For those who grow up in the home of someone who excessively consumes alcohol or drugs or who has another un-treated mental illness, it is natural to have uncomfortable responses to being in that environment. This is so true, a whole 12-Step genre developed to assist those who fit in this category. ACOA meetings can provide a sense that you are not alone in these struggles, and can begin to aid a person who grew up with an alcoholic, addict, or other un-treated impairment to sort through the chaos that they feel.
Many adults don't realize all the ways they have been programmed by growing up in the home that they did. It is usually problems in other relationships that bring them to therapy where they begin to discover what role they played, and continue to play, in the dysfunctional household.
ACOAs are often:
-very aware of and concerned with other people's feelings
-have felt as though they are walking on eggshells, not only in their home growing up, but in romantic relationships, as well
ACOAs describe themselves as "independent," because they have felt very alone in the survival they have fought for and the decisions they have made. And yet, since so many of their decisions and behaviors have been reactions to addiction, ACOAs who have not chosen active participation in recovery are actually codependent. Because we, as human beings, are intended to rely on one another socially for well-being, through the help of therapy, we can learn to be interdependent. When you are interdependent, you take care of yourself emotionally, so that others don't have to be a certain way in order for you to feel okay. Interdependence feels supportive and strengthening. It provides space to be oneself while interacting others. It allows intimacy and honesty and it encourages each to focus on their own personal growth.
Beyond feeling supported through meetings, there is much that can be learned by an ACOA that will free him or her from continued cycles of chaos. Learning new ways of being in relationship - with self and in relationships with others, is what ultimately empowers an ACOA to experience a life of serenity and success.
What questions do you have about ACOAs?