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Being The Clown

Have you ever joked around a lot and been the life of the party?  Has it ever felt like a mask? "Although I might be laughing loud and hearty, deep inside I'm blue."  I had a friend see through my clown one time, and helped me see how I used it as a mask.


Do you ever find it tough to make a decision?  I learned in business school that not to decide is to decide.  I discovered that when I was growing up, if I didn't make a decision, I didn't take a risk, and was less exposed to bad things happening.

Magical Thinking

Have you ever felt like there was some solution that was just going to magically appear and make your world better?  As a teenager, I would sit in my room reading Swiss Family Robinson, about a loving family, and think something would happen to make our family that way.

The Color Purple

One of my favorite lines from that movie is "I think God gets ticked off if we don't see the color purple." I sometimes get so wrapped up in the big events of my world that I forget to stop to appreciate the small but very significant things that surround me.

Have you ever felt like you're still a kid in many ways?  That's the essence of the inner child, and although it sounds hokey and '80s to talk in those terms, I think there is a real truth to it.  I never learned how to grow up in many ways.


Have you ever wondered what serenity was, and what it really felt like?  When I first started dealing with the effects of growing up in an alcoholic family, it was just an abstract concept to me.

Recovery Is Hard Work

Recovery is hard work.  It is - it just is!  Growing up as the child with an alcoholic and violent father was not a path I chose.  Yet as an adult, I was left with the effects of it, and there was just no way around that.  Doing the work to move beyond those issues was just a lot of tough work!


Have you ever felt like you should be apologizing for being born?  I took on a sense of shame, of being a mistake, from an early age. The shame was so woven into the fabric of my being that I didn't even know it was there.

Frozen Ego

Frozen ego? What is that?  A therapist once told me that as a result of a traumatic incident, your ego might freeze at the age you were when the traumatic event happened. It really helped me understand my world - because I was operating as a terrified 14 year old boy much of the time.

Delayed Reactions

Has someone ever said something, and you figure out the absolute wonderful response - 3 days later? At the time a situation happens, I feel frozen and can't think of what to say, particularly if there is a negative edge to what is being said to me.

Peripheral Vision

Have you ever been trying to work through a problem and you've looked at it so intently, that you almost can't see it any more, and are not closer to solving it? If I let my peripheral vision work on a problem I'm dealing with, I will suddenly see my answer with a lot less fretting and worry.

Lost Child

Usually there's one child in an alcoholic family who gets lost in the shuffle.  I watched this happen with a friend.  Lucy was a bright, gifted and talented person, who didn't understand that about herself, and would instead fade into the background and be hard to connect with.

Being Transparent

Have you ever felt like you were being one person at home and another in public?  I didn't really trust that if I showed my vulnerable side to the world, anyone would like me.  I would keep my true self hidden, so  I wouldn't get hurt.

Blocked Creativity

My creativity had been shut down by a bizarre comment made by my grandmother when I was 8 years old.  Publishing my first book was a tremendous thrill, since it signaled that I had exposed the lie, and conquered that old writer's block.

A friend once told me, "Dan, you put people in categories, you pigeonhole them into the type of person you think they are.  Then when they do something that doesn't fit the category you assigned them, you don't know what that means, so you get mad at them."

People Pleasing

Have you ever found yourself doing things you didn't want to do, just so others would like you?  That was something I learned when I was young.


When I started dealing with the effects of growing up in an alcoholic family, I was so bound up in the fear and terror of what I had lived through as a child, that those emotions were all I could see for a long time.  Yet later I started seeing how much courage it took for me to confront those issues!

Parents and Paradox

Have you ever felt like you had a love/hate relationship with a parent?  When I was in my '30s, the thing I wanted most was not to end up being like my Dad. Then I realized with a shock that I had become just like my Dad.

Not Being A Scapegoat

Have you ever found yourself taking on the blame for events in your world?  Somehow becoming the focus of bad outcomes? As a teenager I became the lightning rod for my Dad's anger, and it continued into my adult world.

Seeking Outside Help

Has it ever seemed like your problems are bigger than you can deal with on your own? When I sought the help of professionals, it gave me invaluable insight and assistance in dealing with my carryover issues from childhood.

Instant Intimacy

I heard a guy say one time in a men's group that he could fall in love, become involved, get rejected and feel sad, all while walking past a woman he didn't know at the park. We all laughed because we related!


Have you ever taken a step forward and not long after found yourself two steps behind where you started?  At times I was growing faster than my mind could accept - I was trying for revolutionary progress.  These days, I am better off trying for evolutionary progress.

Low Self Esteem

Have friends ever told you to give yourself a break?  Did it ever seem like you didn't think much of yourself?  I had that experience a lot, where someone would try to compliment me or say something nice to me, and I would find a reason not to believe them.

Have you ever felt like you're being too tough on yourself?  It often seemed like I was doing that - nothing I ever did measured up, and I would focus on the strikeout I had in the softball game, rather than the 3 hits and the great catch I made in the outfield.

Learning to Feel Joy

Has it ever seemed like it's hard to feel happiness or joy?  Easy to feel pain, but tough to feel excitement?  I discovered that when I was growing up in an alcoholic family, every time I felt excited and joyful about something I did, I got put down or hurt.


When I first started dealing with the effects of growing up in an alcoholic family, it was hard to feel grateful about anything.  But I have begun to realize how lucky I have been to have found resources to help me overcome those problems.

Owning My Talents

Have you ever felt like you can't appreciate your talents the way you could for someone else? I could tell you that David was a gifted speaker, or a talented athlete, but I couldn't see the same thing about myself.


Has it ever seemed like you're angry at someone, and can hardly think about anything else?  I had a lot of resentments about how I thought others had mistreated me.


Has it ever seemed like you had blinders on about your world? I did for a number of years.  If I was in denial about my behavior, I actually couldn't see what I had done, although my actions were obvious to everyone around me.

Fear of Success

Have you ever found yourself more comfortable if things didn't work out, than if you succeeded?  I was once told it looked like I was not afraid of failure, but afraid of success.  The statement rang true.

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