ACA is the Best Place to Unlearn Negative Emotional Patterns

ReunitedAlthough I never forgot that I was going to AA as a recovering alcoholic, my recovery changed over the years to encompass new learnings and teachings.

In 1976, when I came to AA, there were few female members. In my 3rd month of recovery, I had a profound spiritual experience which I have related in here. I quickly learned to shut up about God in 12 step meetings as many members wanted to talk about alcohol only. Being female and a God person almost insured that I wouldn’t have a lot of group acceptance.

The focus for my recovery took a profound change in direction when I discovered ACA. I have never “forgot” that I am first and foremost an alcoholic and am deeply grateful to be in recovery. Nor have I ever considered myself as recovered. These beliefs about myself have helped me to stay centered and focused on recovery.

ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) has gone through several name changes. In 1977, (one year after the beginning in my recovery in 1976), a group of Al-Anon members realized that they were all children of alcoholics. This was the beginning of ACOA. In later years, ACOA became ACA and/or COA.

Up until 1983, any Al-Anon meeting I attended was to help heal that child inside me who grew up in a very troubled family. But when I shared at Al-Anon meetings about my alcoholism, I felt a subtle change in the group of some members feeling that I didn’t belong in an Al-Anon meeting.

But when I found ACA meetings, I immediately knew that I belonged because they talked about feelings. I continued to be completely committed to my recovery with AA groups. But the AA groups were male-dominated groups whose members seemed to be proud of how far they had fallen to their bottoms. So I started attending ACA and Codependents Anonymous as well as AA.

However, although I have tried for years to be part of several 12 step groups, the meetings bore me. Before you hang me out to dry, I have actively worked on my recovery program daily since Nov. 24, 1976. The 12 steps are the foundation for my life and I actively work on them every day of my life. I do my 12th step online daily by posting several recovery posts to my Facebook page, Emotional Sobriety. It currently (11/19/2015) has 4136 members.

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.

Photo credit.

10 thoughts on “ACA is the Best Place to Unlearn Negative Emotional Patterns

  1. Pingback: Reparent Your Inner Child A-Z Link Directory « Alcoholism Plus Depression And PTSD

  2. Syd

    Interesting about ACOA meetings. I find that being in Al-Anon has helped me with the behavior that I learned from growing up in a household where my father drank and at times, heavily. I do know that in most Al-Anon meetings, we ask that people don’t share about their membership in other 12 step groups. It makes sense to me because the primary purpose of each is different.

    1. Syd, I love your commitment to recovery. I don’t go to any meetings anymore. But the ACA Red Book changed my life just 3 years ago. It started from reading about a Marine with PTSD who was trying to commit suicide by cop. In the article it mentioned he suffered from social isolation. And with those words, after a recovery journey begun Nov. 1976, I was finally into the core of the onion. I tried Al Anon first thinking that to be the natural progression from a betrayal from an alcoholic husband. But they talked about their “qualifier” and that felt to me like codependency. So then I tried ACA. And found the book. The book was the key for me. My 12th step work is my FB fan page, Emotional Sobriety. I wish someone would start one for the survivors of suicide victims. I would be happy to set it up for anyone who wants to start one. And I will advertise it free on all my sites. Glad to read you’ve had a few days on the boat. Love, Kathy

      1. Syd

        Kathy, it’s too bad that you found an Al-Anon meeting that focused on the alcoholic. Actually, the sign of a healthy meeting is one where we focus on ourselves and not the alcoholic. I suppose that it takes newcomers in Al-Anon a while to get that because they are still thinking that there is something they can do to control the person’s drinking. I may have to get that red book. I like to read about recovery in many different groups.

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  4. Lindsey

    Thank you for sharing your story! I really love how you talk about your journey trying to find the source of what you called negative emotional patterns and that you were eventually able to find ACOA as the best fit to support your individual circumstances. Healing definitely always takes time. There is a beautiful article that I love shared by a woman who also had an addict in her family and learned over time how to find peace in herself through 12 step programs and also through God that I thought you might be interested to read. You can find it here:

    Thank you again for sharing your experiences!

  5. nessa3

    I tried it for several months ….but got to triggered …and had to quit…
    I have to much self hatred around feeling or expressing emotions.

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