Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Counter Dependency And The Flight From Intimacy

Drs. Barry and Janae Weinhold have some revealing thoughts about early trauma and the dysfunction that continues long after.

"Counterdependency" is a set of adult behaviors that are caused by developmental trauma between the ages of 9 and 36 months. This trauma often involves emotional abuse such as shaming and physical abuse such as spanking. This abuse affects people’s ability to trust.

Counterdependency is often described as the flip side of co-dependency. Rather than clinging, people avoid relationships and flee from intimacy. People with counterdependency often pair up with partners who struggle with codependency issues.

Symptoms of Counterdependency

The most common symptom of counterdependency is the avoidance of intimacy in close relationships.

Here are some other common symptoms.

• Difficulty being close to others
• A strong need to be right – all the time
• Self-centered and egotistical
• Refuses to ask for help
• Expects perfection in self and others
• Seldom appears vulnerable or weak
• Has difficulty relaxing
• Addictions to “upper” activities such as work & exercise, and substances such as caffeine, speed, meth & coke

See more videos from The Weinholds here: Flight From Intimacy

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tranquility Is Free

Dream Music: For Sleep & Relaxation (Exclusive Amazon Digital Sampler)

Put your mind at ease. Over 2 hours of chilled out music absolutely FREE!

Sample and download here:

De-stress, Relax and chill with this free sampler from
Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Is Childhood Trauma Affecting Your Life?

What happens when someone has psychological wounds that they don't realize or are in denial of? For one, they may live a less joyful, fulfilled life and struggle with emotions and relationships. Secondly, they pass their "wounds" down to the next generation. These inherited wounds are then often again passed down and so on.

According to Peter K. Gerlach, MSW, once GWCs (Grown Wounded Children) are aware of their traumas and wounds, they can reduce them and stop the cycle of propagating dysfunction. He estimates that 80 to 85% of families currently suffer from dysfunction as a result of having one or more addicted or dysfunctional parents.

Gerlach defines these wounds as "feeling shame and guilt, excessive fears, reality distortions, chronic trust problems, difficulty bonding, empathizing and loving." The characteristics manifest themselves as low self esteem, narcisism, anxiety, cynicism, sarcasm, black and white thinking, trust and intimacy issues. Other symptoms include controlling and manipulative behaviors, clinginess and experiencing sexual dysfunction.

Gerlach has created a non profit website ( and has posted several videos to help Adult Children Of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. The ultimate goal is to create a "high nurturance" family and live a life free of toxic wounds and the ignorance that keeps them from healing.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How To Be Your Own Hero

Philip G. Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University suggests that there are small steps which can bring out the "inner hero" in anyone. Zimbardo maintains that heroes are "sociocentric," noticing other people in need and offering help. Therefore, a potential hero does not necessarily need to save someone from danger, but can simply be observant and commit a small act of kindness, such as offering a compliment.

For Adult Children Of Alcoholics and those from dysfunctional homes, even a small act such as this can be difficult. Reaching out, giving compliments and expressing feelings (joyful or otherwise) is something many of us have been expressly "trained" not to do.

ACA Promises: Our self-esteem will increase as we give ourselves approval on a daily basis.

Here is where you get to take action against the old mindset that may still be enslaving you. Try this experiment that is simple but not necessarily easy: Give someone a compliment for no apparent reason. Even the thought of trying this may feel uncomfortable because you are breaking all the old rules (don't feel, don't talk, don't trust)! Perhaps the fear you feel here is in direct proportion to your need to do this.

The point of this exercise is to, in small way, do the EXACT opposite of the learned ACA  behavior that may still be hampering you in many areas of life. Over time, as you get used to expressing yourself this way, you will find it easier to compliment yourself and generate your own positive feelings and self love!

By "reparenting" yourself this way, even though it's not always easy, your inner child may start looking at you as his or her own courageous hero. Your inner blame mechanism will be short circuited and replaced with feelings of self worth and value. 

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Change Your Posture, Change Your Mind


It is often said that Adult Children Of Alcoholics "guess at what normal is". We may try to behave how we think we "should" in spite of past conditioning. Another way to say this is "fake it til you become it". Rather than just a shallow attempt to fit in, assuming the behavior and posture of a successful person actually helps to transition one into integrating and "owning" that very mindset.

Research shows that just by changing your body posture for for 2 minutes, you can profoundly change your hormones, brain chemistry and how others perceive and respond to you. Your physiology can actually change your brain!

In the Ted Talks video above, Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.    

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Music For Healing And Mediation

The Mayo Clinic has listed both meditation and listening to music as Top Ten stress relievers. Here is over an hour and a half of FREE music to help you relax, focus and chill out courtesy of Click on the three links below and download away!

Step 11- "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out"

Ashaneen- "Sea Waves, Vol. 2"

The Best Healing Music for Relaxation, Meditation & Sleep with Nature Sounds (Ocean Waves Album Series Sampler)

Sunrise Meditation (Music for Harmony)

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How Judgement Keeps You From Healing

 John Bradshaw On Healing The Inner Child

Remember the story of Adam and Eve? Legend has it they they gained wisdom from eating forbidden fruit. But what I think they really got was the insidious and pervasive "disease" of judgement.

Once they learned judgement they could blame and in turn, feel blame and shame for being "wrong". They felt naked and exposed. Their self judgement made them feel like they were no longer "good enough". They wanted to hide and isolate.

This same phenomenon is what happens in ACA families. We learn to judge, diminish and reject ourselves and others. We receive judgement, often as modeled by our caretakers. And we judge ourselves for "causing" the problems in our families and not being good enough to make everything ok. It is the only way we feel some kind of control in our chaotic homes. We believe that if everything is our fault we then have the power to fix it.

We then grow up to propagate this behavior. Judging becomes second nature to the point where many people don't even realize the extent and frequency with which they do it. Reality TV for example, is full of people judging, feeling judged, conflict and argument. And not a lot of healthy interaction. Lots of people accept this as "normal" because they know no alternative. The Judgement that is supposed to make you feel righteous, safe and invulnerable only serves to separate and isolate. There is no winner here.

"A Child Has A Right To Unconditional Love."- John Bradshaw

Perhaps the biggest challenge to Adult Children Of Dysfunctional Families is learning to be free of judgement. This means "unlearning" that early training that was ingrained in us. Not an easy task but doable.

The difficult part is that the antidote for the disease of judgement is self acceptance, empathy and compassion. These are things many of us did NOT have lots of parental modeling on. Many people struggle to express self love and are even uncomfortable thinking about it. That is a clue that your Judgement Mechanism is still hard at work!

It starts with learning to love your inner child. This is what I believe "reparenting" is- NOT more judgement and beating ourselves up. That's what immature parents do. Self nurturing, as unnatural as it may feel at the beginning, is the way out of the judgement trap that keeps people stuck.

Your inner child is always with you. You can dialogue and express care with him or her anytime. Simply asking your child "How are you doing? Are you feeling ok?" is an easy way to show empathy. You may feel the little one inside perk up when you pay them attention.

Some people keep a picture of themselves as a child in a prominent place or in their wallets and look at it often. Some even speak to their picture and tell it how special they are. Sound silly? So what? Remember, your inner "Judger" will go to any lengths to keep you from healing. It will likely ridicule your initial attempts at self nurturing and tell you it's a stupid idea. And THAT is a key that you are on the right track!

When your "Judger" tells you to do something or feel a certain way, try doing the opposite as an experiment. You may be surprised to discover alternative choices you never realized. And you may experience a feeling of freedom that reminds you of how a beautiful child feels.

The road to recovery is a long one. You may not have overnight success and there may be setbacks along the way. But you can make a difference just by trying something new today.

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Can Adult Children Of Alcoholics "Forget" About The Past?

Dr. Tian Dayton describes PTSD as a post traumatic stress reaction in which childhood pain is being lived out in adult relationships without our awareness.

When we experience trauma the prefrontal cortex (responsible for planning and rational thought) shuts down and the traumatic experienced does not get processed. It works the same way in Adult Children Of Alcoholics as in others, although ACOAs may experience more of these Adverse Childhood Experiences than others.

These traumatic memories later get triggered and re-experienced. Unresolved hurts are  "imported from the past and layered onto the present." For example, you may experience a conflict with someone and feel just like you did as a powerless child.

According to the ACA Solution, becoming your own loving parent is key to resolving things.

As ACA becomes a safe place for you, you will find the freedom to express all the hurts and fears you have kept inside and to free yourself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. You will become an adult who is imprisoned no longer by childhood reactions. You will recover the child within you, learning to accept and love yourself.

This can be a challenge for ACAs as many did not have loving, empathetic parents to model and learn from. Becoming your own loving parent might require the help of a safe group, good therapist and/ or healthy, caring friends.

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Connection And Vulnerability

Shame is one of the major blocks to having a deep connection to other people. Some people seem to have a sense of worthiness, love and belonging. For others it is a challenge. People that experience "connection" more often have the courage to be imperfect and the compassion to be kind and self accepting.

Do you have the courage to be imperfect? Can you let go of who you "should be" in order to be who you are? Can you embrace vulnerability?

Brene Brown has a Master's degree in Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. In the video, she discusses the struggle for vulnerability and connection.

Brown says, "You cannot selectively numb emotion." She believes when you numb pain, you also numb joy, gratitude and happiness.

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Healing The Pain Of The Inner Child


Life is hard. It's even harder if you don't have parents. By that, I mean parents in the fullest sense- two supportive, caring and emotionally present beings to guide and help you develop.

I say this not to indulge in self pity or wallow in victimization. I say it simply because it's true, yet is often overlooked by those most affected by it- the adult child of alcoholics. We take it for granted, never having experienced anything different.

Our drive for "perfection", inability to be vulnerable and openly accept help, empathy and love are clues that growing up ACA has been a stunting, detrimental experience. We may deny we need those things and ignore that we are without some of the tools and modeling people from less dysfunctional families possess to effectively deal with life and relationships.

This doesn't mean we are doomed. The mere acknowledgement that we are at a disadvantage is a step towards health and a better life. But to fully realize this we must fathom it, feel it and accept it. Self love starts with inner empathy.

If you saw a young child, helpless, abandoned and crying on the street, how would you feel? I'm guessing, unless you are a sociopath, your heart would just about break. Can you extend this same feeling to your OWN inner child- the one that was so emotionally abandoned, lost and confused? The one that was left feeling all alone in this big scary world and had no one to turn to? Remember the overwhelming sadness and fear you once felt?

Are you feeling resistant and uncomfortable to this idea? Is your critical inner parent scolding you for even considering it? Messages like "Stop feeling sorry for yourself!", "Things weren't so bad" and "Get over it!" may be filling your brain. These are symptoms of avoiding and minimizing your past. And they are the very things that keep you stuck there, unable to heal and progress. It is your right to feel the past with as much intensity as you can muster.

What happened in the past was not ok, but it's ok to feel it, accept it as an integral part of yourself and BE ok with it. Sharing the pain of the past with yourself and expressing it to a trusted friend, therapist or recovery partner will help. 

The better you can empathize with yourself, the more you will be able to empathize and connect with others. Empathy for self and others is indeed, ONE of the critical tools "healthy" people have and use. It is the glue of relationships. And chances are, if you find it hard to connect with people, there is an inner connection to yourself that is missing.

Remember these ACA Promises. They are more than just mottos but calls for action:

We will discover our real identities by loving and accepting ourselves.

Our self-esteem will increase as we give ourselves approval on a daily basis.

Our ability to share intimacy will grow inside us.

As we face our abandonment issues, we will be attracted by strengths and become more tolerant of weaknesses.


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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Healing/ Are You A Control Freak?

Adult Child Of Alcoholic, Sandra Graves Talks About Healing

Sandra Graves talks about dysfunction, fear, "perfection", forgiveness and healing from a personal perspective.


Who's In Control?

Control freaks rarely know that they are one. They believe that they are helping people with their "constructive criticism" or taking over a project because "no one else will do it right."

They don't see their controlling behaviors as symptoms of what's really going on--their own anxiety has run amuck.

Irrational thoughts abound in our high stress world: If I don't get this contract, I'll get fired. If I'm not home by 6:00, I'm a terrible parent. If I don't get that raise, I suck at my job.  All of these thoughts might be true, but probably not.

Rather than tackle our own irrational thinking and massage it into more realistic thinking, we attempt to control the situation, usually by trying to control other people.

Want to know if you're a control freak? Here are eight signs for your self-diagnosing pleasure:

* You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you'd be happier. So you try to "help them" change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over.

* You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don't believe in imperfection and you don't think anyone else should either.

* You judge others' behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.

* You offer "constructive criticism" as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.

* You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.

* You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering.

* You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.

* You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others

You believe that if you can change another person's undesirable behavior, then you will be happier or more fulfilled. You make someone else responsible for how you feel.

The thing is, you are only responsible for you. The road to better relationships always starts with you. Rather than attempt to control everyone else, work on becoming a better version of yourself. Here are a few ideas:

* Be vulnerable with people.
* Never compromise your self-respect by altering your core beliefs.
* Be realistic about your expectations of others.
* Quit the passive-aggressive nonsense--be direct.
* Accept that a large portion of life is laced with unknowns.
* Embrace confrontation--it really is sometimes the only thing you can do.
* Take responsibility for your own happiness.

If you work on your own improvement instead of trying to control others, healthier relationships at work, as well as everywhere else, will then come to you as a result. -Thanks to "Anonymous"

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Confronting ACA Parents

Huffington Post recently published this video on How Adult Children Of Alcoholics can confront their parents about their addiction. 

Host Nancy Redd was joined by Jeff Jay, co-author of "Love First: A Family's Guide to Intervention"; Julie Bowden, a therapist and co-author of "Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics"; Erin Harkes, a singer/songwriter; and psychotherapist Wendy Foreman.

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Free Music For Meditation And Relaxation

Step 11: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry it out."

It can sometimes be a challenge for ACAs to take time out for ourselves. Call it yoga music, songs for meditation or whatever, this download has over 2 hours of chilled out goodness and it's all FREE! Includes music by Andreas Vollenweider and Jim Brickman 

Here's to lower blood pressure, less stress and more relaxation in 2013!

Courtesy of Amazon. May only be available for  a limited time.

Free download:

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