Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Addiction Is An Act Of Violence Toward The Self

"I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember, everything"
- Trent Reznor

Artcle adapted from: by D. Lynn Blanchard

A person who has a drug, alcohol, food addiction, anger addiction or codependency has simply not learned to be in relationship with themselves or others in a consistently compassionate and authentic way.

To be authentic with yourself and others means taking responsibility for yourself, owning your emotional set point, and having spiritual, emotional, mental and physical boundaries to maintain your well being.

If adults around you were preoccupied with their own difficulties, abandonment issues are a consequence. When a parent is not present physically and emotionally for reasons such as narcissism, addiction, addiction to anger, codependency, workaholism, illness or death, the child interprets that as something being wrong with him or her.

The “hole in the soul” created by childhood trauma results in feeling defective, feeling bad about yourself. Since there is “nobody home”, your self-worth is defined by others, and by your actions. (Damaged parents cannot validate the uniqueness and special qualities of their children, since they didn’t have that done for them, and haven’t done the work to re-parent themselves in a compassionate way).

Children model self-care (or lack thereof) from their primary caregivers. They learn to judge themselves as worthy or unworthy, depending on how they are treated by parenting figures. Children of narcissistic parents who fail to trace the source of their feeling invisible to the parents’ self-involvement will inevitably develop extreme behaviors or codependent enmeshment in a vain attempt to be seen.

It is not uncommon for alcoholics, rage-aholics and addicts of all types to deny and minimize the effect of their behavior on others. This is a direct result of denial of the violence that occurred in childhood. Even with years of sobriety and working the 12Steps there is often a lack of awareness of the effects of abuse and it continues to feed multigenerational addiction and codependency.

The resentment and anger, which underlies non-nurturing behavior, generates toxic fall-out. Parents who have not had their own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs met, and have not learned appropriate self-care in adulthood, become resentful of the needs of their children and partners, especially when they are under stress.

When you feel as if you’re drowning (which is how a “hole-in-the-soul person feels when confronted by daily stress) you don’t want someone crawling on your back asking you to save them. Instead of having healthy boundaries where you would say “I don’t have the energy to meet your needs right now”, you either deny the need, “You don’t need that” , or fix feelings “You shouldn’t feel that way…..” or shame the needy one…..”Shape up…….”.

Children involved are thus diminished, and damaged. They inevitably feel their parents’ anger or distance as their fault. They feel inadequate at a deep level. Children raised in this dysfunctional environment become hyper vigilant and develop survival strategies of manipulation and denial in order to feel in control in the presence of uncontrollable emotions and emotional abuse.

They absorb the negative energy into their bodies and subconscious mind. They watch uncomfortable emotions being stuffed or drugged, or blamed on someone else, rather than learning self-responsibility and emotional agility. Emotional agility refers to the ability to recognize and deal with negative emotions without shame, blame or guilt i.e. “I feel sad, hurt….” etc. rather than, “He made me……” “You never……..”

If you didn’t have that experience in childhood, you can get help to reparent yourself with healthy mothering and fathering relationships in adulthood. This means having older mentors, counsellors and friends who give positive feedback, nonjudgmental support and are actively committed to your well being.

Family of Origin Work involves becoming aware of how you were parented. This is not done from a perspective of blaming. It is a process of seeing and accepting yourself and your parents as fallible humans. It requires self-honesty and compassion as you identify your strengths and your less-than-wonderful traits and behaviors.

The intention is to look for the positive gifts from your parents, as well as to not minimize the areas of abuse and neglect. You will do that as well when looking at your own behavior towards others through the years.

You’ve probably said “I’ll never be like that” referring to a parental model. The reality is that unless you recognize how you are “like that”, and have a process for daily working through your emotional triggers, you will continue the cycle of abuse.

When children live in a home where there is violent silence (stuffed emotions/anger/bottled rage), displacement (kick the dog or horse), resentment and blaming modeled, they absorb and internalize the energy.

This results in eating disorders, addiction, depression, asthma, allergies, and/or externalizing their pain with rage, addiction, and displaced anger onto pets and other children. Adults often deny or displace anger with socially acceptable addictions such as smoking, busy-ness, (feelings can’t hit a moving target), chronic dieting, and other compulsive behaviors.

The danger of stockpiling resentments, from when you get whacked by life means you need to have a regular practice of writing and having a safe (non-family) person to talk with. When you’ve felt like a victim or have been unable to let go of hurt feelings, make a phone call and work through the reasons for your reaction with a member of your support system.

Daily clearing of the buildup of toxic emotions such as anger, resentment, fear and shame interrupts the pattern which causes you to want to explode at someone, turn the anger on yourself, or distract yourself with compulsive behaviors.

Addictive behaviors are a substitute for emotional maturity.

Shaming, blaming and focus on perceived shortcomings of others are used to deflect attention from your own character flaws. Morbid self-flagellation is also used to avoid self-responsibility. Addictive personalities feel inadequate and this must be dealt with continually, to avoid passing it on. The use of criticizing and putting others down, as a way of making yourself feel bigger needs to stop.

To Free yourself of Resentment, Anger and Fear:
Realize that blocked energy/resistance radiates out from a central issue, usually an underlying fear which covers up some old hurt and sadness. Since hurt and sadness makes you feel vulnerable, you cover that up with anger. Revisiting the issue, talking about it and re-feeling it (resentment) every time you talk about it, builds up more blocked negative energy.

When you can look beneath their behavior that hurt you, and you can see the frightened child-it becomes nearly impossible to be angry and carry a grudge.

And you so can.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children


Anonymous said...

Everything this article states is very true in my life. The only thing I would add (and it may already be stated in the article in a way) is that boundaries with people who ignore, devalue and discount emotions is entirely appropriate and necessary. I have family members who meet at this time of year and its like walking into an emotion free zone or a zone of ONLY THEIR EMOTIONAL SET POINTS. I find these environments intolerable as I age. While that may seem harsh its necessary. Something I perceived in the article (and may not really be there) is a certain attitude of congeniality toward the perpetrators- in other words "When you can look beneath their behavior that hurt you, and you can see the frightened child-it becomes nearly impossible to be angry and carry a grudge." it seems (I say seems but probably am reading into it) that we are to see the freightened child in them and be okay with them?- which is fine- however if they dont see the freightened child in themselves they are unsafe and I cant have relationship with them. Just my perceptions.

Anonymous said...

My interpretation is- when you can see the frightened child inside YOURSELF (and hopefully begin to nurture it), it becomes impossible to continue feeling anger and carrying the grudge. Which, for me, is way more healthy than living with the burden of seething rage or resentment and all the stress that brings.

Certainly appropriate boundary setting still applies. But I'm way better off without the internal anger.

alcohol saliva test said...

everytime i listen o this song makes me wonder what i did bad or didnt do good....

such a great song...

Anonymous said...

Feeling anger and carrying a grudge are NOT synonymous. To feel anger is part of the process of being human- carrying a grudge is the inability to discharge that anger in a healthy way which allows one to move on. I remember being angry and denying it- I now can accept it and sometimes that leads to rapid closure of a situation and sometimes not- but the fact it is acknowledged is a huge first step in dealing with it. Feelings are E-nergy- EMOTION needs expression. Even if I identify the child -the child can still be angry and that is acceptable for me. "Child" does not equate to no anger- (actually in my household the fact is this WAS the equation "You are a child and You are not allowed to be angry-Only us adults can be angry"). Nurturing my inner child helped me not to hate ME but didnt necessarily lead (at least right away) to feeling no anger. The inner child relationship for me is a relationship internally with myself and even though I can heal that- the external can still be anger inducing and the difference is "boundaries" are easier to set as I protect that inner child (my emotional self) from someone unsafe and someone I may still be angry at. Owning my anger is a huge part of my recovery. Disowned anger is the problem as it leads to all kinds of behavior which is counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

Anger in itself is neither negative or positive and is part of the spectrum of human emotions. For the purposes of this discussion I believe the article refers mostly to unresolved anger which I think is synonymous with resentment. Some would propose that getting in touch with and expressing the hurt beneath that unresolved anger is a good way to help resolve it.