On the adult child and recovering our feelings

An adult child from an alcoholic home often never got to just be a child.  From a young age they saw and experienced dysfunction.  Parents may have been addicted or unreliable or themselves adult children of a traumatic past that is unacknowledged and exists in silence way below the surface.

There is there for an enormous degree of sadness and loss that an adult child carries deep inside which can lead to a believe that “in order to be loveable, I must be happy all the time.”  Its not a stretch to see that our culture often perpetrates this belief.  Any sadness becomes ‘depression’,  feeling low in vitality and life energy due to a lifetime of being repressed and never getting to be a carefree child having fun and goofing off leaves a legacy of sadness is a subtext that runs like a river under the smiles that may have had to be assumed by the neglected child within the adult in order to be noticed, gain attention acceptance or love.  And such conditional love is not real true love as neglectful or suffering or addicted parents were incapable of this.  In this circumstance often a child then is taught or comes to believe it is their fault and so tries even harder to gain this acceptance, approval and love including abandoning the self.

Loss of a childhood need just to be a child and having to grow up too fast means that those of us who were neglected in this way or disregarded can suffer from a chronic unnamed depression which is nothing less than a feeling of loss that runs under the surface for all the carefree times we could not have or that got stolen when trauma or tragedy struck our lives very young (or a parent suffered this and we absorb the pain that is unspoken and become confused as to the part we play!)  In adult life we need to understand where these feelings come from so that we can unbind from them, in the absence of other support they may dog us for long, long years and become a severe and acute and totally disabling depression, often they also lead some of us to suicide.

In order to reclaim our inner child we need to find him or her and listen to him or her.  We need to find out what our true inner needs and wants and values are.  What is it that brings us joy, a sense of being fully alive, no longer imprisoned by the killing voice of a savage inner critic that formed in the absence of true love appreciation and care?

We also need to let this young self not ‘have it all together’, to learn we don’t have to hide the truth when difficult things happen and if we were neglected we need to reach out for help with this from those who will see us truly and care.

An inner child that has been repressed and unable to have its feelings may make us very ‘messy’ as we go on the path of recovery.  Feelings that have been repressed in the child are often raw and powerful and primitive, something our culture does not fully understand.   Feelings that have not been differentiated from times before we had language may instead not have words yet they may only be present as body sensations that we feel, a clenching in our gut, a stiffness in our jaw, a bracing around our heart.  For many of us feelings like sadness or anger or even joy may be bound in both shame and fear, due either to the fact we were shamed or punished for having them or having parents who didn’t express them or have feelings differentiated either and so could not model them for us appropriately.

I found a really good reading on this by chance the other day due to inner guidance which I am going to share here from my Al Anon reader:

When I came to Al Anon I didn’t feel.  My Al Anon friends assured me that I did have feelings but I had lost touch with them through years of living with alcoholism (or neglect) and denying every hint of anger, joy or sorrow.  As I began to recover, I began to feel, and it was very confusing.  For a while I thought I might be getting sicker than ever because the feelings were so uncomfortable, but my Al Anon friend assured me that this was just part of the process.  I was ready to experience feelings and the discomfort did pass.  Slowly I became more whole.

As long as I kept them trapped inside me, my feelings were painful and poisonous secretes,  When I let them out, they became expression of my vitality.

Today I will stop from time to time to see how I feel.  Perhaps the day with bring joy or perhaps sadness, but either will remind me that I am very much alive.

I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes;  nor would I be content with converting my tears…. into calm.   It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter.

Kahlil Gibran

Allowing ourselves to discover truths of our inner child again and feel our true feelings may make us feel vulnerable and confused but its important work for our recovery.  A culture may judge us to be bi polar as we go through this healing and uncovering process not understanding the highs and lows may be a natural part of a healing journey that needs to swing like a pendulum until we find a deeper centre within from where our feelings come.

Published by: emergingfromthedarknight

"The religious naturalist is provisioned with tales of natural emergence that are, to my mind, far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us." Ursula Goodenough How to describe oneself? People are a mystery and there is so much more to us than just our particular experiences or occupations. I could write down a list of attributes and they still might not paint a complete picture pf Deborah Louise and in any case it would not be the full truth of me. I would say that my purpose here on Wordpress is to express some of my random experiences, thoughts and feelings, to share about my particular journey and explore some subjects dear to my heart, such as emotional recovery, healing and astrology while posting up some of the prose/poems which are an outgrowth of my labours with life, love and relationships. If anything I write touches you I would be so pleased to hear for the purpose of reaching out and expressung ourselves is hopefully to connect with each other and find where our souls meet.

Categories Uncategorized1 Comment

One thought on “On the adult child and recovering our feelings”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s