Avatar
I'm a recovering ACA from an alcoholic and dysfunctional family on the east coast with almost 4 decades of 12 Step and other healing work. The work has been painful, at times, but extraordinarily worthwhile. Although I can never remove the taint of being an ACA, I can use the unique portfolio of strengths it cultivated in me along with modern-day awareness to lead a wondrously fulfilling, courageous and exuberant life...one that I co-create consciously on a daily basis and not one that I hide from in frozen panic.

Days in The Life of an Adult Child – Enough – By Sherry Hawn

As a young woman I never saw myself as an addict or a broken person. I smugly believed that since I hadn’t been arrested, hospitalized, medicated or forced to undergo EST, and I didn’t take alcohol or drugs, that I had narrowly escaped what seemed to grip my entire family of origin in one way or another. Over the years various family therapists inquired whether I was afraid of being found mentally ill and, of course, I shrugged these misguided questions off instantly. Considering that I worked, went to school, lived on my own, and was seemingly successful by worldly standards, I felt superior, and dare I say, blessed even though I had paralyzing fear and insecurity hidden in my soul. Yes, weight was always a matter of concern, but I wasn’t obese. I was able to camouflage the flesh, I thought, and periodically attempted dieting. Unlike weight, several other… Continue reading

Days in The Life of an Adult Child – Rejection and Self-Acceptance

The theme of rejection towers over denial, grief and anger in my life. That is not to say that the three musketeers were bit parts. They loomed large for decades, but rejection was the mighty overlord of the kingdom. Looking back on it, I wonder what microscopic life force propelled me forward. I was once asked why I hadn’t considered suicide by a professional who should have known better than to plant the idea. Cowardice was the answer, I thought, but never bothered to say. I was never normal, whatever that is, and never fit in. Even as I write this, I am tempted to limit that rejection to socio-economics. But that’s untrue. I was “unfit” and defective in every human sense. Too small at four pounds. Too weak and requiring C-section birth. Too high maintenance; needing goat’s milk. Too slow to learn how to tie my shoes or tell… Continue reading

Days in The Life of An Adult Child – Mistakes

I was working in a new situation and was asked to sort out and manage a large backlog of paperwork. It was a stack at least two feet high; a mountain of dusty paper reflecting all kinds of transactions and data in jargon I could only guess at. Although the task wasn’t as challenging as puzzle-solving, or as creative as re-engineering, I welcomed it. The environment was a tidy, modern office with a cheerful employee. The work required focus and concentration. I missed that kind of nimble mental aerobics and I dove in with gusto. It brought back a similar experience when I was no more than a tot when my mother brought me along to do some grocery shopping. In those days the local groceries were smallish with dull-grey walls of shelves, cans and jars with colorful labels and no flank of gleaming, scanning, beeping cashiering stations. The store… Continue reading

Days in the Life of an Adult Child – Wisdom

Wisdom is commonly defined as having experience, knowledge, and sound judgment. Based on that dictionary definition, it’s attained slowly across time, by living and learning, and not instantly from a jagged bolt of lightning from above, like in children’s cartoons. It’s certainly not the same thing as cognition or intelligence. And it’s hard to quantify or measure, except for subjective comparison of before-and-after spiritual selfies. In the serenity prayer we ask God for three things: acceptance of the things we cannot change, and courage to change what we can. The last and, in my view, most critical component, is the wisdom to distinguish between the two. I’ve struggled with this simple yet powerful triumvirate for decades, usually unsure when acceptance should prevail over courage. As a recovering ACA, I also focus on three areas that closely correspond to the prayer: eliminating denial by fully accepting the reality of how it… Continue reading

Days in The Life of an Adult Child – Movies

As a young lost child in a dysfunctional household I was not permitted access to the outside world. I used to think they were lovingly overprotective, but came to understand that they just couldn’t be bothered to engage with me or prepare me for eventual launch. I was guardedly brought to school, and then walked home by my mother, who carried a thermos of milk and a banana for the trip home. She clumsily tried to feed me while we walked and resented my disinterest in the whole affair. The thermos smelled sour and I never liked the texture of bananas. But that opinion was never expressed, much less clearly known, in my own mind. No other kid had a “walking-home-snack.” It was demeaning and infantilizing. I guess she thought I didn’t have the fortitude to complete the walk after so many hours out of her clutches. Need I describe… Continue reading