Para-alcoholics Are Reactors Rather Than Actors.
On the stage of life the para-alcoholic waits for the signals and directions of others. The para-alcoholic is generally an other-directed individual who tries to determine an acceptable course of action based upon his or her perception of what will please and satisfy others.
The ACoA is often described as an adaptive individual with a very vague central self. All through childhood the ACoA was forced to adapt, adjust and respond to the needs and demands of drunken and often abusive parents. This child learns to react almost automatically, usually out of fear or need. And it is this response pattern, often driven by dependency and low self-esteem, that ACoAs carry into their adult world.
In the recovery process ACoAs need to learn to process uncomfortable feelings and demands without reacting automatically. What helped me with this issue was the technique of not responding immediately – no quick reply, no jumping into action. I forced myself to stop and think, which also gave me time to process the disturbing feelings that were bouncing around inside me. Instead of reacting I learned to temporize, to tell people that I wanted to think about it first.
Initially I was amazed at how people respected my request for time or my inaction. I learned that as an ACoA I had been programmed to respond in an unhealthy way to both sick and healthy situations. Now I usually take charge of my responses, and they are almost always guided by a healthy respect for what is appropriate and in “my” best interest. Most of the time I have stopped looking for validation and approval from others.
Excerpt from Chapter 4 – The Recovery Process in The Laundry List by Tony A. and Dan F.