Working the ACoA steps - Step One - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information
Go Back   SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information >
Register Blogs FAQ Members List Calendar Arcade Mark Forums Read




Reply
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 05-10-2014, 01:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
Member
 
DoubleDragons's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,806

Working the ACoA steps - Step One


Step one - We admitted we were powerless over the effects of alcoholism or other family dysfunction, that our lives had become unmanageable.


For me, I cannot believe I am in my early 40s and only truly accepting this fact now, that my life truly is unmanageable the way I am living it because of the effects of my childhood. I went into therapy in my 20s because I was so full of anxiety and I wanted to be validated that things that happened in my FOO were "off", although I didn't know exactly what it was that was wrong. At the time, although my family were heavy drinkers, alcoholism had not manifested itself yet in any members of my family. We were not poor, my parents have never divorced (despite constant and vicious arguments) and my sister and I were not physically or sexually abused. When I was in therapy, my therapist taught me about narcissism. She believed both of my parents suffered from this personality disorder and felt that my mother probably was borderline, as well. Of course, this cannot be proved, as my parents would never admit anything is wrong with them. Everyone else are always to blame for any problems. Anyway, this was comforting knowledge and I read and learned everything I could with this information. I put a few boundaries in place and we moved several states away from them, so that helped, but unfortunately, I never looked at how I interact in the world to see what works for me and what was self destructive. I am a huge people pleaser, very controlling, and full of worry and anxiety. For most of my life, I self medicated my resentments and my unfulfilled needs with alcohol. I only quit drinking alcohol 7.5 months ago. I am in my early 40s.

I want to be an authentic version of my self. I want to stop pleasing others, with the underlying manipulative hopes of getting my needs fulfilled if I only "please" everyone enough. I want to nurture myself and relax my worries and fears. In order to recover, I need to admit that I have a problem and it is unmanageable. I do this freely.

What do you all think about step one??
__________________
The truth is not something to understand. It is something to be.
DoubleDragons is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 17 Users Say Thank You to DoubleDragons For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), advbike (02-10-2015), AnybodyNobody (02-25-2015), Carlotta (05-22-2014), chicory (05-13-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), isitme (02-10-2015), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), lissy52 (05-22-2014), makomago (05-12-2014), MikeH (05-12-2014), rachelle77 (07-11-2014), seasaw (06-28-2017), Soberpotamus (05-14-2014), Steely (06-28-2017)
Old 05-12-2014, 08:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
Member
 

Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK
Posts: 203
Hi DD

I too am a fellow traveller, starting the steps of ACA. I too am in my 40's (44 to be precise) and I'm an alcoholic.

My FOO seem similar to yours; not poor but drunk, emotionally sick and heavily dysfunctional. I never knew love as a child and I attempted to extract it from others from an early age. I too was very controlling, I self medicated with alcohol, I stuffed my feelings to a point that I could no longer identify them, I acted out with all the 14 traits from the laundry list.

I have found a similar relief from understanding that I am Powerless over the effects of alcoholism and (in my case) other family dysfunction as I did when I discovered I was powerless over alcohol in step 1 AA i.e. There is surrender.

From the Big Red Book I see that my desire to control others and myself is my unmanageable life manifest.

I very much like and identify with your objectives; starting with "authentic self" and all you write in the closing paragraph and I'll add to the list 'full remembrance' -- there is much I can sense, but cannot remember or make sense of. I want to remember, to discover what happened in the hope that discovery can lead to recovery.

Please forgive my cross talk and I hope you'll continue to post on the steps of ACA as it seems like I am in a similar place to you, although having been around ACA (in some small way) for around 8 months, I'd describe my position as 'bouncing around the bottom'.

Thanks for opening up this thread, I intend to 'keep coming back' :-)

Mako

Last edited by makomago; 05-12-2014 at 08:08 AM. Reason: typo
makomago is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to makomago For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), Carlotta (05-22-2014), chicory (05-13-2014), DoubleDragons (05-12-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), Soberpotamus (05-14-2014)
Old 05-12-2014, 12:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
Member
 
DoubleDragons's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,806
I think full remembrance is very important, Mako, to fully understand what happened and how what happened manifests in how you react to the world today.

A big surrender moment for me lately is realizing just how controlling I am, which was an upsetting realization for me because I absolutely hate feeling controlled. My parents were extremely controlling and manipulative to get others to act and do exactly what they wanted to them to do. I tried to stay on their paths of wants and needs, desperately trying to look ahead and anticipate what they were wanting, so I could fulfill it and avoid the wrath. (my sister took the opposite path by rebelling) At the same, I bristle when I feel controlled by others at all, even times when I realize that often they are probably just trying to be helpful to me.

I realize now that my big need to predict the future or constantly planning ahead is really a control issue that just sets me up for frustration and resentment when I do not allow for flexibility. I am trying to use my emotions now as a compass to becoming "aware." I can't fix or change a problem, until I am aware of what the problem is in my life.

On a housekeeping note _ I understand that this part of SR is not frequented as much as the other parts. I want to give others a chance to join in and share their experiences without quickly jumping to the next step. I want to allow at least a week for each step and give even maybe more time to a step that seems to render a lot of feedback. I will try to start a thread for the next ACoA step every Saturday, unless we seem to need more time for a particular step.

Please, others, feel free to join us and let's help each other heal!
__________________
The truth is not something to understand. It is something to be.
DoubleDragons is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to DoubleDragons For This Useful Post:
Carlotta (05-22-2014), chicory (05-13-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), Soberpotamus (05-15-2014)
Old 05-12-2014, 01:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
Member
 
GracieLou's Avatar
 

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Ohio
Posts: 3,787
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleDragons View Post
I realize now that my big need to predict the future or constantly planning ahead is really a control issue that just sets me up for frustration and resentment...
I did this because it was what I was taught to do. There always had to be a plan. There always had to be a list. Every detail had to be covered. Every possible scenario had to be thought of before anything was done, ever.

I carried this into my adult life and through out my alcoholism. Everything had to be thought out first. Even what other people may or may not do, what they may or may not say.

I realize now after a year sober and getting some distance from my narcissistic mother that it really goes against my nature. I have always been more of a free spirit and to go where the wind blows. I was fighting against myself most of my life.

An event such as going camping was a nightmare. The lists of lists. The list of food. The list of people with a list for each person. A list of what to bring. A list of what not to bring. The list of what to bring "just in case". On and on. That is what I was taught because NOTHING could go wrong. Nothing could be forgotten. It was set so in no way, shape or form could my mother be blamed for anything going wrong. It was planned so well that it was not fun to go anywhere and it took forever.

I became the same way but I was not as detailed because in my true form, I AM NOT. I am easy going and relaxed about it. Throw three things in a bag, grab a blanket and pillow, get a fishing pole and lets go!

Today I am learning to relax. I also have to stop myself from organizing and planning. It is like as soon as an activity or event is mentioned my mind goes to "plan it/organize it" mode.

The AA program has taught me to live one day at a time. I try hard to do that these days and not get frustrated. It is like I want to plan so bad because that is what I was trained to do but I have to back off and just go with the flow. So far, every time I have done that things had turned out fine so I am getting more comfortable doing that.

I hope to get back more of my relaxed and carefree attitude as I remain sober.

I honestly think that is the only reason I was able to manage the unmanageability so long, cause I had everything laid out in my head. Day after day, week after week. I can tell you that when I finally said I am done, I was dog tired.
__________________
Sail on Silvergirl, Sail on by. Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way. See how they shine.
GracieLou is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 12 Users Say Thank You to GracieLou For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), Carlotta (05-22-2014), Carpathia (07-08-2017), chicory (05-13-2014), DoubleDragons (05-12-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), isitme (02-10-2015), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), makomago (05-13-2014), rachelle77 (07-11-2014), Soberpotamus (05-14-2014)
Old 05-12-2014, 06:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
Starting over
 
DesertEyes's Avatar
 

Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Starting over all over again
Posts: 4,301
Quote:
Originally Posted by makomago View Post
...Please forgive my cross talk ...
No worries, Makomago. As long as posts are about personal experience, in a respectful tone, and _not_ giving advice, cross talk is just fine.

Mike
Moderator, SoberRecovery
__________________
Sunsets are not endings. If I have enough faith, they are beginnings.
DesertEyes is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to DesertEyes For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), Carlotta (05-22-2014), chicory (05-13-2014), DoubleDragons (05-12-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), makomago (05-13-2014), Soberpotamus (05-15-2014)
Old 05-12-2014, 07:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
Starting over
 
DesertEyes's Avatar
 

Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Starting over all over again
Posts: 4,301
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleDragons View Post
Step one - We admitted we were powerless over the effects of alcoholism or other family dysfunction, that our lives had become unmanageable...
My sponsor taught me to read the steps _backwards_, in this case start with the word "unmanageable".

I learned from my first therapist that ACoA's have _three_ definitions for every word. I had the defninition I learned as a child from my parents, which I can simple assume is wrong. No need to explore that issue any further. The second definition is the one I find in a dictionary, which gives me a context to compare against the definition of my "toxic" family. The third definition is the one _I_ decide I wish to have for my own use.

My life, when I started recovery, was a train wreck. My emotions were out of control, my thoughts were driven by those emotions, and I had no clue why I felt so overwhelmed by everything and everyone. "Unmanageable", in the dictionary, means that something cannot be directed or controlled into a desired result. I had no idea what "result" I wanted for my life, I had no clue what "results" were possible. My present was out of control, any kind of "direction" for my life was simply beyond my comprehension.

The key, I learned in recovery, is that little phrase "had become". That was my "moment of clarity", the key that opened the lock. That phrase holds two concepts for me. First it tells me that what "had become" was not originally that way, which means it can be "undone". There _is_ hope for me, I am not broken, I _became_ broken, and therefore I can become _unbroken_. Second, it tells me that I was born the same as all other people on the planet; naked and stupid. The "broken" part is _not_ the way I was born, it is something that was done _to_ me. It is an "emotional injury", and like all injuries, it can heal.

The cause of my injury? The next phrase in the step, reading it backwards; "..alcoholism or other family dysfunction..." In my family of origin we had plenty of both, and a few other isms thrown in to the chaos. This reinforces the concept that it is not _me_ that is the cause of my emotional chaos.

What _exactly_ is the connection between my parents dysfunction and my emotions? That is the next word; "effects". When a bomb explodes people who happen to be standing nearby get hurt, that is the effect of a bomb. Dysfunction is just as harmful to a child as a bomb, except the harm is emotional. That is what happened to me. I was child that just happened to be born into the wrong family and got seriously injured as a result. "Collateral damage", as they call it nowadays.

When I was in elementary school I used to pick out names from the phone book and sign my school papers with that name instead of my own. I had some very patient teachers, I can't imagine how much extra work it must have been to deal with my "collateral" behavior. Today I can see that even as a child my instincts were healthy, I was trying to get _out_ of that crazy family by any means possible.

The "admitted we were powerless" part was a bit of a stumbling block for me as an adult. Among the many "survival behaviors" I learned as a child was to not trust anybody, ever. Being powerless in that chaos was very dangerous, it led to nasty verbal abuse, a destroyed self-esteem, inability to live in the real world. I have two aunts whose self esteem was so horribly trashed that they ended up commiting suicide. Being able to ask for help, first from a therapist and later from a sponsor, was huge.

As a side note, I also did the "self-medication" with alcohol. It worked great for awhile, but then the genetics I was born with kicked in and I became addicted. I found a better form of "self-medication", which is the 12 steps.

Mike
__________________
Sunsets are not endings. If I have enough faith, they are beginnings.
DesertEyes is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 12 Users Say Thank You to DesertEyes For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), biminiblue (05-13-2014), Carlotta (05-22-2014), chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-12-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (05-13-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), makomago (05-13-2014), Soberpotamus (05-14-2014)
Old 05-12-2014, 07:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
Member
 
DoubleDragons's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,806
When I was in therapy, I remember asking my therapist if perhaps maybe I was just too sensitive (as I was often told by my parents) or weak? She stated that it is the strongest people who admit that they have problems and try to work on them. She also said that if I am sensitive, that is okay, that I just how I react to the world. Perhaps my family situation would have been easier on me had I been less sensitive, but that in no way excused the abuses I was subjected to as a dependent child.
__________________
The truth is not something to understand. It is something to be.
DoubleDragons is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to DoubleDragons For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), biminiblue (05-13-2014), chicory (05-30-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), hopeful4 (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (05-13-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), rachelle77 (07-11-2014)
Old 05-13-2014, 05:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
Member
 

Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK
Posts: 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleDragons View Post
On a housekeeping note _ I understand that this part of SR is not frequented as much as the other parts. I want to give others a chance to join in and share their experiences without quickly jumping to the next step.
Please, others, feel free to join us and let's help each other heal!
A very good point. I have no expectations on how long each step will take. I'm very much of the 'sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly' school of thought. As for others... the more the merrier IMO, for whatever that's worth.

Control is a big issue for me too. I'd often been accused of it, needless to say I denied it, but I denied it through ignorance. In the same way I fell of my chair when I read the laundry list, I certainly slipped towards the floor when I read what controlling behaviour can look like.

Unbeknown to me, on a conscious level, I carried a deep sense of shame. A sense of not being good enough. However, I tried to control others opinion of me by manipulation. Manipulating what people saw of me, controlling what I would allow them to know. I find recently I've slipped back into that behaviour because I can't stand people seeing my pain.

Not unsurprisingly this sense of shame seems inversely proportional to the actual painful experience i.e. the more minor the issue, the greater the shame. My critical self will say "look you can't even stop/do that".

Yep... control is a tough one for me, in more ways than I've just described.

M

Last edited by DesertEyes; 05-13-2014 at 07:41 PM. Reason: Fixed broken quote
makomago is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 11 Users Say Thank You to makomago For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), biminiblue (05-13-2014), chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-13-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), rachelle77 (07-11-2014), Soberpotamus (05-14-2014)
Old 05-13-2014, 06:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
Member
 
biminiblue's Avatar
 

Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 17,770
I love that this is here.

I have trouble expressing how much my FOO affected me. So many think we should get over it when we are adults. I feel sorry for my mother and I forgive her since she really didn't have the desire or the ability to self-examine - I think her castle would have crumbled and she knew it.

Forgiving is one thing, it gives me a certain sense of relief from the pain, but forgetting is something I haven't mastered. My subconscious just throws stuff out randomly. I think that is the value of meditation, the realization of the "files" in my head that my computer brain randomly accesses. It is up to my own cursor to decide which ones to act upon or to choose to keep. The rest - the super destructive files, I try to put in a folder that is at the bottom of the index. They stay there most of the time if I keep using my anti-virus of recovery and spiritual fitness. Sometimes I forget to update though, and some of those files resurface for a while.

Thanks for this thread. I'm all in.
__________________
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.
~ Isak Dinesen
biminiblue is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to biminiblue For This Useful Post:
3777 (05-13-2014), chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-13-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), makomago (05-14-2014)
Old 05-13-2014, 11:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
Member
 
DoubleDragons's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,806
Maybe we aren't met to forget, Bimini, until we have new, healthy ways of dealing with people and situations in our lives?? Also, if we forget, that kind of hurts our radar that keeps other abusers from entering our lives.

I know what you mean, though, Bimini. People who have not experienced childhood trauma, tend to discount it and make you feel like, "Get over it already. Don't be a victim." I think if you don't explore what happened, how it made you feel, and how it affects your every day life, the cycle of abuse will continue. And most of us who have been through this, that is our biggest desire, to stop the cycle!

I think another major "aha" moment for me was that now that I am really working on my own personal overall health (mind, body, spirit), it is only now that I am realizing how much work I need to do. When I was in the middle of drinking, spending, hoarding, numbing, pleasing, stuffing my feelings away, in some crazy way, I thought I was healthy. I believed I was "healthier than most". I thought I had dealt with my FOO issues by facing them in therapy many years ago. I did very little self reflection, in realizing that some of my coping, survival mechanisms, while useful as a dependent child, were actually hurting me in my adulthood. However, I have also come to understand (trying to get away from my ACoA black/white thinking), that some of my coping mechanisms are really quite useful if used in the right way. I am very perceptive, intuitive and resourceful and that has helped me in my sales career and other areas in my life. I am resilient and I have a lot of energy and stamina, which has helped me in raising four children. I am extremely loyal, which has helped me in my marriage and my friendships. I read that one of the Cleveland sex abuse victims claimed that one of the reasons that she felt that she survived her 11 years of capture, was that she had a difficult childhood and that had toughened her up for the road that laid before her.
__________________
The truth is not something to understand. It is something to be.
DoubleDragons is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to DoubleDragons For This Useful Post:
biminiblue (05-20-2014), chicory (05-30-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), rachelle77 (07-11-2014), Soberpotamus (05-15-2014)
Old 05-13-2014, 12:38 PM   #11 (permalink)
Member
 
DoubleDragons's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,806
Gracie Lou, your post struck a chord with me. Growing up, people were constantly telling me to "Lighten up!" I now think I am a pretty "smiley" person, but from about ages 8-22, I don't think I smiled much at all because again, I remember people commenting on that fact. Life always felt very serious. I was very much the "little adult", mothering everyone in my family and some . . . .
__________________
The truth is not something to understand. It is something to be.
DoubleDragons is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to DoubleDragons For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), GracieLou (05-14-2014), Ipanema (05-13-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), rachelle77 (07-11-2014), Soberpotamus (05-15-2014)
Old 05-14-2014, 03:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
Member
 

Join Date: May 2013
Location: east coast
Posts: 1,322
I owe myself and a dear friend and mentor involvement in this thread. Yes my life was and still is at times unmanageable because of my dysfunctional childhood. My father is an alcoholic and my mother a narcissist. Myself I am a recovering alcoholic with almost 3 years sobriety.
happybeingme is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to happybeingme For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-14-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-17-2014), makomago (05-15-2014)
Old 05-19-2014, 06:58 AM   #13 (permalink)
Member
 

Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK
Posts: 203
I am powerless over the effects of alcoholism and other dysfunction because I adopt the 14 traits of ACAs without conscious choice, those traits are my reactions.

Those traits are how I act and behave, they have been and can be my way of being. I did not chose to be that way, I became that way because I learned to survive by using them.

However, they have become a problem, my problem and THE problem;

My life is unmanageable which is the problem, because the symptom of my unmanageable life is ‘THE Problem’ (the adapted 14 traits).

So I am happy to admit that I am powerless over those effects of alcoholism and other family dysfunction (the 14 traits) and I can see my unmangeable life manifest in the use of those traits and attempts I make at control, my codepence issues, my inability to identify feelings, my people pleasing, my obsessions, my unwarranted feelings of guilt and shame (all part of my [definition of] insanity).

I wish to find a better way to live; a life free of hamful, unhealthy reactions and one of healthy choice. For that I am responsible.

God… grant me the serenity to accept the past I cannot change, the courage to change the future I can and the wisdom to start today!
makomago is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to makomago For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-20-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-30-2014)
Old 05-20-2014, 07:10 AM   #14 (permalink)
Member
 
Ipanema's Avatar
 

Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Poway, CA
Posts: 1,636
Blog Entries: 3
I love this thread and This Step One.....

It always amazed me what went on behind closed doors! Beating my brother as a very young boy, siblings lying on a regular basis, parents in denial (having come from parents who were drunks). The beatings of my Brother stopped when he was big enough to fight back.

The Secrets were a long list which included the shame, the lying, and 'do not rock the boat'. We were not poor and my Father was a high-level Executive of a major oil company. We lived in a wealthy area, however, by the time I made some money babysitting, I was not supported by my family in regards to clothing, etc. Later, my younger siblings could do no wrong and were never asked to pay for a thing. I felt pain and tried to figure out what was wrong with me.

My parents drank Friday and Saturday nights and us three children were sent to the back bedroom TV room. There were never any visitors. I was the eldest so always 'was supposed to know better' in any wrongdoing and shamed. I knew I was the worst person in the world, yet got A's and B's. I was not to speak of any needs as was old enough to make money. I was bullied at school but could not bring this matter up. I would be shamed and humiliated by 'making a big deal about things'. In other words, be responsible for all that went wrong being the oldest..and be invisible doing it! I thought all of this was the norm at the time.

Every Saturday Morning my Mother would have the talk prior to me cleaning the house. It was about how important and successful my Father was (yet I knew he drank too much, but don't talk about it). As a teen I wanted to talk about me some but that was quickly squashed. The point was not to tell the secrets. He was "at a major college when he broke his leg" and his football scholarship was lost..in later years my Sister and I compared notes. My Mother told her my Father lost his Scholarship before school started. He was found to be drinking at a party, broke his leg, and lost the Scholarship before even beginning. Her Mother died of Cancer, or another time a lung illness and the stories seemed to change. I learned Uremia was the Cause of Death, which is often caused by Alcoholism. I was Power of Attorney when my Mother passed and had access to everything. My Father gave me the gift of introducing me to AA. He was Sober 5 years before he died. Those were the best 5 years of his life except for the Cancer treatments. My Mother was diagnosed at age 85 as Bipolar and Narcicism.

Even as I write all this I am ashamed. Now I have learned to try to protect the little girl long ago who was the Scapegoat for all that was wrong in this family. I am the only one Sober, who graduated from college, and is in Recovery. Yet my siblings and I get along. I never criticize or offer help with Addictions unless asked. My parents are gone now and I try to remember them as perhaps doing their best with what they knew.

My Higher Power gave me insight into the dysfunctions a little at a time, starting with AA, CODA, ACoA, OA, etc.. My relationships in Sobriety have been always with other ACoA's, mostly Sober ones. After much hard work on myself, and having raised my children to be successful members of Society, I am almost 69 and not giving up on a functional relationship.

I pray to my Higher Power to find the best me and, along the way, find someone to share maybe many happy and Spiritual-based years. I believe I deserve it which is HUGE for me. I am so glad that I now believe I can't hear from enough people about their path and growth...my life is so very different from my Primary family, as was the home I made for my children (at least they tell me that). They are adults with their own children and often consult me with concerns about raising their own.

Step One, as I interpret it, is admitting we were not responsible for our parents' dysfunctional behavior as children or adults (from the Red Book). And, I have come to believe that I am not responsible for fixing the family unit, rescuing, saving or healing. (from the Red Book). It is a great relief that I can enjoy them at certain times and love them for who they are. They grew up with dysfunction as I did. They work hard at their jobs and do their best raising their children. I am not in judgment as "when I point my finger, I have 4 pointing right back of me." What a relief to just take of me...it's about time. I look forward to all the posts on this sight as we work the Steps. God Bless, Ipanema
Ipanema is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Ipanema For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-20-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-20-2014), makomago (05-21-2014)
Old 05-20-2014, 01:43 PM   #15 (permalink)
Member
 
ladyscribbler's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Iowa
Posts: 3,046
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ipanema View Post

The Secrets were a long list which included the shame, the lying, and 'do not rock the boat'. I was the eldest so always 'was supposed to know better' in any wrongdoing and shamed. I knew I was the worst person in the world, yet got A's and B's. I was not to speak of any needs as was old enough to make money. I was bullied at school but could not bring this matter up. I would be shamed and humiliated by 'making a big deal about things'. In other words, be responsible for all that went wrong being the oldest..and be invisible doing it! I thought all of this was the norm at the time.

Even as I write all this I am ashamed.
I so identified with these statements Ipanema. I was the oldest and therefore had to be responsible for not only my younger brother but I also felt compelled to try to manage the unstable emotions of the adults in my life. It was my job to make sure my alcoholic father didn't wake up from one of his "naps" and fly into a screaming rage. I was responsible for making sure nothing "weird" set off my schizophrenic mother or interrupted her when she was self medicating with marijuana.
They divorced and then there were two houses with two sets of rules and I was always forgetting which daughter I needed to be so that one parent or the other wouldn't blame me when things went wrong.
After my dad caught one of his drinking buddies (my aunt's ex husband) molesting me, my grandma pulled me aside and had a talk with me. He must have told her about it, because I never told anyone. She wanted to make sure I knew that things like that didn't happen to good girls, and I was good, wasn't I? So I better stuff it way down deep so no one would find out.
Shame, guilt, never feeling like anything was good enough, like I had to be perfect to please everybody all the time. It was all the product of living in a household ruled by the shifting quicksand of unrealistic expectations, unspoken rules, moodswings, blame, shame and unstable emotions.
Because I was made to feel responsible for so many things, I thought for a long time that I somehow had the power to made other people think, feel or behave in a certain way. When I was unable to do this, I felt like a failure.
Step One lifted that weight from me and made me see that I was suffering for the sake of the illusion of control, an illusion that I've been glad to give up since I started working the steps in Alanon a few months ago.

And yeah, I jumped ahead to step two before I wrote this, but that's OK. My inner critic was telling me not to even do this post, but you know what, my inner critic can suck it.
__________________
The hour of justice does not strike on the dials of this world. -Maurice Maeterlinck
ladyscribbler is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to ladyscribbler For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-20-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), Ipanema (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014)
Old 05-20-2014, 03:11 PM   #16 (permalink)
Member
 
gleefan's Avatar
 

Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: New England, USA
Posts: 3,902
Blog Entries: 11
I am just starting to explore the acoa steps. I never looked at it before because my parents were not alcoholics or substance abusers. I stopped drinking in February of this year. In recovery I've recognized and begun to untangle myself from codependencies.

I wasn't beaten, starved, molested or denied education as a child. We were of average means. My parents divorced when I was 10, and emotionally abandoned me. My mother moved every 6 months to a year from that point on. In fact she's moving again at the end of this month and I have stopped pleading with her to change her ways. My stepmother didn't like me, and my father gave up his weekend custody of me because I was not welcome in "her" house. Ironically "her" house was the one I shared with my mother and father before they divorced. Within a year of the divorce, at age 11, I developed a disabling anxiety disorder with panic attacks and agoraphobia. My relationships as a teenager and adult have been challenging.

I'd like to take this journey with you. I recognize so much of myself in the acoa laundry list. I've carried so much self blame and self disgust - my stepmother doesn't like me because I'm me. I've felt so much grief - my father chooses to meet an adult's needs instead of his child's. I've felt so much shame - I'm embarrassed at what my friends' parents say about my mother who cannot make responsible adult decisions.

Admitting that my mother, father and stepmother's behavior wasn't my fault then and isn't now, surrendering that it never was, nor will ever be, in my power to change is liberating.
__________________
Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. - Unknown
gleefan is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to gleefan For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), CodeJob (05-20-2014), DoubleDragons (05-20-2014), happybeingme (05-21-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-20-2014), makomago (05-21-2014)
Old 05-20-2014, 03:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
Member
 
DoubleDragons's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2,806
It seems so many of us had to be the mini-adults in our families. (I remember being a freshman in high school and someone in class made a remark that I acted like I was 40, and the whole class laughed, like they agreed) My mother asked me when I was still a teenager to tell my sister how to get an abortion. (I had no clue.) My mother, to this day, will pretend like she didn't know that my sister got an abortion. My sister was gang raped by a group of boys when she was a teenager and that became one of the "family secrets." My parents chose to do nothing about it because my sister was drunk at the time, so they felt she probably didn't remember it correctly (or, partially deserved it). They said they didn't want to bring more shame to her. We never really discussed it much as a family after it happened. My sister called me at college to tell me about it and she got in trouble because I was so upset, I came home. My sister obviously rebelled and acted out as a child: I was the pleaser child, the "favorite." I had a lot of guilt and shame about that, but my therapist said that in abusive families, it is very abusive to you, a helpless child, to watch one of your siblings be abused, even if you aren't being abused. I also resented my sister's "f-u" attitude towards my parents, sometimes, because I felt so trapped in the "pleaser" role, yet so fearful to break out.

My heart hurts for all of you and your stories. I am so sorry for everything that you have been through. I am so sorry for your stolen childhoods.
__________________
The truth is not something to understand. It is something to be.
DoubleDragons is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to DoubleDragons For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), CodeJob (05-20-2014), gleefan (05-20-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-20-2014)
Old 05-21-2014, 09:27 AM   #18 (permalink)
Member
 

Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 634
I think I could have written your post almost word for word, OP.

I think both my parents have personality disorders. The alcoholism was never 'obvious.' No out and out physical abuse.

I do think there was sexual inappropriateness (I have had, all my life, a memory of being beside my father watching a movie that no child should have been watching.) I think I have been labeled a liar all my life for saying it happened, and I think I'm still paying the price for that today.

I look back and know I went out of my way to marry someone totally unlike my father, and instead married someone who was weak (ie, no threat), and that became it's own problem.

I don't think I'm controlling.

And yes, I definitely have to turn to God over and over, because life surrounded by an alcoholic family and all the ripples from that, which have spread to extended family, XH, children, even people at my church who hear my mother's mixed up beliefs about who I am, can feel very painful, lonely, and unmanageable at times.

At the same time, lately I've been struggling with raging at God: I did not deserve this! I was a child, taken to a place no father should have taken his father, and I have spent decades paying the price for saying it happened. I didn't deserve this!
EveningRose is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to EveningRose For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-21-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-21-2014)
Old 05-29-2014, 09:19 PM   #19 (permalink)
Member
 

Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 23
Hello - thank you for starting this thread. My qualifier, an xABF is what brought me to this site initially. He is gone from my life, but I still read and this thread caught my attention.

Growing up was a full of turmoil, constant arguing between my parents, always angry at us kids, especially me - the oldest. Everything was my fault. They both drank - a lot. As my father got older it just was terrible. Self employed, he lost everything more than once. I had lived in six homes by 3rd grade. He was angry all the time, taking it out on everyone, throwing things, yelling. He pushed my mother through a sliding glass door. How she was not hurt more severely than she was, I will never know. I was not home when it occurred. For some reason the police were not called. One of my sisters called a friend to come help. The sister closest to me in age, we would come home from school and take turns doing the "mood check" on our mother. It was unbearable to be there. My mother hit us, my father hit us. The things that got me in trouble, when I think about it today were absolutely absurd. I did well in school, never drank, never did drugs, participated in sports - went to work the minute I turned 16. Recently I moved and in the process of going through things found my grades from high school. What had been etched in my brain was I had been a marginal student. I did very well in high school, but in my memory I was a failure. I do not recall anything positive ever being said about my grades.

This week my sisters and I had a con call to discuss the situation with our mother, now 80. Things just never change. I have been trying to reach my Mom all week - I have called, texted. She will not respond. She isn't getting her way. So this is what I get.

What I never have been able to get my mind or heart around, my mother who is deeply religious, never misses Mass - and used to go every day - how can she be so mean, manipulative, lie, polarize her children and family. It has always been this way. I cannot understand it. Thank you for listening.
my1life is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to my1life For This Useful Post:
chicory (05-30-2014), DoubleDragons (05-30-2014), gleefan (05-30-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), ladyscribbler (05-30-2014)
Old 05-30-2014, 03:43 AM   #20 (permalink)
Member
 
chicory's Avatar
 

Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 12,266
Blog Entries: 1
I am so moved by all the posts here.

I have to get ready for work, so have no time to write on my first step, but I look forward to it.

I have a son who is an alcoholic. I love him dearly, but when I think of how it would be for a child of his, to be with him when he is drinking,and be dependent on him for what he needs, it absolutely breaks my heart. I thank God that he has no children. Thinking about myself, having two parents like that, it hurts.

To think that we, as children, were in such a lonely and frightening and confusing situation. We had no control over their alcoholism, yet everything in our little hearts wanted to fix things, and to be like normal families. Trying to get normal out of crazy.

My life has been unmanageable a lot, and I look forward to learning just what I can let go of trying to control. I appreciate this thread!
chicory is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to chicory For This Useful Post:
DoubleDragons (05-30-2014), gleefan (05-30-2014), irisgardens (11-02-2014), kudzujean (11-03-2014), ladyscribbler (05-30-2014)
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools


Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:35 AM.