Recovery



    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

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Yesterday, all I got done was posting a copy of the Serenity Prayer, but today I would like to share why it is so important to me. 

When I first got into recovery, I had some pretty big things going on in my life.  My marriage was falling apart and I was falling apart.  In the beginning, it seemed as though the only place I could find where I could actually take a deep breath and relax for a few minutes was when I was sitting in a meeting.  Needless to say, I made it to as many meetings as I could find back then. 

One of the first tools of the program that I grabbed hold of was the Serenity Prayer.  I used it in those moments, hours, days, when I had no clue what else to do or how to go about finding any answers.  I would use it as a mantra, I would chant it, I would reduce it to a 3 word prayer.  Serenity, Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Courage, Wisdom…..  Until the tears would stop, until I could breathe again, until I could shift gears and let go of the trauma of the day.  The Serenity Prayer was my anchor when it seemed as though there was nothing else that I could hold on to.    It was short enough that I could remember it even when my brain seemed to have slipped all its’ gears and be functioning on autopilot.  Yet, it was meaningful enough to get through to me.  I would know that the storm had passed when I would take that first shuddering breath and could feel my body beginning to relax.  Thank you God!  This too has passed…

Just Lexxie, Chatterin’ Again…


I had been married for about 10 years.  I knew he was having affairs.  I had even talked to a couple of the bolder ones on the phone who had the nerve to call his home, MY home, the home of our CHILDREN!  One of them I remember kept asking “Who are you?”  I responded “HIS WIFE !  who are you?”  Well, after several go-rounds with this particular robin, I knew this conversation was going nowhere fast and hung up.  You might, with righteous indignation demand, “What did he say when you confronted him?”  But, sadly, at that point in my life, my already hugely battered self-esteem would not allow me to even attempt to confront him one more time.  I couldn’t have taken watching him stand there in front of me and blandly lie to me yet again over his inappropriate behavior.  If he had said to me one more time, “I don’t know who it was, must have been a wrong number.”  This was way before the days of caller ID, mind you.   I would have just disintegrated right there on the spot.  Ya’know, just like how they show the vampires on TV, when they get struck by the sun, one minute they are standing there in full view of everyone, the sun comes up and poof!  all that remains where they were standing is this cloud of smoke and dust.  That would have been me.   I just couldn’t’ve take it again….

This obviously wasn’t the first one and I was completely convinced that as long as I stayed there would continue to be others.  I had two children under 10 years old and wasn’t working at the time.  Children needed their father, didn’t they?  Children in a family together, even when it was not good, was still better than children from a divorced family, wasn’t that what everyone said?

This was all happening during the early 80’s.  We were enlightened back then.  Feminism was alive and active.  So where did it all go wrong? Now, I think it was all wrong before it ever started, but that is another story for another day.  But back then, I thought it was all my fault.  I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t a good enough housekeeper, and on and on, ad nauseam….

There was a part of me that knew he loved me, or so I told myself.  And yet, the scene that kept running through my head was this:

“If I could find a tree, just the right size tree, and run my car into it, not too hard, but just hard enough, ….  I could knock myself out, be unconscious for 4-5 days, he would come RUNNING to my bedside, sit there as the handsome, distraught, young loving husband, holding my hand, gently stroking it, repeating over and over again how sorry he was, what a schmuck he had been, could I ever forgive him, please come back to him and give him another chance, how he would never mess up again…. Then, after he was sufficiently scared that he might actually lose me,  I would miraculously come out of my coma, with absolutely no brain damage, tell him I heard every word he had said to me while I was unconscious and how I completely forgave him, because I know knew that he would be forever faithful, now that he had almost lost me and realized how much he really did love me. ”

Jeez, Louise!  What FANTASIES we can come up with to appease our broken hearts!  …  and our bruised and battered self-esteem.

I was probably 4 or 5 years into recovery when it finally dawned on me as I heard another woman talking around a table.  She was telling a story about HER FANTASY, and I thought, “oh, my, gawd, she is suicidal!”.  Then and there, in that moment of recognition, it dawned on me that I had been suicidal.  If anyone had asked me at the time that was all going on if I was suicidal I would have completely denied that I was, at that time suicidal, or had ever been suicidal.  After all, it was just a little fantasy, wasn’t it???  …..  It probably took me another 5 years before I could tell that story for myself sitting around a table….  Finally admitting, that yes, I had been suicidal for several years when I got into recovery

Just Lexxie, Chatterin’ Again!


In the Big Red Book for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families you will find this list of 25 questions.  They can help you determine if alcoholism or other family dysfunction existed in your family.  If your parents did not drink, your grandparents may have drank and passed on the disease of family dysfunction to your parents.  These questions can offer you insight into some of the ways children are affected by growing up with a problem drinker even years after leaving the home.  These questions also apply to adults growing up in homes where food, sex, workaholism, or ultra-religious abuse occurred.  Many foster children, now adults, also relate to these questions.

1.  Do you recall anyone drinking or taking drugs or being involved in some other behavior that you now believe could be dysfunctional?

2.  Did you avoid bringing friends to your home because of drinking or some other dysfunctional behavior in the home?

3.  Did one of your parents make excuses for their other parent’s drinking or other behaviors?

4.  Did your parents focus on each other so much that they seemed to ignore you?

5.  Did your parents or relatives argue constantly?

6.  Were you drawn into arguments or disagreements and asked to choose sides with one parent or relative against another?

7.  Did you try to protect your brothers or sisters against drinking or other behavior in the family?

8.  As an adult, do you feel immature?  Do you feel like you are a child inside?

9.  As an adult, do you believe you are treated like a child when you interact with your parents?   Are you continuing to live out a childhood role with your parents?

10.  Do you believe that it is your responsibility to take care of your parents’ feelings or worries?  Do other relatives look to you to solve their problems?

11.  Do you fear authority figures and angry people?

12.  Do you constantly seek approval or praise but have difficulty accepting a compliment when one comes your way?

13.  Do you see most forms of criticism as a personal attack?

14.  Do you over commit yourself and then feel angry when others do not appreciate what you do?

15.  Do you think you are responsible for the way another person feels or behaves?

16.  Do you have difficulty identifying feelings?

17.  Do you focus outside yourself for love or security?

18.  Do you involve yourself in the problems of others?  Do you feel more alive when there is a crisis?

19.  Do you equate sex with intimacy?

20.  Do you confuse love and pity?

21.  Have you found yourself in a relationship with a compulsive or dangerous person and wonder how you got there?

22.  Do you judge yourself without mercy and guess at what is normal?

23.  Do you behave one way in public and another way at home?

24.  Do you think your parents had a problem with drinking or taking drugs?

25.  Do you think you were affected by the drinking or other dysfunctional behavior of your parents or family?

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, you may be suffering from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional family.  Please take the time to attend our ACA meeting or find one in your area to learn more.


I have been working on adding what Tony said in his book, The Laundry List about each of his steps.  You can find this on the pages for each individual step.

The way that I am doing this is putting Tony’s step, then what he said about it and next is the comparable Alanon step and eventually I will put what Alanon says about their step.

Hopefully, by looking at each one individually and then blending the two it will be helpful in figuring out what each of the steps is about and how to work with them.  Leave me a message and let me know if you like the idea or think it is stupid….  lol… not that that will stop me…  but it could start a great discussion…  Later, Lexxie

*If anyone holding a current legitimate copyright, has issues with this or anything else from the book, “The Laundry List” being copied on this blog, please contact me directly and I would be happy to discuss this with you.  I have attempted to find the legitimate copyright holders, however with the anonymity of the 12 Step program I have been unable to locate them.


Adult Children of Alcoholics
World Service Organization

2010 Annual Business Meeting

Held  April 23-25, 2010

In Tulsa, Oklahoma

Mark your calendar for the 2010 ABC. The ABC will be held April 23-25, 2010 at UUMC “Great Hall”, 2915 E 5th Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.

The 2010 ABC Committee is pleased to announce that the next Annual Business Conference of Adult Children of Alcoholics will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the fourth weekend of April 2010. All ACA members are welcome to attend. Each registered ACA group and Intergroup is encouraged to elect one voting delegate to attend the ABC. Only those delegates registering as the authorized representative of their ACA group or Intergroup will be eligible to vote on motions at the ABC.