adult children of alcoholics

  • 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

I just added a new page to this blog.  It is titled ACA’s and Workplace.  It is a laundry list from the Red Book, pages 417-19, outlining some of the common problems that ACA’s have in the Workplace.  Just another way of identifying some of the problems that we bump up against on a daily basis because of the simple fact of having grown up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional home.

If it is something that you can relate to, leave a comment.


Hello !  We want to thank everyone who has joined us in making our group a success.  Just a little update, we have changed locations.  Actually we just moved down the street from where we were.  We have moved from Claycomo to the “JOY” Church right next door to Penguin Park.  If you are familiar with the area you will know exactly where I am talking about.  If you are not familiar with the area, do a map search.  It is very easy to find! 

Hope everyone continues to spend a little time with us. 

OH!!  and we are adding a couple meetings on Thursday nights…  one at 6 pm and one at 8 pm…  a little flexibility for all of us. 

Living In Serenity Today
The L.I.S.T. ACA Group
Adult Children of Alcoholics


St. Luke Presbyterian Church
4301 NE Vivion Road, Room 217
Kansas City, MO 64119

uesday 6-7 PM
Thursday 7-8 PM


We made it! One year of meetings. It is amazing…

At 3:00 PM,

on Saturday,

January 8th, 2011,

we will be celebrating our 1 year Anniversary.

Stop by and join us for a bit. We would love to meet you and share with you how this wonderful program has changed our lives. Hear how we got started and where we are today. We will have the coffee going and some snacks to share. Hope to see you!

1. Low or no self-esteem
2. Often feels responsible and blames self
3. Inability to trust self and others (may trust, but trusts wrong people)
4. Sense of worthlessness
5. Isolation
6. Sense of being helpless
7. Strong denial system
8. Low or no body awareness
9. Numb the pain with drinking, drugging, sexing, eating, etc.
10. Physical and medical symptoms – may be a lot of body complaints
11. Prostitution
12. Suicide – taking anger out on self
13. Sense of emptiness
14. Loss of playfulness and spontaneity
15. Many become abusive

These defenses interfere with developing relationships on an adult level.
1. Silence
2. Denial – may be believing it’s not happening
3. Dissociation – “becoming the spot on the ceiling”
4. Numb feelings
5. Change feelings – from anger to ______________
6. Change meaning of abuse – child may be told, “This is good for you”, so child may think “Doesn’t
this happen to all kids?”
7. Isolation – stay away from home, etc.

1. Share your story – you don’t need to deal with pain alone
2. Believe your story – you have a tendency to discount
3. Establish perpetrator responsibility – recognize it isn’t about you
4. Address the addictions used to numb the pain
5. Realize you can deal with the pain without mood altering substances
6. Learn to recognize, then accept, and then communicate feelings
7. Learn to nurture yourself
8. Build self-esteem and positive body image (affirmations)
9. Deal with family of origin – break the code of secrecy – by writing and talking with other people
10. Learn to be playful
11. Learn that now you do have a chance to live, you do have choices – YOU NEED NOT BE A
12. Take back your power – act responsibly, set boundaries that feel comfortable, control sexual
behavior – you can control who enters your life
13. Remind yourself of your strengths
14. Learn you can say “No”
15. Learn to give and receive criticism
16. Stop abusing others

Taken from the ACA WSO website

I think there might be some confusion as to how to find the individual pages for the Laundry List items.  Look at the column on the far right hand side of any page and you will find a section for Pages links.  In that section when you find the ACA Laundry List page, underneath it you will find the links to the pages for each of the items from the laundry list.

Hope this helps.

Just Lexxie, Chatterin’ Again

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