Every adult child has unexpressed grief, which is usually represented by the symptoms of depression, lethargy, or forms of dissociation. The grief that we speak of in ACA is the cumulative loss of childhood. Grief is loss that is stuck beneath denial, wilful forgetting, and the fear of being perceived as dramatizing the past. Grief is the built up defeats, slights, and neglect from childhood. We carry this grief with us as we create careers, raise families or trudge through life as best we can.
The losses we speak of in ACA include the actions and inaction of our parents or family. Being shamed by our parents or a relative represents the loss of being able to feel whole as a person. Shame tramples a child’s natural love and trust and replaces it with malignant self-doubt. With shame, we lose our ability to trust ourselves or others. We feel inherently faulty as a child.
Long-time ACA members understand the importance of claiming grief or loss. Grief work restores the power of tears. We find out that emotional pain can be the gateway to a closer connection with God as we understand God. After making it through we feel changed. We embrace the inner strength we have always had, and we see emotional pain in a new light. We see it as one instrument which can temper our diamond-hard survival traits. By facing our pain, we learn that we really are not alone in our suffering. When we find ourselves in this kind of pain we stay close to meetings and keep our faces turned towards God as we understand God.
Each adult child has been a spiritual seeker from childhood without knowing it. We are now realizing it as recovering adult children. Some of us took the long route, but the steering was there. The seeking was there. The intuition was there. We cannot stop ourselves from seeking contact with a Higher Power. It is part of being an adult child, and we must accept this great fact. We are called to God and cannot resist. Acting distracted or indifferent no longer works. The True Parent calls.
From the ACA ‘Big Red Book’ (pp.199-267)
© Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organisation