aca ?

I have been reading a little bit of the ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) program.  They have this list of 25 questions that you should go through if you are trying to figure out if you have been suffering from the side effects of being raised in a dysfunctional home, I am going to list them here and explain how I feel about each one.  This is going to be a long one, but I hope to get something out of this, so maybe it will be worth it.

25 Questions

Am I an Adult Child?

  • Do you recall anyone drinking or taking drugs or being involved in some other behavior that you now believe could be dysfunctional?
    • – Yes, my father was always a drinker.  I won’t get into the specific details, but it’s safe to say that his alcohol abuse tried to kill him on several occasions.
  • Did you avoid bringing friends to your home because of drinking or some other dysfunctional behavior in the home?
    • yes, my dad would be erratic and unpredictable at times.  He would sometimes come home and pass out on the couch, that was the only time I ever felt safe bringing any friends into the house.
  • Did one of your parents make excuses for the other parent’s drinking or other behaviors?
    • Mom always hid the fact that this was a problem.  She would go so far as to work multiple jobs to make ends meet because Dad would have spent so much money at the bar.  I remember her telling us that Dad is just tired after waking up so early for work and that we had to be quiet while he slept.
  • Did your parents focus on each other so much that they seemed to ignore you?
    • This one is a little harder to examine.  I can’t recall any specific examples.
  • Did your parents or relatives argue constantly?
    • I seem to recall many arguments about money and drinking.  Dad was in the military and he was away from home a lot.  I remember that these were the only times that there was any harmony in the house hold.
  • Do you believe that it is your responsibility to take care of your parents’ feelings or worries? Do other relatives look to you to solve their problems?
    • My mother always talked to me about the things that were going on in their relationship.  From the time that she wanted to have an intervention, to the time that they were splitting up.  I always felt like I had to be more grown up than I was.  That I had to help the family get through these tough times.
  • Do you fear authority figures and angry people?
    • Fuck yes – this has always frustrated me to no end.  I get scared pulling up to RIDE programs and I am sober.  I get nervous around all police officers and I have absolutely nothing to hide, even a speeding ticket can be a a panic inducing experience.  When I encounter angry people I begin to have panic attacks.  I shake and lose the ability to speak.
  • Do you constantly seek approval or praise but have difficulty accepting a compliment when one comes your way?
    • I now realize that I have a habit of craving everyone’s approval.  But a compliment makes me feel false.  Like I am unworthy of this approval.
  • Do you see most forms of criticism as a personal attack?
    • I desperately want to say that I am capable of taking a simple criticism.  But that would be a lie.  I can listen to it and not react right away, but I take it personal.  I tell myself that I am fine, but inwardly I am a raging mess.  I am pissed that you would dare tell me I did something wrong.  I have always hated those people that have that constant need to be “right”, because when they are it means they took time to prove me wrong.  That sort of thing always feels like a personal attack.
  • Do you over commit yourself and then feel angry when others do not appreciate what you do?
    • I can’t ever say no to helping someone.  Even if I really don’t want to, I will give someone a hand doing something.  I have made up elaborate lies at times to get out of doing something like helping someone move.  I do truly enjoy helping people that I am close to, but I have been put in this position by people like casual acquaintances and co-workers.
  • Do you think you are responsible for the way another person feels or behaves?
    • I have this insane need for everyone around me to be OK.  There is a passage in the big book that talks about how we are like a “director” and life is a play.  I have to try to control everything going on and what everyone is doing.  Life would be so much easier if everyone would just do what I want them to.  I have recognized this in myself and for the most part I feel like I have let the control part go.  But I still find myself feeling responsible for others feelings.
  • Do you have difficulty identifying feelings?
    • Oh God yes, so much yes.  I have only ever been able to classify feelings into: happy, sad, or angry.  Is that enough?
  • Do you focus outside yourself for love or security?
    • Yes, I again think that I would rather have someone validate me that be OK with myself.  My inner monologue is always telling me that I am worthless and that I need people.  That I can’t do things on my own.  My inner child does not feel secure or loved, that much I know.
  • Do you involve yourself in the problems of others?
    • Obviously, again, I feel like I focus too much on others and never enough on myself.
  • Do you equate sex with intimacy?
    • this one is tough to answer, I will think about circling back to this one
  • Do you confuse love and pity?
    • I think that I have always been infatuated with those that I pity.  I started thinking about this a long time ago.  I wonder if I was interested in someone that I can pity because I don’t feel worthy to approach someone that I am really interested in.  I have a story about this from a long time ago about a girl named Nadia.
  • Have you found yourself in a relationship with a compulsive or dangerous person and wonder how you got there?
    • Mare used to be a little bit OCD.  She would obsessively stack books and cans in her place.  She constantly cleaned and tidied her place.  I wouldn’t call her dangerous.  But again, I am reminded about a few stories from when I was a teenager.
  • Do you judge yourself without mercy and guess at what is normal?
    • Yes, always.  I never do anything to my own satisfaction.  I always think that I could have done better.  That everyone is better than me, at just about everything.
  • Do you behave one way in public and another way at home?
    • I don’t think so, but I will need to think about this one a little more.
  • Do you think your parents had a problem with drinking or taking drugs?
    • Yes absolutely.
  • Do you think you were affected by the drinking or other dysfunctional behavior of your parents or family?
    • Well fuck, if that’s not at least part of the problem I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.
If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you may be suffering from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional family.

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