for adult children of alcoholics


Chat With Yourself

I’ve been doing this exercise lately: instead of reacting in the moment (thank you daily meditation practice for giving me more seconds between stimulus and response), I chat with myself. I sit myself down and listen, just as I would with a friend. What am I feeling? Where is this coming from? What old patterns might be at play here? Am I taking on other people’s ish to people-please and get love or is this really my ish to sort?

It doesn’t take a long time. A minute or two. And I’m human so still working on expanding the space between stimulus and response. I don’t always show up in intense, triggered moments as I’d like. I’m maybe 50/50 at this point. But for this ACoA, it has been extremely helpful to pause and check in. Pause and check in. Pause and check in. You can formulate a much healthier response from that place. A response that honors what you want and what you need.

We navigated so much growing up that some responses are still automatic. Still just a millimeter below the surface waiting to be triggered. It’s ok. A practice of pausing and checking in will give you a little more room to choose an intentional response. Plus: it’s kind of fun to sit yourself down and have a chat. That’s the kind of self care we could all use in spades.

Out of the Shadows, Into the Light

I’ve had this plant for 4 years. When I first got it, I planted it with another type of succulent. One with tall, bushy, bright purple flowers. I planted those purple flowers right in the center. Big, brash, proud, clearly the most important thing in the pot. And for three years, those purple flowers remained center stage. And these guys you see now – tall, flowering, majestic af – were but tiny little under-succulents to the purple flowers. Just little ground cover. Barely seen. Always in the shadow of the towering purple blooms.

I then moved this pot to my desert house. And a miraculous thing happened. The new air, the nature, the sun, the completely new environment was not so good for the proud and showy purple flowers. They died within a month. I thought for sure the under-succulents would, too. But! But! Those little guys were just waiting for the right spot to do their thing. To become so fully themselves. So fully alive. I had no idea they could grow this tall. I had no idea they could bloom like this with tiny delicate flowers all over. I had no idea that all this beauty was waiting there, years in shadow, for just the right climate to shine. And it’s even more beautiful than I ever imagined.

We are these succulents. And we are finding our climate. We are healing so we can create the environment we need inside ourselves and around ourselves. And oh my goodness will our strength and power and beauty astound us when we are ready to come out of the shadows.

When Self-Care = Weight Gain

Confession: I’ve been doing a lot of #actualselfcare things. Small things, like getting my car serviced. Medium things, like making time to do an actual skincare routine. (This may sound basic to you but this kind of taking care of me never existed for me before. Wash my face twice a day? I was too busy surviving to do that.
No time. There were people who needed me. Deadlines to be met. My face could wait.) ((and yes, even as I type that it hits me: how did i ever feel that my face was less important than an arbitrary deadline set by a client? Welcome to the life of an ACoA.)).

I’ve even moved on to some really big self care things like pausing before I say “yes” and scanning my body, heart and mind to sort what I really want and saying that, even while fearing repercussions.

But amidst all this really powerful, life leveling up self-care, I’ve been very intentionally sidestepping something: my body. I’ve gained weight. Quite a bit. And I haven’t wanted to look at it (literally, I avert my eyes when I pass full-length mirrors). I’ve done with my body what I used to do with my face and skincare: it can wait. It can get less than ideal. It can even get unhealthy. Because I have other things to do that are more important. Clients need me. Deadlines loom. Mortgage payments need to be paid. “I’ll focus on my body later.”

But that’s the beautiful thing about starting to choose yourself in your life. I’ve finally realized that saying “I’ll focus on my body later” and putting everyone else first is some real bullshit. Like the highest form of bullshit. I get one body. One life. And if I want to get to a place where I can stare deeply into my own eyes and really like the woman I’ve become (and I have) then I sure as hell also need to be able to pass a mirror and actually LOOK AT MYSELF. It’s amazing that while I’m doing so much work to heal and look at everything, I’ve chosen to let this part of me go. As if all this healing stuff has taken so much of me, there wasn’t room for more.

But it’s time to really look at my relationship with my body. It’s time to take care of ALL OF ME. And be kind to myself at every step.