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Addiction and the inner childAs a skeptical alcoholic I remember finding the idea of an inner child ridiculous. I thought when you grew up you had adult skills and all of this was nonsense. If you are alcoholic it is highly likely that you were raised in an alcoholic home as alcoholism is a genetic disease often affecting several generations of the same family. The chain of brokenness can go back many generations.  But it doesn’t need to continue.    Children raised in alcoholic homes are often victims of neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse.  As a recovering adult alcoholic this area of our lives can sometimes be neglected as we head on our road to sobriety.  AA is without a doubt the very best program in the world to help alcoholics recover from the disease of alcoholism but at what point do you realize additional help is needed to recover from a traumatic childhood.  Adult alcoholics who were raised in alcoholic homes have the double whammy of the addiction and the damage from childhood abuse.

At 15 years sober I realized that I still had fears which were paralyzing at times.  I used my program to address the issues one a time using the 10th step.  However, the same debilitating fear came back over and over.  When I was dealing with authority figures especially male authority figures I would become agitated and overwhelmed.  I had dealt with my childhood in therapy and in my AA program but I got to a point where I realized I needed to look further.  Every time I visited my family of original I went into a depression regardless of how much fun or enjoyment I had around my family.  I talked to my AA sponsor who recommended that I find a therapist who specialized in childhood trauma and PTSD.  I found and excellent therapist and it literally changed my life.  Working with her using the process I was able to process childhood trauma and memories that I thought were long gone and in the distant past.  I was able to recognize when the inner child took control of a situation and the adult I was today stepped back.  She taught me strategies to deal with these situations and recognize when the childhood fear became active.  I had to acknowledge the child and assure her that I could handle the situation. I learned to embrace that side of myself and not stuff it as I had done in the past.  Our big book tells us to get outside help when needed but I had ignored that for way too long.  I strongly encourage anybody who had a traumatic childhood to address this with a qualified therapist sooner than I did.  At first we need to get sober and to be honest I doubt I could have handled those memories of abuse in early sobriety.  I could however have handled them sooner than 15 years.  My therapist also recommended I see a psychiatrist to explore the possibility that I may need some medication.  I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and now I take a small dose of anti-anxiety medication every day which has allowed me to finally feel normal.

We did not ask for what we got but there is much we can do improve our lives and live happy and peaceful lives not matter what our childhood was like.

This beautiful mediation by John Bradshaw an expert of dysfunctional addicted families helps to separate the pain of the past to help you love that child inside of you.

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3 Comments

AmyMarch 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Dealing with unresolved childhood issues is important for everyone, especially children of alcoholics or other parents who use poor coping mechanisms. Like it or not, parents are the primary role model in a kid’s life, and when we face tough situations as an adult our first impulse is to do what we saw our parents doing when they were faced with stress. If they were drinkers, drinking is the first thing we think of. We may still choose not to drink, but it will still be on our minds.

 

AmyMarch 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Glad you’re having such great results in therapy! It’s been recommended to me a few times, but I’ve had a hard time finding a therapist I can trust. Did you find your therapist through a recommendation, or just look them up in the directory?

 

AmyMarch 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm

The idea of an inner child had always sounded a little cheesy to me, but when you say it like that I guess it makes sense. It’s just the part of ourselves that wasn’t allowed to grow up, because there was so much unfinished business.

 

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