~ My journey & joy through CAL & AFG adventures ~

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PODCAST – Item #’s B-21 / S-25 – From Survival To Recovery / Did You Grow Up With A Problem Drinker?

b-21Episode 4 of my “CAL Chat” podcast is now available to listen to!  To hear it, please visit the show’s webpage at: www.calchat.libsyn.com (or you can subscribe to it for free on iTunes & Google Play Music as well & you’ll be notified every time a new episode is posted).

In part 1 of 2, Jan talks about her favorite section, pages 14-15, from the book From Survival to Recovery: Growing Up in an Alcoholic Home (item # B-21).  She shares which qualities of an Adult Child of an alcoholic that she identifies with, what a literature study group is like, & how this book can touch members of Alcoholics Anonymous too!  As she says, “You gotta feel it, before you can heal it!”

s25In part 2 of 2, the conversation with Jan continues with her favorite piece of outreach literature, the leaflet/questionnaire: Did You Grow Up With A Problem Drinker? (item # S-25).  This can be an eye-opening piece for people that realize they experienced the effects of alcoholism in their family, rather than just in their current relationship.  We discuss ways it can be used for outreach, workshops, & as a barometer for our recovery progress.  Find out what is like peanut butter & chocolate, & what we’d like to see on a bumper sticker!


CAL – Item # B-21 – From Survival to Recovery

B-21WHAT I LEARNED: 1. For the fellowship, this book marked a major turning point in fully welcoming adult children of alcoholics in the mid 90’s.  At 300 pages, it’s probably only a few pounds, but it felt so much heavier than that because of all the memories it brought back up for me growing up in an alcoholic household.  Some of the stories even venture on being poetic in their agony – grab some tissue & see page 269 for “Untangling Confusion,” page 85 for “Saying It Aloud Helped Me” & page 89’s “All I Knew Was Bitterness.”

There’s a possibility that these pages won’t match up exactly if you have the 1st edition.  I’ve got the 2nd edition which was revised in 2007 to remove an excerpt of Al-Anon’s “promises” or “gifts.”  Per the 2005 Conference Summary, “It was the Committee’s further consensus that the passage not be promoted or reproduced as ‘promises’ or ‘gifts.’  In Al-Anon we offer newcomers our experience, strength, & hope.  We don’t make promises because each individual’s needs & situations are different.”

2. A short version of the book’s recurring theme is about creating something from nothing – or as stated better on page 206: “We are becoming the mature people we lacked in our childhood homes.” From parents that couldn’t give what they didn’t have, to reaching understanding & forgiveness, freedom is possible once we make peace with our past.

3. My favorite line is from page 229: “My family may have given me the disease, but it was my own actions & reactions that impaired me.”


CAL – Item # P-64 – Alateen’s 4th Step Inventory

P-64WHAT I LEARNED: 1. This 4th Step workbook focuses on 6 key areas: Attitudes, Self-Esteem, Love, Responsibility, Feelings, & Relationships.  Each section has 4-5 sharings, 2 cartoons, 8 questions, & best of all, pages to draw!  I can’t remember the last time I drew what my feelings looked like  (I probably used a lot of black markers!)  But it’s this right-brain approach to the 4th Step that is so refreshing & may lead to tapping into things that didn’t make it on my inventory list initially.  Sure, it’s an Alateen book, but that doesn’t mean it’s off limits to me.  I only look like an adult on the outside.   😉

2. I also like that the answers available for the questions include “Not Sure” as an option.  For a person like myself that grew up feeling it was my responsibility to have all the answers, it’s nice to know that not knowing is perfectly ok.


CAL – Item # B-31 – Many Voices, One Journey

B-31WHAT I LEARNED:  1. Initially, I was dreading reading this book.  I thought it was just going to be a boring history book with a litany of dates & facts that were as dry as sandpaper.  Turns out, this has been one of the best well-written books I’ve come across so far!!   It was designed so it could be used in group discussions (similar to a daily reader) so no section is long enough to become boring.  As it encapsulates each World Service Conference from Al-Anon’s beginning up until 2010, it also switches to member sharings from those different time periods & offers questions that bring large WSO issues down to a personal level.

2. The overall theme definitely seems to be how a growing worldwide organization deals with change.  Whether it’s civil rights in the 60’s, acknowledging adult children of alcoholics in the 80’s, welcoming gays & lesbians in the 90’s, relocating the WSO office & owning property, establishing Alateen safety requirements, using KBDM thinking (see page 363), registering online meetings, or looking to increase diversity in the future it has not been as smooth of a road as I thought!  (Perhaps that’s why the WSO loves 3-year trial periods!)  I think a line on page 185 from the 2nd edition of Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism (item # B-1) says it best: “all growth is accompanied by resistance, whether it is a seed struggling through compacted earth, the birth of a newborn, or a person’s effort to surrender negative views.”

3. One of the most touching parts of the book for me was the “To Russia with Love” program in the early to mid-90’s that encouraged the “adoption” of Russian groups until they could be self-supporting.  The letter from a Russian member on page 284 still makes me cry.  If anybody ever asks me why I go to Al-Anon, I would quote this one line from her letter: “He drinks, but my hand shakes.”

beach**BONUS:  In 1993, Tampa, Florida was one of 3 “narrowed-down” cities considered for the new WSO headquarters before they finally chose Virginia Beach.  I guess they had beaches on their mind after being in New York for so long!

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CAL – Item # S-17 – Are You Troubled by Someone’s Drinking?

S-17WHAT I LEARNED:  1. This is the fourth item in the Professional Packet & is one of my top selling outreach items – now I can see why.  This questionnaire is written very broadly so it can apply to anyone affected by alcoholism – including adult children of alcoholics & kids that might be thinking about Alateen as well.

2. This item could almost double as a list of coping mechanisms, games I played, & the emotional impact of my attempts to control the uncontrollable.  So if someone asks me “What were you like before the program & what did you do?” I can hand them this leaflet & say, “Here’s a list of 20 things just to start off with!”

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CAL – Item # P-16 – To Parents of Alcoholics

P-16Yesterday I finished the Adult Children of Alcoholics Newcomer Packet (item #K-21).  This week there’s only this one pamphlet to read from the Parents’ Newcomer Packet (K-24).  –What I learned about all the other items in this packet can be found in previous entries for the General Newcomer Packet (K-10).

WHAT I LEARNED: This pamphlet is a collection of 7 stories & 8 frequently asked questions from parents about the program.  Although I’m not a parent, the distinction made throughout the readings about being responsible to versus responsible for another person is still relevant.

**BONUS: Recently the Literature Committee recommended creating a brand new pamphlet that addresses parents & grandparents too!   Follow me on Twitter for updates on any new literature: @LDCdistrict6.

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CAL – Item # S-25 – Did you Grow up With a Problem Drinker?

S-25WHAT I LEARNED:  This is the sixth item in the Adult Children of Alcoholics Newcomer Packet & is a personal favorite of mine.  When I first came into the program I was given this leaflet & I remember secretly answering “Yes” to all 20 questions.  It spooked me because I thought “How can someone – whoever created this questionnaire – that has never met me, know me better than my own family?”  Today I’m glad I got a chance to re-read this after all these years because now I can answer “No” & “Sometimes” to a few questions since I’ve gotten a bit better.  I’ll definitely be using this leaflet as a barometer in the future as well!

**BONUS:  All the other items in this ACOA packet were already covered in my posts from a couple of weeks ago for the General Newcomer Packet.  …Next up – the Parents’ Newcomer Packet.