ACE's TOO HIGH and the 12-steps

 

I have attended 12-step groups off and on for  years including Adult Children of Alcoholics, Codependents Anonymous, Adults Molested as Children, Al-Anon, Overeaters Anonymous.

Has anyone had success in introducing ACE questions into their sharing?  Because it is not "sanctioned 12-step literature"....I took a "verbal beating" for doing such at last week's meeting.  I handed out the questionnaire and resilience questionnaire too....before the meeting had started, but the questions started to come and then it overlapped into normal meeting time, and I got "pinged" for not following format.  I love both things, but I'd like advice on a safe and appropriate way folks can share this.  For several months I've mentioned my "high ACE score ...(I'm 9/11) with the briefest of reference to how I found it...but I could see members "not picking up on the details".

    I know the 12-step format is sacred but I feel the ACE score perfectly informs our walk into wholeness.  I'm grateful for any insights from folks who have been able to bridge these two terrific gifts to our lives successfully.

     Does it need to be random?  I've thought of trying to put together an event outside of our meeting.....maybe I'm just too ahead of my time!?

   

 

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Does your group have special meetings?  The ACA group in my area did.  With speakers, etc?  Maybe you could do an art or consciousness raising project or booth at a special meeting... showing the scientific validation of ACEs, or tallying people's scores/ their parents' scores... Maybe look at "how ACEs lead to Laundry List traits."  (If you can tie it back to ACA documents it will go down smoother.)   

For example:   "keep your focus on yourself in the here and now" is an ACA principle...  well, violent or inebriated parents would mean a child must always keep their focus on the parent...  hence the kid gets the wrong teaching growing up that way. 

You might try matching ACA teachings/slogans with ACE principles/insights, to see whether one can illuminate the other.

I think it can be very validating for ACAs to know about ACE science, like the biophysical effects of cortisol on the body to cause disease...   That's concrete and physical evidence of the harm of even "passive" abuse that so many abused kids have trouble knowing was real.   

Carey S. Sipp posted:
Laura Haynes Collector posted:

You should get a better reception at Adult Children of Alcoholics, if talking about Trauma.  Of all the 12 step groups, ACA is the one examining the legacy of "self doubt and fear" from growing up in a dysfunctional environment.  That is the whole point of the group.  Whereas in the other 12 step groups I think there is a lot of emphasis on the "searching and fearless moral inventory" of personal wrongs against others, in ACA the focus is on what happens to traumatized kids. 

Twelve step groups are full of traumatized people who can use ACE materials, but the ideology of AA/ AlAnon is pretty rigid and the notion of 'blaming others' can feel unwelcome/incompatible, except in ACA, where the focus is understanding the legacy of alcoholic family systems.  The ACA Red book is full of ACEs of thinking.

 

Agreed. The Red Book and ACA literature are great resources. The “Laundry List” alone revealed so much to me about how and why we ACAs do some of the things we do. 

And you are absolutely correct about the rooms being filled with traumatized people. I am mentioning ACEs science, and have, every time I can, as I believe it gives us all greater understanding and compassion. And I agree with the comment that Bill — and I believe Lois, especially — would embrace and advance the science of ACEs and Resilience. 

I love this conversation, and would love to see leaders and members of the various recovery communities find a safe haven and understating in the ACEs Movement. It is a natural fit, and offers addiction counselors and treatment center leadership the opportunity to help their clients and residents in a way that truly helps them understand better how they got where they are. ACA cut most of the blame and shame from 12 steps. Truly, in my humble opion, there should be NO blame or shame whatsoever in any program. And I don’t believe it is intended. And it does sometimes show up.

Raising awareness of ACEs and Resilience science in the rooms and at meeting places can only help. Many people come into recovery because they are desperate to end the pain they have known most of their lives, and they want life to be better for themselves and their children. That they want life to be better for their children is motivation enough for them to want to know more about ACEs science. I don’t know how to infuse ACEs science into 12-steps. The motivation to help more people become aware of the science is undeniably pure: increase understanding, acceptance, empathy, and compassion; help relieve the pain of those still suffering. With that motivation I believe it is happening, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly...

<< in ACA the focus is on what happens to traumatized kids. >>>        ACES mapped my trama story and war zone between my ears knew Peace. Breathing mindful style is my relief of egos identity  to more everything, war and insent whinning. 

Laura Haynes Collector posted:

You should get a better reception at Adult Children of Alcoholics, if talking about Trauma.  Of all the 12 step groups, ACA is the one examining the legacy of "self doubt and fear" from growing up in a dysfunctional environment.  That is the whole point of the group.  Whereas in the other 12 step groups I think there is a lot of emphasis on the "searching and fearless moral inventory" of personal wrongs against others, in ACA the focus is on what happens to traumatized kids. 

Twelve step groups are full of traumatized people who can use ACE materials, but the ideology of AA/ AlAnon is pretty rigid and the notion of 'blaming others' can feel unwelcome/incompatible, except in ACA, where the focus is understanding the legacy of alcoholic family systems.  The ACA Red book is full of ACEs of thinking.

 

Agreed. The Red Book and ACA literature are great resources. The “Laundry List” alone revealed so much to me about how and why we ACAs do some of the things we do. 

And you are absolutely correct about the rooms being filled with traumatized people. I am mentioning ACEs science, and have, every time I can, as I believe it gives us all greater understanding and compassion. And I agree with the comment that Bill — and I believe Lois, especially — would embrace and advance the science of ACEs and Resilience. 

I love this conversation, and would love to see leaders and members of the various recovery communities find a safe haven and understating in the ACEs Movement. It is a natural fit, and offers addiction counselors and treatment center leadership the opportunity to help their clients and residents in a way that truly helps them understand better how they got where they are. ACA cut most of the blame and shame from 12 steps. Truly, in my humble opion, there should be NO blame or shame whatsoever in any program. And I don’t believe it is intended. And it does sometimes show up.

Raising awareness of ACEs and Resilience science in the rooms and at meeting places can only help. Many people come into recovery because they are desperate to end the pain they have known most of their lives, and they want life to be better for themselves and their children. That they want life to be better for their children is motivation enough for them to want to know more about ACEs science. I don’t know how to infuse ACEs science into 12-steps. The motivation to help more people become aware of the science is undeniably pure: increase understanding, acceptance, empathy, and compassion; help relieve the pain of those still suffering. With that motivation I believe it is happening, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly...

You should get a better reception at Adult Children of Alcoholics, if talking about Trauma.  Of all the 12 step groups, ACA is the one examining the legacy of "self doubt and fear" from growing up in a dysfunctional environment.  That is the whole point of the group.  Whereas in the other 12 step groups I think there is a lot of emphasis on the "searching and fearless moral inventory" of personal wrongs against others, in ACA the focus is on what happens to traumatized kids. 

Twelve step groups are full of traumatized people who can use ACE materials, but the ideology of AA/ AlAnon is pretty rigid and the notion of 'blaming others' can feel unwelcome/incompatible, except in ACA, where the focus is understanding the legacy of alcoholic family systems.  The ACA Red book is full of ACEs of thinking.

 

Hello Linda -

This is an important question. I just searched the site for ACA references and found this post. It is remarkable that there is not more about ACA here. Thanks for your work in recovery. I don't know the solutions, but I do know that when someone reacts strongly to something said, it is usually more about their stuff than ours. Sounds as though you "got it" about the woman who reacted so negatively. I have talked about ACEs at many different types of groups supporting people, families, and friends living with the pain of addictions to substances and behaviors. There needs to be a clear connection made that trauma is the root cause of most addiction and collateral damage. The National Association for Children of Addiction helps with getting the word out. I believe those of us in support groups can share the information; it is part of who we are and what "got us there." More information about the connection between trauma and addiction is coming. It is high time, no pun intended, that these connections are made in 12-step groups and in the ACEs Communities that exist now, and the ones to come. Thanks for your foresight, insight, and transparency.

Carey

on a personal level, I think it depends on the sponsor you have -- it was my sponsor that encouraged me to work on my trauma history -- came up when working on my list of apologies I expressed anger and disgust at my father.

I can understand all the negativity that came your way when you started talking about ACEs -- especially if you talked about it in terms of concepts or theories or research -- too much head stuff -- remember, other AA members will see it as it was people's best thinking that resulted in their self-destructive behavior, so "they" will reject that -- just keep it as personal, and therefore, as real as you can -- remember, for at least some people there, they dont't have, or aren't willing to currently explore, ACEs histories; for me, going through the steps was for me some of the most difficult, yet best, times of my life, and it was what lead to my beginning to really work on my trauma history

Thanks for all the support. I really appreciate it.  The woman who 'attacked me" is a PHD student in psychology/hospice...very brilliant, but also hurting on a personal level.  I chose to skip last nights meeting and "feel it out" and give them space to integrate or not last weeks dust up without my being there.  Everyone in the group went into shame when the flare-up occurred. We were like 5 years old holding breath and almost shivering.  It was a toxic flashback into our personal histories. I apologized to the group but it was all I could do to stay in the room for the entire meeting.

     Wheh.  We're getting there one day at a time.  Yes, there are many other

groups.  I have already found a place I can go.  Just taking a moment to

breathe for now.

Thanks to all!

I believe you are ahead of your time. However, when it is your time to share you should be able to talk about whatever you need to say. Possibly try to attend the annual AA meeting and ask if you can present it there. Also, have you looked into Trauma informed care? A lot of the TIC interventions correspond with the 12 steps, although, TIC generally lacks a higher power. This might help.

Hello Linda

 Great post. I too can identify with you and I am involved in the 12step community and have been for over 17 years. It is only this year in 2017 that i was finally able to access the wounded part of me when and face the traumatic rejections i received from a Violent Mother who was a female batterer.

Rick in Fla.

 

Hi, Linda: I've always thought that AA participants could benefit from the knowledge about ACEs science. I'm sure the founder of AA would have been all over ACEs science, had it been available then. I'm sorry that you were given a hard time. Maybe you could find a friendlier group? Or start one of your own?

I know that some teen AA groups are doing things a bit differently -- for example, one group I know of thought that being anonymous just supported shaming alcoholics, so they decided to use their real names.

Hi Linda:

I applaud you. It makes me wonder what and who makes something "sanctioned material" and maybe working with that person / process sharing and explaining and educating more. I'm sorry you got the response you did. I think person to person sharing and consciousness raising is super effective and maybe for now just having people talk to you personally who are more interested or maybe talking about ACEs in your own personal story if you are ever a speaker in a meeting. 

I also think sharing how it's not anyone selling anything. I know people are protective about sacred spaces and I get that.

I'll be following this to see what others suggest, think or experience.

Cis 

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