A.C.O.A = Adult Children Of Alcoholism. I have done some research into being an ACoA and I found something called the “Laundry List”. This list was adopted into the ACoA world service organization’s official literature. For me it made a lot of little things click in place for me, that I may not have ever connected before. I want to share this laundry list with you and after explain how you can change these traits. This acronym below was created by author John Bradshaw in his book ‘The Family’.
“A- Addictive/compulsive behaviors, or marry addicts
D- Delusional thinking and denial about family or origin
U -Unmercifully judgemental of self and others
L- Lacking good boundaries- want to symbiose (in other words mutual relationships)
T -Tolerate inappropriate behavior
C- Constantly seek approval or overly independent
H- Have difficulty with intimate relationships
I- Incur guilt when standing up for self
L- Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
D- Disabled will (Can’t be ones own motivator)
R- Reactive rather than active/creative
E- Extremely loyal- to the wrong people
N- Numbed out (from too much pain)
O- Overreact to changes out of one’s control
F- Feel different then everyone else
A- Anxious and hyper vigilant
L- Low self worth because of internalized shame
C- Confuse love with pity
O- Overly rigid and serious. OR the complete opposite
H- Have difficulty finishing projects
O- Overly dependent and terrified of abandoment
L- Live life as a victim or offender
I- Intimidated by anger and criticism or in a rage
C- Control-madness (excessive need to control)
S- Super responsible or super irresponisble
When I first found this list I saw myself checking off MANY of them. I couldn’t believe how pinpointed they had it. And again this does not apply to ALL ACoA’s, but it will apply to a lot of them. I also read an article that said something that gave me a lot of hope.
“Many adult children find seeking professional treatment or counseling for insight into their feelings, behaviors, and struggles helps them achieve greater awareness of how their childhood shaped who they are today. This is often overwhelming in the beginning, but it can help you learn how to express your needs and cope with conflict in new and constructive ways.”- Buddy T
I had recently started therapy when I first learned about the “Laundry List.” As time went on for me, I did get to see why I felt certain ways and why I coped the way I did. I found new ways to deal with problems that would arise instead of panicking and freaking out.
Slowly, but surely as I looked over the list again I realized I was able to start crossing some of them off my list. It was one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had. No lie. I’ll give you an example of a small one. Difficulty finishing projects. OH, HOW DID I RELATE TO THIS ONE! I could never finish anything that I had started. With therapy and working through my issues, I can now start a project and finish it! When I first realized that I was doing this, it was a huge relief. I FINISHED SOMETHING! I DID IT!
So, my main point is you may look at this list and relate to many of those things stated, but it is POSSIBLE to CHANGE them! You are not stuck! If you do the work, and work through all that horrible shit you’ve had to go through… you’ll come out on the other side. And then YOU can start to see the things you can cross off that damn laundry list.
It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had going through therapy. Crossing off my own laundry list. There are still plenty of things to work on, but the fact is I accomplished something huge! Something I thought, no way I can do that. But I did. And so can you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to learn more information so you can understand all that happened around you. I didn’t ask for help when I needed it the most, until I was too sick and depressed. Don’t wait to change your life if you want to. Start now. Baby steps. It’s worth it.