Step One

Old 01-26-2012, 07:03 PM
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Step One

How do I do the work? Please share. I will do the work and post it.

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Old 01-26-2012, 09:36 PM
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Thanks for posting this thread. I'm on board too.
I have heard of a yellow step working guide book for ACAs, but I haven't ordered it yet.

I will order the book tomorrow, and when it arrives I will start sharing my thoughts here.

Big hugs if you want 'em. I'm glad that you're onto working the steps too, as I've been feeling that itch for a while and haven't really known how I should go about it. I suppose here is as good a place to start as any.

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Old 01-26-2012, 09:39 PM
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Have you read this thread? I read it some time ago, and it seems to have some great tips.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:09 PM
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Thanks, Kialua.

Just reading the first few posts, some of the questions there are excellent. I am going to continue reading through that thread, thank you for posting it.

And thank you for all the help, experience, and information that you lend to this forum.

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Old 01-27-2012, 12:37 PM
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Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our childhood, and that our lives had become unmanageable.

What I have been taught to do in the past is to list all the ways that (in this scenario) my experiences in childhood have made my life unmanageable.

So I'm going to start with a list of all of the triggers that were created during my childhood, what events in my childhood created those triggers, how I react to those triggers, and how all of those things have affected my life as an adult...i.e., what have the consequences been for reacting to the childhood triggers as an adult?

For example: I was constantly criticized and verbally bullied/belittled as a child, even when I was trying to do something that would hopefully make my mom proud of me. I never knew when an abusive verbal assault would come flying at me, even if I was trying to do something helpful.

So, as a result, I feel as though I am constantly being judged by everyone, even when I am alone.

So now I am triggered whenever I sense any sort of disapproval from others. I feel outraged, resentful, helpless, victimized...and, underneath all of it, I feel neglected, overlooked, and probably hurt.

This trigger causes me to react by feeling the need to put other people down before they have a chance to put me down or reject me, or make me feel bad.

I do this in a lot of ways...I make comments that are designed to subtly make others feel intellectually inferior, physically inferior, or to make them feel as though my tastes are superior to theirs, and therefore they are obviously tacky, stupid, and crass. Then this allows me to feel okay about myself for about a split second.

This has hurt my marriage very badly. My husband is a very sensitive, loving man, and this defense mechanism is no longer useful for me as an adult, as it creates more pain, requires too much energy, and is destructive now in my life.

Sometimes, I feel so inferior to others, and threatened by their behavior (if they give me red flag warnings, like being competitive, etc.) that I can be either outright hostile towards them, or feel like I'm simply sputtering inside, so incensed and feeling so helpless at the same time that I simply don't even know what to do.
So I act out the way that a five year-old would if she felt the same way. I rage about these people to anyone around who will listen, and feel flustered to the point of just not knowing how to deal with them at all...which just adds to my feelings of powerlessness and helplessness. I feel victimized by them, and view myself as a victim.

These reactions to this particular type of trigger have affected my work environments, my social environments, my relationships, and pretty much every area of my life.

I have left jobs and/or been fired because I couldn't figure out how to deal with people who pushed this particular trigger.
I have sought out relationships with men who would betray me, winding myself up into years of constant competition, rage, feeling abandoned and empty, and feeling worthless.

This is only the *beginning* of how my childhood experiences have affected me as an adult. There is a long list of triggers and behaviors that I will be writing down, but I thought I would share this here.
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:21 PM
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So, I think my formula for the First Step is going to look something like this:

What is the trigger?

What event(s) in my childhood created that trigger?

How do I feel when I am triggered in this way?

How do I react?

What have the consequences been for my reactions to this trigger?

(And I will list out any that come to mind, with this formula.)

...I will probably be so tired of the word "trigger" by the time I'm finished with this that the word itself may make me want to pull at my hair!
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:44 PM
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For me, I did the second part first. I realized that my life was out of control and that I didn't want it to be out of MY control. I started identifying the ways I felt out of control (anger management, couldn't say "no," so other people were 'running' my life, perpetual negative self-talk that I couldn't stop, racing mind and reliving events long ago from the past that I couldn't let go of). This part I did in my mid-twenties. Then I started thinking of ways that I could change those behaviors I least liked in myself. First and formost was to stop lying for no apparent reason. I still have no idea why I used to do this, but one day I decided I wasn't going to do it anymore. I realized that it was far too difficult to keep the lies up, and much easier if I just didn't lie. So I started fresh, and stopped the lies.

It was much later that I was able to accept peacefully (as opposed to kicking and screaming) that my past wasn't going to change, no matter how much I wanted it to then or how much I want it to in the present. When I could sit at peace with that, I stopped wanting to change my past and started incorporating it into who I am. The pile of negatives became positives. I am strong because of what I lived through. I am resilient because of what I lived through. I am empathetic because of what I lived through. I try to live a life of kindness because of what I lived through. If I had had a different upbringing, I might not have learned all those things about myself. I can sit in peace with my past because my past has helped me be the person I am today (not that I'd want to relive the past mind you, but because of who I am today as a result of it).

Not only am I powerless to change my past now, I was powerless to change it when it was my present. I have never had control over the actions of those in my life who have made my life challenging. But I was able to rise to the challenge and able to use the challenges to be a better person and (hopefully) make the world a better place.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Suffocating View Post
How do I do the work? Please share. I will do the work and post it.
What I do is take the questions from the book ( in this case, the questions are posted over in the al-anon step forum), write down the first question, modify it for ACoA, then answer the question as it applies to _my_ life.

Then the second question, and the third, until they are all done.

Once I have answered all the questions in writing I go back and read my answers and see if I can find how all the questions fit together into the patterns in _my_ life. The objective is to find what parts of my life have been affected by my past, and what parts have not.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our childhood, and that our lives had become unmanageable.

"Unmanageable". How is my life unmanageable? It starts with emotions. I would feel incredibly strong emotions, but at the most inopportune times. I could be riding a bus and out of nowhere I would have this overwhelming feeling of sadness. For no reason that I could tell. With the emotion came a sense of panic, that I had to do _something_ to make the emotion go away. I would have to get off the bus, walk around the block, run.

I was unable to feel an emotion without reacting to it. I was unable to feel emotions other than in extremes. That caused me to take actions that were a response to the emotion, instead of a choice that I made. Other parts in my life were affected by that, it was hard to interact with people, never mind hold a job.

"Had become". This is where I find hope. I was not born with these feelings. I was born healthy. My life had _changed_ into the emotional chaos I was experiencing. So if my life "had become" then I had the possibility of _changing_ it again into something else.

"the effects of our childhood". This was huge. My problems are not caused by something wrong with _me_, they are caused by something wrong _outside_ of me. Something that happened when I was a child, not something I was born with.

"powerless". There are a lot of things in my life that I can control. My behavior, my thoughts, my actions. But my childhood? It's silly for me to believe that I can control my childhood. My emotions? I have never been able to control my emotions. "Powerless" tells me that it's a waste of time and energy to try and control the un-controlable.

"Admitted". There are three parts to my recovery. Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. I was aware that my emotions were a mess, and that my life had become a mess with them. Becuase I incorrectly assumed that there was something wrong with _me_ I then tried to cover up the problem, avoid it, blame it on something else. I was Aware, but I did not Accept it. Therefore I never took action to solve the problems, I just continued in denial. When I _admitted_ to other people in the meetings of ACoA that I had a problem I finally was able to accept that the problem existed and that it had a solution. That is when I started to take action.

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Old 01-28-2012, 01:29 PM
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Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our childhood, and that our lives had become unmanageable.

This is some really good information. I checked out a ACOA site on the first step and on inner child work. I find it really helpful to realize that my reactions to events today may be due to events that occured in my childhood. It may not have to do with what is happening today.

I don't have much time to work on this stuff due to my work/school schedule. However, it is something I'd like to address a little.

I admit that I am powerless over my experiences as a child. I was only a child and did not have control over the events that happened to me. I wasn't able to walk away and avoid the rage, sadness, etc., that was around me. I learned ways of coping with the pain that helped me survive at that time. However, these coping mechanisms are sometimes not helpful to me as an adult. One of these mechanisms is for me to bury feelings like pain, anger, and sadness. As a child, I learned that feelings were wrong. As an adult, I accept that feelings are acceptable and a part of living.

My life has become unmanageable. Some of my coping mechanisms are not working. I feel tension in my head, shoulders and neck. Sometimes, I feel very distracted by the feelings of anxiety and sadness. I want to be someone who can feel emotions without feeling overwhelmed by them. I make poor judgements in terms of finances and by taking care of other people. I feel responsible for situations that are not my own (as in other people's emotions).
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:37 PM
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That was good for me to read Bluebelle. Thanks for posting.
I just finished writing a page about this stuff, and it was helpful for me to read your post.
I have a lot more writing to do, but it always helps me to read someone else's post that I can identify with, especially when it's about living in the solution--or at least learning how.

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Old 02-08-2012, 04:12 AM
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I have the yellow ACA step book. One of the theories they talk about is trauma bonding which occurs when children are dependent on caregivers who violate their trust, either by abuse, neglect, etc. Makes sense...the mind of a child cannot fathom that our caregivers/adults who loved us would violate us, thus the distortion begins.

Then comes the suppressed anger. For me, it was my non-alcoholic parent (Mother) who displayed anger. I minimized her anger, because she was the main caregiver. I do not recall many instances where my Dad, the alcoholic, displayed angry feelings...I think he tried to keep the peace so he could drink in peace. Anger is one of my major stumbling blocks...I was always scared of my own inside rages. As an adult, my anger was not used to take care of myself when would come out when I felt I was losing control of my spouse, children, etc.

The book also speaks of enmeshment and how difficult it is to recognize when we become adults. I can remember that I always thought of what my Mother would say/do in any situation/decision I needed to make. Even after her death, I still allowed some of my decisions to be controlled by thoughts of what she would say/do.

Just thought I'd post this as a preamble to my Step One...

Thanks for reading

Huggs, Hope
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