07 July 2016

Step Eight of ACOA

Step Eight of ACOA says that we made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.


Been awhile since we have looked at the Steps of ACOA. With preparing to move, then moving, and finding work, finding time to actually put serious thought into the Steps couldn’t be done. I probably could have written something up, but the writings with the Steps always has had my entire concentration and finally I feel like I can devote time to them once again. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at Step Eight of Adult Children of Alcoholics, which says that we Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

The hard part to accept with this step is that no matter how much I can justify my actions, in the end they were wrong and needed to be corrected. An example. In my childhood mind (teenage years) I would constantly take money from my mum. In reality, it wasn’t taking money – it was stealing money. Anyway, I could justify it. By stealing this money, mum couldn’t go and buy booze. Which kept her sober and kept her from getting beaten by dad. Perfectly logical reasoning right?

The fact is stealing is stealing is stealing, no matter how much I tried to justify it. To me, that was the hard part with being a child of an alcoholic. Everything that is done can be reasoned. Eventually, in his own mind, the child becomes a god. Every action that was taken was done for the betterment of the home. Which leads to a person who can not accept his responsibility for the wrongs he did. He can not be held accountable for his actions because he was right and justified to do everything he did.

Many years ago when I was being a very active drunk, I ran into troubles with the law and with family courts. One time in therapy, we were all present – therapists, myself, wife, and kids – and the subject got around to the behaviour of one of the children. This child quickly got defensive and used a line I used many times “I’m a kid. I’m only a child. It’s OK for me to make mistakes.”

It is true it is OK for a child to make a mistake – in fact, it is true for all of us to make mistakes. Yet, it is not OK to not “own” that mistake. To say, “I did wrong and I’m sorry I did that.”

All children, including children of alcoholics, need to learn from their mistakes. To take ownership of their mistakes and hopefully grow and learn from those mistakes.

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