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The Adult Child And Al-anon

Here are some of my ideas on the subject of why "adult-child"


work belongs in Al-anon. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Adult-child issues are often discovered late in the recovery process.

Many of us found Al-anon as a reaction to our frustrated attempt to love an


alcoholic. Our first active step was admitting our powerlessness over alcohol: in
other words, alcohol itself was no longer that power greater than ‘ourselves’; as
though alcohol were a higher power ruling our behavior.

Eventually we even come to say that ' we are powerless over other people,
places, and things '. At this point, for many of us, alcohol is no longer the 'only'
issue. We find that our reactions to the non-alcoholic problems of our daily life
are still inappropriate and harmful to others, loved ones and ourselves.

Working the first step opens me to the possibility that many of the problems
confronting me in my life reside, not in alcohol or the alcoholic, but in the
habitual thinking and feeling processes going on inside me. Many of these
processes were developed in childhood as a response to the way I was raised;
and, they were reinforced within an alcoholic partnership. The process of
recovery often reveals to me, "sometimes slowly or haltingly, occasionally in
great bursts of brilliance," that what I was thinking and/or feeling about today's
given problem is not connected to this problem in any real way. This is not a
denial of my thoughts or feelings. It is an admission that what I think and/or feel
can be mistaken. That which I am thinking and/or feeling may have nothing to
do with what is really going on in the world today, and it may have everything to
do with long held expectations of myself or of the world.

I sometimes experience, fearfully within myself, a process of


disillusionment, involving the discovery that my thoughts, feelings, beliefs,
ideas, etc., are not connected to reality; that is, they are, false evidence
appearing real [FEAR]. Many people practicing the 12 Steps, within any 12
Step community, including Al-anon, discover that the origins of today's
inappropriate thoughts and/or feelings are in childhood experiences. This
discovery gives rise to the "inner child" concept. The adult-child, in my opinion,
is the person making this discovery. Old thoughts and/or feelings, possibly
appropriate for the old experience, habitually arise to color and misinterpret my
part in today's activities or events. As a result, my participation in the real world
is continually frustrated, and I am unable to act in a manner that grants me
what I want. I simply react ineffectually.

Now, " If we willingly surrender ourselves to the spiritual discipline of the


Twelve Steps, our lives will be transformed. " This statement does not tell us to
surrender to alcohol or the alcoholic, it says surrender to the spiritual discipline
of the 12 Steps. While the disease of alcoholism in a relative or friend may have
brought us together it is the spiritual discipline of the Twelve Steps that holds
Al-anon together. Alcohol or alcoholism is not what we share in common with
AA. It is the practicing of the 12 Steps that we share in common with AA and all
other 12 Step groups. It may be that adult-child issues belong in part to all
recovery groups: this would not surprise me.

I believe the "adult-child" has an important role in Al-anon, and its role needs to
be embraced. This is not to say that all Al-anon members have adult-child
issues as part of their recovery; not all Al-anon members share anything in
common with Al-ateen or AA as part of their recovery other than the 12 Steps.
Just as the existing groups of AA and Al-anon arose as a response to the
experience of people during a certain time in history, it may be that the "adult-
child" experience of more recent history, is now common enough in the present
generation that it can be ignored only to the detriment of many members of Al-
anon and other 12 Step communities.

And now for the thought experiment!!!!!

I put forth the theory that, for those of us in Al-anon that experience
adult-child relationships, this adult-child experience is itself a result of
our misunderstanding of our real world relationships. As we grow in our
understanding of our real place in the world, as we become more real
ourselves, as we become actors instead of reactors, we are in a sense re-
parenting ourselves. The child does not know that there is a real danger
to blindly running out into the street. The parent does know the danger
and the parent communicates that knowledge. As our sight clears the
clouds of confusion and as we come to recognize truth and as our
feelings become trust worthy that inner-child will grow up with a growing
acceptance of human fallibility in all its activities.

The 'inner-child growing up' is not an apt description of what is


happening. He/She becomes a real person: no longer faking person-hood
by living behind a mask; a person in their own right, livings outside on
the surface of their skin, as part of the real world that all can see and be
with if they are able. By giving us a Real world God has given us what we
could not do for ourselves. That inner-child was never a child and the
child is no longer inner. He/She is just back where they belong, and that
is enough.