Dealing with alcoholism and depression means needing a different path than only doing the Twelve Steps for recovery. I don’t believe that my core issues can be solved by the Twelve Steps of any self-help group.
Having grownup in a home controlled by alcoholism, I was able to see my addiction very early into the disease. Thanksgiving, 1976, I told my family that I thought I was an alcoholic. I fully expected everyone to disagree with me because I had not had any outward signs. But, my mother said that she had been afraid of that. So I was stuck with the admission and being the “perfect daughter”, I never drank again and went to AA. That was in November, 1976.
My third month into recovery, I had a radical conversion as described by William James in his The Varieties of Religious Experience. It was instant and I call it ‘”the moment that changed my life.” So I have been trying since 1977 to hear what God’s will is for my life. Many days I have followed my will and called it His. But there has been progress, too.
Our core issues in recovery for those of us who lived in a family of “don’t ask–don’t tell” include the following:
1. From Want to Know.Info: “Transform Fear Through Core Issue Work”:
“Most of us have one or more core issues or challenges which surface repeatedly over the course of our lives. These issues are usually rooted in deep unexpressed fears. Depending on your perspective, core issues either cause all sorts of problems, or present many opportunities for transformation. When you choose to look at core issues as an opportunity, you are much more likely to transform your fears into learning tools which lead to a better life. Below are the most common core issues, their related fears, and suggestions for dealing with them.”
“Examples of Common Core Issues and Associated Fears”
- Abandonment – Nobody cares about me. I’m all alone. I don’t matter.
- Arrogance – I’m better than all of you. I’m too much. I’m right and you’re wrong.
- Damaged – Something is wrong with me. I’m a failure. I’m damaged.
- Inferiority – I’m not good enough. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m boring. I’m hopeless.
- Rejection – I’m a burden. I’m unwanted. Nobody wants to spend time with me.
- Shame – I’m bad. I’m evil. I’m a mistake. I’m a monster. I’m disgusting. I’m possessed.
“Our core issues often originate from childhood family scenarios. They can be a result of negative messages that were repeated many times to us by our parents or other significant people in our lives. Or one of these beliefs may have been driven deep into us during one or more traumatic experiences. Was one of the above statements drilled into you in your early years?”
2. In a post on The L.I.S.T ACA Group, a reprint from ACA WSO Webster, lists the “Effects of Abuse and How to Get Past them”, the following suggestions for overcoming abuse are given:
“RECOVERY FROM ABUSE”
1. Share your story – you don’t need to deal with pain alone
2. Believe your story – you have a tendency to discount
3. Establish perpetrator responsibility – recognize it isn’t about you
4. Address the addictions used to numb the pain
5. Realize you can deal with the pain without mood altering substances
6. Learn to recognize, then accept, and then communicate feelings
7. Learn to nurture yourself
8. Build self-esteem and positive body image (affirmations)
9. Deal with family of origin – break the code of secrecy – by writing and talking with other people
10. Learn to be playful
11. Learn that now you do have a chance to live, you do have choices – YOU NEED NOT BE A VICTIM
12. Take back your power – act responsibly, set boundaries that feel comfortable, control sexual
behavior – you can control who enters your life
13. Remind yourself of your strengths
14. Learn you can say “No”
15. Learn to give and receive criticism
16. Stop abusing others
Some links about core issues:
3. PDF of Core Issues to be Addressed for People in Recovery from the Friends of Vermont
4. Recovery from Abuse which is a practical introduction for pastors and other religious professionals has good links for three areas of recovery. Recovery from Distorted Images of Self–Recovery from Distorted Images of God–Recovery from Distorted Images of Others.
5. Decision Point Center is a holistic treatment center. I have no association with this treatment center or any other treatment center. I reason I have included this one is that they believe what I believe about addiction–that trauma is the core issue of addictions, compulsive behaviors, and chronic relapse. An excerpt from this site:
“Common aspects of trauma involve feelings of complete helplessness in the face of real or perceived physical or emotional danger. We have come to know trauma as an extreme dramatic event or series of events and experiences overwhelming the individual’s ability to integrate the emotions relative to that experience or event. We have now recognized that trauma can be even more subtle; a perceived threat can also be traumatic. Trauma can be encoded at a cellular level or trapped in the body where it impacts the way an individual may react or behave without any conscious awareness as to why.”
“We believe that addictions and addictive behaviors are dysfunctional coping mechanisms used as a way to medicate and escape from pain, shame, and trauma. Over time, these dysfunctional behaviors can become a progressive and fatal disease known as “addiction”. Through our comprehensive, integrated, individualized and holistic approach, individuals are able to identify and address the underlying core issues as well as the core features directly related to their addictive behaviors.”
6. Journey Trauma and Addiction Recovery knows that if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or addictions your core issue may be unresolved emotional trauma. This website lists seven reasons why their experiential workshops are effective. They remind us that addiction is a symptom.
7. Good article by Bill Urell about the three stages of recovery reminds us that the late stage of recovery is dealing with the underlying issues.