Stanislaw*, a 40 year old construction worker, is a member of the ACA therapy group of the Blue Cross Centre in Bielsko-Biała. He has been dependent on alcohol for many years and has agreed to tell us his story:
I come from a normal family. My father was a tailor and had his workshop at home. He was an alcoholic. I started to regularly tour the bars with him at the age of four. I remember how he’d put me, as small boy, on a bar stool and then order beer for me. He was proud of me when I emptied the glass, and would brag about me to his friends. It felt good. But at home my father would never praise me.
I started smoking when I was six. At the age of ten I began inhaling glue, and shortly after I attempted suicide. At 15, I started drinking seriously.
I got married when I was 21 and had a son and a daughter. This was when I resolved to undergo therapy for the first time.
From 1991 to 1997 I underwent several therapies. But whatever I tried I would always relapse. In 1997, I left my family because I didn’t want to harm them anymore. I constructed a makeshift shelter in a garden outside town where I lived as a homeless person. Then came the day when I drank my last glass. After that I went straight to detox. Of course, I experienced acute delirium. I also realised that being sober felt foreign to me. I was afraid of leaving the detox centre for I was afraid to return to the shelter where I had lived before. So I went directly from detox to a stationary centre where I was allowed to stay for eight weeks.
Meanwhile, things had changed in my mind. I wanted to get out of the life of homelessness and alcohol. Thus, when I started the new therapy at Blue Cross after my detox I was ready for it. When I had finished the therapy cycle they did not close the door, but I could continue to come for individual counselling sessions. I came for a meeting at least once a month. But if I had a problem I could go there anytime. I felt safe because I knew I had this support. This was very important for me.
In 2009, I met a person on the internet forum started by Adult Children of Alcoholics who informed me about a new ACA offer in Bielsko-Biała at the Blue Cross counselling centre I knew so well. It was a lady from Warsaw who was about to move to Bielsko-Biała, and had searched for an ACA therapy group. We decided to go to the therapy together.
The ACA group therapy started in May 2009 and is today still ongoing. We just had our second weekend session outside the centre! I had learned a lot during the regular therapy, but ACA really helped me to look into my childhood and reach the roots of the problem. It helped me to understand that not everything I had been told during childhood was true. I was always told that I was useless, that I didn’t deserve anything in life and that I would never succeed. Until now I proved all this over and over again. It was because of the ACA therapy that I was able to finally break the negative and vicious circle brought about by this kind of thinking.
*Stanislaw is a fictitious name.
This project story is related to the project Blue Cross Poland Offers Support to People who Grew Up with an Alcoholic Parent