Sand Castle Winery Bucks County, PA
Candace P. Smolowe, MS, CHT
Spirited Life Coaching
Doylestown, Pennsylvania 18901
Phone: 215-815-5011

Email Candace



Candace holds a place of unlimited kindness. Being on a spiritual journey is not always easy and in frustration I find it is all too easy to be hard on myself and often unkind. Around Candace there is a ‘field’ of love and kindness that you feel with your heart. It’s like being wrapped in a warm soft blanket of Love and caring. This kindness and acceptance are an immeasurable comfort and help keep me moving forward on the path I have chosen. I’m also learning to hold this place of kindness for myself.

I missed your wonderful perspective and tough love - no non-sense way of calling me on my attitude. Amazing what a few months without spirit perspective can do to someone!

Kim B.






I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. 

This is, it turns out, a good thing, although I didn’t even know it was a “thing” until my own children were well on their way to becoming the beautiful and independent human beings that they are.    

I did not know that my struggles with self-esteem, having fun and struggling to be understood by my spouse may have begun in my childhood.    My parents, although alcoholics, did not seem to be an issue.  They were very intelligent, successful and responsible people.  They did not embarrass me in front of my friends in drunken fits, nor did I worry about coming home after school and finding one of them passed out on the couch.    They were model citizens and I was a model child. 

My childhood, what I could remember of it, was uneventful and normal. 

My adulthood was filled with anxiety, confusion, a feeling of not fitting in, depression and an exhaustive struggle to figure out what I must be doing wrong.  I did everything I knew how to do, and still, I felt isolated and unsure.    Yet, even so, I was certain that whatever was wrong with me could be changed, if only I could figure it out.  

This “even so” mentality is common among ACOA’s and is just one of the positive qualities that we carry.  We are consistent and resourceful.  We are creative and optimistic.  We are helpful and hopeful.  We want to know, with all our hearts, what we can do differently so that we can begin to truly enjoy our lives, from the inside out.  We truly want the best for all around us, even as we begin to recognize that rescuing, saving or teaching anyone is not our job.   


The information below may feel familiar to you as you remember growing up:




1.  DON’T TRUST.  ACOA’s learn not to count on others and often have a hard time believing that others can care enough to follow through on their commitments.


2.  DON’T FEEL.   ACOA’s have had few, if any, opportunities to see emotions expressed appropriately and used to foster constructive change.  Due to the constant pain of disappointment, a child in an alcoholic family must “quit feeling” in order to survive.


3.  DON’T TALK.  That which is so evident must not be spoken aloud.  There is often an unspoken hope that if no one mentions the drinking, it won’t happen again  From this early training, ACOA’s often develop a tendency not to talk about anything unpleasant.



RESPONSIBLE CHILD (Hero) They give the family self-worth because they look good on the outside

LOST CHILD (Adjuster) This child escapes by attempting to be invisible.

CARETAKER (Placater)  This child takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family.

ACTING OUT CHILD (Scapegoat) This child provides

distraction from the real issues in the family.



(developed by Janet Woitetz)

As adults, this is what our experience is:

  • Guess at what normal is.
  • Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
  • Lie when it would just as easy to tell the truth.
  • Judge themselves without mercy.
  • Have difficulty having fun.
  • Take themselves very seriously.
  • Have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  • Overreact to changes over which they have no control.
  • Constantly seek approval and affirmation.
  • Usually feel that they are different from other people.
  • Are super responsible or super irresponsible.
  • Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
  • Are impulsive without give serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences


Do These Seem Familiar?


  • Are you frightened by people in authority?
  • Do you find yourself constantly seeking the approval of others?
  • Do you see yourself as a victim or look at the world from the perspective of a victim?
  • Do you sometimes consider the needs of others to the point of neglecting your own wants or needs?
  • Have you ever had relationships with people who need taken care of or need you to rescue them?
  • Do you tend to judge yourself harshly, especially when things do not turn out perfectly?
  • Do you find that you have difficulty having fun?
  • Do you feel that you are basically different from other 'normal' people?
  • Do you have a tendency to be either super responsible or super irresponsible?
  • Do you have a tendency to isolate yourself from others, especially when things are not going well?
  • Do you have difficulty having intimate relationships?
  • When others disapprove of you, do you feel you need to change their mind?
  • Have you ever been in a relationship with an alcoholic, addict or other compulsive person?
  • Do angry people tend to frighten you?
  • Do you enjoy being on the edge or like taking risks?
  • Is it easier to give into the demands of others than stand up for yourself?
  • Do you have difficulty in telling others about your feelings?
  • Do you tend to hold on to relationships, even if they become one-sided or painful?
  • Do you tend to lock yourself into a course of action even if it appears it will not turn out as you planned?
  • Do you feel that you spend a lot of time cleaning up problems created by others?



The Adult Child is just that:  an Adult who is acting like a child, simply because they don’t know how else to be.  They did not have access to the wisdom of a healthy adult to guide them through learning how to solve problems, manage emotions and take risks.  They approach life from a place of emotion, uncertainty and fear, no matter how loving or “nice” they are.


The following characteristics of a healthy adult are what the ACOA strives for but does not know how to do:


I accept full responsibility for my life situation

No one is responsible for my well-being

I am not responsible for anyone else’s feelings

One by one, I drop all expectations of others

I give up wanting others to change

 I allow my emotions instead of repress them

I make independent decisions

I become financially independent

I set realistic goals and follow through

I do not take things personally

I do not make assumptions

If I want something, it is my job to ask for it

I am adequate to any challenge that comes to me

I know and live by my values

I live in partnership with a higher power

I grant myself a margin of error

I accomplish things step by step

I am free to have and entertain any thought

Choices and perceptions are flexible, not rigid

Life is lived in the middle, not the extremes

I recognize obstacles as opportunities to grow

Becoming is a life long process, not a goal

I love and have compassion for the





Living a Spirited Life when you have grown up with a history of alcohol, abuse, anger and/or neglect is possible.  The guidance you did not receive is available to you in a way that you can understand and can use...personal and loving guidance that values your experience and encourages you to become authentic, creative and gracefully powerful in all your relationships, whether it be with love, health or finances. 

1.  Find out more about ACOA's :  There is a lot of information on the internet.  I also have a list of websites and books in the resources section of this website. 

2.  Compare the above lists with your life.  If the ACOA examples outweigh the Adult, consider giving us a call to see what it would take to change your life. 

It can be done, I promise.  I've been there.  And I spend every day in appreciation and freedom.  The journey from ACOA into adulthood takes time, awareness and practice.  Take the first step, now. 


I grew up in a home where alcohol and cigarettes accompanied every conversation, every meal, every activity.   I had my first real drink in 7th grade.  I had my last real drink years ago.  The years in between are a blur of curiosity, exuberance, hangovers, abstinence, thinking I could have another, realizing I was kidding myself, anxiety, just one more, shame, determination to change, I can't change, despair, depression, exhaustion…. Surrender.  

What I really wanted was a closer relationship with God, myself, my family and my community, not a closer relationship with something that would soothe my anxiety for a short time, but never permanently. 

I didn't fit the "alcoholic" profile.  My drinking was quiet and almost invisible.  But I knew my tendency was to have another if I had one, and that sometimes that extra turned into just one more after that.  

It became clear that it was best not to have any at all. 


There are many ways to stop drinking.  Or using drugs.  Or smoking.  Or gambling.  Or eating.  Or thinking negative thoughts (we can get addicted to thoughts and emotions, you know!)

I was gifted with a miracle. 


I did not go through the traditional AA program, although it has saved the lives of millions of people and has actually changed the course of spiritual awareness since its beginnings in the 1940's.   I fully support the 12-step models and believe that they provide a beautiful framework for living. 


I did not go through a residential treatment program, although it, too, has helped to save the lives of millions.  


Nutritional therapies helped and I learned an awful lot about the nutrients the brain and body needs to release the addictive cravings and maintain wellness from whole foods and vitamins.  Our bodies are designed to support us into wholeness, if we support them!


In my commitment to deepen my relationships with life instead of "just one more", I found an extraordinary healer in Vermont.  I lost all desire for alcohol in one week.  And it has never come back.  Click here to find out how:   SHE healing.

If you are interested in knowing more, or having me coach you through the process, please let me know at, or 215-815-5011.  Every conversation is completely confidential.

LOCAL SUPPORT:  PROACT and the Women's Recovery Community Center. 


EFT:  Emotional Freedom Techniques


All addictive behavior is an attempt to reduce the anxiety in the body.  One of the fastest and most effective ways to do this is through a ground breaking technique called EFT.     The premise behind this technique is that all negative emotion (including cravings and anxiety) is the result of a disruption in the body’s energy system.  From my own personal recovery experience and hundreds of anecdotal accounts, EFT can be used effectively and easily to reduce and potentially over time eliminate cravings in the body’s energy system.  To find out more, click here:   Emotional Freedom  Techniques. 



It is my belief that unresolved grief is a condition that most of us carry with us throughout our lives, impacting our relationships, our careers and our sense of self.   


Unresolved Grief is Unexpressed Emotion around a Loss. 

The loss could be the death of a parent when we were children, having to move in fifth grade to a new school, having to give away a pet, or not making the soccer team.    There is no right way to express a loss, other than TO EXPRESS the emotions that we felt as a result.  Our ability to grieve as adults began with our experiences as a child.

Studies from the Grief Recovery Institute indicate that in an overwhelming majority of cases, depression and anxiety are the result of unresolved grief issues. They are the result of learning how to address loss and change with our brains.

“It just takes time”, aside from being untrue, is an intellectual response to a broken heart.  It's what you DO with the time.


Forget what you have been told

about dealing with loss:

1. Just give it time.
2. Be strong for others.
3. Get Over it.
4. Keep busy.
5. You can get another.
6. Don’t feel something.

None of these are helpful, and none of them address the heart. Familiar isn’t always best.


You can’t think your way out of heartbreak.

It is not your head that is broken, it is your heart.


For a beautiful summary of moving through grief, please click here: All About Grief

To learn more about coaching others through grief, go to the Grief Coach Academy.

If you are interested in private grief coaching or grief recovery programs for groups, please contact me at or 215-815-5011.   I am fully trained by both the organizations listed above.

Grief is, I believe, the highest form of love and the most profound invitation to heal unexpressed hurts.  As you accept and embrace the gifts that WILL show up through your grief, a new life opens to you.  If you are having trouble, please call.









Spirited Life Coaching
Candace Smolowe, MS, CHT Verified | Copyright 2012