My name is Kathy Berman and I live in Margate, Florida. My recovery date is 11/24/1976. Having grownup in a home controlled by alcoholism, I was able to see my addiction very early. Thanksgiving, 1976, I told my family that I thought I was an alcoholic. I fully expected everyone to disagree with me.
But, my mother said that she had been afraid of that. So I was stuck with the admission and being the “perfect daughter”, I never drank again and went to AA. I had no idea that I wouldn’t discover until 33 years later than I had experienced PTSD in that home which would continue to shape and direct me.
My third month into recovery, I had a radical conversion as described by William James in his The Varieties of Religious Experience. It was instant and I call it ‘”the moment that changed my life.” So I have been trying since 1977 to hear what God’s will is for my life. Many days I have followed my will and called it His. But there has been progress, too.
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Nothing can change our feeling unworthy until we each give ourselves the gift of self-esteem. Feeling unworthy keeps us feeling separate and less than. Working on the tools of recovery for self-esteem means letting go of the core issues that keep us trapped. These core issues are control, trust, avoidance of feelings, over-responsibility, and ignoring our own needs.
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The main reason that I love helping others is because we are each born with a core of goodness from birth. I also believe that this core contains our creativity which is the source of our joy. I also believe that helping anyone find this creativity is the answer to awakening others to the beauty of himself/herself. Finally, I believe maturity is returning to the joyful, playful child that God created.
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ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) Changed My Life
The ACA Red Book gave me the blueprint to heal the negative emotional patterns I had learned in childhood. It was more important to me than any book I had ever read about recovery. I came to see that growing up in a home dominated by alcoholism overshadowed every other experience I had as a child.
So my primary addiction healing had to be changing those ways I had learned to cope in a family torn apart by a substance one family member chose to use to control his feelings of helplessness. Alcohol was in charge and we all learned ways to bend to its control.
This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.
When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.
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I never realized that my way of thinking everything was a major disaster was contributing to my life's disasters. In other words, I was creating the drama instead of just reacting to it. So I learned that if I created the drama, I could uncreate it. The simple technique I used was to shout "Stop!" at my obsessive thinking. Scream it loud enough and you tend to get your own attention.
I learned that my mind was out to get me--or, at the very least, my mind was out to control me. I think that I was addicted to feeling bad. The main reward from negative thinking is low expectations of ourselves. If you think you're not worth much, you don't have to do much.
Negative thinking or fear controlled my mind and therefore my emotions. I also have learned that feelings can't hurt me unless I hold on to them or try to avoid them. I have to work through the feeling in order to let it go.