I was lost when, years ago, I was “forced” to join this group. I was numb and didn’t know up from down. Gradually, after coming week after week, something inside me melted and I was able to get in touch with my frozen feelings. It was not easy or pretty. There was a war inside of me that didn’t want me to share what was going on. I kept attending and took courage from the struggles other members were able to voice. Eventually I realized that this was the safest place I could be. As I learned to accept myself and others I grew into a more complete person. I’ve also come to learn that this is a lifelong process.
I don’t recognize me from the frightened, inhibited and lonely person that started in this group many years ago. All I know is that the 12 Steps work, when I work the 12 Steps. I thank my higher power every day that Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and our Monday Night Libertyville ACA Group exists.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~Dan Millman
Submitted by D.
I didn't know there was a group specifically for adults who have had to endure the difficulties of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional home. When my therapist recommended it, I thought he was referring to Al-Anon.
Walking through the doors to my first meeting was so difficult. I knew I had not healed from the trauma of my childhood with an alcoholic father, I knew I needed help, but it was so painful to admit. I had hit a bottom in my life with feelings of shame from mistakes of my past, fear of abandonment by my fiance and frequent emotional outbursts toward my children. I didn't know what was going on inside of me, I felt I was beyond help, that no one understood me. My life was out of control.
When I came to ACOA, I immediately related to the problem, as read by another member, and the laundry list traits. It was both overwhelming and reassuring. Though the first six months of my recovery were very emotionally difficult and full of a lot of tears, I began processing my childhood in a way that created space for healing.
While I'm still working on my recovery, I can honestly say I am not the same person I was when I started. I continue to find peace through the 12 steps and support of my sponsor and the group. Being in community with other adult children who know how I feel is invaluable. I am a grateful member of ACOA.
Submitted by L.
Everyone wants to feel good about themselves, right? But it was impossible for me to feel ok because I had these constant, low-grade, haunted background thoughts. First of all, I felt I didn't matter in any way, Next, I felt that I was somehow unlovable and despicable, and ultimately, that regardless of what I did or accomplished, I would never 'make it'. From that place of silent depression, I began going to ACA, and in that organization, I became aware of why this happens to people who grew up with alcoholic parents (or other dysfunctions).
As my consciousness grew, and I shared my stories & supported other people who had grown up in similar situations, my burdens began to lighten, little by little. I started to understand that the neglected child I had once been could be comforted at this time in my life, and that I could trust in others and in myself. My isolation and secret fears hit the light of day, and the darkness faded. I do still experience these episodes, however now I am able to put this challenge in the proper place, which is in the back seat of my psychological car, and my higher self can remain in the driver's seat and at the steering wheel.
My life has pulled into a much better order. I feel safe and secure now, most of the time. I do not covertly play situations and people in order to be pleasing and to win approval, most of the time. I've stopped the quiet yet constant despair, and instead feel curious and humbled to matter. I am saved. I am redeemed. Love came down and rescued me. And we rescued each other in this group. So I put my hand in yours, and no longer am I alone. No longer am I worthless.
Together we can do what we could not when we were alone. Self pity has disappeared. I feel safe. I know I am lovable. It feels like a miracle. It feels like a wonderful, refreshing shower after being horribly dirty. I have been washed clean. And when I feel the despair and worthlessness again, I can go get my emotional shower of love and higher power at ACA. I am forever grateful.
I need help, and I find it at the Libertyville ACOA meeting every Monday evening at 7:00 p.m., a place where I receive unconditional love and acceptance because I meet the requirement of having a heartbeat.
Five years ago, a “conversion experience” forced me to see that I would lose something dear to me if I continued my way of living. Depressed, isolated, and desperate, I found this meeting after a simple Internet search, and my life has been changing (slowly) for the better ever since. Working the ACOA program has me accepting myself where once I felt only self-loathing.
Fellow travellers encourage me to work the steps, honor the traditions, and believe in the promises, and this framework creates a place safe enough for me to do what I could never do before: trust in myself and others. I feel no pressure to work harder or change faster. No one gives advice unless I ask for it. What I get is a safe environment in which to be vulnerable, and to be seen exactly as I am.
I’ve learned that recovery takes time and patience. I’ve also learned that time and patience are gifts I deserve.
Submitted by B.
Several years ago, I got sober through the program of A.A. While my head got cleared up and my life seemed to be getting back on track in that I didn’t have court dates, bills got paid and my job seemed pretty steady. Yet I still felt as though I was skimming along in life. I didn’t have purpose, no meaningful relationships and I seemed to be negatively influenced by the actions and emotions of those around me. But the worst part is that I didn’t know why.
Through the suggestion of a family member who had already begun her own self discovery, I began attending ACOA meetings. It was suggested that I try several different locations several times, which I did. Ultimately, I chose the Libertyville ACOA Monday night meeting as my home group. It was the largest of any of the groups and I truly felt welcome and right at home.
I have been attending this group about three years now and have seen remarkable growth in my personal life. Those survival instincts that I developed growing up in an alcoholic home served me well during childhood but were keeping me repressed as an adult. And I didn’t even realize how my upbringing affected my adult life.
I have become much more confident in my daily life, established healthy boundaries among family, friends and co-workers, and am the happiest that I have ever been in my entire life. Through self examination and working with others to understand why I feel the way that I do, I now feel that I am at less risk of relapsing. The issues that I have worked on might have been some of the reasons that I drank and drugged in my earlier life.
I will continue to attend ACOA indefinitely. The newcomers remind me of where I started and there are so many long timers with so much strength, wisdom and hope at this meeting. I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to better understand themselves to try attending ACOA. If not Libertyville, then somewhere.