As we break through our denial, we’re better able to determine the degree of our problem. We recognize our denial as a symptom of codependence and see it as a process that continually emerges, subsides and evolves throughout our lives.
As we continue our recovery in ACA, we replace denial with acceptance. We progressively embrace our past and current life with honesty, openness and a willingness to change. We move beyond denial and identify the harm our codependent decisions and behaviors have caused us personally, as well as our families, careers, physical health, and spirituality. We see how codependence has allowed us to become trapped in unhealthy situations and relationships. It affects every aspect of our lives. As we see our direction more clearly, we recognize that our journey is not advanced by force, will, intellect or even strength of character. At some point, most of us acknowledge a Higher Power as the guide on our journey, the source of our progress. We may become more aware that we’re on a spiritual journey.
We know we’re not alone, when we accept our codependence. Together, we’re learning how to love and be loved, and how to live life rather than merely survive it. Recovery in ACA is an ongoing process. It’s a life that constantly challenges us. Recovery isn’t earned like a merit badge; it’s a way of living that evolves with us every day.
All journeys begin with the first step. Our journey of personal recovery in ACA begins with the ACA first step of admission and acceptance.
Step One We admitted we were powerless over others – that our lives had become unmanageable.
By exploring the powerlessness of our childhood and the un-manageability of our adult lives, we come to understand more about our personal heritage, our denial of codependence fades, our acceptance increases, we become able to see our destructive behaviors, and we open the door to possible solutions. We admit that our best efforts in these areas have failed, and that we need greater help than our own limited abilities can provide. From this position of admission and acceptance we are ready to reach for the help of a Power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity.
Promise Five: I know a new love and acceptance of myself and others. I feel genuinely lovable, loving and loved.
FROM SHAME TO ACCEPTANCE
Many of us have experienced life as a series of maneuvers to avoid feelings of shame. Even when we constructed elaborate walls to protect us from the scrutiny of others, an inadvertent slight by another could crush our defenses and send us in to a tailspin of fear and shame. Working the first five Steps of the ACA program has helped us to see some of these patterns. Step six offers us a beginning – to replace our “wall of shame” with the painless protection of acceptance.
I love and accept my body just as it is right now.
I accept, own, and experience all my feelings.
I have the ability to accept and to give love.
I choose to accept and to feel my Higher Power’s unconditional love.
Many of us spent a lifetime giving away our power to others. Often we lost the inborn sense of what was rightfully ours – our personal integrity – sometimes mistaking our lack of boundaries for gentleness, acceptance, and love.
In ACA we learned that the love we were seeking would come from self-acceptance and self-nurturance. These were the avenues we must travel in order to regain our birthright – knowledge of our wholeness.
SELF-ACCEPTANCE, SELF-LOVE, SELF-ESTEEM:
After completing our Fourth Step inventory, many of us were surprised to discover how little self-worth we really had. Some of us found that deep within there was a belief that we had no reason to be alive, no right to exist. We avoided life with the help of substances such as drugs, alcohol, and food. We lost ourselves in a variety of activities – relationships, sex, work, shopping, exercising, and gambling. Some of us managed to avoid living by using diversions such as excessive meditation, celibacy, or even television-watching.
Having taken our Fifth Step, many of us learned that much of what we thought was true about ourselves and about living was someone else’ opinion, an opinion we hadn’t thought to question. We were misguided not worthless, and we had developed character defects in order to live with self-damaging beliefs about who were and what we thought we were like.
After working the first five Steps of the ACA program we knew that it was not our job to struggle with our old ideas. That was God’s business. In this case, our contribution would be a fourfold process:
to acknowledge our awareness of the old beliefs;
to admit our uncomfortable feelings about these beliefs;
to make the decision to accept our feelings about them; and
to take action by exercising our ability TO CHOOSE new beliefs using whatever tools the program presented, in this case, positive statements about ourselves.
THE SERENITY PRAYER
The Serenity Prayer expresses our awareness that recovery is about living life as it unfolds. These simple phrases affirm that our recovery is lived one moment, one decision, one day at a time:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
With the help of a loving Higher Power, the program of Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families, and those who join us on this journey, each of us can experience the hope of recovery. We find the willingness to change, grow, and evolve toward the positive, loving potential that lies within us. Through the guidance of our Higher Power, the program of Adult Children of Alcoholics, and the ACA family, each of us can experience the hope of recovery and a life filled with peace and joy.
… and acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation - some fact of my life – unacceptable to me and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my codependence, I could not begin to have healthy relationships; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.