“Individuals use denial and repression to protect the ego from disintegration. Living with both the constant unpredictability of the alcoholic parent and the detachment and/or anxiety of the codependent parent is difficult enough for an adult who has a fully developed defense system. For a child, surviving the regular assault of trauma requires massive amounts of energy. This puts the normal developmental process on hold; there is no energy left to invest in development. While other children are learning to play, to trust, to self-soothe, and to make decisions, children in addicted families are learning to survive. The end result is a child who often feels thirty years old at five and five years old at thirty.” Jane Middelton-Moz
I grew up in a family controlled by alcoholism. Alcohol was in charge. We all marched to the demands of addiction. There is no blame to be assigned. We were all victims.
“You did not invent these family habits. Your family is like mine, for thousands and thousands of years our families have embraced a dysfunctional lifestyle, passing these habits as gospel on to subsequent generations. This was not done out of malice, spite, or hate, but what they knew best. As ineffective as these habits are, you never stopped to consider another way of loving.” David W. Earle
We, as recovering addicts, have the remarkable opportunity to end that generational lifestyle. Not only do we receive the gift of recovery but also we can use this gift to help others.
Following are some of the resources for childhood trauma recovery that are available.
Excerpt–Examples of Parental Manipulation:
– causing the child to believe that s/he will only be loved by complying with the parent’s wishes at all times; in other words, there is an ABSENCE of unconditional love.
– causing the child to feel excessive guilt for failing to live up to the parent’s expectations/demands
– withholding love as a form of punishment to cause emotional distress
– direct or implied threats of physical punishment
– physical punishment
– making the child feel s/he is ‘intrinsically bad’ for not always bending to the parent’s will
– spoiling the child and then accusing him/her of ingratitude
– making the child believe s/he is ‘uncaring’ for not fully meeting the parent’s needs
2. From acestoohigh.com: 8 ways people recover from post childhood adversity syndrome:
Excerpt: Recognizing that chronic childhood stress can play a role—along with genetics and other factors—in developing adult illnesses and relationship challenges, can be enormously freeing. If you have been wondering why you’ve been struggling a little too hard for a little too long with your emotional and physical well-being —feeling as if you’ve been swimming against some invisible current that never ceases — this “aha” can come as a welcome relief. Finally, you can begin to see the current and understand how it’s been working steadily against you all of your life.
3. From Helpguide.org: Emotional and Psychological Trauma:
Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation only makes things worse. Connecting to others face to face will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.
You don’t have to talk about the trauma. Connecting with others doesn’t have to mean talking about the trauma. In fact, for some people, that can just make things worse. Comfort comes from feeling engaged and accepted by others.
Ask for support. While you don’t have to talk about the trauma itself, it is important you have someone to share your feelings with face to face, someone who will listen attentively without judging you. Turn to a trusted family member, friend, counselor, or clergyman.
Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience.
Reconnect with old friends. If you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.
Join a support group for trauma survivors. Being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and hearing how others cope can help inspire you in your own recovery.
Volunteer. As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to challenge the sense of helplessness that often accompanies trauma. Remind yourself of your strengths and reclaim your sense of power by helping others.
Make new friends. If you live alone or far from family and friends, it’s important to reach out and make new friends. Take a class or join a club to meet people with similar interests, connect to an alumni association, or reach out to neighbors or work colleagues.