Adult children of alcoholics/Al-anon/other options? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 09-29-2010, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My mom is a recovering alcoholic. I've been realizing how much her alcoholism still effects me to this day, and been wanting to reach out. (I found the book "It will never happen to me" sitting under a free sign, and started reading it and was surprised how many traits and behaviors of mine that I thought were just things that were just flaws in me are actually common to many children of alcholics. I'm definitely planning on working through some of the therapy stuff in the book, but I'd really like to maybe try a group therapy-ish thing, and can't afford to pay.

I know adult children of alcoholics and al-anon both are free/(self supporting donations), but the fact that they are twelve step programs really bothers me. I guess they (from the website) feel a lot like all the AA meetings my mom dragged and cajoled and begged and bribed me into going to as a teenager. I don't want their big book, or their twelve steps. I don't want to say the lord's prayer like they do at AA. I know it's a non-religious organization, but the lord's prayer is a christian prayer. I'm not the one with the drinking problem, I don't want to have to "work the steps", I just want to find a few people to talk to, who have a similar history.

Are there any groups for the adult children of alcoholics that don't use the AA model? I can't afford to pay much if anything. My parents pay for my healthcare, and while they would pay for group therapy probably, I really don't want to ask.

ETA: I've been reading alternative/adapted twelve steps, and some of them really I find interesting. (particularly several pagan ones, even though I'm not pagan), so I guess, it's not that it's twelve steps that bother me, but that the way they are worded etc in AA and ACoA bothers me. That said, I may check ACoA out. Any expeiriences with it? tell me what to expect? did you like it? still looking for other groups too. thanks.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#2 of 18 Old 09-29-2010, 12:00 PM
 
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I don't know about non-12 step AA/Al-Anon/ACOA groups, but I do have a suggestion for a non-Christian approach to the 12 steps. Check out a book called "Zen of Recovery" by Mel Ash. It's a Buddhist approach and it's a wonderful book. It helped me tremendously.
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#3 of 18 Old 09-29-2010, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks. I will. I checked out a few other approaches (variations on twelve step) from the library, and since ACoA uses an AA twelve step, it might be that some of the alternative religious paths' twelve steps might be more suitable for me.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#4 of 18 Old 10-01-2010, 01:28 AM
 
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So glad to see your post.
I've been thinking a lot about how to break the chain lately. I'm also the daughter of alcoholics (both mom and dad) and have done a lot of work over the years to break free of that (reading, therapy, ACA groups here and there, but non-committal till April), originally so that I could have good relationships.
Having a twenty month old son has motivated me in a new way to dig deeper and really commit to living dysfunction-free and honestly, openly, and lovingly. My aim is to not pass down para-alcoholic traits; I don't drink but I've inherited addiction-like coping behaviors (sugar, for example).
I have had similar hesitations about ACA due to the "God" and "cult" associations with 12 Step groups. And I've dipped in and out of ACA over the years. I'm back "in" and it's resonating like never before. The ACA group I found--the people--are remarkable and so mature and dedicated to plain, honest, self-focused healing that they make all the difference in the world.
I tried Al-Anon in the past when there was nothing else, but ACA resonated for me like nothing else had. (I found those meetings ill-fitting and too focused on the alcoholics.)
Books can be great. Books have helped me learn, gain an intellectual knowledge of what happened to me.
I read a review of an older book on parenting self/parenting one's child as the child of alcoholics -- "Growing up Again, Parenting Ourselves Parenting Our Children," which is written with people like us in mind.
For what it's worth, you can check out my blog for ACAs -- I've been writing for years and something there might help you http://www.guesswhatnormalis.com
I would encourage you to try, like, 4-6 ACA meetings (different ones if there are a few in your area), then decide if it's for you or not. There's nothing to lose, and it's affordable -- I usually donate $1 or $2 per meeting. Cheapest, best therapy I've ever had. I spent thousands on a therapist (over the years) who didn't truly understand my ACA issues in the way I needed.
I'm still working on my definition of a Higher Power and I'm resistant to the Steps (which are slightly different for ACA, which is separate from AA), but...I know that in many ways those are my authority figure issues in action.
Anyway -- thank you for posting this, and it's a worthwhile effort to break the chain.
Yeay for you!
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#5 of 18 Old 10-01-2010, 04:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks. Your blog seems really interesting. I actually meant to go to an ACA meeting tonight, but DP had the car and was working too late for me to go. maybe next week.

Thank you.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#6 of 18 Old 10-04-2010, 09:39 PM
 
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I attended Al-anon for about a year and a half, and in that time I think I made a huge amount of progress. One of their slogans is "take what you like and leave the rest." I didn't like all of it, didn't do all of the steps, never had a sponsor, disliked some of the regulars, didn't buy into all of it, but it did help me. I think that will go for any kind of therapy you find. Some parts of it will help, some won't, just take home what works for you.

Good luck to you and good for you for trying to make your life better.
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#7 of 18 Old 04-23-2011, 10:30 PM
 
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Magalet,

 

I found my own ACOA meetings to be VERY helpful.  Yes, they follow the AA/Al-Anon 12-step format, and if the Lord's prayer is recited at some point, that's probably as "Christian" as the meeting gets. Any reference to God is generally interpreted to mean "A Higher Power as We Choose to Understand It/Him/Her."

 

But what I found truly helpful and healing about these meetings was not the "working of the steps" or reference to a Higher Power.  It was the group discussion, especially with regards to the sharing and complete acceptance that lead to my own openness, in turn leading to amazing insights I gained.  These understandings of my own behaviors were like a breath of fresh air leading to acceptance and understanding of the way things were and are and, ultimately, to changes in my outlook and behavior.

 

This group acceptance of our innermost thoughts is something no child, friend, or relative of an alcoholic has experienced before. It can undo the damage just as powerfully as exposure to alcoholic behavior wounded us initially.  I personally feel that minor unease with any religious bent to the meetings is unimportant; feel free to discard that aspect.

Cheers, --J

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#8 of 18 Old 04-25-2011, 09:29 AM
 
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My parents are both alcoholics, and have been for all of my life.  Oddly enough, it was something I didn't realize until I was an adult, because it was always normal.  (Not normal, but MY normal, if that makes sense)  I was the youngest of three kids, so I believe my brother and sister sheltered me a lot.  No one ever spoke about it, except for one time I remember when we were having an argument about my wedding dress, of all things, (so I was clearly an adult) and I said "You are too drunk right now to have this conversation!" and the hush fell over the room, like someone finally spoke of the unspeakable.  I think it was a moment for me, though, and it began to help me look back at my own childhood with a different perspective.  To this day, I'll remember something odd that happened, and then the familiar wave of "Oh, they did that because they were drunk" will wash over me, and it makes me feel sorry for that small, vulnerable me.

 

I am agnostic and not interested in a 12 step program either, so I really feel you, OP.  I have considered starting a similar thread in the past, but I have a nagging thought that this isn't really "my" problem, because they are the ones with the problem, and it keeps me from helping myself.

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#9 of 18 Old 04-30-2011, 11:42 AM
 
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I am an atheist and I still found it possible to attend Al-Anon/ACOA.  Everyone has reservations and usually they are about the God thing.  Meetings that say the Lord's Prayer are in the wrong to do so, though it is technically their choice through their group conscience process.  I just avoid those meetings.

 

Anyway, you can definitely do it without swallowing any Christian or religious stuff.  At the beginning, I just sought out people who also were atheist and questioned them relentlessly.  In the end, I just had to live my way into the solution and not let my reservations get in the way.  Don't worry about the future.  Just check it out now.  Give it a few meetings - go to different meetings and go more than once.  I am by no means a 12-step-addict - I think there are some problems with it, and some things that are good - like everything else in life.  The key to it, and why it works, is BEING AROUND PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND.  If for no other reason, just go to meet people who understand.  For me, I found out that the things my dad criticized me for were just artifacts of growing up in a family of alcoholics.  This was huge b/c it let me stop blaming myself.  Then years later I came to understand that my dad is the child of an alcoholic, and so it is natural for him to be the way he is.  This has led to so much freedom.  I have come from dreaming of killing my father to being able to have a loving relationship with him.  It is amazing.


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#10 of 18 Old 05-01-2011, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm coming to think maybe I'd be willing to give it a try, but there are crazy few ACOA meetings around here. (Only two a week, and I can't make either!!) And driving 45 minutes each way or spending 8 dollars+ on public transit (and 30 min each way) isn't happening either. So maybe I can try it if I can make the one meeting that I might be able to make when I start school next fall (but it depends on my schedule).

In the meantime, I'm hoping (though doubting I'll find), a women's adult child group therapy group. (In addition to the Lord's Prayer and twelve step issues, I'm nervous about the idea of a co-ed group, I don't think I would feel safe in it. I have a lot of fear issues around men. I'm ok in certain circumstances (more "public" circumstances), but it would take me a long time to feel comfortable in a 12-step group type circumstance, and sharing private stuff like feelings/my past etc. My partner and my rabbi are really the only men I am comfortable talking to about my emotional life.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#11 of 18 Old 05-02-2011, 05:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magelet View Post

I'm coming to think maybe I'd be willing to give it a try, but there are crazy few ACOA meetings around here. (Only two a week, and I can't make either!!) And driving 45 minutes each way or spending 8 dollars+ on public transit (and 30 min each way) isn't happening either. So maybe I can try it if I can make the one meeting that I might be able to make when I start school next fall (but it depends on my schedule).

In the meantime, I'm hoping (though doubting I'll find), a women's adult child group therapy group. (In addition to the Lord's Prayer and twelve step issues, I'm nervous about the idea of a co-ed group, I don't think I would feel safe in it. I have a lot of fear issues around men. I'm ok in certain circumstances (more "public" circumstances), but it would take me a long time to feel comfortable in a 12-step group type circumstance, and sharing private stuff like feelings/my past etc. My partner and my rabbi are really the only men I am comfortable talking to about my emotional life.


There are only two here - one was early Saturday morning and a 45 minute drive into a bad neighborhood, so I get it.  Have you looked online?  I found lots of great discussion boards online. 

 

Does your rabbi help?

 


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On hospital bedrest for pPROM since 23 weeks
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#12 of 18 Old 05-02-2011, 10:55 AM
 
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My dad was an alcoholic until just after I left for college. I don't know what it was about me leaving, but he was dry within several months after I left. I'm 42, and all these years he's still been a "dry drunk" - not drinking, but all the behavior patterns are still there.

 

He got dry through AA, but he's still in denial. Calls it "the program" to everyone and never got as far as Step 4 with me - apologizing for the hurt his drinking caused.

 

I tried Al-Anon and ACoA, but my problems with the meetings I found was that everyone had the alcoholic still in their daily life. Mine was 300+ miles away.

 

I've not done hardly any therapy besides talking with the pastor of the church I went to 10 years ago, but I've had to essentially cut off my parents due to their continual bad behavior towards me. I moved 300+ miles away 15 years ago and it was one of the best things I've done.

 

I've not done much reading even for a good many years, but I've had good things happening in my life the past three years or so - basically, after so many years of my parents telling me I was cr*p, I've come to realize, through the actions of others, that I'm definitely not cr*p. I've assumed leadership roles at church, things I was *asked* to do, developed skills and interests I didn't have before (for example, my mom always told me I couldn't sing, yet I'm an appreciated member of my church choir and occasionally sing at special area services) or didn't fully develop, having internalized the cr*p message. Music, photography (people even ask me to shoot their small weddings!), and I've got organizing skills (both events and stuff) that are in demand.

 

Through the unconditional love of a lot of friends, I've healed a lot. Still have some anger issues and I've got a low annoyance threshhold, but while I've hated confrontation, I've "girded my loins" several times in the past couple years and really confronted someone who needed it. And I've learned to walk away, not hang on, when relationships weren't working out, and there wasn't anything I could do to make the situation better. Sucking it up and just coping was what I did growing up. I don't have to do it now I'm an adult (I've never married and don't have kids, so walking away from a friendship or romantic relationship that's not working out is different than walking away from a marriage).

 

Felt good to get that out!


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#13 of 18 Old 05-02-2011, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My rabbi is awesome about a lot of things (spiritual issues, jewish practice, and awesome life wisdom), but he doesn't really know anything about alcoholism, or it's effects on member's of the alcoholics family. So I definitely turn to him for help with lots of things, and he's someone who I can turn to in a crisis, any sort of crisis, but really specific ACOA issues not really. I don't feel like what I need is a listening ear, I need people to discuss with who've been there, and such, kwim? I'd be curious what forums you found helpful.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#14 of 18 Old 05-02-2011, 08:26 PM
 
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I'm so sorry to those of you who don't have what I have available here. I have the choice of at least one and often two meetings daily where I live, and only one so far has included the Lord's Prayer. I have a video of a rabbi talking about emotional sobriety, but I'm not sure if it's okay to post. I found it very helpful, and I am not Jewish :-)


 

 

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#15 of 18 Old 05-03-2011, 07:34 AM
 
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http://www.adultchildren.org/  (This is their top-level board website.)

 

http://forums.adultchildren.org/  (forum - requires registration)

 

http://www.allone.com/12/aca/ (search by country "internet")

 

 


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#16 of 18 Old 05-03-2011, 07:43 AM
 
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Also, reading on your own is enormously helpful.

 

Anything by Melody Beattie

Adult Children of Alcoholics

 

Perfect Daughters

 

Recovery: A Guide for ACOA

 

Hope for Today  (This is the Al-Anon daily reader directed at adult children and it is FABULOUS.  Full of stories about people like us.  If you can't meet people in real life, this is almost as good.)

 

Finally, don't limit yourself to ACOA meetings - I went to a lot of Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings, b/c they understand, even if they are not all children of alcoholics.  Many ACOA marry alcoholics/addicts (I did) and so many people at the Al-Anon/Nar-Anon meetings understand completely. 

 

If you'd ever like to chat, PM me.  :-)


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#17 of 18 Old 05-03-2011, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the links. And I'd love that video, if you would maybe PM the link to me?


Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#18 of 18 Old 05-03-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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Thanks for those links.  I kinda feel like I am trying to grow up all over again right now.  I am trying to heal things that happened when I should have been worried about teenage stuff, or, really, kid stuff.  I know it has caused issues for dh and I.  And trying to be a parent while realizing all the ways your own parents screwed up...whoa.  It's been a tough year of realizing where my bad habits come from.  

 

Positive thoughts to everyone who is dealing with this stuff.  It is so hard.

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