Recovery is Happening – Here, Now

I never would have believed that facing life on life’s terms would be easier the more I let go – or that letting go could ever be possible for me at all. Life on life’s terms! Wasn’t that the disappointment, fear, and horror of the life I had in childhood and continued to have as an adult? What were these people thinking? Why would I ever even want to do that? I was always running and hiding and trying to escape from pain – all the while creating more and more of it for myself and the people I loved the most. The miracles of this program in my life today are more than I ever imagined that they could be.

Coming to life – really living and feeling – not suffering and struggling so very hard – was unimaginable. Not too many months after the unexpected death of my daughter, while I was in trauma therapy for incest and ritual abuse memories just starting to surface, I gave up on life, myself, and any relationship with a Higher Power. My reality was that the miracle of recovery was not – and never could be possible for me. Maybe for other people. Yes, definitely for other people, but not for me.  I spiralled down into the darkest period of my adult life.

My Higher Power never gave up on me though, and a few short years later brought caring, compassionate fellow travelers who listened to me and shared – actually felt – my deep woundings with true understanding. These people have become my friends and the family that my inner child’s hurting heart so desperately needed. No longer an outsider with her face pressed up to the glass looking in at a happy, laughing people and never fitting in. I’ve been blessed to find ACA and you – whoever you are, here – now – reading this blog post. You are helping me in my recovery this very moment – recovery is happening here and now as I work Step 12 with you helping me by listening to me sharing this message of hope about our ACA program and how it can and does work to change the lives of members everywhere who work it.

Working it – for me – has meant realizing that I am powerless to control the effects that childhood dysfunction has had on my life – every part of my life. I kept trying to fix, manage, and control – not only my own life, but that of nearly every person and situation I ever encountered.

I had no idea how to let go or accept or surrender my will to a power greater than myself. In fact, I repeatedly ask my Higher Power to intervene and do that for me on a regular basis. 

You see, deep down inside I have been living my life from my wounded inner child’s perspective – the perspective of a child so terribly afraid and blaming herself for the abuse and dysfunction in her family because seeing and accepting the truth that the adults are too damaged inside from their own abusive childhoods to truly love her and be there for her and instead are hurting her terribly by passing on the only form of “love” they got as kids was abuse and selfish and self-centered in nature.

That she wasn’t safe and couldn’t trust or tell the truth – not even to herself. So instead, she set out to save them, help them, fix them (control) and unwittingly passed on dysfunction everywhere she went (smile).

Through the 12-step program of ACA, I slowly became able to see that my problem was me constantly reliving and believing and acting out the family dysfunction that was passed on to me. That was the problem. The solution is my Higher Power, with who I am able to trust, surrender, believe, let go – all the miraculous things that recovery brings!  I began to see that I desperately needed – and still need – to surrender to a loving parent that I can trust – My Higher Power, one day at a time. My experience now is that I am blessed daily, finding more and more of myself underneath the wreckage of my past as I surrender it to my true parent, letting go of suffering and the lies of old patterns, addictions, dysfunction, and self-inflicted pain. Knowing that the power to carry this out comes from a loving, all powerful Higher Power and not from me.

I can relax and let life take care of me. What a relief to finally know and accept that I can no more save the world than I could parent and fix own my parents as a child. I am no longer trying to play God or be the parent to other adults or do things that aren’t my responsibility. I can trust that with my Higher Power’s help, I can live life on life’s terms and accept that I am loved and lovable just because I am me. I don’t have to earn love by giving enough to get it. As a child of my Higher Power, I am love – and I am finally free to accept, express, and LIVE that in my life (not perfectly but progressing more each day). No longer are recovery and working the steps and having a relationship with my Higher Power thoughts in my head – superficial ideas, with no real power or love in them. This is the miracle of recovery that ACA has brought into my life – and continues to bring. I am grateful beyond words. Thank you for listening and being a part of my recovery

Celebrate National Recovery Month in September with ACA at RecoveryFest Nashville 2017!


RecoveryFest 2016

September 13, 2017

Check out RecoveryFest Nashville 2017

East Park Greenspace
11:00am to 5:00pm
Saturday September 30, 2017

We are proud to announce that the ACA Tennessee Intergroup will have a tent at this year’s annual RecoveryFest Nashville! RecoveryFest is a grassroots movement that celebrates the positive impact of recovery from all types of addictions, mental health and substance use disorders and is Nashville’s contribution to and celebration of National Recovery Month, September. This year’s event will be held at 700 Woodland Street Nashville, TN 37206 at East Park Greenspace in historic Edgefield. The event will be Saturday September 30, 2017 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and is Free. Friends and family are welcome. Come join the fun and learn more about many groups and organizations that support recovery from addictions and mental health issues. We hope to see you there!

 

 

Reparenting – Why Bother?

Reaching The Inner Child Through Reparenting

During a recent annual Labor Day fish fry, a close family member asked me why I still do emotional work on childhood abuse. He explained that reflecting on his childhood memories and feelings was not helpful and that counseling and support groups were traumatic for him. Why did I kept putting myself through that? Why couldn’t I just get over it? Why didn’t I follow his lead and smile – even if I felt like crying? That’s what he does.

I shared that I go ACA meetings and attend, as best I can each moment, to the wounded places within so that I can let go of the past. I want freedom from repeating painful, dysfunctional patterns in the present, which are carryovers from the past.

But first I have to face the fear of fully accepting a blameless past and all of the people, experiences, and feelings that go with it. I have to feel them all as they come up. I don’t get to skip ahead to self-love and acceptance when fear, rage, shame, and blame are coming up for me. Slowly, gently, and with the loving support of fellow ACAs in the program, I become strong enough for the reparenting process that ACA suggests.

For me, this involves going back for my inner child – the part of me that I left behind when I was learning how to survive. To just exist. To pretend. To push away the painful realities.

I am unable, try as I might, to leave the past behind without reparenting my inner child. Until then, she is stuck in the past. I am becoming increasingly aware that she is me. Cutting her off and trying to live without her was impossible, but I did not know it at the time. You see, I was just a child when I made the unconscious decision to turn away from my True Self – aka, Inner Child – (since she seemed to be so unacceptable and unlovable to the adults around me). Instead, I adopted a false self made up of laundry list traits in the hope that I would be found worthy of the love, care, and respect that every child deserves.

I recently started an art therapy journal for my inner child, although I am not an artist by any means. I am also doing the things suggested by Dr. Lisa Cooney on her website at drlisacooney.com/how-to-re-parent-yourself. Her last suggestion is reaching out for support, and my heart broke reading that step 4 is the hardest part for the only person that commented on her blog post.

Giving and receiving support is what I do by being involved in ACA. It happens every or call fellow travelers by phone or go to lunch with them. That’s what I do when I am being of service in ACA, and being of service is part of taking care of my inner child for me. I am showing her that her pain is important, and that she deserves to be heard. Going to ACA meetings shows her that not only am I willing to listen to her and be there for her, but that other people are too. learning to be there for her – to reparent her with love, care, respect, and responsibility is even more important.

To my dismay, when I was doing research for this blog post, I discovered that “reparenting” is not a recognized word on dictionary.com – although many books, counselors, support groups, therapists, websites, etc. discuss and recommend this process of healing. I am hopeful that as ACA grows and reaches more people, “reparenting” will grow up to become a word in its own right. As we go back within ourselves and help our wounded inner children grow up with love and care, we are raising the consciousness of the culture and society to which we belong.

ACA Meetings – In the Beginning

ACA suggests that newcomers attend at least 6 meetings in a row before deciding whether this 12 step program is a good fit for them or not. Some sponsors or counselors even suggest 90 meetings in 90 days. There are ACA meetings available several times each day. To find online meetings, phone meetings, Skype meetings, and in-person meetings near you, visit http://www.meetings.adultchildren.org/meetings.

Some people find that attending their first few ACA meetings is emotionally difficult. That was the case for me. I noticed that my second meeting was really hard – even before the meeting started. My sponsor noticed that I seemed out of sorts and asked me if I was okay after the meeting ended. She assured me that many other ACAs experience similar discomfort in the beginning. I think part of it for me was that I had found a place where my vulnerable inner child could begin to reveal herself. I wasn’t ready to to do yet, but somehow I sensed that ACA was a place where real, raw feelings were okay and that it was safe to speak my truth at long last.

I attend two other 12 step programs, but ACA is where my heart is. This program reaches down gently and addresses the root under all the issues that I have – a dysfunctional, traumatic childhood. I have never felt as a much a part of any program or support group the way that I do ACA. Like snuggling under a soft, fuzzy blanket, warm feelings of comfort and security wash over me when I walk in and take a seat at an ACA meeting now. Smiling faces and friendly gestures from fellow travelers reach me as a beacon in the night, welcoming me home to my true self and to the safety within where I am learning to re-parent my inner child with kindness and with love.

Welcome to the Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA) Tennessee Intergroup!

June 10, 2017

We are glad you found us! The ACA Tennessee Intergroup can help you find telephone numbers for live meeting representative connects and/or physical meetings near you if you live anywhere in Tennessee, North Alabama, or Southern Kentucky. We are a group of 17 meetings in Tennessee, 3 in North Alabama, and 1 in Southern Kentucky.

This website is a resource and a safe place to learn more about the healing Twelve Step recovery program called Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA). ACA is for adult children of alcoholics and all other types of dysfunctional families.  ACA members are adults who continue to be impacted by the abuse, shame, and abandonment issues caused by being raised in dysfunctional homes. You do not have to have been raised with alcoholism or drug addiction to join ACA or attend our meetings; anyone that grew up in a dysfunctional home is welcome.

ACA members exhibit traits that reveal past abuse, neglect, or trauma. Recovery from the effects of family dysfunction begins when one adult child sits across from another sharing experience, strength, and hope. ACA members experience new coping skills and feelings of self-esteem and self-respect often grow when meetings are attended regularly. Part of the recommended ACA healing process is connecting with our inner child again and beginning to re-parent ourselves. The re-parenting process of learning to love your inner child creates feelings of safety and trust that were previously unavailable. Adult children understand dissociation, codependence, obsession, and compulsion like few others. Some ACA members have been diagnosed with addictions, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, dissociative states, and other emotional or mental issues.

To have someone call or email you with more information about ACA or how to find an in-person meeting,  please fill out the Contact Us form on this site.