♥ It is okay to know who I am.
♥ It is okay to trust myself.
♥ It is okay to say I am an adult child.
♥ It is okay to know another way to live.
♥ It is okay to say no without feeling guilty.
♥ It is okay to give myself a break.
♥ It is okay to cry when I watch a movie or hear a song.
♥ My feelings are okay even if I am still learning how to distinguish them.
♥ It is okay to not take care of others when I think.
♥ It is okay to feel angry.
♥ It is okay to have fun and celebrate.
♥ It is okay to make mistakes and learn.
♥ It is okay to not know everything.
♥ It is okay to say “I don’t know.”
♥ It is okay to ask someone to show me how to do things.
♥ It is okay to dream and have hope.
♥ It is okay to think about things differently than my family.
♥ It is okay to explore and say, “I like this or I like that.”
♥ It is okay to detach with love.
♥ It is okay to seek my own Higher Power.
♥ It is okay to reparent myself with thoughtfulness.
♥ It is okay to say I love myself.
♥ It is okay to work an ACA program.
The help for your
The Bill of Rights for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families
The ACA Bill of Rights
- I have the right to say no.
- I have the right to say, “I don't know.”
- have the right to detach from anyone in whose company I feel humiliated or manipulated.
- I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- I have the right to be wrong.
- I have the right to make mistakes and learn from them.
- I have the right to make my own choices and decisions in my life.
- I have the right to grieve any actual or perceived losses.
- I have the right to all of my feelings.
- I have the right to feel angry, including towards someone I love.
- I have the right to change my mind at any time.
- I have the right to a spiritually, physically, and emotionally healthier existence, though it may deviate entirely or in part from my parents' way of life.
- I have the right to forgive myself and to choose how and when I forgive others.
- I have the right to take healthy risks and to experiment with new possibilities.
- I have the right to be honest in my relationships and to seek the same from others.
- I have the right to ask for what I want.
- I have the right to determine and honor my own priorities and goals, and to leave others to do the same.
- I have the right to dream and to have hope.
- I have the right to be my True Self.
- I have the right to know and nurture my Inner Child.
- I have the right to laugh, to play, to have fun, and the freedom to celebrate this life, right here, right now.
- I have the right to live life happy, joyous, and free.
An ACA Meditation Practice
Recovering the Emotional Childhood
Click here to view a daily meditation practice
Six Essential Recovery Tasks
This task centers around our recognition of dysfunction including physical responses, cognitive problems and interpersonal difficulties in social situations and with significant others. The fellow traveler’s task is to encourage this vital recognition of the signs of distress in a way that builds trust and creates the sense of unity needed to continue in the recovery process.
This task involves uncovering and embracing the hidden dissociated parts of the self. Because of traumatic conditioning, these hidden parts of our selves perceive, evaluate and respond automatically as independent operating systems. Each system holds a specific set of memories, beliefs and related habits that maintain dissociation. The fellow traveler’s task is to provide assurance that recovery is possible and the return of memories and sensation will not be self-destructive.
The basic belief in a traumatizing family is that the practice and support of destructive behavior by adults should be tolerated and accepted without protest by the children. Children are threatened, punished, and coerced into keeping the adults' behavior secret. They also incorporate the adults' dissociative and destructive patterns into their own being. Disobedience includes breaking these habits of avoidance and denial and relinquishing our beliefs about maintaining destructive behavior. This may require detoxification from addiction to exogenous substances and the deconditioning of habitual body tension and cognitive hypervigilance. The main subtask is to disobey irrational authority by challenging the belief that we need to continue these behaviors.
The motivating force being inhibited is the talionic response (direct eye for an eye retaliation for abuse [Reik]). This instinctive rage toward people who have caused us harm has been forcefully inhibited and is often directed back toward the self (retroflexion - going against the reflexes) or displaced onto others. Unblocking this energy and safely expressing the talionic response opens us up to feel other inhibited emotions and accelerates the process of mourning and grief. The primary subtask is learning to discriminate hostile introjects that have been pounded in and swallowed whole from the people who first caused us to live in fear and to stop displacing rage onto symbolic stand-ins in the present. The fellow traveler can support the differentiation process and the appropriate expression of talionic rage which strengthens reality testing about expected retaliation.
The task of separation is to distinguish between what has been termed "me and not me“ (Sullivan). This includes recognizing the internalizations and confusing beliefs of people who hurt us, as well as considering the concept of locus of control and the possibility of independent thought and action.
This final task centers around completion of reflective grieving (mourning the loss of possibilities, opportunities and self-actualization), learning to reparent ourselves, and mastering developmental stages that may have been missed or poorly negotiated. The fellow traveler can assist in the overall process by encouraging the development, rehearsal and implementation of effective social skills and self determined actions that increase self-esteem and selfworth. Most importantly, completion of this task establishes the capacity for genuine intimacy and successful present-directed, goal-oriented living.
The Basic Five (Daily Needs)
Adequate Respiration (Body Ventilation)
Adequate Hydration, Nutrition and Elimination
Adequate Rest and Restorative Sleep
Adequate Temperature Regulation (Internal and External)
Adequate Stimulus Level (Avoiding Stimulus Overload and Stimulus Deprivation - pain, fear, panic, despair, and exhaustion)
What Does ACA Recovery Look Like?
By working the Twelve Steps of ACA and by attending meetings regularly, we begin to realize that ACA recovery involves emotional sobriety*. That is what ACA recovery looks like. But what is emotional sobriety?
To understand emotional sobriety, we must first understand emotional intoxication, which is also known as para-alcoholism. Para-alcoholism represents the mannerisms and behaviors we developed by living with an alcoholic or dysfunctional parent. As children, we took on the fear and denial of the alcoholic or nondrinking parent without taking a drink.
Emotional intoxication can be characterized by obsession and unhealthy dependence. There also can be compulsion. Even without drugs and alcohol, we can be "drunk" on fear, excitement or pain. We can also be drunk on arguing, gossip, or self-imposed isolation.
In essence the Laundry List, the 14 traits of an adult child, offers a textbook example of the behaviors and attitudes that characterize an emotionally intoxicated person. We fear authority figures and judge ourselves harshly while being terrified of abandonment. Without help, we seek out others to reenact our family dynamics. We can recreate our family dysfunction at home and on the job indefinitely until we find ACA. This means that our adult relationships resemble the template relationship we developed as children to survive an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional home. We find others to create chaos, conflict, or unsafe relationships.
Emotional sobriety involves a changed relationship with self and others. We measure emotional sobriety by the level of honesty, mutual respect, and the acceptability of feelings in our relationships. If our relationships are still manipulative and controlling, we are not emotionally sober no matter what we tell ourselves about our recovery program. Emotional sobriety means that we are involved in changed relationships that are safe and honest. We feel a nearness to our Higher Power. We cultivate emotional sobriety through the Twelve Steps and through association with other recovering adult children.
"Emotional sobriety" was formally introduced to the ACA fellowship through the Identity Papers. The 1986 paper, "Finding Wholeness Through Separation: The Paradox of Independence," shows the genesis of emotional sobriety. The possibility of emotional sobriety is created through the broadening and deepening of the Steps and Traditions.
Courage to change
All ACA groups or online meetings that would like to join ACA Fellow World Travelers – ACA Intergroup IG#728 for help and support are more than are welcome.