Welcome to the Monday Night ACOA Group meeting. This information is to serve as an introduction to our group in hopes that by clarifying our purpose and direction you too will become an active growing recovering member of our ACOA family.
■ Meetings are held each Monday evening from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Lawrence Episcopal Church (lower level, enter through rear doors)
■ A special business session is held following the second Monday meeting of each month and is open to all members.
■ We are a non-smoking group.
■ Our weekly discussions alternate each week between one of the ACOA characteristics and one of the twelve steps. A volunteer prepares the opening lead (15 to 20 minutes long) that serves as a focal point for discussion in our small groups. During our small group discussions, we refrain from cross talk to insure each person uninterrupted sharing time.
■ All group members are invited to join us after our meeting is adjourned at a local restaurant for a casual gathering of ACOA fellowship (Baker’s Square on Milwaukee Avenue). The chairperson will ask if any members will be going for coffee and fellowship before the close of the meeting. Those planning on attending will indicate so by a show of hands.
1. Help you recognize how your present life is influenced by your past.
2. Allow you to release parts of the past and put them behind you.
3. Enable you to take responsibility for how you live your life today, and help you learn to meet your own needs.
Freedom from the past means no longer having our lives dominated by our childhood years. It means no longer living in fear. It is the process of discovering our true inner self and freeing ourselves from painful character defects that helped us survive in our growing years.
ACOA is a forum for us to grow and make positive changes in our lives, it is not to be used as an opportunity to blame our parents. They did the best they knew how to do. Yet our parents’ ability to raise us was often times limited because of some significant trauma in their lives.
This trauma may have been physical, financial, emotional, etc. For most of us, our parents loved us yet many lacked the ability to show that love. Dysfunction has a multi-generational cycle. Unless the cycle is broken, the deficient parenting skills are handed down generation after generation. Unless one chooses to break the cycle by seeking recovery, history will repeat itself.
It is common for adults to feel guilty for wanting to reflect on how the parenting they received during their childhood affects their adult life, often saying, “it wasn’t that bad for me”. No matter how severe another person’s situation is, your own loss remains true. Do not compare your situation to another person’s in order to ascertain whether or not you need to address these issues.
Whatever has occurred on your life it is yours: Sadness, fears, broken promises, silent punishments; absent parents. Whatever your situation was, it is yours. It is not negated by anyone else’s experiences.
Many of us have discovered that we could not love ourselves or let others touch us or love us. This inability to be vulnerable, to allow others to love us is connected to the very real losses we suffered as children and to our present loss of self-esteem.
When first entering recovery some of us are not ready to hear about “love” or “God”, having felt abandoned by “God”, and unaccepted by people who “loved” us. Once the “whys” and the “missing pieces” of our life mosaic gradually begin to fill in we can begin to see and admit our part. We begin to take responsibility for our lives now, allowing us to make peace with our parents and our past.
Some adults report not being able to remember portions of their childhood, as if they are amnesiac. Most of us might expect that children from families where there was incest or battering might lose the ability to recall portions of their childhood. Yet, it is common for many adults who did not experience such blatant trauma to experience the same lack of recall. There does not need to be a single traumatic event to cause a lack of recall. It is probable that if you have a major loss of recall, you had a need to defend yourself emotionally. Your thoughts and feelings were suppressed. You are not crazy. This phenomenon is very common.