November, 1999

Edited selections from the ASCA newsletter.

The original newsletter (pdf)


  1. ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment: Guideline #3: This is an anonymous meeting. Only first names are used.
  2. Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for November: Placing Daily Life into Perspective

1. ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment:
Guideline #3: This is an anonymous meeting. Only first names are used.

ASCA meetings and the ASCA program follow standard guidelines concerning anonymity. Participants in ASCA have no obligation to reveal their name or anything specific about who they are. The only requirement for participation in ASCA is that we self-identify as survivors of childhood abuse: physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse or neglect. During the meeting, only first names are used. Even a pseudonym is okay. Anonymity respects the boundaries of participants. We are all in various stages of recovery. Some stages and some people require more anonymity than others.

Respectful anonymity also extends beyond ASCA meetings. Outside of official meeting business, i.e., co-facilitators conferring with each other or with other members of the ASCA meeting group concerning ASCA meeting business, participants should not be contacting each other unless explicit permission has been specifically given by the person being contacted. Many friendships will form between long-term ASCA members, which is a wonderful and natural evolution of being part of a long-term group. When friendships have developed, permission to contact each other is extended both implicitly and explicitly. Developing friendships does not violate anonymity.

On the other hand, ASCA has the custom of the telephone support list, whereby volunteers list their name and telephone number to be a support contact for the week. It is okay to contact a person who has volunteered as a support person, but only for that week. It is not okay and it goes against the spirit of anonymity when someone retains that telephone number and calls the person several weeks later. The telephone list is only active for a week. Many people do not place their name and number on the list every week.

It is a severe breach of anonymity when a person uses a telephone support number to try to arrange a social engagement. Although ASCA does not have any rules or guidelines concerning socializing outside of the ASCA meeting, pursuing someone for a date is not customary and should only be done if it is perfectly clear (without ambiguity) that someone desires to be contacted for a social engagement.

In the past, there have been occasions when a member has tried to pursue another member for the purposes of dating. Though we meet potential partners in a wide variety of situations, and this includes ASCA, pursuing an unwanted, unsolicited social engagement is contrary to the spirit of anonymity and the philosophy of ASCA. Many wonderful friendships and relationships will emerge through being a part of an ASCA meeting for an extended period of time. The guideline of anonymity implies that people should be left alone unless they specifically state that they want contact outside of the meeting.

2. Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for November:
Placing Daily Life into Perspective

Our thoughts often turn to the notion of thankfulness given the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Some people may quibble and quarrel: “What do I have to be thankful for? Look at how my child abuse has impeded my life. I’m not thankful. I’m actually quite pissed off.” Experiencing and expressing anger is necessary and pertinent to recovery. But it is also just a small part of who we are, i.e., angry, pissed-off people. If we choose, however, to live primarily from this perspective, i.e., through the angry feelings, the anger will tilt, distort, and deform our daily life direction. It will have a disproportionate influence, and will ultimately be unhelpful, on how we see life and the world; how we hear ourselves and others; how we feel about everything within us, around us, and in the universe; how we touch the world and allow life to touch us; how we open or close our heart.

The very phenomenon of anger results in us closing up and closing off from ourselves, people, and the world. Cultivating thankfulness does not deny, negate, or erase our angry feelings. Rather, cultivating thankfulness in reference to anger places our anger into perspective. It is a restorative antidote for the effects of experiencing and expressing the anger we have concerning our childhood abuse. For many people, cultivating thankfulness may even focus and empower their anger into constructive action, into positive cathartic expression. Cultivating thankfulness in our everyday lives places life into perspective, places our pain into perspective, places our efforts in recovery from childhood abuse into perspective. A sense of thankfulness brings about increased harmony and balance in daily life.

Living daily life from a thankful orientation helps us to appreciate more of who we are today, how far along in recovery we have traveled, and how precious various people in our lives are to us. Cultivating thankfulness supports us in living life from the perspective that our cup is half full rather than drained and half empty. Not taking for granted everything that is beautiful, working well, sacred, and bountiful in our lives is an enduring and reinforcing effect of cultivating thankfulness. By cultivating thankfulness in our everyday lives, the colors of life seem brighter, the hassles and difficulties of daily life seem manageable and less intrusive. The way we interact with people, and especially with ourselves, seems increasingly gentle and inviting. Cultivating thankfulness opens our hearts to the wonder and the possibilities that surround us.

There are many ways to cultivate thankfulness. One practical way is simply to choose thankfulness as a meditative theme for the month of November. During spare moments or transition moments, we could dwell on the theme of thankfulness as a meditative energizing pause. We wake up in the morning and remind ourselves that today’s theme is “thankfulness.” By simply attending to and acknowledging what is good about our life today, what is working well, what brings pleasure, beauty, and enjoyment into our life, this all cultivates thankfulness. Over a period of days and weeks, our orientation toward living life seems to be pointed in the primary direction of thankfulness. We move from a stance of taking much of daily life for granted to one of reflective thankfulness. This musing with the theme of thankfulness unfolds as a soothing salve, an energy booster, and an instructive teacher. Cultivating thankfulness is the gateway to hope; the coal for stoking the furnace, promoting the heat and passion for life; the restorative power that continuously renews and refreshes our daily journey.

  1. What have been the consequences in my life for not cultivating a sense of thankfulness in my daily rhythm?
  2. How will cultivating thankfulness affect the usual way that I approach my day, other people, and the tasks that I undertake on a daily basis?
  3. What are some practical ways that will assist in cultivating a thankful orientation in my daily life?

Selection editing note

Above, for clarity, the word “co-secretary” was replaced by “co-facilitator” as the current title used in ASCA meetings for the same role.