The fourth step of self-parenting states, "Made an honest assessment of our strengths and weaknesses and accepted the impact our childhood has had upon us as adults."
It was first through AA and then CODA that I began to understand how much of an effect my childhood had on my adulthood. Then I began looking into the ACA group and for the first time really went back in time to fully understand my strengths and weaknesses.
At the time, I didn't believe I had any weaknesses, my walls were so tall and thick I couldn't even see myself! I refused to admit that I had any weaknesses... in my own warped thoughts that would mean that I wasn't a tough man. That, yes indeed, my parents hurt me.
But as I began to read more and attend meetings I began to see how many weaknesses I had. First, was that I'd rather hide in a corner then be the center of attention. With that it's pretty easy for me to get lost in a conversation when someone interrupts. And with all my strengths, it created a major weakness - asking for help. I'd rather die then ask for help.
Honestly looking back at my childhood what I considered strengths, were my biggest stumbling blocks to spiritual and mental growth. I needed to let people in and meet the real me. I needed to be vulnerable and have the faith and the trust in myself to recognize that I wouldn't allow myself to be hurt.
For me, I needed to make my weaknesses a little stronger and make my strengths not so bold and almost abrasive.
I look back to where I was years ago and it's night and day. I went from wanting to hide in a corner to reading poetry in front of 1,000 people at Relay For Life events. I'm no longer intimidated in a crowd and want my voice heard, if I'm cut off, I'll usually say, "Excuse me, I'm not done yet." And I do it in a non-threatening way, where I set a healthy boundary.
As far as what I want as strength's - The thing that I constantly work on today is my relationship with everyone I come in contact with. I believe we are all children of God and deserve the same respect that I want. I don't like conflict with anyone and I'll try once to "fix" the problem then move on. Yes, I don't like conflict but I also can't be a doormat either and let everyone walk all over me.
I don't need to explain my feelings to everybody and that's OK - just as long as I feel them. And I most certainly don't need to explain my feelings in a way that becomes passive aggressive to get my point across.
My childhood gave me many strengths and weaknesses that I'm still figuring out till this day. And I look at each one with the wide-eyed excitement of a child. Because if I can recognize them, then I can work with them. And if I can work with them, then I can be a better person to myself and those around me.
Looking back, it was at this time that "poor little Dave" (the victim) started to disappear. He's still around but he no longer plays a part in my life.
These steps, also adapted from AA, were written by Patricia O'Gorman, Ph.D. and Philip Diaz, M.S.W., as part of their work with families, women, and youth in recovery.