One of the techniques I used early in my recovery to get in touch with my wounded feelings was accepting my inner child. Transactional Analysis helped me to discover my parent, child and adult states. Eric Berne was the founder of TA and introduced the idea of the games we play to get what we want.
Games People Play was the title of his first book and was a best-seller in the 1960’s. After 40 years and 5,000,000 copies, Games is still relevant today. Eric Berne influenced other authors; Thomas Harris, who also wrote about TA with his book, I’m OK-You’re OK, and Muriel James’s book, Born to Win. Berne founded The International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) which is still active and has several of the main ideas at their site.
The main ideas from TA are ego states (parent, child and adult), strokes, transactions, life script, contracts and games people play. One of the newer ideas from the TA group is about the blame game (i.e. why do blame—simply choose steps needed to move forward).
Two of the main concepts for the TA philosophy are we are each worthy of being accepted and people can change. Of the three ego states—parent, child and adult—when I studied TA, I found that I could only identify 2 ego states. I had a very judgmental parent (these are thoughts and ideas I had adapted from my parents) and child (mine was the willful me-only child state. When I first use this information to check myself, I found that I had no adult (the ego state used to live in the here-and-now with responses dependent on new responses). No wonder that I lived in yesterday or tomorrow. I had no inner guide to deal with today.
In choosing elements to include in a recovery program, the first requirement is to surrender to the God of your understanding. The second requirement is a recovery team to help you. Having three-five people who support recovery with “tough love” will support someone through the rough times. Your support team doesn’t have your answers; he/she has an individual recovery plan of his/her own that is shared with others. I quickly learned to make not drinking my number one priority in life no matter what.
When I was getting sober in the late 70s-early 80s, two Catholic priests were very instrumental in my recovery. Having been reared Presbyterian in a small town, I had no experience with other religions or faiths. I am grateful that I had the courage to try new ways because it began a journey I still enjoy of trying all the spiritual techniques and/or ideas that I seek out.
The two priests were Father Martin (who was a recovering alcoholic with a ministry of “chalk talks” that opened up worlds of acceptance and understanding) and Father John Powell (a retired Loyola Jesuit priest who has written 21 books and is the 2ndbest-selling Christian writer).
Father Martin’s “Chalk Talk” movie was widely used in DUI classes in Florida. I was fortunate to have been able to teach classes every week for five years to multiple offenders. The course was 12 weeks long with the focus on alcoholism. I was also fortunate to have seen Father Martin in person several times. I was only sober a few months the first time I saw him. During the talk that evening, he said that you go after the kind of recovery that you think you deserve. What a concept! I had just assumed that the same things happened to everyone in recovery. Instead I started to forge new paths for myself. In my next post, I will write about Father John Powell.