- We go to meetings, and call program people to discuss recovery issues.
- We read ACA literature and learn about the experiences of others while gaining clarity on our own experiences.
- We define & enforce our boundaries.
- We work & use the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions.
- We identify the people, places and things that are healthy and useful to our lives today, and discard those that are not.
- We reconnect with our Inner Child or True Self.
- We work with a sponsor & build support networks.
- We attend meetings that focus on issues upon which we need to work.
- We give service in ACA.
Listening to others and ourselves share at meetings helps us in our recovery. Sharing at meetings sometimes helps us to focus, define and clarify our problems. We express our feelings. Talking out loud helps us to resolve some problems. We talk about our action plans to change our lives, or how well our current plan is working. At times we report our progress or victories. We often use meetings as a reality check on our overall program, comparing our current life in the program to our adult life before coming to the ACA program.
In the meetings we come to understand how our childhood experiences shape our attitudes, behavior, and choices today. We hear others talk about their experiences, and we recognize ourselves. We learn how we can change. We sense that within ourselves are people who are not who we were taught to be. Some people call these our “inner children.” We discover ourselves.
We read literature about ACA issues, often using the literature as life rafts. We hang on to what we have read when the seas get temporarily rough. Many of us write on a daily basis, finding that it helps us to put things into perspective for us. Some of us write to get in touch with our inner children. We write about our childhoods, daily thoughts, recurring struggles, and discoveries about life and ourselves. We write about new issues as they arise. We use ACA functions outside the meetings to learn spontaneity and how to have fun.
Gradually, we begin to recognize the negative parenting messages from our childhoods that drive our lives. We learn how to replace them with healthy behaviors. This is a first step toward “reparenting.” As we gradually reparent our selves, our outlook on life changes. We begin to look at it from an emotionally mature perspective. Ultimately, we become happier, stronger, more capable people — more able to handle life. We learn to respect others and ourselves. The quality of our lives improves as we learn to define and communicate our boundaries, and insist that they be honored.
We have learned by experience that those ACA members who make the greatest gains in the shortest amount of time are those who use the “tools of recovery.” We have also found that all of us recover at our own paces, and in our own time. We are individuals who come from varied experiences and backgrounds.
The Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, The Problem and Solution.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions are the rich heritage of our Twelve-Step Program. There are many books examining the exact nature of these steps.
Working these Steps and Traditions means developing an understanding of how these Steps apply to us in our daily lives. Working these Steps and Traditions requires reading, writing, sharing, and living our understanding of these Steps and Traditions. We do so with the tools that follow in the light of our identification with “The Problem” and our understanding of “The Solution.”
The Meetings are where we share our experience, strength, and hope. We share our identification with The Problem and learn we are not alone. We learn that there are others like us, and there is hope. There is recovery. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Reading and Writing
In order to further our own program ofdiscovery/recovery, we educate ourselves. We do thisby exploring the Problem, Solution, Steps, andTraditions and by reading literature, books and otherpublications that pertain to our program.We write to explore further our understanding of ourprogram. By writing; we document our process andclarify questions for ourselves. This processrequires a level of discipline and dedication. Thisdedication to ourselves, leads to the freedom, understanding, and compassion needed to nurture our inner child.
We listen and share in our meetings and often find people like ourselves that we strongly relate to. By continuing to share outside the meetings, we further our process of discovery/recovery. We receive the support necessary to carry on our growth and also give the same. Often we are far more compassionate and honest with others than with ourselves. In the process of sharing with others, we learn to practice the same level of gentleness and respect with ourselves. We act as mirrors for one another and provide an avenue to escape the isolation of our childhood.
Some of us choose to have sponsors. Sponsorship is a way to avoid the isolation we experienced as children. We seek others a little farther along the path to provide us with guidance and possible answers to our questions. In sponsoring or being a sponsor, we develop relationships based on the Steps and Traditions. We can often share things on a one-to-one basis that may be too terrifying to share in a meeting. We learn about intimacy, trust, risking, success and failure.
A sponsor is not perfect — we are all in this program to overcome the effects of our childhood. But, just like sharing in meetings or with other friends, we stretch ourselves a little farther, risk a little more. We do this with someone who shows a level of recovery that we would like to develop. Later, as our program progresses, we extend this same level of sharing to another. It is here in extending beyond ourselves that we develop a breadth of friendships. We learn about limited and casual friendships, and establish a support network of many types, levels and intensities of relationships.
In service we try to give back to the program some of what we have received. By helping in the meetings as an officer or as a set-up or clean up person, or by volunteering on the Intergroup or board level, we make this program available to others that follow us. Our recovery depends on an ongoing program of discovery and the PRACTICE of our recovery. Service provides us with the opportunity to practice this recovery in an atmosphere of support.
All too often we overlook the concept of boundaries as a tool in recovery. Relationships, whether with ourselves or others, are core issues in our recovery. For some, boundaries are too strong. For others they are nonexistent. For others they may be ineffective. The first step in establishing our boundaries is to love and respect ourselves. With that perspective, we are then able to communicate healthy messages to others. In this way we ensure our own protection and avoid giving negative or misleading messages to others.
The ability to give, to ask for, and to receive a hug is not something most of us practiced growing up. Sometimes all we need is the warm, friendly validation of a hug. Hugs are common greetings and farewells we use in this program. We learn to ask for hugs when we feel we want or need them. We respect the feelings of others without question when they choose not to hug or be hugged. We respect our own feelings to turn down the offer of a hug when, for whatever reason, it feels uncomfortable.
Getting and receiving hugs can make a serious difference in how we view ourselves, others, and the world we live in. It is a milestone in our recovery to ask for what we need. It is a beginning step toward our goal for true intimacy.