We do not have to live our lives based upon someone else’s story. We all have the power to rediscover, reflect and repair to create our own lives of recovery.
Many addicts and alcoholics have experienced a sense of loss of self from a very young age. As a result of experiencing an emotionally unsafe upbringing, many have had to adopt survival skills that required a halt in the exploration and nurturing of our true selves. This false identity gets adhered to well into adulthood, thus creating a deep void that becomes seemingly impossible to fill.
As human beings, one tries many avenues to fill this void including through chemical and process addictions. Such addictions include drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, pornography, gambling and eating disorders just to name a few. After a while, it is realized that the void remains constant and ever growing.
Stopping the drugs, alcohol or behavioral addiction is just one part of recovery. Rediscovering and re-parenting one’s self is the other part, the crucial part. When done in conjunction with each other, long term substantial recovery is attainable and maintainable.
Fortunately, one never has to go through this journey alone. As one works on distinguishing between society’s creation of self and one’s own true self, the false stories that are adhered to as reality become more and more evident. This allows one to reprocess experiences and self-definitions and identify and establish one’s own genuine reality.
This journey begins with getting to know one’s self, ensuring that inner child that it is safe to emerge and explore. One starts by truly listening to that inner voice inside, that childlike voice, the innocent and vulnerable voice. Sitting still and truly actively listening; to listen without judgement, without labeling and without reprieve. Then, being mindfully still to learn who that voice belongs to and what that child within needs – identifying what that inner child needs, but never received, and being confident that one can finally provide all of it – the nurturing, the soothing, the unconditional love and the expression of joy, without fear. Allowing one’s self to explore, sit on the floor and play, blow bubbles, finger paint – reconnecting with the innocence that once was, but quickly became lost in the chaos and dysfunction of the world around.
Think of the mindset of a young toddler. That child’s main goal in life is to be happy – just be happy. That child forgives often, perceives the positive in everything, refrains from labeling and judging and finds wonder and adventure all throughout the day. This all happens prior to society instructing that child who he or she should be, THAT becomes the end of the innocence.
The loyalty or false sense of security that some put within familial cultures and patterns of behaviors are what allow the toxic cycle of intergenerational trauma to continue. The loyalty must be to one’s true self. Empowerment must be sought in order to reach goals along the journey. And the pain and the fear that one will experience along this journey must be accepted and embraced in order to reach higher planes of growth, wellness and true love for self.
Written by Christina Wood, MS, LMFT, LAADC-CA