The Laundry List Kindle Edition    (  <–  click on link to Amazon)

I am so glad to finally be able to share this with everyone!  This is the original book written by Tony A. that began the Adult Children of Alcoholics movement.  This is where you will find the 12 steps that Tony developed.  Tony A.’s life story and how he came to create the ACoA group.  This is available as a Kindle ebook for $9.99.  Please get a copy and enjoy.  Much of the information on this blog was quoted from this book.

Just Lexxie, Chatter’in Again


    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


Just a note to let everyone know that I finally got the Laundry List expanded.  In Tony A’s book The Laundry List, he explains each of the ACoA characteristics.  I have created a page for each characteristic, like I did with the steps, and added Tony’s explanations of the Laundry List.  At the moment they are a bit out of order but I hope to get that fixed pretty soon.  Tony had some interesting things to say about each of these characteristics, I hope you find this information helpful.


Memorial Day….    What does that mean???

I had this vague idea, but not being a history buff of any kind, I had to go look it up…  Google is my Friend!  lol

Memorial Day was originally about honoring the soldiers who died during the Civil War to preserve the United States of America.  As time went on and other major wars were fought, Memorial Day Observances were expanded to include ANY American soldier who fought and died for his country.  Who “Gave His All”, is how they said it.  But, what about the soldiers who in many ways “Gave His All” and still managed to come home alive.  The ones they called “shell-shocked”.

Taken from WiseGeek:

[http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-shell-shock.htm]

The term “shell shock” was used during the First World War to describe the acute stress reactions displayed by many soldiers in the battlefield. When unaddressed, short-term combat stress reactions can lead to more prolonged problems, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study of combat stress reactions has advanced significantly since the First World War, when soldiers with shell shock were commonly treated as malingerers who were attempting to get out of the fighting.

Several things are signs of shell shock. Most commonly, soldiers seem disoriented and unable to focus. They may also experience a number of autonomic nervous system reactions like shaking, nightmares, twitching, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, anxiety, and irritability, among others. The rate of combat stress reactions tends to go up as the rate of injuries and deaths increases. In the trenches of the First World War, the 10% casualty rate was devastating, and rates of combat stress reactions were extremely high.

Sadly, many ACOA’s understand all too well, what it is probably like in a combat zone, only they called it “home”.  Growing up in a dysfunctional home, whether that be with an alcoholic, an addict, an obsessive perfectionist, a rage-aholic, or whatever else made “home” feel like a war zone, many of us get it…

Like the soldiers accused of cowardice, we too were sent back to the front lines every day.  We had no escape either.  Many were told, “just get over it”, or “stop faking it” or any other of an endless stream of remarks designed to diminish what we were feeling, to shut us up, to make us doubt ourselves and our reactions.  ….   Just like the soldiers with shell shock or PTSD.

Thank God for 12 Step Programs!

Just Lexxie, Chatterin’ Again!


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…


geez, I am sitting here on the fence, getting splinters in very uncomfortable places…  if ya’know what I mean…  lol

I know many ACoA’s feel very threatened when a polar opinion comes up, so please don’t take offense or feel challenged by what I am about to say. I am not trying to decide this issue pro or con for anyone else. I am not trying to declare that anyone is wrong about this, which ever way they feel, however, several questions immediately pop into my head about this issue.

In this day and age I think anonymity is well on its’ way to becoming a double edged sword. I am, by no means, proclaiming that everyone go out and shout from the rooftops, “I AM A MEMBER OF (12 step program of your choice) AA, ACOA, NA, CA, etc, etc. AND I can completely agree that anonymity is a big deal within the 12 Step Programs. I have chosen to maintain my anonymity here on this blog, but, I am getting to the point where I have very mixed feelings about anonymity and 12 Step programs and personal recovery.

Anonymity was built into the programs in a day and age where there were very severe consequences in your life and your work world if you admitted to being an alcoholic or a drug addict. You instantly became “untrustworthy”. When in fact, the opposite was probably more the case. By admitting to being an addict or an alcoholic, you then, hopefully, began to behave in a more trustworthy manner because you knew people would be watching you more closely now that they had someone to blame things on. “oh, it was that drunk, Joey, he did it! I always knew there was somethin’ funny about him!” In many ways, unfortunately, a lot of those consequences still exist in our world today.

There is also the issue of proclaiming to the world “ I am an alcoholic and I got sober in AA” and 5 days, or months, or years later, getting arrested for another DUI and getting it splattered across the front page of the paper, or the internet home page of your choice. It does give a bad name to the program, or does it? Is it the fault of the program that didn’t work or the individuals just being human if they relapse… It seems as though no one is really interested in what was going on with the individual that they got into a place where the best option they came up with was to get drunk again. Isn’t it more about what they do about that relapse that counts than the fact that they relapsed in the first place? There is a saying that I don’t remember where I picked up, but it goes something like, “it is not about what happens to you in life, it’s about how you handle it” So by relapsing and then picking yourself up and saying, “Hey, this isn’t working for me any better this time than it did the last time I tried it!” and then doing something positive about it… like going through rehab again or going back to the meetings that saved your life the first time around. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where people put more emphasis on what you do when bad things happen than the fact that something bad happened in the first place. Where would Tiger Woods be if people said, “ok, you messed up, now how are you going to change your behavior, what are you going to do differently, how are you going to fix this?” But NO, everyone wants to know all the gory details, how many were there, where did they meet, how long has this been going on? We seem to all have some ACOA in us as I see it.

Does anyone REALLY have anonymity in this day and age? What with the internet, facebook, myspace, and the biggest offender of them all in regards to personal privacy/anonymity, TWITTER? Just because a website or a forum has a password system on it, doesn’t mean that no one can get into it without a password. Or that they can’t just PRETEND, and say all the right things and get into the forum and get their own password. How many databases is my information in, my surfing preferences on the internet, what I am chatting about? These can all be accessed if someone wants to badly enough. It is just that most of the time, with most individuals no one cares that much what the heck I am chattering about… lol

Isn’t anonymity, in fact, in direct conflict with learning how to break the ACA family rule of “Don’t Talk”? How do I keep this big secret about what I am doing with myself now that I am in recovery and not doing the things I used to do anymore? How do I resolve this conflict?

What about all the individuals who wear ANY kind of recovery jewelry? The camel pins, the triangle rings, etc, etc… or the bumper stickers that you can get at conventions? Aren’t all of these methods of breaking anonymity? And yet an entire industry has grown around all of it. You can even turn an AA sobriety coin into a key chain bob if you want to… Most of the people who see the pin, or key chain bob, or ring, aren’t going to know what they signify unless they are in some way connected to recovery themselves. I sure didn’t know what those items were about even after I got into recovery, until I started asking questions.

Then there is the fact that all of the steps and traditions are simply GUIDELINES, there are no governing bodies, entities, individuals within the 12 Step structures, so doesn’t it all boil down to a personal decision? As a matter of fact, the entire program is a program of suggestion… isn’t it? And who am I to become that “governing body” that says, “you bad person, you are breaking your anonymity”.

Isn’t part of the tremendous growth of ALL of the 12 Step programs simply about more people finding out that there is a way to learn how to live without addictions and dysfunctional family styles… Isn’t part of that growth BECAUSE people are speaking out about this wonderful thing that they discovered called a 12 Step Program? How many adolescents lives have been saved because their rock star idol got clean? Or their sports hero came clean and talked about how he did it, with a 12 step program…

Just Lexxie, chattering away again!

Chatter back! Let me know what YOU think about this one.


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.