Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Healing The Pain Of The Inner Child


Life is hard. It's even harder if you don't have parents. By that, I mean parents in the fullest sense- two supportive, caring and emotionally present beings to guide and help you develop.

I say this not to indulge in self pity or wallow in victimization. I say it simply because it's true, yet is often overlooked by those most affected by it- the adult child of alcoholics. We take it for granted, never having experienced anything different.

Our drive for "perfection", inability to be vulnerable and openly accept help, empathy and love are clues that growing up ACA has been a stunting, detrimental experience. We may deny we need those things and ignore that we are without some of the tools and modeling people from less dysfunctional families possess to effectively deal with life and relationships.

This doesn't mean we are doomed. The mere acknowledgement that we are at a disadvantage is a step towards health and a better life. But to fully realize this we must fathom it, feel it and accept it. Self love starts with inner empathy.

If you saw a young child, helpless, abandoned and crying on the street, how would you feel? I'm guessing, unless you are a sociopath, your heart would just about break. Can you extend this same feeling to your OWN inner child- the one that was so emotionally abandoned, lost and confused? The one that was left feeling all alone in this big scary world and had no one to turn to? Remember the overwhelming sadness and fear you once felt?

Are you feeling resistant and uncomfortable to this idea? Is your critical inner parent scolding you for even considering it? Messages like "Stop feeling sorry for yourself!", "Things weren't so bad" and "Get over it!" may be filling your brain. These are symptoms of avoiding and minimizing your past. And they are the very things that keep you stuck there, unable to heal and progress. It is your right to feel the past with as much intensity as you can muster.

What happened in the past was not ok, but it's ok to feel it, accept it as an integral part of yourself and BE ok with it. Sharing the pain of the past with yourself and expressing it to a trusted friend, therapist or recovery partner will help. 

The better you can empathize with yourself, the more you will be able to empathize and connect with others. Empathy for self and others is indeed, ONE of the critical tools "healthy" people have and use. It is the glue of relationships. And chances are, if you find it hard to connect with people, there is an inner connection to yourself that is missing.

Remember these ACA Promises. They are more than just mottos but calls for action:

We will discover our real identities by loving and accepting ourselves.

Our self-esteem will increase as we give ourselves approval on a daily basis.

Our ability to share intimacy will grow inside us.

As we face our abandonment issues, we will be attracted by strengths and become more tolerant of weaknesses.


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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent auricle. Oh so true. I still struggle with this. As a father of 4 who now has two autistic boys I have a significant challenge and know that my early recovery of inner child work is something I need to continue. For my sake and theirs.