My talk “Hacking the Phrase ‘They Did the Best They Could’” (further reading)

So you want to learn more about the Hero’s Journey and Transactional Analysis and a couple other ideas I mentioned? Don’t worry, I’m not telling you what to do (adult children hate being directed), but just saying it’s here, if you should decide to dive deeper (wink, wink).

Regarding the phrase “They Did the Best they Could”

Here’s the post that inspired my ignite talk: Who Says Our Dysfunctional Parents Did The Best They Could? So many people commented! (Maybe you will too.)

Children of Alcoholics

It may seem obvious but, one resource for more information is: this blog. (No way.) (Way.) You can navigate directly to my Surviving > Adult Child Issues section and read articles there (or take this shortcut.

To read about the connection between adult children of alcoholics and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), read this post: Yes, Adult Children of Alcoholics Can Suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Heal from PTSD.

I mentioned in my talk that I named this blog after a characteristic of children of alcoholics. Here’s the full list of characteristics: The Characteristics and Common Traits of People Who Grew up in Alcoholic Homes.

And this one is a forward-looking post about moving on from a childhood with alcoholic parents (or addict parents, or hyper-vigilant and controlling, or mentally ill, narcissistic, etc. Take your pick): Can You Grown up from Being the Child of an Alcoholic?

I’m just the new girl on the block, though. The woman who is the most important and influential when it comes to understanding adult children of alcoholics is Janet Woititz. Here is her list of the characteristics of children of alcoholics, 13 Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics. She wrote many books about the issues of adult children of alcoholics. Here is a brief bio of Janet Woititz.

(Some of) Janet Woititz’s books:

Adult Children of Alcoholics

The Complete ACoA Sourcebook

Struggle for Intimacy

The Self-Sabotage Syndrome

Healthy Parenting

Eric Berne

Mr. Berne is the kind-looking gentleman who appears in my slide deck. I called him the Father of Transactional Analysis (parent-child-adult models for communication). Here’s the Wikipedia bio of Berne.

And here’s Berne’s book about transactional analysis: Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis

What’s Transactional Analysis? It’s a way of looking at communication styles — how adults can, and do, relate to one another in Child mode, Adult mode, and Parent mode. For a quick primer, here’s a post I wrote about transactional analysis, which contains a few scripts: Relating to Others, Adult to Adult.

The Hero’s Journey

This Wikipedia definition of the Hero’s Journey is great because it contains a list of the Stages of the Journey (such as The Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, an so on).

These stages are from Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

But it’s important to know that before Joseph Campbell studied the Hero’s journeythat C. G. Jung had begun the work. Be sure to read about what Jung wrote about the Hero’s Journey as Analysis, which beings with this quote:

“To develop one’s own personality is indeed an unpopular undertaking, a deviation that is highly uncongenial to the herd, an eccentricity smelling of the cenobite, as it seems to the outsider. Small wonder, then, that from earliest times only the chosen few have embarked upon this strange adventure.”

Carl Gustav Jung, 1932

If you’re a writer, a book that I cherish and has its own take on The Hero’s Journey is this one: The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

-Amy

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This was, by far, the scariest thing I have ever done. I practiced my talk nearly twenty times. I had only 5 minutes to convey my story and the slides auto-advanced every 15 seconds (fifteen seconds!) It was scary not only because it was public speaking and it was being video taped, but because I wasn’t speaking to “my people” (ACoAs), I was speaking to the general public, because many of my colleagues were in the audience, and because it was the first time I was telling the story of my mother’s overdose and death.

What was remarkable was that after speaking, I got to talk to people in the audience (I got hugs!) and I got to see faces, hear voices, and hear the stories of others — after so many years of writing behind the screen of this blog, the human contact was just an incredible experience.

Feel free to share this. The talk is also on my Guess What Normal is Facebook page. This talk is dedicated to all of you. Thank you for your support!

Comments

  1. Mackenzie says:

    I just found your blog today when I saw a comment you posted while trying to find a support group for children of alcoholics. I am really glad that I did. I have been seeing a therapist for a little while now, and she really has helped me start to pay more attentions to my actions. However, it wasn’t until I started looking at the ACoA website that I realized how many items on the ‘Laundry List’ that I identify with. Pretty much 100% of them if I’m being honest. I’m currently in a relationship that is so similar to the situation I grew up in it is almost sickening. We have been together three years and for the majority of that time I have been exceptionally unhappy, but even though we are not married I feel like I have no way out. I have been making excuse after excuse for while I’m still with him, but after reading your blog and some of the other things I’ve read recently about children of alcoholics I think that I have just found a situation that I am comfortable in, even if it is unhealthy one. My boyfriend is so much like my father it is scary. But I’ve spent my whole life trying to make it right with my father and when he committed suicide in April I think I internalized that as failure. I took everything that I had and threw it into trying to make my relationship work, and if anything I think that it has made it worse. It’s like he knows he can do anything to me and I will still be there (he has actually said something similar to me before). I am moving across the country from him for a few months this summer (I think I thought maybe if I physically removed myself from the situation then I could learn to do the same emotionally). The thing is, after everything that I’ve learned recently I don’t want just a temporary fix. I know that I will find a way to fall into the same old habits. I want to take that Hero’s Journey and find out who I am without being defined by someone else. I know this is long and probably TMI, but I just wanted to thank you for helping me realize the steps that I need to take to break the cycle.

  2. NS says:

    I loved this! Terrific work as usual.
    I just wanted to tell you that I miss your posts. I was just beginning my journey through ALL of this when you stopped posting. Not saying this in a negative way, obviously I am looking forward to your book! Thank you for your site and for teaching me so much about myself, even though you have no idea you’ve done this. LOL! I still come back to old posts maybe more than I should. Do you think you will ever come back to posting on this blog?

  3. NS says:

    I loved this! Terrific work as usual.
    I just wanted to tell you that I miss your posts. I was just beginning my journey through ALL of this when you stopped posting. Not saying this in a negative way, obviously I am looking forward to your book! Thank you for your site and for teaching me so much about myself, even though you have no idea you’ve done this. LOL! I still come back to old posts maybe more than I should. Do you think you will ever come back to posting on this blog?

    • Amy Eden says:

      NS! You made my day. And, you’re right – I’m not posting like I used to.
      Want to make a trade? Tell me something you’d like covered, and I’ll write on it. :-)
      Hug, amy

  4. Mark says:

    Amy -
    My wife is an ACOA. She told me about her realization last May. I have always known her father was an alcoholic and Valium addict. We have been married 23 years. She is the love of my life. She has told me how unhappy and unloved she feels and is now focusing on herself and finding her true feelings. She has been in therapy since June and I have been seeing a therapist since January. I feel so alone. All the blogs I read about people who love ACOAs are horrible. Are there any happy stories? I feel like I am being tested and failing. I am prepared to wait 23 years if that’s the punishment I am due, but I am so lonely. She says she is lonely too, but that she is focusing on herself and not us or me. Please tell me ACOAs can move past this and heal the hurt. I acknowledge my part in letter her down and not fulfilling my vows to Love Honor and Cherish her all the days of my life, but I am a good man and don’t deserve this. She doesn’t deserve it either, obviously. I deserve the love and affection of a loving spouse but don’t know if it will ever come again.

  5. [...] The comment I’m responding to in the above video was made in response to my post, “Hacking the Phrase ‘They Did the Best they Could – further reading.” [...]

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