"Break the Rules - Forgive Quickly - Kiss Slowly - Love Truly - Laugh Uncontrollably"

Mime across america

a   d i v i n e   c o m e d y   d e d i c a t e d   t o   a l l   c h i l d r e n   o f   a l c o h o l i c s
created  .  choreographed  .  performed
Lani Picard

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, 
without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."
Nathaniel Hawthorn, The Scarlet Letter, 1850

Alcoholism is a disease baffling and devastating humanity. 
To those who know, hear and understand, the silent screams are deafening - 
resounding from every corner of the globe.
Lani Picard, Silent Screams, a mimo-drama, 1999: a documentary for Sundance Film Festival


During May of '97, masked in gold, I began a peaceful crusade for all children of 
alcoholics by performing the first mimo-drama outside the White House.
The first day of June, I continued dancing my spirit-trek in 'mimo' across the country
from the shores of the Atlantic to the Pacific coast carrying my story of hope for humanity entitled,
Odyssey of Andromeda, Cosmic Crusader
, to Steven Spielberg in Los Angeles.
Ending my journey with a performance of Panther in a Glass Cage outside the Los Angeles Museum of Art on Miracle Mile, 
I witnessed a 'love-starved' country paralyzed by fear, suspicion, ridicule, and denial. 
Deeply saddened, but not surprised, this real motion picture validated what I had already known to be true -
my crusade had just begun.

There is hope and recovery!

The following facts alone give pause and reason on the subject:

In the US, twenty million children are experiencing physical, verbal and emotional abuse from parents
who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. This is tragic when we consider that childhood is the foundation
on which our entire lives are built. When a child's efforts to bond with an addicted parent
are thwarted, the result is confusion and intense anxiety. In order to survive in a home devoid of healthy parental love,
limits, and consistency, they must develop "survival skills" very early in life.

In a chaotic, dysfunctional family, the lack of external control through consistent loving discipline results
in an inability to develop internal discipline and self control.
They learn not to depend on their parents to meet their needs - instead, it is all up to them.
And, because they can't trust their own parents, they become generally suspicious and mistrustful of all human beings.
Yet, they are defenseless against the projection of blame and often feel responsible for parents' addiction.
They become "little adults" that feel compelled to accept responsibilities well beyond their years.

If any of these questions sound familiar, a 12 step recovery program might help:

1. When difficulties occur, do you need someone to blame even if it is yourself?
2. Do you feel uncomfortable or draw a blank when asked what it is you really want?
3. Does a dark cloud of despair or a creeping depression sometimes seem to appear from nowhere to weigh you down?
4. Do you feel guilty or selfish whenever you say "No"?
5. Are you lonely and isolated? Do you feel like an outsider in the midst of a crowd?
6. Can you identify only one or two extreme feelings, such as anger or fear?
7. Do you think in black and white terms? Is life either wonderful or miserable, with little in between?
8. Are you numb or flat, with no extremes in your feelings whatsoever?
9. Does your memory fog out or have giant holes where you remember nothing?
10. Do you feel suicidal or have a need to hurt yourself or others?
11. Do you tolerate unacceptable behavior even after you have said you won't?
12. Do you have difficulty relaxing and having fun? Would you not recognize fun if it hit you in the face?
13. Are you frequently impatient with yourself or others?
14. Do you think you are the only person in the world you can depend on?
15. Do you feel compelled to do things for other people that they could do for themselves?
16. Do you do things you don't want to do, rather than risk disappointing other people.
17. Do you have difficulty trusting your own perceptions and need to prove you're right and others are wrong in order to convince yourself?
18. Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed because of someone else's behavior?
19. Do you startle easily?
20. Do you think the best way to take care of your needs is not to have any?

Children of Addicts:
Adapted from the book Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed.D.

There are some general characteristics which seem to crop up again and again in the adult children of alcoholics.
These same characteristics can be present in the adult children of other kinds of addicts,
and, indeed, in the homes where various kinds of dysfunctionality occurs.
In fact, many of us will be able to recognize some aspects of our own personalities in these characteristics,
whether alcohol was present in our homes or not. In homes where parents were "addicted"
to control/dominance issues, or where various types of abuse may have occurred, one can find similarities
in the patterns of behavior in children from these homes and the children of alcoholics.
The truth of addicts is they don't just jeopardize their own happiness and life, but the lives of those who care about them.

Knowledge is power when we can recognize certain truths about ourselves or others,
 we can then take positive steps to change those behaviors, and to make our
personal experience of life and relationships more positive. Consider the following:

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts guess at what normal behavior is, not realizing that "normal" is a myth.
The myth shouldn't be pursued what should be sought after is
something that feels healthy, which will vary as people vary.

Children of alcoholics/addicts have difficulty following projects through,
from beginning to end they may have had few role models on how to plan, implement, and complete a project.

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts often lie, when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
Lying was a part of the family system they grew up in.
It was used by family members as a way to preserve the peace, to avoid conflict,
and perhaps to protect other family members.

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts judge themselves without mercy.
And why not? They were probably constantly criticized while they were growing up.
The don't know how to cut themselves slack, to chill, to give themselves a break,
or to forgive themselves the normal mistakes we all make.

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts have a hard time having fun.

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts take themselves very seriously.
Fun and spontaneity were often repressed in childhood it could provoke a scene.
It could be unpleasant. Seriousness was less likely to get them into trouble.

Children of alcoholics/addicts have trouble with intimate relationships.
They learned how to be emotionally reserved with a parent who could (possibly)
hurt them in so many different ways.
As children, they could feel loved one day, and rejected the next.
As adults they have to unlearn defense mechanisms,
and learn how to let others become emotionally close to them.

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts overreact to situations over which they have no real control.
They grew up with no control over their environment, and as adults, they cling to the control they have.
They feel more competent than others to make decisions, and have a hard time trusting another's judgement.

Children of alcoholics/addicts constantly seek approval and affirmation from others.
They grew up insecure. In childhood, the message wasn't one of unconditional love
now it's tough to accept positive remarks from others,
though the person desperately wants to hear it and believe it.

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts have a hard time feeling comfortable.
They assume everyone is at ease except them.
They don't realize how many people feel just as they do, have experienced many of the same things.
The person feels different, isolated, though in fact they are a part of a large club!

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts are either irresponsible, or incredibly responsible.
(They may alternate between these states).
They take on huge tasks, or else they walk away from a big responsibility.
Often, as adults, these people will take on a large task not because they are overly confident,
but because they fear if they don't take it on, everyone will "find out" that they are actually incompetent.
Procrastination is often an escape valve.

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts are intensely loyal even when it is obvious that their loyalty may be misplaced.
They learned in the home to stick things out, that relationships are difficult,
and that once you are in them you have to stay with it (even when better instincts indicate they should leave).

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts are impulsive.
They didn't see modeling of "thinking through the consequences of my actions" when they were a child.
They didn't see the parent learn from his or her own mistakes.
So in the person's own adult life, they can fling themselves into one activity after another,
one buying spree after another, relationships, projects, etc.,
and then spend a lot of time cleaning up after the ensuing mess.
Impulsivity, compulsivity it's one of the aspects of their own behavior which
can most trouble the adult child of an alcoholic/addict.
One strategy here is to learn ways to delay taking an action when feeling driven by an impulse.
It is important to buy some time to think about the consequences of the actions being contemplated.
Therapy can help with this and other behaviors.
Having someone to talk to, even if they aren't a therapist, can be helpful.
Having meaningful activities to turn to in place of the impulse, can also help.
Success may come with a variety of methods.

There is always cause for hope.
We have the capacity to think, to generate positive thoughts and encouragement for ourselves,
to reach out to friends, to create a healthier environment for ourselves and those who love us.
We mustn't make the mistake of thinking we can heal our alcoholic/addict parent.
That is up to them, and them alone. If they make a choice to become sober,
we can be loving and supportive, we can be encouraging, but we can't force sobriety on them.
If they never find sobriety, we mustn't think that it is our fault, that we somehow failed them.
This is a victory or a defeat that has to be fought out by the alcoholic/addicted person themselves.


I am more powerful than all the combined armies of the world.
I have destroyed more people than all the wars of the nations.
I have caused millions of accidents and wrecked more homes than all the floods, tornadoes and hurricanes put together.
I am the world's slickest thief, I steal billions of dollars each year.
I find my victims among the rich and poor alike, the young, the strong and the weak.
I loom up to such proportions that I cast a shadow over a field of labor.
I am relentless, insidious and unpredictable.
I am everywhere; in the home, on the street, in the factory, in the office, on land and in the air.
I bring sickness, poverty and even death.
I give nothing and take all. 
I am your worst enemy.
I am alcohol. 
I am patient and I am waiting.


Adult Children of Alcoholics

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