Marriage, Divorce, and the Economy: No Excuse for Irresponsible
by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
our down-turned economy having an effect on divorce in the United States and other nations around the world? While it’s
too early for statistical evidence, reports from marriage counselors and divorce attorneys around the globe are in agreement.
They’re finding many couples who were ready to call it quits are post- posting the divorce decision due to financial
reasons. In the U.S., with housing values at near-record lows, wide-ranging cuts in salaries and a dramatic rise in unemployment
rates, many couples are just not divorcing because they are afraid they can’t afford it.
Does this mean couples
are finding new ways to get along and reconsider their marriages? In some cases, yes, but for many it just means adapting
to continued states of unhappiness and coping with disappointment and frustration. This, of course, does not bear well for
the children of these unions. They experience the negative consequences of a distressed marriage whether the couple splits
up or chooses to stay together because of economic factors.
Too many couples are financially dependent on one another
to make a break, but at the same time they have lost their emotional interdependence which helps a couple thrive during outside
challenges. Without the affection and emotional connection, these couples are basically house-mates sharing a home and living
The problem is that they are also parents of children who may be even more confused than ever about life
at home. Mom and Dad are still married and together – but are they? This is a big concern for therapists, school guidance
counselors, clergy and others who understand children’s emotional and psychological needs during times of high stress.
In the past it was common for divorce rates to spike during times of financial insecurity. Back in the recession of
1997 the divorce rate rose close to 20%. However, economists note that during real tough times, such as the Great Depression
in the early 1930s, divorce rates statistically decline because people can’t afford the luxury of splitting into two
There are no clear resolutions for today’s economic crisis or for parents caught up in the whirlwind
around the divorce decision. However, staying together in a marriage that continues in “form” only can be a damaging
situation for the children. That’s because those marriages often fail to focus on the emotional safety and security
factors that children need in order to thrive, feel self- confident and express themselves.
Parents -- whatever you do, stop and ask yourself some
fundamental questions before moving ahead whether in – or out – of the marriage:
• Despite economic
stress are we taking the time to give our children the loving attention they deserve?
• Are we as parents providing
a loving environment for our children – whether we share the same residence or two separate abodes?
we providing the nurturing, values and personal time we want to instill in our children despite our own challenges as adults?
Are we creating family time rituals with one or both parents so our children feel that we still are a “family”
regardless of the form it takes?
• Should we be seeking outside professional help to make sure our children are
feeling safe, secure, loved and peaceful in their home environment(s)?
• Are we being honest with our children about
our circumstances without confiding adult details to them that would be confusing and burdensome for them at their age?
Are we restraining from arguing, badmouthing each other, creating tension, bitterness, sarcasm or other negativity when the
children are present?
• Are we reminding our children how much we love them and will continue to love them regardless
of changes in where and how we live?
How you answer these questions will determine the quality of life your children
experience – whether they are residing in one residence or two. Always remember, you are parents first – and a
couple struggling with marital or divorce issues second. Isn’t that the way it should be?
Rosalind Sedacca’s Child-Centered Divorce Network provides numerous free articles,
an ezine and other valuable resources for parents at www.childcentereddivorce.com
, Her new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children --
with Love! is also available at howdoitellthekids.com
Rights Of Passage Or Permanent Adolescence?
by John E. Smethers, Ph.D.
Puer Aeternus is Latin for eternal boy. Senex is Latin for
old man. However, this is just one archetype--a split archetype. Hillman (1970) explains "that the senex is a complicatio
of the puer, infolded into puer structure, so that puer events are complicated by a senex background." (p. 146). Explaining
that the senex has a double nature, Hillman continues by saying "one characteristic is never safe from inversion into its
opposite" (p. 148). So what? How does all this double talk relate to the real world?
Since a thorough examination of
the puer is usually incomplete without discussing its senex counterpart, for the sake of brevity and focus, the senex will
not be discussed further. The puer will be the focus.
Having been an inveterate alcoholic/drug addict for more than
30 years of my life, those years can be juxtaposed with the problem of the puer aeternus. I went to a party when I was 11
and didn't get back until I was, ad extremum--at last, 43 years old. Indeed, the puer was alive and well in me. Having spent
time in the Augean stables of county jails and ultimately the state penitentiary, I noticed that the puer population was alive
and well in there too--a virtual pied-a- terre.
Kipnis (1999) reports studies done by the Prison Activist Resource
Center that lists the top ten reasons for Californians entering prison today:
1. Possession of a controlled substance
Possession of a controlled substance for sale
4. Sale of a controlled substance
6. Assault with a deadly weapon
7. Driving under the influence
8. First-degree burglary
Petty theft with a prior conviction
10. Vehicle theft
Most inmates are imprisoned for substance-related offenses
(p. 176). Kipnis reminds us that drug offenders represent sixty percent of federal prisoners and over one-third of state and
county prisoners (p. 121). These statistics do not include the inmates who are intra muros--within the walls, because of malesuada
fames--hunger that urges people to crime: crimes committed to finance drug and alcohol use, or crimes committed while under
the influence, etc. In the netherworld of the prison yard, I found that most inmates were much like me in many ways-- quite
comparable to the scabrous characters whom I associated with on the streets.
Marie-Louise von Franz (2000) describes
me (the puer) as having an
arrogant attitude toward other people due to both an inferiority complex and false feelings
of superiority. Such people also usually have great difficulty in finding the right kind of job, for whatever they find is
never quite right or quite what they wanted. There is always 'a hair in the soup' (p. 8).
Lionel Corbett (1997), when
addressing narcissism, writes that "pathological grandiosity which is needed to maintain a fragile self structure may make
one depreciate the religious values of other people for the sake of self enhancement (p. 34). Not only toward religious values,
I might add, but toward any values unlike their own.
Me and my puerile friends were often, to say the least, irresponsible.
I am reminded of the time, under the influence of methamphetamine, I was digging holes in the desert at an old dump site.
I was so preoccupied with this frivolous activity that I made a conscious decision to not go to court on a Failure to Appear
charge. The Peter Pan in me wanted to play instead--trahit sua quemque voluptas, each man's fancy lures him. According to
Victims of the Peter Pan Syndrome can't escape irresponsibility. This trap begins as innocent, typical
rebellion, but mushrooms into an adult lifestyle. A fundamental piece of the puzzle of the Peter Pan Syndrome is gross irresponsibility
that spawns ineptness in basic self-care skills (p. 45).
Irresponsibility, a false sense of superiority, going from
job to job, not bathing for a week at a time, and a penchant for blandae mendacia linguae--the lies of a smooth tongue, and
building air castles are only some of the quotidian traits of the puer aeternus. This is not to say that puertraits are all
negative. Gauche as the puer is, he is usually very affable, sanguine, well- intentioned, and good-natured. Many of his often
subtle senex attributes also enhance the positive puer. His firebrand presence on prison yards, however, and his chemical
dependency further exacerbates the plight of the negative puer. So, how might we account for such vast numbers of people in
this country caught in the problem of the puer aeternus? One popular theory is that American youth are virtually without formal
rites of passage--hoc opus, this is the difficulty.
To ignore rites of passage or dismiss them as trivial or unnecessary
rituals is ridiculous as denial being a river in Africa. Gleaned from The Stanton Peele Addiction Web Site, it is stated that
a 1980 article in the American Sociological Review and a 1984 article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol, where two sociologists
at the University of Syracuse, Barry Glassner and Bruce Berg, investigating Jewish drinking in a large upstate New York city
because they believed that traditionally low Jewish alcoholism rates had increased over the years. Of the Jewish people the
sociologists actually interviewed, none had ever had a drinking problem. Investigating all reports by activists in the Jewish
community who had announced a growing alcoholism problem, Glassner and Berg could not actually locate one Jewish alcoholic.
Accepting at face values all such reports led to calculation of an alcoholism rate of about one-tenth of one percent among
Wow! Could it be that a bar mitzvah is responsible for this? Probably--at least where drugs and alcohol
are concerned. However, judging by reports from the Jewish community, they do have other addictions such as overeating and
anorexia. According to the National "Jewish Press," Ross (April, 1986) reports that there are seven to 10 thousand Jewish
inmates in the United States. That is not very many compared to the two million Americans that Kipnis (1999) reports who are
behind bars (p. 170). Under the aegis of the church, could initiatory rites of passage account for the absence of the puer
in Jewish culture? If so, one could be compelled to investigate rites of passage in other cultures.
"The term initiation,"
as defined by Eliade (1958) "in the most general sense denotes a body of rites and oral teachings whose purpose is to produce
a decisive alteration in the religious and social status of the person to be initiated" (p. x). The closest I came to being
elevated from a child to something more than a child, was my entrance into junior high school. Without so much as a caveat
from the elementary school level, what followed came as a radical social change. In what seems now like an almost overnight
transformation, I went from a pleasant grade school boy to a acerbic junior high school rebel without a cause: from playing
on the monkey bars to getting drunk at Friday night football games; from wrestling with schoolmates on the playground to gang
fights with rival Mexican gangs after school--riotous, no doubt, as the Germanic berserkers of antiquity; from playing hide-and-go-seek
with girls to whisking them out of the movie theater to kiss and fondle them--not unlike Theseus carrying off Adriadne (p.
109); from recess to smoking in the bath rooms during breaks; from evenings home with parents to malicious mischief with friends.
It could be argued that there is a nexus between our malicious mischief and the spirit of initiation. My friends and I felt
compelled to prove ourselves to each other, so we acted-out an incredible amount of destructive behavior in the process. This
alchemical coniunctio, from boy to wacko, also involved more subtle anomalies. Discussing initiation in Tierra del Fuego,
Eliade mentions that "a frequent custom is that of giving the novice a new name immediately after his initiation (p. 28).
Soon after my nascent arrival into junior high school, one of my new friends tagged me with the name Little Richard. I remained
Little Richard for the rest of my first life. My first life being my drug and alcohol years; my second life being my post
drug and alcohol years; my pre life being a rather short childhood.
The closest I came to a formal initiation ceremony
during puberty was my sixth grade graduation ceremony, elevating me to junior high school status. This happened at about the
same age as the bar mitzvah does in Jewish culture. Being unfamiliar with the bar mitzvah and what their ordeals entail, I
believe it is safe to assume that there are painstaking lengths gone to for some kind of enduring conversion. Eliade (1958)
says that among the Australian Yuin tribe "the first initiation ceremony, comprising the separation from the women and the
ordeal by fire, is thus complete. From that night on the novices share only in the life of the men"( p.8). Indeed, the elevation
to junior high school with its incumbent social status, seemed to suddenly sever an emotional attachment to my mother, and
created a different kind of emotional attachment to my newly acquired friends--friends, I might add, some of whom I kept for
more than 30 years. In discussing "the secret society of the Bakhimba in Mayombe," Eliade shares that "the initiatory ordeals
continue from two to five years (p. 75).
When considering my adolescence, I could say that my initiatory ordeals, or
rather my initiatory gradations, also continued for years; thereby eventuating the problem of the puer aeternus. After my
elevation to junior high, I could not bear the interminable passage of time to arrive at Xvarnah--that light of glory that
the magical age of 16 brings, when that golden driver license can be attained. I took a driver education class at 15 and a
half and avoided the 16-year- old driver license requirement by legalizing my driving privilege with an instruction permit.
This legal manipulation empowered me to drive a car if I had a licensed driver in the car with me. It also empowered me to
drive a motor-driven cycle without any supervision; therefore, I talked my parents into allowing me to spend my savings on
a Cushman Eagle motor scooter. Wa la, I attained independent mobility. Not only did my social status go up another notch,
but my mobility put me in contact with the higher echelons of the streets. The Los Diablos motorcycle gang even took me under
their wing. I had arrived! My blissful state of Xvarnah, however, was short-lived. Two weeks later I was arrested and jailed
for curfew. Two weeks after that I got my first of seven DUI's. Ironically, in another two weeks, a friend and I were arrested
for stealing milk off a porch after staying out all night drinking. Consequently, my dad took away the motor scooter and I
found myself immobile and distraught.
Can my entrance into junior high school be considered a rite of passage? Can
my driving privilege be considered a rite of passage? Probably not--at least not in the traditional sense. However, it is
my contention that these were different kinds of rites of passage. Not having adequate formal guidance--I guided myself, which
is common, and has been for a long time. The lack of parental control, of course, exacerbates the situation.
(1958) says that
even if the initiatory character of these ordeals is not apprehended as such, it remains true nonetheless
that man becomes himself only after having solved a series of desperately difficult and even dangerous situations; that is,
after having undergone 'tortures' and 'death,' followed by an awakening to another life, qualitatively different because regenerated"
By the time I was socially established in junior high school, I had been through various tortures and been
awakened into another life by suffering with hangovers, sporting black eyes and bruises from fighting, getting in scooter
and car accidents, enduring punishment for indiscretions at school, and continually having to endure the wrath and retribution
of my officious parents for my refractory behavior. It could be said that I was tortured when I was metamorphosed from the
archetypal innocence of a butterfly into a nasty old caterpillar (etymologically cater comes from tomcat and pillar comes
from plunderer). By the time the caterpillar summer was over, my heterodox lifestyle had been firmly established. This new
and parlous life--this self will run riot, continued until I was 43 years old. Graduating from high school and turning 18,
then turning 21 were still further entrenchments, but they were really gradatory inevitabilities compared with the junior
high school awakening that established an eonian lifestyle. I did not experience rites of passage in the way they were experienced
in the mystery religions or in any other traditional way.
"Modern man," explains Eliade (1958)
no longer has
any initiation of the traditional type. Certain initiatory themes survive in Christianity; but the various Christian denominations
no longer regard them as possessing the values of initiation. The rituals, imagery, and terminology borrowed from the mysteries
of late antiquity have lost their initiatory aura" (p. 132).
However, there is a more formal movement of initiation
going on in society today under the guise of another name--hazing.
At a web site sponsored by Education Week, Walsh
(September 6, 2000) reports that
almost half the high school students responding to a national survey said they had
been subjected to activities that fit a broad definition of hazing to become members of sports teams, cheerleading squads,
gangs, and other groups. The study by researchers at Alfred University in New York, released last week, is described as the
first serious academic research into initiation rites at the high school level. Some of the results surprised even the authors.
For example, the survey showed that 24 percent of students joining youth church groups faced hazing. The study's authors,
expecting little hazing in that category, almost didn't include it in the survey. Among all survey respondents, nearly one
out of four students was required to engage in substance abuse, such as participating in drinking contests. And 22 percent
were subjected to activities the researchers defined as dangerous hazing not involving substance abuse, such as stealing,
inflicting pain on themselves, or being physically abused.
Drinking contests, daredevil fighting, stealing to fit in,
etc., were the callow activities I participated in during my pubescence--a temporary modus operandi that I consider initiatory,
even though I wasn't being forced to do it. If I hadn't, however, then I would have been alienated or suffered some other
type of consequences. Durkheim (1995), discussing tattooing, states that "it is true that, among the Arunta, the design thus
made does not always and necessarily represent the totem of the novice" (p. 116). It astonishes me today that I willingly
endured such excruciating pain incurred from tattooing, macho-acting as though it wasn't painful at all. I now consider this
non compos mentis--not of sound mind. Durkheim, however, shares that "Preuss was the first to become aware of the religious
role that is ascribed to pain in the lower societies" (p. 317). Of course we did not conceive ourselves as doing anything
religious or even spiritual, but our tattoos were always symbolic to the interests of our group.
Walsh's article went
on to describe in detail the various forms of hazing that I am not inclined to include here. The original study he quotes
from is available at the previously mentioned web site.
Obviously, our youth in this country is
now, and has for a long time been ripe for some kind of formal rites of passage, and since we don't seem to feel it is necessary
to incorporate it into our culture--they are. Like solicitous parents, we should take heed of magnum bonum--the great good,
of the bar mitzvah in the Jewish community and do a commensurate service to our pubescent population by supplanting independent
hazing practices. This may be too idealistic. Such an achievement would, indeed, be a pyrrhic victory. Whether it is hazing,
addiction, or any type of aberrant behavior, most of us know that what we're doing is not conducive to a productive life--video
meliora proboque, deteriora sequor, I see the better course of action and I approve of it, but I follow the worse course.
Here is a parable to this Latin phrase.
"According to Webster's Dictionary," says Ellis (1985)
an error obstinately clung to. The word comes from the story of an old priest who, for thirty years, had conducted services
using the word mumpsimus, a substitute for the correct Latin word sumpsimus. One day, when his error was finally pointed out
to him, he replied, 'I will not change my old mumpsimus for your new sumpsimus.' (p. 106).
The bottom line: Without
a significant rite of passage, much of our youth will remain adolescent in behavior and attitude far into adulthood--puer
Corbett, L. (1997). The religious function of the psyche. New York: Routledge.
H. (1989). Spiritual body and celestial earth: From mazdean Iran to shi'ite Iran. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
E. (1995). The elementary forms of religious life. New York: The Free Press.
Eliade, M. (1958). Rites and symbols of
initiation: The mysteries of birth and rebirth. New York: Harper& Row Publishers.
Ellis, D. (1985). Becoming a
master student: Tools, techniques, hints, ideas, illustrations, instructions, examples, methods, procedures, processes, skills,
resources and suggestions for success. Rapid City, SD: College Survival Inc.
Hillman, J.( 1970). On senex consciousness.
Spring: An Annual of Archetypal Psychology and Jungian Thought. Dallas, Texas: Spring Publications.
Kiley, D. The Peter
Pan syndrome: Men who have never grown up. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company.
Kipnis, A. (1999). Angry young men:
How parents, teachers, and counselors can help "bad boys" become good men. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
D. (1973). Achelous and the butterfly: Toward an archetypal psychology of humor. Spring: An Annual of Archetypal Psychology
and Jungian Thought. Dallas, Texas: Spring Publications
Peele, S. (11/12/2001). Would legalization of alcoholic drinks
to minors decrease or increase underage drinking? In The Stanton Peele Addiction Web Site. Retrieved December 18, 2001 from
Ross, R. (April, 1986). Three nation umbrella org. to aid Jewish prison inmates, families. In National Jewish Press.
Retrieved December 30, 2001 from www.rickross.com/reference/Jewpris5.html
von Franz, M. The problem of the puer aeternus. (1988). Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.
Walsh, M. (6 Sept.
2000). Hazing is widespread, student survey shows. In Education Week. Retrieved December 15, 2001 from
Are You ACOA Or ACOA+
by James Burns
My dad and mom owned a bar
so at a very early age it became very easy for me to be around people who drank all the time. From the time I was a kid I
thought that the whole world drank and got drunk.
My dad was a binge drinker
and he would go off on a bender every six months or so. He would be gone from one to three days. I always asked my mom where
dad slept when he was gone and she would say in the car. I wasn’t sure who drove who crazier, mom or dad.
Dad would drink and drive
mom nuts, but when dad was sober mom would say things to dad to get under his skin. So I wasn’t sure if mom drove dad
to drink or dad’s drinking drove my mom to make those comments.
I didn’t really drink
as a teenager, but started to drink when I go married the first time. I drank a lot during the summer, especially when I bartended
at a restaurant in Belmar, NJ. As I became unhappy in my marriage I drank more and more until my drinking got a little out
of control and I became frightened of my own behavior and my thoughts.
I knew on some level that
I had a major problem, so I started to read all I could find about my drinking. I came across this acronym in a book, ACOA.
I discovered it meant Adult Child of an Alcoholic. I read more and discovered that somebody hooked to a bunch of symptoms
to the condition, 13 to be exact. What an unlucky number. Let me enumerate them here:
… (Adult Children of Alcoholics)
1. Guess at what normal is.
2. Have difficulty
in following a project through from beginning to end.
3. Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
themselves without mercy.
5. Have difficulty having fun.
6. Take themselves very seriously.
7. Have difficulty with
8. Overreact to changes over which they have no control.
9. Constantly seek approval and affirmation.
that they are different from other people.
11. Are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
13. Have money dysfunction, such as hiding
it or being disorganized with it.
After reading this list and the article associated
with the list I concluded that I was an ACOA, dysfunctional, needed therapy, was warped, hated my parents, and had no business being married to a girl that I had known for ten years.
Great, great, so now what?
So what I did was come up with a lot of excuses for my behavior, act more like an idiot than ever before, get into therapy,
and then divorce my wife. I began to walk around and wonder if every move I made was related to me being an ACOA. I began
to argue for my own weaknesses and became more and more irresponsible.
This went on for about five
years until I started to learn the benefits of my time in history and my upbringing. There are benefits to our up bringing.
Too often we look at the downside of how we were raised. I was a baby-boomer as was everyone else in my age bracket, and I
would bet that many of us have looked back at our lives and begun to wonder how did we ever get this way.
I decided that I could go
on hating my life or I could look at what benefit I got from my upbringing. I realized I could use my past to help the future.
I was 36 years old (in case you’re wondering I am 52 now) when I
started to realize that this ACOA thing was not an emotional death sentence but rather an opportunity for me to put things
in perspective for myself and my children.
I had an epiphany of sorts one day about
three years ago. I was riding around in the car with my daughter Grace who was about 7 years old at the time. I told her a
story about my dad and we both ended up in hysterics. So whenever Grace and I were together, I would tell her another story about my father from my childhood. We had a great
time laughing together.
One day Grace came to me
with a list she had compiled of these stories; there were 12 of them about my dad that she had kept track of on paper. All
of these stories had come out of that dreaded ACOA environment that I lived in. You know the place that screwed me up. They
were so funny now that it didn’t matter that my dad had the personality of an alcoholic because all Grace knows is that
I don’t, and she and I can laugh together about all of the insanity that I went through as a kid.
So let’s take a look at that list of ACOA tendencies again
1. Guess at what normal is.
2. Have difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end.
when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
4. Judge themselves without mercy.
5. Have difficulty having fun.
Take themselves very seriously.
7. Have difficulty with intimate relationships.
8. Overreact to changes over which they
have no control.
9. Constantly seek approval and affirmation.
10. Feel that they are different from other people.
Are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
12. Are extremely loyal, even in
the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
13. Have money dysfunction, such as hiding it or being disorganized with
All anyone has to do is take a look at this list and they will conclude: That’s
me. I’m a mess. Any way, lets briefly look at each item on the list, put it to bed so we can live a life that doesn’t
have us trying to figure why we snore, or eat fast, or lose our temper from time to time. Let’s look at this list and
try to determine what principles we need to apply in our lives and what actions are necessary on our part to change our behavior.
Guess at What Normal Is
The last time I looked a normal
body temperature is 98.6, normal blood pressure 120/80. What is normal behavior? Are there any benchmarks for normal behavior?
Look. We were all designed in a particular way and we are just a compilation of the things people have said to us over the
years and what people have done to us. If you don’t like how you have been acting make a decision to make some changes.
By the way, stuff like your
parents, or your brothers and sisters, and your age, and your time in history, and your nationality, and your gender, are
all unchageables, so don’t dwell on those but rather do dwell on what you can change about yourself, and then take action.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Do it slowly, and the changes
will be permanent. It is kind of like losing weight. The slower you lose it the greater the chance it will stay off. The slower
change is made the greater the chance it will be permanent. So accept how you got the way you got and focus on the journey
to becoming what you would like to be.
Have Difficulty Following Projects through from Beginning to End
doing things that I don’t like or want to do. Really I can’t stand it. Some of the stuff I don’t like to
do I have to do. I have to cut the grass, solicit business, pay the tax collector, and yeah take my time when I am in a hurry
unless I want a speeding ticket. So let’s realize that there are things we hate doing, but they have to get done. So
we must be responsible for these things. But there are things that we like doing and that we are good at. Maybe it’s
working on cars, selling things on eBay, writing short stories, or coaching little league. We have a knack or an ability in
these areas and the more we do them and succeed the more confidence we develop, and the more we like doing them in the future.
Do yourself a favor find out what your gifts and talents are, and involve yourself in projects that utilize your natural talents
and abilities. Work on projects that involve your strengths for a while and continue to be responsible for the things that
you have to do. Little by little start to learn how to do something new and take some chances in uncharted waters once in
a while. See how long you can stay with it, and don’t be hard on yourself. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
The important thing is, do something. Sometimes there are things we will never learn to do, for me it is complicated home
repairs. When that happens I call Carl my handy man.
Lie When it Would be Just as Easy to tell the Truth
do people lie? It is because they are afraid of a confrontation, and no one likes a confrontation, right? So when they get
confronted by a significant other or a boss or by someone whom they are frightened by, they fear their reaction - so they
lie. This is rooted in and ACOA’s childhood by the way. Our parents reacted to the things that we did and the mistakes
we made. We became fearful, and we lied to them. John Bradshaw, the guru in the area of ACOA said telling the truth prevents
future pain, and I agree. A person will always be found out so ask yourself if you want the reaction now or later. By the
way the reaction later will be twice as bad, so take it now. If lying is your problem understand that the worst thing that
is going to happen is that the person is going to yell at you. Deal with it.
If you want to get out of the habit of lying
don’t lie and above all don’t embellish stories about yourself or situations. Everyone is not going to like everything
you do or say. Jesus said, “Whoa unto him that all men speak well of.” I don’t think everyone spoke well
of him 2,000 years ago, and there are groups that don’t speak well of him now. So you are in good company.
Themselves without Mercy
The biggest mistake I made 15 years ago is when I mistook judging myself for evaluating myself.
I think we all have to evaluate our thoughts, words, actions, attitudes and motives from time to time. We also have to admit
our mistakes and move on and make a commitment not to make the same mistake again, especially it was hurtful to others. Judgment
comes from guilt; it comes from others judging us so badly that we end up kicking ourselves before someone else has a chance
to do it. Realize that others are always going to judge you, and if you believe there is any truth to what they have to say,
then work on improving. If you are being judged negatively by others for things you know are positive character qualities
in yourself, then say thanks for the feedback and move on. Always be in a mindset that you will always evaluate but not judge
yourself or others.
Have Difficulty Having Fun
Many times I have been asked to do something or go somewhere
that wasn’t fun for me but was fun for someone else. I beefed and complained the whole time. If something isn’t
going to be enjoyable for you make a decision to either not do it or do it and shut-up , but don’t make someone else’s
life miserable. Discover for yourself what is fun for you and do it. Don’t feel guilty if someone else wants you to
do something and you don’t want to, just don’t do it. Don’t feel guilty about your behavior. Believe me,
the people or person you are with will appreciate your absence.
Take Themselves Very Seriously
My comment here
is so what if you take yourself seriously. Doesn’t everyone want to be taken seriously? But you should develop the ability
to laugh at yourself too. lightened up a little. If you feel like you are being laughed at make people aware that if something
is said and we’re both not laughing it’s not funny.
Have Difficulty with Intimate Relationships
does the word intimate mean? It means to be close or very familiar with someone and to allow someone to be on the inside track
with you in terms of your likes, and dislikes. It means to let someone know who you really are. The word intimate has been
misinterpreted by some to mean a physical relationship. ACOA’s basically have difficulty making friends because we are
always afraid that we are going to get hurt by the friendship. An ACOA tries to by pass the friendship part when they are
with a person of the opposite sex and move to the physical part of the relationship. ACOA’s need to work on becoming
friends with people first and understand what a friendship looks like and learn how to give not take in relationships. Once
this is learned they will have a better chance in an intimate relationship.
Overreact to Changes Over Which They Have
ACOA’s have a tendency to react to things over which they have no control. Try to make the choice
not to react. Start to get a handle on what causes you to react, and then it will be easier for you not to. Realize that at
times you are reacting so strongly because you believe that is a way for you to back into control – by creating fear
in others with your reaction. Don’t allow yourself to have reactions that are intended to control others or instill
fear in others. Remember that this is what your parents did to you, that it was miserable to always be so worried about their
reactions. If something is out of your control, be aware of it and ask yourself what you can do to bring it back into control.
Learn what you can and can’t control. Once that gets figured out things will start to improve. We will learn how to
be responsible for what we can be responsible for and let go of what we can’t do anything about.
Seek Approval and Affirmation
ACOA’s are very needy people. They always need something, in this case approval
and affirmation. Well what do we do if we don’t get it, crack up or leave the person your with? It seems to me we are
always looking to get something from somebody and if we don’t get it no one understands our lot in life. Let’s
try something, let’s try giving instead of getting. Let’s approve of people and affirm people. Not with a motive
but because it will make someone else feel good about themselves. After we do this I think we will discover that people will
approve and affirm us. Give before you get.
Feel They are Different from Other People
We are different from
other people a lot different. But, other people are different from us. We have a unique design. Oh we have to work on ourselves
but so does everyone else in different ways. Let’s like who we are and where we are and work to improve on ourselves
daily. I think that it’s ok to feel different, in a positive way. When we start to feel different in a negative way
it affects the way we perceive ourselves and that only creates a bitter attitude toward our own past, a past that we have
little control over and can do very little to change.
Are Either Super Responsible or Super Irresponsible
is nothing wrong with being responsible. We are all not responsible for everything though. Do yourself a favor and make a
list of the things that you are responsible for. If it starts to get extremely long you probably are taking on too much. Ask
yourself this question from time to time; Am I assuming responsibilities that I was never intended to have? If the answer
is yes then ask; what will happen if I don’t take on this responsibility? You will discover that the answer will probably
be nothing. The biggest challenge we face is balancing our responsibilities.
Are Extremely Loyal Even in the
Face of Evidence that Loyalty is Undeserved
Do yourself a favor and find things that you can be loyal to. I can think
of one, my family. They are the most important. Any job that I have had can run with me or without me. That’s not to
say that we don’t do our very best on the job or do what our boss tells us, but rather we keep it in perspective and
realize who is going to be there for us when the need arises and that is our family members. Family members can be identified
any way you want. They are usually the ones that have showed us the most loyalty.
Have Money Dysfunction, Such as
Hiding it or Being Disorganized with it.
ACOA’s can be very impulsive in terms of their spending. One suggestion
here is this; if you want to buy something ask if it is a need or a want. If it is a want wait two weeks and then decide if
you still want it. If the answer is no you just saved the money. This helps balance yours and your family’s financial
What I have tried to do here is something that is called going from theory to practice. I have read all kinds
of books about how I got the way that I got. How I got here doesn’t matter. What matters is what I am going to do now
that I am here. Most people that I have spoken to want to read a book and discover something to do right away in order to
make change. They are not interested in why they do what they do but rather how to stop, like right now.
My daughter taught
me how to change real quick, laugh about it and enjoy the person you are with while you are laughing. For me it was Grace
who showed me the blessings of my past.
Jim Burns is
one of America’s most inspirational educational speakers. His humorous and insightful presentations touch and influence
his audiences in an unforgettable way. Best known for his presentations on Bullying, Motivating Disaffected Students, Diffusing
Power Struggles, Character Education, and Leadership, Jim has worked as a teacher and administrator since 1977. He is also
an accomplished college instructor who teaches graduate level courses in the areas of Cooperative Discipline, Disability Awareness,
Brain Compatible Methods in the Classroom, and Teaching and Learning through Multiple Intelligences. Jim connects with participants
in his audience in such a unique way that they are able to practically apply his information in both their personal and professional