Adult children of Alcoholics

May 1999
Compiled by Joyce Parker, Ph.D.

These materials come from the A.C.A. organization.  The A.C.A Long Beach/South Bay of Los Angeles, California Intergroup can be reached by mail at PO Box 3339, Long Beach, California or by phone at (562) 272-4469.  Or visit the A.C.A. website for information and to find a meeting in your area at www.adultchildren.org. For books about Adult Children of Alcoholics go to Book Review, Adult Children of Alcoholics Issues.

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS
                      
  1. I guess at what normal is.
  2. I have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
  3. I lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  4. I judge myself without mercy.
  5. I have difficulty having fun.
  6. I take myself very seriously.
  7. I have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  8. I overreact to changes over which I have no control.
  9. I feel different from other people.
  10. I constantly seek approval and affirmation.
  11. I am either super responsible or super irresponsible.
  12. I am extremely loyal even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
  13. I look for immediate as opposed to deferred gratification.
  14. I lock myself into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternate behaviors    or possible consequences.
  15. I seek tension and crisis and then complain about the results.
  16. I tend to avoid conflict or aggravate it, rarely do I deal with it.
 

TWELVE PROMISES

 

  1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  2. We will not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it.
  3. We will comprehend the word "Serenity".
  4. We will know peace.
  5. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  6. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain insight into all our relationships.
  7. Self seeking will slip away.
  8. Our whole attitude and outlook will change.
  9. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
  10. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
In order to change, I cannot use my history as an excuse for continuing my behavior.  I have no regrets for what might have been, for my experiences have shaped my talents as well as my defects of character.  It is my responsibility to discover these talents, to build my self-esteem and to repair any damage done.  I will allow myself to FEEL my feelings, to accept them, and to express them appropriately.  When I have done these tasks, I will let go of my past and get on with the business of managing my life.  I have survived against impossible odds until today.  With the help of God and my friends, I shall survive the next 24 hours.  I am no longer alone.

 

RECOVERING FROM DENIAL

We adult Children of Alcoholics who have come far enough out of denial to recognize and admit the personal validity of "The Problem" are among the toughest, sanest, psychologically strongest people the world knows.  We have shown a capacity for personal responsibility that is unusual, to say the least.

Though in the past we may have adopted insanity, suicide attempts, self-abusive drinking, eating, or drug use, compulsive working or obsessive relationships as our method of coping, we now have a chance to be sane, in always and all out lives.

After surviving the traumas of childhood, we have screened ourselves, selected ourselves, and found each other, through twelve step programs, therapies, consciousness expansions, insane asylums, jails and hospitals. All that is needed now is a safe place where we can finally shed our defenses, out denials, and admit to ourselves and others how angry, hurt, mad and wounded we have ALWAYS felt.

And FINALLY, we are safe.  We have ourselves. We have each other.  We are sister, brother, father and mother to one another. We can rely on each other until we are able to claim our adulthood-our responsibility for ourselves, our lives and everything in them.

Anyone who can handle what comes up at six meetings without retreating once again into denial has begun an IRREVERSIBLE process of recovery: regardless of how chaotic it may look or feel.  Many of us act out our old dramas and defenses at least once again as if to see whether they really are as unnecessary as we hope they are.  Indeed, they are and typically we do not slip back not denial and out other obsessions.  We keep our other programs going.  WE ARE SURVIVORS!

If you seek explanations for this miracle, many have been offered, ranging from conscious expansion through religion to psychiatry and science or combinations of all these, but any explanation seen, heard or thought of so far includes one central statement in complete agreement with all others---THE TWELVE STEPS WORK!!!