Saturday, March 29, 2008

Letting Go of Denial

"We are slow to believe that which, if believed, would hurt our feelings." -Ovid

Most of us in recovery have engaged in denial from time to time. Some of us relied on this tool.

We may have denied events or feelings from our past. We may have denied other people's problems; we may have denied our own problems, feelings, thoughts, wants, or needs. We denied the truth.

Denial means we didn't let ourselves face reality, usually because facing that particular reality would hurt. It would be a loss of something: trust, love, family, perhaps a marriage, a friendship, or a dream. And it hurts to lose something or someone.

Denial is a protective device, a shock absorber for the soul. It prevents us from acknowledging reality until we feel prepared to cope with that particular reality. People can shout and scream the truth at us, but we will not see or hear it until we are ready.

We are sturdy yet fragile beings. Sometimes, we need time to get prepared, time to ready ourselves to cope. We do not let go of our need to deny by beating ourselves into acceptance; we let go of our need to deny by allowing ourselves to become safe and strong enough to cope with the truth.

We will do this, when the time is right. We do not need to punish ourselves for having denied reality; we need only love ourselves into safety and strength so that each day we are better equipped to face and deal with the truth. We will face and deal with reality - on our own time schedule, when we are ready, and in our Higher Power's timing. We do not have to accept chastisement from anyone, including ourselves, for this schedule.

We will know what we need to know, when it's time to know it.

Today, I will concentrate on making myself feel safe and confident. I will let myself have my awarenesses on my own time schedule.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children

Monday, March 17, 2008

Free ACA Audio On Line!

I just discovered these recordings of ACA speakers and found them interesting and helpful and wanted to share them:

(Click and a new window will open- audio will play.)

The Name of the Dragon

Student shares about growing up with an alcoholic father and faculty member breaks down the dysfunction of a broken alcoholic family system. Barb Gana, Chuck Renz.

Alcohol and the Family

Expert on the Adult Children of Alcoholics Movement, national speaker and author, Lorie Dwinell, breaks down
the effects of alcoholism in alcoholic households and the resulting effects.

Children of Alcoholics
"For adult children to get to adulthood in alcoholic family systems, the acceptance of illusion is required."

Recognizing and dealing with the marks of parental alcoholism in your life. Therapist Peg Galbreath with Seattle Mental Health Institute.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Waive The White Flag!

Special thanks to Kristy for sharing her story:

A guy named Dean I met at camp came and handed out little white flags, as a symbol of surrendering, or "accepting what we cannot change." I have found it so useful to have a visual in my battle with myself, to give it up, turn it over, or otherwise make myself vulnerable. I waved it all day today, it helped. It's helping me develop a sense of humor about something I really struggle with. If all else fails, glue some white paper to the end of a stick and have fun with something historically difficult for ACA's.

I have several flags in the kitchen area in plain view to remind me to surrender my will, or decide not to get upset when I encounter a trial. I find that I need this tool when I start to feel I am losing my identity and perceive that I don't matter to others. This triggers anger for me. it is a control issue and it has to do with subconsciously trying to protect myself.

The problem is, my reaction of anger creates an unsafe environment for myself and those around me when I let it take over. Surrendering for me means I can feel the anger without letting it get out of control. I have been doing this by articulating to the appropriate person (usually my children) what the problem is and how it makes me feel. I finish by stating what I would like in the future.

The key is to STOP THERE! No more ranting and raving. I tried another method of saying nothing, but then I just held it in and exploded later. Anyway, after articulating, my anger goes away in a minute or two, and I feel like a normal person. I feel I handled a problem in a healthy way and it makes me feel good and hopeful. If my anger is triggered by a rude motorist, I have this conversation with God, and remember to have compassion on the other person, especially when they are screaming and wildly using hand gestures! I think how sad it is they are doing that to themselves (becoming a slave to anger) and remember I don't have to. It works fairly well.

I met Dean at the Fall Mountain Retreat of 07'. We haven't spoken since, but I learned of his flags a few weeks ago when he brought them to an ACA meeting, and handed out what he called, "the last 15" of several hundred that he has given away over a couple years, I believe. He still had a few left after the meeting. Maybe he will make more, I don't know. He said they are about surrendering, and accepting what we cannot change, as referenced in the serenity prayer. Just like the serenity prayer, these flags are profound yet simple.

Thanks for your interest, it is healing to have the privilege of others listening to my story. I feel as though I matter. =)

- Kristy

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children