Author: Brendan L

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.


I have been feeling really off the last two days. I dont know if it is the training for the half-marathon or work, or a combination of all? But I am so irritated with people around me. When I got home yesterday I was ready to fucking scream. I had all sorts of crazy shit running through my head. I even had a moment where I once again thought about how just driving my truck into something really big would be a good idea. I dont mean to end it, but just to feel something different. This is crazy, the idiot committee in my head is alive and well.

I really need to get ahead of this one. Things are not going to improve unless I do something. What that means is unclear as of yet.


Yesterday was pretty good, I had a pretty decent training run and some hang out time.  After some down time at home I spontaneously decided to go Barrie and get a walk in.  We walked for about 30 mins and then hit up the frozen yogurt place downtown.  It was nice and we even went a few hours without any passive aggressive comments or hurt feelings.  We talked a bit about the counselling, we kind of both laugh about how the counselor’s reactions to us owning some of our defects.  Again, I don’t know how this is all going to work out, but it was nice to just exist in the moment.

shit day

I am trying to process yesterday.  Aside from the obvious, something is very wrong.  I am having a hard time putting it into words.  I did not share this at a meeting yesterday because I don’t know what to say about it.  I have been feeling like Mare attacks me over little things lately.  I know that I have no power to change how she is feeling, but I hate it when she gives me shit over little things.  It feels like she is trying to drive a wedge in between us.  She has since apologized for yesterday, she says that when she feels bad about herself or is upset I end up taking the brunt of it all.  I have a hard time understanding this, because I would never lash out at her when I am down.  I won’t do that to someone I care about.

I feel like lately there is something emotionally that I can’t quite get to the surface.  I can’t put it into words, but I know it’s there.  I can feel it all the time.  Something is very wrong and it’s going to fucking explode.  I am a little worried about it, and I know that I need to talk to Keith about it soon, or I need to get it out at a meeting.  But I can’t quite put my finger on it yet.  It has been there for a while now, and on days like yesterday it starts to feel like I am going to lose it.

My brother reached out yesterday, he has been talking with my parents and they want to go out for Thanksgiving dinner somewhere.  I want to tell them all to fuck off.  I have zero interest in seeing my parents.  I haven’t cut them completely off but I hate dealing with their dysfunction lately.  I did enough of that as a kid, and even as a young adult.  I had to help hold the pieces together for my mother when they got divorced, now I have to sit by and watch as they socialize with us.  The whole time I am aware that my father is putting on an act for her so that he try to get back into her good books.  He wants someone to talk to and to look after him.  And she complains to me about this shit.  When I tell she has no obligation to talk to him after everything he has done.  She tells me that I don’t understand, that they were married a long time, that she feels bad for his situation.  This is where I want to scream, then don’t fucking complain to me about this.

Maybe I need to boycott every fucking holiday.  I don’t have any interest in Christmas, or Thanksgiving.  I LOVED being gone over Christmas last year.  I briefly entertained having everyone over for turkey dinner.  But I quickly squashed that idea.  I don’t need to put myself through that just to eat some thanksgiving chicken.  I haven’t thought about this in a long time, but I want to get drunk every single time that I have to spend time with my parents.  It used to make it tolerable to numb my feelings before seeing them.  Or Pat and I would be drinking beers during the whole family event.  I now see that as a huge trigger and I have even less desire to be there.


I have started reading a little of the ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) literature.  One of the books that I got is a Daily Affirmations type book called Strengthening My Recovery.  The passage today really resonated with me:

“We know we can be gentle with ourselves, that some of the work will become a habit after time, and that some of the work will have a different feel at different stages of our recovery.  We practice patience and tolerance with ourselves, and softly allow the spiritual experience to flow naturally and easily.”



Once again I have let her mood affect me.  She has been very off for a few days now.  I am trying to give her space to work it out, but the care taking side of me wants to try to fix things.  I know that I cannot do anything to change how she is reacting to life, I can’t change how she feels.  Where I am struggling is that I am just getting exhausted by this.  I am pretty much daily thinking about how much easier my life would be if I could jsut have my own place.  A space I get to set up and it’s just mine.  I could do what i want, I would not have to be beholden to anyone’s whims or wishes.  The tiring part is just pretending like everything is ok.  That we can get through this.  The counselling thing is making a tiny bit of progress.  But is it enough?  I have my doubts.

feeling strong

Today has been really great.  I am feeling very good about myself today.  I did the Toronto Zoo run and I felt very strong throughout it.  For the first time in all of these runs, I feel like I am making progress.  I feel the motivation to keep going right now and it feels good.  I was a little nervous about today given that it’s a bigger crowd than the run in Madison and there are a lot of very serious runners at this event.  But I keep reminding myself that I am only there to race myself, to better myself.  This is what keeps me going in these endurance events.  I don’t much care for playing team sports, never have.  I have always enjoyed activities that are solo.  I don’t want anyone relying on my performance or vice versa.  I want to be able to do my own thing.  I remember when I was a kid my Mom made me decide between playing hockey or swimming.  I don’t think they ever enjoyed the hockey thing.  But I elected to take up competitive swimming instead of playing on a hockey team.  I have never regretted that decision.  I mean I was a mediocre swimmer at best, but I am pretty sure I was a terrible hockey player.