This page looks at the four laundry lists side-by-side. Following the listing are some ideas about using it in meetings
- Laundry: We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
- Flip: We move out of isolation and are not unrealistically afraid of other people, even authority figures.
- Other: To cover our fear of people and our dread of isolation we tragically become the very authority figures who frighten others and cause them to withdraw.
- Other Flip: We face and resolve our fear of people and our dread of isolation and stop intimidating others with our power and position.
- Laundry: We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
- Flip: We do not depend on others to tell us who we are.
- Other: To avoid becoming enmeshed and entangled with other people and losing ourselves in the process, we become rigidly self-sufficient. We disdain the approval of others.
- Other Flip: We realize the sanctuary we have built to protect the frightened and injured child within has become a prison and we become willing to risk moving out of isolation.
- Laundry: We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
- Flip: We are not automatically frightened by angry people and no longer regard personal criticism as a threat.
- Other: We frighten people with our anger and threat of belittling criticism.
- Other Flip: With our renewed sense of self-worth and self-esteem we realize it is no longer necessary to protect ourselves by intimidating others with contempt, ridicule and anger.
- Laundry: We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
- Flip: We do not have a compulsive need to recreate abandonment.
- Other: We dominate others and abandon them before they can abandon us or we avoid relationships with dependent people altogether. To avoid being hurt, we isolate and dissociate and thereby abandon ourselves.
- Other Flip: We accept and comfort the isolated and hurt inner child we have abandoned and disavowed and thereby end the need to act out our fears of enmeshment and abandonment with other people.
- Laundry: We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
- Flip: We stop living life from the standpoint of victims and are not attracted by this trait in our important relationships.
- Other: We live life from the standpoint of a victimizer, and are attracted to people we can manipulate and control in our important relationships.
- Other Flip: Because we are whole and complete we no longer try to control others through manipulation and force and bind them to us with fear in order to avoid feeling isolated and alone.
- Laundry: We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
- Flip: We do not use enabling as a way to avoid looking at our own shortcomings.
- Other: We are irresponsible and self-centered. Our inflated sense of self-worth and self-importance prevents us from seeing our deficiencies and shortcomings.
- Other Flip: Through our in-depth inventory we discover our true identity as capable, worthwhile people. By asking to have our shortcomings removed we are freed from the burden of inferiority and grandiosity.
- Laundry: We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
- Flip: We do not feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves.
- Other: We make others feel guilty when they attempt to assert themselves.
- Other Flip: We support and encourage others in their efforts to be assertive.
- Laundry: We became addicted to excitement.
- Flip: We avoid emotional intoxication and choose workable relationships instead of constant
- Other: We inhibit our fear by staying deadened and numb.
- Other Flip: We uncover, acknowledge and express our childhood fears and withdraw from emotional intoxication.
- Laundry: We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”
- Flip: We are able to distinguish love from pity, and do not think “rescuing” people we “pity” is an act of love.
- Other: We hate people who “play” the victim and beg to be rescued.
- Other Flip: We have compassion for anyone who is trapped in the “drama triangle” and is desperately searching for a way out of insanity.
- Laundry: We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
- Flip: We come out of denial about our traumatic childhoods and regain the ability to feel and express our emotions.
- Other: We deny that we’ve been hurt and are suppressing our emotions by the dramatic expression of “pseudo” feelings.
- Other Flip: We accept we were traumatized in childhood and lost the ability to feel. Using the 12 Steps as a program of recovery we regain the ability to feel and remember and become whole human beings who are happy, joyous and free.
- Laundry: We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
- Flip: We stop judging and condemning ourselves and discover a sense of self-worth.
- Other: To protect ourselves from self punishment for failing to “save” the family we project our self-hate onto others and punish them instead.
- Other Flip: In accepting we were powerless as children to “save” our family we are able to release our self-hate and to stop punishing ourselves and others for not being enough.
- Laundry: We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
- Flip: We grow in independence and are no longer terrified of abandonment. We have interdependent relationships with healthy people, not dependent relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable.
- Other: We “manage” the massive amount of deprivation we feel, coming from abandonment within the home, by quickly letting go of relationships that threaten our “independence” (not too close).
- Other Flip: By accepting and reuniting with the inner child we are no longer threatened by intimacy, by the fear of being engulfed or made invisible.
- Laundry: Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
- Flip: The characteristics of alcoholism and para-alcoholism we have internalized are identified, acknowledged, and removed.
- Other: We refuse to admit we’ve been affected by family dysfunction or that there was dysfunction in the home or that we have internalized any of the family’s destructive attitudes and behaviors.
- Other Flip: By acknowledging the reality of family dysfunction we no longer have to act as if nothing were wrong or keep denying that we are still unconsciously reacting to childhood harm and injury.
- Laundry: Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.
- Flip: We are actors, not reactors.
- Other: We act as if we are nothing like the dependent people who raised us.
- Other Flip: We stop denying and do something about our post-traumatic dependency on substances, people, places and things to distort and avoid reality.
(These thoughts are one person’s reflections on the laundry lists. They are not quoting conference approved material.)
When we first read the Laundry List, we didn’t have the familiarity to ignore it’s basic meaning: things we want to come clean of. It was a clarifying moment to be identified so accurately.
As The Problem states, listing these traits “is a description, not an indictment.” They help us identify as adult children who can benefit from this program; they are not meant as a permanent statement of identity.
In fact, our identity as those working the ACA program is as people seeing those defeating traits transform–“flip”–into healthier and happier traits. For that reason, the “Flip Sides” of both laundry lists were written.
Flipping The Laundry Lists
The original Laundry List, penned by Tony A in 1978, is a tool for adult children to self-identify for treatment based on their Trauma traits. The Flip Side of The Laundry List affirms our growing non-victim identities.
The Other Laundry List identifies negative ways adult children attempt to escape their victim roles. It helps us recognize how victim become perpetrator is a common phenomena-in fact victim and victimizer can co-exist, locked in a cycle of dynamic sorrow that, unfortunately, propagates across relationships and generations.
The Flip Side of the Other Laundry List shows us how those victimizer traits can be transmuted into positive strengths. Think Anakim -> Darth Vader -> Dad Skywalker.
Below, I’ve labeled these as:
|Laundry List||Strategy||the disempowered victim survival strategies|
|Other List||Overcompensation||the empowered reaction, I’m not going to be hurt (even if I have to victimize to prevent it)|
|Other Flip||Pivot||the shift that frees from the overcompensation|
|Flip Side||Transformation||The ongoing shift in healing as we undergo a 7th step|
Using these Meetings
Single Trait. Members reads Flipping The Laundry Lists (above). Members choose one trait, then read the four entries for that trait, then share their thoughts on how the lists interplay. You could have different members read each entry, commenting if they want to.
All Traits. After reading aloud Flipping the Laundry Lists (above), members read each entry for each trait, one or two entries per member, then share if they would like to.