If you haven't yet picked up the ACA Big Red Book (Adult Child of an Alcoholic/Addict/Dysfunctional family), I'd HIGHLY recommend you doing so! It's filled with a weatlh of information that unpacks what the ACA or ACOA traits are and the solutions for overcoming and working through them. It's a powerful resource and I think every ACA individual should read it. With this in mind, here's an excerpt from pg. 22 from the ACA Big Red Book regarding how we "Internalize Our Parents":
"Family dysfunction is a disease that affects everyone in the family. Taking a drink is not necessary to be affected. This is an ACA axiom, and it serves as a basis for our First Step. The effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family force us to develop survival traits that are known as The Laundry List (Problem). Since the disease of family dysfunction is generational, these traits also represent the internalization of our parents' behavior. As much as we would like to deny it, we have become our parents...
We used denial to forget our pledge and the fact that we had internalized our parents. Denial is the glue that holds together a dysfunctional home. Family secrets, ignored feelings, and predictable chaos are part of a dysfunctional family system. The system allows abuse or other unhealthy behaviors to be tolerated at harmful levels. Through repetition, the abuse is considered normal by those in the family. Because the dysfunction seemed normal or tolerable, the adult child can deny that anything unpleasant happened in childhood. At the same time, there are many adult children who can recount the horrors of their dysfunctional upbringing in great detail. Yet, many do so without feeling or without connecting the deep sense of loss that each event brought. This is a denial of feelings identified in Trait 10 of the The Laundry List (Problem).
These forms of denial allow the adult child to sanitize the family story when talking about the growing-up years. Denial can also lead us to believe that we have escaped our family dysfunction when we carried it into adulthood. Step One of the Twelve Steps states that we are "powerless over the effects" of growing up in a dysfunctional family. The Step calls us to admit that our behavior today is grounded in the events that occurred in childhood. Much of that behavior mirrors the actions and thoughts of the dysfunctional parents, grandparents, or caregivers. Once we come out of denial, we realize we have internalized our parents' behavior. We have internalized their perfectionism, control, dishonesty, self-righteousness, rage, pessimism, and judgmentalness..."
Did you resonate with some or all of this excerpt? Know that if you did, first of all, you're not alone. And, second of all, there is help available to overcome and work through the past! Overcoming denial is THE hardest part. So, if you're willing to admit this excerpt connects with you, congratulations!! It means you're stepping over denial into truth. This takes extreme courage, humility, and willingness. I remind my clients, if you have these qualities, that's all you need to begin this great healing journey that therapy offers. Are you ready to start the healing journey? Call or text: 561.501.1996 to schedule your complimentary fifteen-minute consultation call. I can't wait to speak with you! 2021 can be your best year yet! There is HOPE!
I'm cheering for you!
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