April, 2000

Edited selections from the ASCA newsletter.

The original newsletter (pdf)


  1. A Reflective Moment: The Values by Which We Live
  2. ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment: Co-Facilitator Interventions
  3. Poetry: “Broken Words”, by James Daniel
  4. Rotation C Topic: Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for April: Exploring Relationships

1. A Reflective Moment:
The Values by Which We Live

by George Bilotta

(The following brief article is a continuation of our monthly series focused on pondering some of life’s basic questions.)

We often say that we value this, that we value that. A value possesses a particular importance or usefulness for our lives. For example, we may say that we value education, relationships, free time, money, cultivating a loving family environment, or that we value personal characteristics such as integrity, honesty, compassion, kindness, etc. Though we as a society share many similar values such as freedom, democracy, caring for those who are unable to care for themselves due to illness or old age, etc., each of us has specific values that are unique to our core self, shape our daily lives, and define who we are.

What we value has a formative influence, i.e., it points us in a specific direction in our lives. Values are like a compass; they help us to find our way, especially when life becomes confusing, overwhelming, hectic, disorienting, etc. If we are unaware of our specific values, the values that form us and direct our lives, then our values may be more like a compass that has been forgotten at home while we are on a hiking trip. In this manner, our values, like a forgotten compass, are not helpful when we need them since we are unaware of what they are. We have forgotten about them and how they operate in our lives.

If we are unaware of our core values, then they will not provide us with direction, comfort, or encouragement during stormy and stressful periods. They will not be available to help us to rebalance our lives, to regain focus and perspective, to interpret and give meaning to our lives. Upon reflection, we might determine that we may want to cultivate additional values. Though we may have inherited a variety of values from our family, society, friends, and organizations with which we were raised, we always have the choice of cultivating additional values that may be more suitable and helpful for our lives today.

  1. What are your six primary or core values?
  2. How did these particular values become central to your life?
  3. Why do they continue to be core to who you are today?
  4. Are there other values that you would like to cultivate in your life?
  5. How might you go about cultivating them?

2. ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment:
Co-Facilitator Interventions

One of the duties of a co-facilitator during an ASCA meeting is to intervene if any of the guidelines or the spirit of ASCA are being crossed, ignored, or disregarded. Co-facilitators report that intervening during a meeting is the most difficult, scary, and most undesirable aspect of being a co-facilitator. It would be helpful to remember that co-facilitators do the best they can. They deserve our support, understanding, and cooperation.

There are two purposes for an intervention. The first purpose is to stop behavior that is ignoring our guidelines. The second purpose is to maintain the safety, integrity, and consistency of the meeting. Co-facilitators intervene because something seems to be askew, and the co-facilitators make their best effort to rectify the situation.

Sometimes, a guideline is crossed unknowingly, and other times, a guideline is crossed on purpose, usually to provoke. The more common intervention is with a participant who is doing something unknowingly, perhaps out of ignorance of our guidelines. Sometimes, a participant may ask a question while giving a share, to which the co-facilitator responds, to help clarify.

In the rare situation that a participant knowingly and purposefully violates a guideline, the situation needs to be taken seriously. The person needs to reconsider what he/she is doing and if ASCA is appropriate for him/her. ASCA meetings are not group process psychotherapy sessions but rather a communal support group whereby members agree to cooperate and adhere to the ASCA guidelines and to be respectful. An ASCA meeting is not a place to act out. It provides a setting to receive and give support. A person who is not willing or is not capable of adhering to our ASCA guidelines and spirit is not a suitable candidate for participation in ASCA. ASCA meetings have limitations as a support program. It is not designed to deal with people who do not want to join cooperatively or who are not capable of abiding by the ASCA guidelines and spirit.

Co-facilitators intervene to maintain the safety, integrity, and consistency of the meetings. They do not intervene to be mean, or to humiliate, or to scold. In these difficult situations, they do the best they can for the common good. During an ASCA meeting, the co-facilitators are the final arbiters. Co-facilitators are not perfect. It takes time to cultivate the skills of an experienced co-facilitator. So, if a co-facilitator makes an intervention, doing the best that he/she can, we encourage participants to refrain from judgment, to cooperate, and to discuss the situation with the co-facilitator following the conclusion of the meeting.

Your ASCA meeting may want to plan a business meeting in the near future to discuss the role of co-facilitator and interventions. Co-facilitators might describe what it feels like to intervene. Participants may describe what it feels like to be intervened on. The membership might discuss how to be supportive and cooperative during an intervention. What is usually helpful? What is usually unhelpful?

3. Poetry

Broken Words

by James Daniel, Copyright 1999

Frozen words heavily encrusted
With betrayal fall from my hands
And crush my toes. Ouch!
That hurt.

Promises once made I could
No longer bear the weight of
Lie in pieces ’round my feet.
Words entrusted to me by
The kings and queens of
Empty promises.
Words I was naïve enough
To believe in, to find hope in,
To elope with, now in pieces
At my feet. Interesting.

I’ll move on eventually
Probably when my toes
Stop hurting a bit
First let me dig my heels into
These bits of sentences around me
Separate the letters from the words
Thaw out the bitterness
Extract the innocence. There.
That’s better.

Now I’ll remember not to accept
Others’ words so readily
And not to lie to myself so much
And know that words are only words
They’re not that important, really
And they don’t have to rhyme
(At least not this time.)
There. Good. I feel better.
Thanks for listening.
I’m outta here. See ya later.

4. Rotation C Topic:
Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for April:
Exploring Relationships

Many survivors of childhood abuse acknowledge that establishing, fostering, and continuing relationships in their many and diverse forms is challenging, frustrating, and scary. On the other hand, most people, in general, find relationships difficult and problematic as well. For us survivors, special concerns around trust, consistency, manipulation, as well as physical and emotional intimacy, contribute as stumbling blocks to healthy, satisfying, and fulfilling relationships.

In relationships, we participate in a process of connecting and joining with another person or with a group of people. To begin exploring what relationships are all about for us, it might be helpful to examine and elaborate on the following questions.

  1. What are my unique gifts that I have to offer in a relationship—as a spouse or partner, a friend, a colleague, a parent, a family member, a neighbor, etc.?
  2. What are the five major nonnegotiable characteristics that must exist within a relationship in order for me to connect and to join the relationship, e.g., mutual respect, etc.?
  3. What are the five major behaviors that will exclude me from continuing in a relationship, e.g., physical violence, etc.?
  4. What did I learn about relationships during my childhood and teenage years?
  5. When I say that I want to be in a relationship, what exactly am I looking for in that relationship? How would I articulate what I am looking for?

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.