A Vision Plan for Recovery as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

by Christine Beck

Adult Children of Alcoholics’ first promise states that “We will discover our real identities [our True Self] by loving and accepting ourselves.” Many of the other promises contain qualities that our True Self will attain, such as being playful and fun or learning how to be both vulnerable and intimate.

These and other program promises sound wonderful, but how do we attain them? For me, the answer is much more than going to meetings and working the steps.  I need to carry program principles into specific actions in every area of my life, including my work, family and relationships. And I need to write down action steps, to keep myself accountable.

I looked at my life and wrote a personal vision statement for how to become my True Self in ACA, but also at home, with family and friends and with the work I do in the world:

I will act as my True Self as a teacher and writer, as a supporter of those in 12-step recovery, as a mother and grandmother who delights in and affirms her children and as a partner and friend who speaks the truth, names my feelings and is emotionally available.

Next, I wrote specific actions to keep myself accountable for my vision.

My Program.

Action Steps. I will:

  1. Turn my thoughts and acts over to a higher power that desires recovery for me and everyone.
  2. Attend meetings regularly.
  3. Record Inner Loving Parent words and listen to them.
  4. Write personal Affirmations and repeat them.
  5. Keep a program journal and write in it regularly.
  6. Reparent my Inner Child by recognizing when she is triggered and telling her I will love and protect her and will not leave her.
  7. Look for success in program and write them down.
  8. Connect with other Adult Children regularly to support and nurture them.
  9. Discuss major decisions with a fellow traveler before I say “yes.”

I have five years in ACA. I’ve worked through the Yellow Step book four times: with a fellow traveler, with a sponsee, with a step group, and as the leader of a step group.  I worked the Laundry List Trait workbook with a fellow traveler.  I read the daily meditation from Strengthening my Recovery and text about it with a fellow traveler. These steps are the “basics” of working a program. For me, that is not enough.

In addition, I work my program by recording loving words from my Inner Loving Parent and listening to them frequently.  I wrote individual affirmations and read them regularly. For example, I wrote “I do not need to write lists to feel okay.” It doesn’t stop me from making lists, but it reminds me that I am not the sum of my projects and commitments.

When I am stirred up or triggered by a person or situation, I pause and ask for help.  I breathe.  I call a fellow traveler. I write about it.  I speak out loud to my Inner Child, ask her why she is upset, and remind her that she is safe, that I will not leave her, and guide her through her fears.

Service

Action Steps: I will:

  1. Turn my thoughts and acts over to a higher power that desires recovery for me and everyone.
  2. Volunteer to be a part of my state Intergroup.
  3. Volunteer to help with World Service Organization.
  4. Write about ACA and publish articles.
  5. Step aside and nurture others into leadership when I am tempted to be a “leader.”
  6. Volunteer to speak at AA meetings and talk about ACA.

I started my ACA meeting with a group of five other women five years ago.  Today, two of the original founders still attend meetings.  I find that people look to us as “leaders.” Organizing comes easily to me.  But I also like the prestige of being a “leader.” One of AA’s slogans is that “God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” Recently I was embarrassed to realize that I had set the date for our ACA 5th year anniversary celebration on the same day as my granddaughter’s third birthday in Texas. After taking a deep breath, I realized God was reminding me that I am not all that important.  The anniversary will be perfect, with or without me.  But sometimes I need a nudge.

I believe that alcoholism is a family disease and that AA, Al Anon, and ACA all have an important part in my recovery. Part of my role as an alcoholic with 13 years of sobriety is to carry the message of ACA to those in A.A.  So far, in Connecticut, this is not particularly welcome. I requested on behalf of Intergroup that ACA participate in AA conventions. The last two years, we were denied.   I know from personal experience many alcoholics would find healing and emotional sobriety if they knew about ACA. Therefore I will take speaking engagements at AA meetings and say I am an Adult Child. I will talk about the healing that is available in ACA. I may not always be popular for doing so but I believe it is important.

My Work/Volunteer Life

Action Plans. I will:

  1. Turn my thoughts and acts over to a higher power that desires recovery for me and everyone.
  2. Conduct Recovery Writers groups.
  3. Write and publish about my life.
  4. Teach courses that align with my commitments.

I have heard a number of Adult Children say they are not sure who they are meant to be in the world or what job they are supposed to be doing.  One key is to ask where as a child I felt happy, joyous, and free. Where have I had spiritual experiences which brought joy to my life? After many years in another profession, I switched to teaching writing and being a writer. I know writing brought me joy as a child. In fourth grade, I wrote for a contest that a piece of music that played on the radio sounded like fairies dancing in the snow. Not very original, I know, but when the program host read my words on the radio, with all my fellow fourth graders in the room, I recall being proud and happy. Today I can use that memory as a touchstone to my true calling, which is to write about recovery and help other people write for their recovery

My Family Life.

Action Plans. I will:

  1. Turn my thoughts and acts over to a higher power that desires recovery for me and everyone.
  2. Talk about how program is helping me grow and change.
  3. Lighten up.
  4. Play and have fun with my grandchildren.
  5. Overcome my fear of starting a fight or provoking an angry response.

I live in a family that is not in recovery. For many years my husband would ask me when I return from my meeting how was the meeting and I would say “fine.”  I noticed that I was not really talking about my program at home because I felt that there was no listening for it and that it was pointless. Today I see things differently. Today it seems to me that I can reparent my Inner Child by speaking about my program as a part of my truth both to people in program and to people outside program. Whether they “get it “or not is not up to me. But if I am withholding a critical part of who I am in the world from those who love me the most I am doing me and them a disservice.

By pausing when I am agitated, I allow myself to hold my upsets lightly. By enjoying my toddler grandchild, I connect with the beauty and wonder of the world. I can literally see through her eyes an entirely new perspective.

My Personal Relationships

Action Plans. I will:

  1. Look for success in other people and acknowledge it.
  2. Thank people for their part in contributing to my life. Acknowledge them for their accomplishments.
  3. Practice being vulnerable.

When I was lonely and feeling different, when life seemed filled with meaningless “light” conversation, I recall longing to be connected with people with whom I could have a “real” conversation. Thanks to program, I have that in my life today.  I feel listened to and valued as my True Self.  I offer that to others.

I know that my traits can interfere with my being vulnerable and approachable.

Recently I was in a hotel in foreign city by myself. I wanted to call room service because my Inner Child is afraid to go out to eat by herself.  She is afraid people will feel sorry for her, will think she is a loser, or will give her unwanted attention that makes her uncomfortable.  I talked her through her fears.  We got dressed up and went out to dinner alone.  It was a success. When I told this story, I realized that sharing my vulnerability is how I connect with others.

Source: I Love Recovery Café

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