May, 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: Money & Donations
  3. Rotation C Topic: Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for May: Money & Finances
  4. Poetry: “The Secret Loss”, by Leland Pitts

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:
Money & Donations

Many people feel awkward and uncomfortable discussing money and finances. These feelings, and others, can derive from various experiences with money. We may feel somewhat ignorant or inexperienced about money matters. We might have had negative experiences with money, or we might not have sufficient resources for our personal needs and wants. We may have felt used about money, etc. Some view money as power, as a way to manipulate, as a necessary evil, etc. And some people simply prefer not to think about or talk about money. In reference to paying for services that assist in our recovery from childhood abuse, many of us feel resentful that we need to pay out of our own pocket for various services to recover from the abuse that was inflicted upon us, which was no fault of our own. We feel resentful that insurance does not cover much of our recovery needs and that our perpetrators seldom make amends.

In every community-based ASCA meeting, the basket is passed around for donations. These donations are used to pay the rent, to help pay the ASCA telephone information line, to list the meeting on the web site, and for meeting incidentals like printing, etc. In provider-based meetings, however, participants pay a set fee to the meeting provider. The fee covers the meeting expenses and pays for the provider’s time in organizing and facilitating the provider-based ASCA meeting.

It is probably healthy and helpful for community-based ASCA meetings to hold a business meeting on a quarterly basis to address meeting finances through an open discussion. Co-facilitators do not bear the burden of meeting finances. This is the responsibility of every member. Everyone should be aware of the expenses that the meeting incurs and how much needs to be collected on a weekly basis in order to maintain a financially healthy meeting. Are there any particular money concerns that your meeting needs to address?

3. Rotation C Topic:
Possible ASCA Meeting Topic for May:
Money & Finances

Many survivors of childhood abuse, as well as people in general, have mixed and confusing feelings concerning the matters of money and finances. One of the projects of adulthood is to take care of ourselves financially, usually through employment or through shared family responsibilities, as in the case of a parent who attends to the domestic chores but does not earn an income. Often, survivors sense that they have been held back from educational opportunities, career possibilities, and sometimes just the basic ability to maintain steady employment due to their childhood abuse.

During our childhood and teen years, we may have been plagued with depression, anxiety, PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder, ADD—attention deficit disorder, and learning disabilities, which hindered our ability to attend to schoolwork. During our teen years, we may have felt inadequate, not good enough. We may have lacked self-esteem and thus the ability and confidence to experiment with the world around us. If grammar and high school did not go well, we probably did not pursue college or a trade. To mask our pain, we may have used drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and memories. We may have tended to drift, not being able to focus, to set life’s priorities, to have a vision for our lives or a dream to pursue.

Dealing with money and financial matters can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. In our efforts to come to grips with any unresolved concerns around money and finances, the following questions might be helpful to think about.

  1. What are my basic attitudes and feelings concerning money?
  2. While growing up, what did I learn about money?
  3. How do I use money today?
  4. How does having money or not having money influence my daily life?
  5. What unhealthy and unhelpful habits do I have about money? What is their source?
  6. What are two or three actions that I need to take in reference to money matters in my life?

4. Poetry

The Secret Loss

by Leland Pitts, first published in Transfer, 1994


For my family,
there should’ve been five funerals.
In separate seconds we approached
ourselves: three car crashes,
one near drowning.
I prepare by gathering petals
and cones, tiny burs, ladybugs.
I approach a house in a drained
field, windows opaque, wood
floors taut and shrunk, haunted
with brittle newspapers.

I wait.
Time backlogs. Cold seeps through weeds.
And the counting begins:
three four five
Drapes begin dancing, smells harvested green
and dusty, the moon purges
the house with its devastating angle.
I write messages
on walls: Give us a sign.
In the window,
a world is framed.


On Sunday my niece and I visit the ocean.
This is dolphin country, she says.
Fogged, bottle caps and plastic,
invaded. ten eleven twelve
Air tingles. My niece nearly without
a father. Waves chase each other, come close
to overcoming. All the beautiful almosts.
twenty-one twenty-two
Perhaps the spirit lives outside
the body, translucent. Perhaps it swims
in a dream, deep among sea ferns
and anemones, skin taut
and mercurial. Five dolphins emerge,
seek a new place.
I name each one after members of my family.

They hold their breath.
twenty-six twenty-seven
They drown everyday.

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.