14 April 2011

Leaving dysfunctional behaviors

The Eleventh Promise of ACOA says, “With help from our ACA support group we will slowly release our dysfunctional behaviors.”

I do believe in the power of support that we receive in 12 step fellowships. The reason it works is because someone will say something that I can totally relate too. And by seeing that they handled the situation and came through it... I see that I can do it as well.

The first time I had this experience was through AA. My bottom was pretty low and I was quite ashamed of who I had become because of my drinking. Those early meetings I was pretty quiet... scared that if they knew the truth about me that they would ask me to leave.

Then at a meeting a guy started crying and shared his bottom. One drunk night, he had a car race down a town's main street. As his car sped up, he lost his ability to maintain control of his car. He veered to the side and hit a person standing on the side of the road. The person he hit was a good friend. A friend who in his late 20s would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. His talk showed me that if he could recover from that, then I could recover from my lows.

Every fellowship has different types of lows but one thing is common... they are things we regret and are ashamed of.

My dysfunctional behaviors as an ACOA were harder to recognize and change because those behaviors were my survival mechanism for many years. I needed to be manipulative because if I didn't in an alcoholic home then I could be hurt. I didn't do it to gain control over someone I did it so I wouldn't be abused.

The last thing I needed as a child was to be responsible for my actions. My actions meant that I might survive another day. I don't say that as an excuse for my behavior, but rather a reason why I behaved the way I did.

In ACOA, when a person is open and vulnerable enough to honestly share about their childhoods and their behaviors it is always a very moving and healing event. The hard part though is to remember we are dealing with childhood trauma. And while I could share how I felt and why things happen and how it affected me... at anytime I would start pointing fingers and blaming others... just as any child would do.

That is where the support of the group helps me see that I don't need to point fingers. I was a child... I was powerless. I couldn't pack my bags and tell my parents that I was leaving. That they were drunks and I wasn't going to live there anymore until they got help. I couldn't do that. The only power I had was to survive.

Amazingly I did that. And today, I look back at that insanity and know that I would have never changed if I didn't find the fellowship of ACOA.

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