed with the knowledge and wisdom my ACA family brought me, and feeling I would be welcomed back to that home base, anytime for any reason, no matter what.

Have you ever attended an ACA support group? If so, what was your experience like? 

Tuesday, January 12

Never doubt...

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Margaret Mead, American Anthropologist, 1901-1978

Monday, January 11

Why today is the first day of the rest of your life.

I love mornings.  I do. I wake up to sunshine, stretch, have that first sip of freshly brewed coffee.

I love the freshness of morning. My to-do list is not yet touched, and if anything is left over from the nights before,  I have a fresh open and clear mind to go attack the items left over.
Mornings usually get me in a good mood. The expression “sleep on it” rings true for me. I choose to make decisions in the mornings.

As I go forward in my recovery, I am aware of the power in mornings, and often use them to journal, brainstorm and reflect on how far I’ve come and where I want to go. I may also fit in exercise to improve and balance my mood for the day. I cherish mornings. Before my recovery, mornings seemed grey, cold and depressing. I enjoy being woken up and reminded first thing of light.

Have you found any of this to be true in your own recovery? Do you think fresh in the mornings as you progress? 

Sunday, January 10


In working with abuse survivors, I have often said that boundaries are where abuse starts and where, often times it can end. 

I feel it is  no different for adult children of alcoholics, adult grand children of alcoholics, and others in recovery. As we become aware of our boundaries, we are able to discern who we choose to let in and how much, and who we choose to keep out.

Boundaries leave us with a sense of empowerment and abused they leave us feeling invaded. Consequences of which our self-esteem could be lowered. The discernment of boundaries teaches us who and how to trust, again.

The challenge with boundaries is they are flexible and different for everyone who sets them and everyone who follows them.

Boundaries are rarely permanent; they adjust over time.

Boundaries are cousins of trust. Our personal borders are loosened as someone earns our trust. They are often tight even to those who may truly deserve our trust but suffer the consequences of our having been hurt too often before.

As we leave behind and step away from our addictions, possibly we are learning to trust ourselves again, flaws,warts and all. And accept ourselves, sober, aware, adult and surrendered.

I AM worthy.

When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of an unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive. --Chief Seattle

Friday, January 8

Respecting the Life I've Been Given

Tian’s affirmation today  entitled “Respecting the Gift of My Life” is all about taking responsibility for ourselves, and essentially our recovery.

In this affirmation, she writes about the importance of self-care, attitudes  and whatever will help keep our moods stable and positive, to keep us heading in the right recovery direction. 

One of the promises of ACA is we learn how to re-parent ourselves. This affirmation reminds me of that principle but also to   respect our life's journey and to move forward with a balance of both responsibility, acceptance and a type of surrender. 

I will sustain and respect the life I have been given.

Thursday, January 7


I am alive this day.

Joseph Campbell said I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.

As a Christian (and I often refer to myself as a baby Christian) we are taught the meaning of life is what we are looking for no matter what. But, I think we need to be careful we don’t slip into  the idea that life --–our human life---is all there is. Whatever your denomination,  that can be discouraging at best, and leave us directionless at worst.

Of course we want to feel alive—we pay for experiences, don’t we? We pay for trips to Disneyworld to cherish the experiences and build memories with our families. 

Plenty of books have been written  about living in the present. Meditation is all about learning to live in the moment. We are advised to breathe deeper, appreciate our surroundings and cease worry. 

God is working in our lives every moment. God is faithful to his promises, his words and to us.He asks us not to worry and to give it up to Him. I don't think he would endorse our medicating, overthinking (a form of worry) and overliving. 

In today’s affirmation, Tian Dayton advises us to be in this experience rather than avoid it, medicate it, overthink it or overlive it.

 I am not sure I understand what it means to “overlive” something.

The people in our lives who had problems with alcohol had problems with overthinking, perhaps. They drank to medicate themselves to avoid something, overthinking perhaps. Maybe they too, were overliving by partying hard, or acting recklessly.

Is overliving a type of squeezing the joy out of each moment, indulging in excess and not planning for the future? I'm not sure if we should do anything to excess. Wouldn't that go against taking one day at a time?

Wednesday, January 6

Recovery Brings Grace

At some point, we were  humbled enough to admit we needed help healing from our past.

Isn't step 7 where we humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings? We realized we can't heal alone and we do need help. Meeting other survivors, embracing our spirituality, praying, meditating, or journaling our way out of this messy time.

How long will it take?
It's not easy. Studies show it takes anywhere from 21-66 days to train ourselves to get into a new habit. Two months to adapt the lifestyle change that will bring about lasting change. That's not that long when you consider the wound from childhood took years, sometimes decades  to form. But, two months is a long enough period of time where we risk slipping up and sliding back into despair and whatever funky emotions we still have inside.

Two months is enough to feel hell for the time being, like training for a marathon  and having to continue running,even though we're hungry, or thirsty, or our feet hurt, or its too hot and sweaty.

This sort of endurance calls for ... grace.
Spiritual grace. God's grace is what I call on when I have to overcome something that is bigger than me. You have to wonder if the battle we choose to fight in recovery is not a human one, but  a spiritual one, and Earth is our battlefield. Earth? And our minds!
God does the work, when we humbly give our struggles up to him. In His perfect timing, He uses people and circumstances and His own soft whisper (or tear-inducing touch) to guide us. 66 days may be the human forming a habit, but even though God begins his work in us immediately, we have to wait, sometimes to see the change.

Attitude is everything.This is why humility, surrender is even more important.
We can take the time to adjust our attitude from impatience to patience and guilt and shame to forgiving ourselves.

What we think only brings us more of what we think. We are told not to think negatively, or we'll feel crappy and attract more negativity. Thinking positively, on the other hand, gives us the opportunity to adjust our attitudes to become more positive.
Thank goodness.

I embrace a new design for living.

From Step 7: 

"As we notice our defects being removed and our lives becoming less complicated, we must proceed with caution and guard against the temptation to be prideful. Sudden changes in our behavior can and do happen, but we cannot anticipate them or direct them. God initiates change when we are ready, and we cannot claim that we alone removed our character defects. When we learn to ask humbly for God's help in our lives, change becomes God's responsibility. We cannot accept the credit, but we can give thanks. When good changes begin to happen in our lives, we tend to expect similar changes in others. But our focus needs to remain on ourselves - we still have much to accomplish...