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Experience, Strength and Hope

I came into ACA after about 10 years of sobriety which I found via Alcoholics Anonymous when I was living in London.

I had made some big progress around unravelling why I had become an addict, and I had developed spiritually and emotionally from the step work I had done in that fellowship.

There was a little niggle left in my recovery though that I knew needed to be worked on and that was around my family of origin. In my AA Step work I had been taught to look ‘for my part’ and ‘for my defects of character’ and that was good as it had saved me from my totally destructive addiction. An addiction that was slowly killing me and destroying my mental health. But, I had a feeling that all had not been OK in my family and I wanted to explore the detail of that and the impact it had had on me. After all AA had always said ‘more will be revealed’.

I was very tired of finding myself in situations and relationships where I felt extreme anxiety and also that ‘numb’ or ‘frozen’ response when I felt I was being attacked. I wanted to be able to experience true love. Not that fleeting romantic love but a deeper love starting with being able to love myself.

My AA sponsor in London took me to a one-day convention where I saw first hand just how many people felt that they are ‘adult children of alcoholic or dysfunctional homes’. My own parents didn’t drink alcoholically but I had learned that both sides of the family had alcoholism in the grandparents. As I went on explore my wider family tree it was easy to see how the intergenerational trauma has got a hold of many of my relatives. I learned how the rages, the inability to regulate emotions and the manipulation was in my family and that I had been in a powerless situation when a child. I developed various coping mechanisms which kept me going when I was a trapped kid but which no longer served me as an adult. A ticked nearly every one of the Laundry List traits.

I was delighted to find a small group of ACoA’s in Auckland just before all the covid disruption and I became a regular attender. I loved the simplicity and the modernity of the literature. Loved the way it cut through the denial and addressed all the ‘family cover-ups’. I learned about integrating (like using properly) the Survival Traits I had developed and cutting away and retiring all the Defects of Character that were living inside of me. I learned about how to watch my reactions super carefully and to stop my thought patterns from spiralling down self-destructive channels. I feel stronger now and more able to stand up to passive aggressive and bullying behaviour. My ACA work has helped me to discern more around who I give my time and energy to. Some people have fallen away, they preferred the old inauthentic version of me. I am happier with the new me.