December 2011



When I was first finding out about Tony A and ACA and how it all started and who Tony was, I dug and dug around on the internet trying to find his story. What happened in Tony’s life that qualified him to be the fore-father of ACA? I am always looking for the back-story. Sadly, I never found it. Even today as I am writing this, I have not found anywhere on the internet that tells Tony’s story.  So, I decided to put it out there on the internet for anyone who is interested.  I created a page (you can find it up at the top) and have posted Tony A’s story.  I hope everyone finds this as interesting as I did.

Now, on the official ACA World Service Organizations website, at http://www.adultchildren.org/lit/EarlyHistory.s , they do give the history of the starting of the ACA groups.  It talks about how Tony and the Alateens got together and started a group that was separate from anything else they were doing at the time.

Just Lexxie, Chatterin’ Again!


  1.  Acknowledge that you get angry when you have angry feelings.  You are entitled to get angry.  Learn to speak up.  Do not deny the fact that you are personally angry.
  2.  Fighting between intimates, parents, children, and friends is natural.  There is no need to feel guilty about expressing anger.
  3.  Attempt to deal with the feelings of your partner or child.  He/she has a right to be angry, too.   Respect their anger and avoid smiling or laughing at them.
  4.  Listen and keep listening.  Paraphrase what he/she says; make perception checks so you understand what he/she is saying and thinking.
  5.  Be sure you have an issue or position to fight for.  Shift your aggression from personal attack to the issue.  Attack the problem, not each other.
  6.  Avoid putting your partner down.  He/she will become more defensive and become more difficult to reach.
  7.  Learn to recognize when you are merely letting off steam (venting).  Don’t create fights when your partner is letting off steam.  It is not directed to you personally.
  8.  Try not to become an injury, injustice, or grievance collector.
  9.  Avoid hitting below the belt, throwing back information given in trust, or bringing up past mistakes or skeletons.
  10.  Avoid handicapping your fighting form, i.e.,  trying to solve problems when tired, sleepy, hungry, or when drunk or unstable.
  11.  When you become aware that you are wrong, admit it.  It may be embarrassing and painful, but it is necessary for your own growth.

  • I start taking on other people’s work, neglecting my own. 
  •   I smile a lot and am dishonest with my feelings. 
  •   I become argumentative. 
  •   I start replaying old resentment tapes. 
  •   I don’t share my depression with my friends. 
  •   I get cocky.
  •   I stop following up; I don’t keep promises.
  •   I become complacent.
  •   I start expecting things of others and resent it when they don’t live up to my expectations.
  •   I get into “shoulding” all over myself.
  •   I stop praying and meditating.
  •   I stop doing my inventory.
  •   I become bored (and boring).
  •   I lose my faith and become flooded with irrational fears.
  •   I become scattered and can’t concentrate.
  •   I become judgmental.  I stop accepting people for what they are and start not accepting them because they are not what they “should” be.
  •   I stop listening to that small, still, inner voice.
  •   I become a martyr.
  •   I stop asking for help.
  •   I don’t accept others; I do their inventory.

    Many newcomers in ACA report they identify with the characteristics listed in “The Problem” (or “The Laundry List” or “The Characteristics”), but they can find no alcoholism in their family.  There can be many explanations — perhaps the family denial system prevents the newcomer from seeing the disease, or the family addiction has taken another form (drugs, compulsive over-eating, workaholism, violence, gambling, etc.) or there may actually be no aspect of alcoholism in the home.  The fact is, it doesn’t matter!  Our program is not about our parents or whether or not you can identify an alcoholic in your past.  Our program is about us. 

     For the first time in our lives, we are dealing with ourselves — we identify the characteristics in each and every one of us.  With this new focus on “self” and away from the personality, disease or identity of our parents or caretakers, we come to see how our program addresses us as “Adult Children” in the here and now.  We begin to experience a reality that is our own life, independent of the family drama that resulted in acquiring the characteristics that brought us to meetings. 

     In a healthy home, a child is allowed to develop a sense of “self” through the stability of the parents, through exploration and individuation.  The early stage called “The Terrible Twos” is the time when a healthy family allows the child to establish appropriate boundaries.  The child has learned the quality of trust necessary to risk finding their own identity (“I want…”, “Give me…”, “I don’t like…”, etc.) and the meaning of the word “No.” 

     In our homes (for whatever reason) we were not able to experience the stability needed for this vital process. Healthy exploration was distorted by unstable, unstructured lives.  Individuation was not possible. 

     We enter ACA feeling more comfortable talking about other people — what they did, what they said, what they were, etc.  We have had no experience in defining ourselves — what we feel, what we need, what we are.  When we grew up, we became extensions of those around us — learning their fears, behaviors, limitations, and prejudices.  In ACA we find a need to discover ourselves as unique individuals instead of living as extensions of those around us. 

     For many of us, the early stages of this process resulted in a feeling of guilt — as though we are “bad” for betraying the role placed on us by the family system.  There are those among us who froze at this stage of our voyage of Discovery/Recovery, but most of us progress at our speed if we are simply willing to admit those feelings to others.  The rigid and frightened child inside, who has come to view any change as a threat, can be loved, supported and nurtured through the changes necessary to become a healthy adult.

     We can see now that our lives, while sharing history and learned reactions with our family, are separate from our parents or caretakers.  We are not doomed to perpetuate the patterns we found necessary to our survival as children.

     Any Adult Child, through guidance of our loving Higher Power, can heal, accept the past and grow through the clear and consistent direction provided by the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.  Whether from the most violent alcoholic background or from the illusion of serenity in other dysfunctional homes, every Adult Child can begin progressing through the process of Recovery and the Discovery of “self”.

                              Joe D., Kelly M., Christian C., and Charlie Ann P.   1987