Childhood trauma is the wound. Addiction is the band aid.
“Your instincts may tell you that you can’t survive if you experience feelings. But they are leftover child instincts. They’re the ones that first told you to freeze your feelings. They themselves are frozen and haven’t grown with the rest of you. These instincts don’t know that you’re far more capable of learning to cope with overwhelming emotion now than when you were a [child].” Maureen Brady
Much of our emotional pain in adulthood is caused by the trick we learned as children to freeze our feelings. It worked then. It doesn’t work now in adulthood. When you freeze one feeling, you freeze them all.
What does healing mean?
From “What does it mean to heal?” by Monica Cassini:
“Healing to me does not mean returning to what one was before something went wrong. Wholeness does not necessarily mean normal. And even the word recovery is problematic because, frankly, I don’t want what I had before. Who wants to go backwards anyway? Healing means being whole even while still perhaps not functioning like others. Healing also suggests some sort of maturation and growth from “before” for all that is learned on the journey. Ultimately now, I see this journey as one of transformation and individuation that leads to greater clarity, acceptance and thus, wellbeing. Healing is also a journey that doesn’t end while we’re alive.
Healing is about accepting and being completely who I am with whatever limitations I currently have. I may still have limitations these days, but I also have a better sense of self and, well, wholeness, even in my still healing body and that is because my level of bodily function is not what ultimately determines my overall well-being. It is only a part of my being. And heck, our bodies do eventually all give out, don’t they? Our bodies will all die one day. Healing recognizes that being is constant and ever-changing. We are in this constant ever-changing moment without past or future. Healing becomes this moment now with all its possibilities.
At this point I do not always consider myself ill. I am healing injuries (both trauma and drug damage). Healing is a vibrant state of movement and change. My limitations do not necessarily or always mean that I am sick, though I may sometimes feel unwell regardless. My identity can be fluid and non-attached to words that want to define the condition I find myself in this moment. Sometimes I might use different words to communicate similar things because the context of my life and understanding is always changing too.”
From “How Childhood Trauma Affects Adult Relationships” by Zoe Reyes:
“Childhood experiences lay the groundwork for what will be our general attachment style throughout our lives, how we bond with another person, as well as how we respond emotionally when that person is separated from us. The following are the four basic attachment styles. Please keep in mind that these descriptions are very general; not everyone will have all these characteristics. Attachment styles are relatively fluid and can change slightly depending on your partner’s own attachment style.
These individuals usually grew up in a supportive environment where parents were consistently responsive to their needs. People who are securely attached are generally comfortable with being open about themselves, asking for help, and allowing others to lean on them at an emotional level. They have a positive outlook on life, are comfortable with closeness, and seek physical and/or emotional intimacy with minimal fear of being rejected or overwhelmed.
Securely attached individuals are generally consistent and reliable in their behaviors toward their partner. They tend to include their partner in decisions that could affect their relationship.
Also referred to as “insecure-avoidant,” children usually develop this attachment style when their primary caregivers are not responsive to or are even rejecting of their needs. Children learn to pull away emotionally as a way to avoid feelings of rejection. As adults, they become uncomfortable with emotional openness and may even deny to themselves their need for intimate relationships.
They place high value on independence and autonomy and develop techniques to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and defend themselves from a perceived threat to their “independence.” These techniques include, but are not limited to: shutting down; not saying “I love you” even though their behaviors indicate that they do (i.e., mixed messages); keeping secrets to maintain some semblance of independence. These coping techniques end up becoming detrimental to their adult relationships.
Also referred to as “disorganized-disoriented” in some literature, children who have developed this style may have been exposed to prolonged abuse and/or neglect. Primary caregivers are the people children often turn to as a source of comfort and support. In a situation involving abuse, these primary caregivers are also a source of hurt. These children grow up to become adults who fear intimacy within their relationships but also fear not having close relationships in their lives. They recognize the value of relationships and have a strong desire for them, but often have a difficult time trusting others. As a result, they avoid being emotionally open with others for fear of being hurt and rejected.
Sometimes referred to as “insecure-ambivalent,” children develop this form of attachment usually when their parents have been inconsistent with their responses to them. At times, these parents exhibit nurturing, caring, and attentive behaviors. Other times they can be cold, rejecting, or emotionally detached. As a result, the children don’t know what to expect. They become adults who desire a lot of connection within their relationships, sometimes to the point of being “clingy.” They are highly aware of any slight changes in the relationship. These changes, however minute, can significantly increase this individual’s anxiety. As a result, he or she will focus energy on increasing connection with that partner. Individuals who have this attachment style needs more validation and approval than the other attachment styles.”
After many years of self-discovery which led to healing, I am finally in the secure attachment space which coordinated with my recovery from codependency. What an amazing, fun journey I’ve had. Worth every moment of research, discovery, and change.