Coming Out of Denial

Date Posted: November 17, 2014
Coming Out of Denial

I have a family tree that is riddled with alcoholics, addicts, and codependents, so I understand firsthand the insane rules of the game that come with this type of family system. I mastered the ability not to talk about what I saw go on in my home, not to have feelings about what I experienced, and never to trust anybody. By the age of five, I already knew this. Until I entered the world of recovery and discovered there was another way to live, I assumed everyone grew up feeling terrified of people and suffering from self-rejection and escape fantasies.

To this day, I continue to thank my lucky stars that I was introduced to the groundbreaking work of leaders in the recovery field, such as Claudia Black, John Bradshaw, and Jael Greenleaf, in 1982. Their teachings gave me a framework for my mindboggling childhood, along with therapeutic strategies for myself and for my patients. They gave a language to express what it means to grow up in an alcoholic home, and the action steps to take for healing emotional wounds. Gratefully, we are now in a world that recognizes the specific needs of this population. We have movements such as ACA (Adult Children Anonymous, formerly known as Adult Children of Alcoholics or ACOA); Alanon; and Codependents Anonymous to guide people away from the toxic patterning of addiction and toward healthy relationships.


The road to freedom, happiness, and security in adult relationships is a rocky one for the adult child of an alcoholic/addict. Denial of this fact is one of the major roadblocks to achieving a thriving long-term recovering romantic relationship. As you learn in ACA, you must comprehend how far in the red you are starting out in order to get into the black. Yes, every long-term relationship takes work to stay fresh and alive and sexy. But not every long-term relationship starts out with a partner carrying hundreds of historical paper cuts that were inflicted as a result of growing up with alcoholism and addiction. So, you can stop thinking that all relationships are created equal because they are not.

Steps Toward Recovery


If you have a family tree of alcoholism or addiction, admit it to yourself and address it as soon as you are able.


If you are confused about whether you come from alcoholism or addiction, go to a few A.A or Alanon meetings and get some clarity.


If your partner has a family tree of alcoholism or addiction, even if he or she doesn’t admit it, admit it to yourself and address it as soon as you are able.

Word to the wise

Recovery begins the moment you open your eyes and surrender to the truth of where you came from and what it has made you become. Without that, your history will create your future, and your future will mimic your history.

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