In addition to using the 12 steps as structure to recovery, below are listed some important items we will need to do to find our True Self.
1. Admitting that you are powerless to change your compulsive and addictive behaviours (co-dependency, alcoholism, drug or substance abuse, dysfunctional behaviour patterns) without some help.
2. Committing yourself to learning to identify the unresolved issues you learned from your family or origin.
3. Learning to recognize your family patterns as they occur in your present relationship.
4. Learning to feel and express completely the repressed and/or denied feelings from your childhood.
5. Developing a new understanding of what really happened to you as a child.
6. Developing new feelings connected to what happened to you as a child.
7. Learning to take responsibility for your new thoughts and feelings. This means taking charge of your life and no longer expecting someone else to do it.
8. Developing a new picture of your family of origin and your role in that family without feelings of hurt or condemnations.
9. Feeling compassion for your parents and for yourself as imperfect human beings.
10. Accepting your parents and yourself just the way that you and they are.
11. Forgiving your parents and yourself. This means to “give back” to them what is rightfully theirs and give back to yourself what is rightfully yours.
12. Restoring the wholeness of your mind, body and spirit through the connection with your true self.
Defenses We Use As Adult Children
or “The Ways We Avoid Our Feelings”
* Agreeing * Analyzing * Attacking, Aggression * Being Smug, Superior or Arrogant * Blaming, Accusing * Complying * Debating, Arguing * Defiance * Denying * Evading, Dodging * Explaining * Frowning * Glaring * Intellectualizing * Joking * Justifying, Moralizing * Minimizing * Projecting * Questioning or Interrogating * Rationalizing * Sarcasm * Shouting, Intimidating * Silence * Sparring * Staring * Switching * Theorizing * Threatening * Verbalizing, Talking * Withdrawing * Grinning, Smiling, or “Laughing Off” feelings * Preaching/Lecturing, e.g. saying “You” (what you need to do, etc.), instead of “I” * Quibbling, “Yes, but…”
A recovery Plan is a plan for getting better, not just hoping it will happen. It is something you can measure your progress against or fall back on when you feel stuck. Are you following your plan? Do you need to tweak it? Is it realistic?
However you decide to design a recovery plan, remember, it is not something to beat yourself up about for not following it exactly. It is to be used as a reminder of where you are striving to go. Check it at least once a week and see if you have been following it. If not, make a note on areas you need to concentrate. The idea of a recovery plan is to set a path of recovery so you can achieve it faster. It is being pro-active in that you are not waiting for the Recovery Fairy to tap you on the head with a wand and say “You are Cured.”
Below is an example of a Recovery Plan. The column on the right deals with current recovery issues you may want to concentrate on. As you go along, you may remove some and add others. The What and When columns are things you strive to do on a daily or weekly basis to be asurred you are working the program.
For More on Recovery Plans, check out Stage II Recovery, Life Beyond Addiction by Ernie Larsen.
What: When Recovery Issue
Meet with Sponsor/Fellow Traveler Once a Week My Feelings/Grief
Join a Step Group and Work Steps Twice a Month
Meditation by Nun Sue 1 times a Week Find Balance/ No Shoulds
Adult Children/What’s Normal Once a Week
The ACA Fellowship Text Nightly Work on Being Disciplined
Read for Pleasure Twice a Week
Meetings Four Times A Week Positive Action
ACA Monday 7-8/ or Sat Meet
ACA Wednesday 6:30-8 Practice Affirmations
ACOA Thursday 6:00-7:30 / or
Alanon Friday 7:30-9:00 Pray for Awareness
Spiritual Daily ___________
Meditate 5 times a week Work Steps 1,2,3
Something for Me/Play Twice a Week
Date with wife Once A Week
My Hobby Twice A Week
Physical Activities to Fight Depression or Get In Shape
Diet/ Drink More Water Daily
Exercise/ Walking Three times a Week
Journal At Least Twice A Week
About Issues That puzzle me
With My Inner child
* Remember that you will only get out of this experience what you put into it. Attendance is not enough. You must make the effort to practice what you learn so that you can change.
* Open yourself to the possibility there’s a better way than what you’ve been doing all your life.
* Promise yourself you’ll try some of the suggestions you hear and keep that promise.
* Make a commitment to keep coming back, even if you don’t feel like it. Six weeks is minimal to determine if the group is for you.
* Stop holding back for fear of what others will think of you.
* Try to make at least one phone call a week to a member of the group. Break the pattern of suffering in silence.
* Share something every week, even if it’s hard for you to do so. This will help dissolve isolation and victim consciousness as well as build trust.
* Try to feel at home in the group. Talk to at least one new person every time you can.
* Remember that you are here to build new behaviours and attitudes. So quit practicing the old ones (at least in small ways, until you are stronger).
* Listen to what others in the group say and think of how it relates to you. Every person in the room represents an aspect of you. Learn from them.
* Give yourself permission to be vulnerable.
* Read all the books and literature about adult children of alcoholics that you can find. Knowledge is power and the truth will make you free.
* Make the group a priority in your life. Schedule other things around it because you deserve a better life and are willing to work for it.
* Be willing to be totally honest with yourself at all times. This is the key to knowing that the truth will set you free.
* Read the 12 steps every day and try to relate them to your life and experience. Use the Serenity Prayer in the same way…wherever you are and whenever you need it.
Here is a document for feeling feelings. Source: Daily Affirmations For Adult Children of Alcoholics, Rokelle Lerner, Health Communications, 1985. p.361.
There is a distinct difference between feelings and thoughts. Typically, Adult Children are unfamiliar with words that describe feelings. In dysfunctional families feelings are not allowed. As children we learned don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel, so feeling, trusting and talking become the healing process for us. We allow ACA meetings to come from our feelings rather than from our control because alcoholism and codependency are diseases of denial and control. Below is a list of “feeling” words.
My Feelings Are Worth My “Attention”
Today I have a choice in how to deal with my feelings. My emotions are visitors that stay forever unless I talk them out or work them out. Otherwise, I will inevitably act them out. When I suppress my feelings, they often show up in the form of phobias, compulsions or physical ailments.
Through the day, I will pay attention to how my body responds to feelings. If my throat is tight, perhaps I am angry. If my chest is heavy, perhaps I am sad. My body can give me much information if I don’t disconnect from my physiological responses. If I have alienated myself from my emotions, today is the day I will welcome them and allow them to pass.
I realize now that my feelings are interrelated; when I can deny my sadness or pain, I can just as easily deny my joy and pleasure. When I unconsciously act out repressed emotions, I become out of touch with my own life. Today I will remember that from my feelings blossoms vulnerability, sensitivity, and healing.
Guidelines For Expressing Feelings:
1. Expressing feelings begins with “I…” keeping the focus on me.
2. Formula: “I feel ____ (adjective follows: happy, sad, embarrassed, elated, etc.) about…”
3. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, they just are.
4. Saying, “I feel THAT…,” is NOT expressing a feeling.
5. If I can substitute “I think” for “I feel,” then I am expressing a thought.
Feeling Words: angry, enraged, loved, exhausted, happy, sorry, generous, heavenly, sympathetic, grief stricken, afraid, bewildered, refreshed, inspired, discouraged, humble, frigid, abused, pensive, blah, romantic, taut, foolish, low, edgy, giddy, unglued, elated, pooped, groovy, privileged, distant, submissive, quiet, cooperative, uncertain, seductive, safe, panicky, confident, merry, rejected, paralyzed, stretched, affectionate, proud,enthusiastic, burdened, tearful, confused, important, bored, sexual, dishonest, ugly, heroic, wimpy, hopeless, miserable, apprehensive, seething, blocked, thankful, compassionate, at ease, irritated, frustrated, loving, joyful, grateful, humiliated, scared, hot, powerless, disorganized, jealous, frightened, dependent, grief-stricken, weepy, resentful, depressed, worried, puzzled, relieved, anxious, tired, sad, thankful, playful, hurt, stagnated, disappointed.