Asbury United Methodist Church
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Adult Children of Troubled Environments
In order to change, adult children of troubled environments cannot use history as an excuse for continuing their behaviors. They have no regrets for what might have been, for their experiences have shaped their talents as well as their defects of character. It is their responsibility to discover these talents, to build their self-esteem and to repair any damage done. They will allow themselves to feel their feelings, to accept them, and learn to express them appropriately. When they have begun those tasks, they will try to let go of their past and get on with the business of their life.
Common Characteristics ::
The following are some of the characteristics that result in problems in our lives. Not all of us have all of these traits, but most of us can relate to many of them.
Common Behaviors ::
The Problem ::
Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in a troubled household (i.e. homes where there was alcoholism, addiction, mental, physical or emotional abuse, rage, etc.).
Some of us had come to feel isolated, uneasy with other people, and especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same, we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat.
Some of us developed addictions ourselves or married addicts or both. Failing that, we found another compulsive personality, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment.
Many of us lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an over-developed sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We somehow felt guilty when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative.
We were dependent personalities --terrified of abandonment--willing to do almost anything to hold onto a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. Yet we kept choosing insecure relationships, maybe because they matched our childhood relationship with dysfunctional parents.
These symptoms of the troubled family made us "co-victims"--those who take on the characteristics of the problem without necessarily ever having the addiction. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and kept them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue. Even more self defeating, some of us became addicted to excitement in our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable relationships.
This is a description, not an indictment.
The Solution ::
The solution is to become your own loving parent.
As the share group becomes a safe place for you, you will find the freedom to express all the hurts and fears you have kept inside and to free yourself from the shame and blame that are carryovers from the past. You will become an adult who is imprisoned no longer by childhood reactions. You will recover the child within you, learning to accept and love yourself.
The healing begins when we risk moving out of isolation. Feelings and buried memories will return. By gradually releasing the burden of unexpressed grief, we slowly move out of the past. We learn to reparent ourselves with gentleness, humor, love and respect.
This process allows us to see our biological parents as the instruments of our existence. Our actual parent is the Higher Power, Jesus Christ. Although we had alcoholic parents, our Higher Power gave us the 8 Principles of Recovery.
This is the action and work that heals us: we use the Steps, we use the meetings and we use the telephone. We share our experience, strength and hope with each other. We learn to restructure our sick thinking one day at a time. When we release our parents from responsibility for our actions today, we become free to make healthful decisions as actors, not reactors. We progress from hurting to healing to helping. We awaken to a sense of wholeness we never knew was possible.
By attending these meetings on a regular basis, you will come to see parental alcoholism for what it is and how it affected you as a child, and continues to affect you as and adult. You will learn to keep the focus on yourself in the here and now. You will take responsibility for your own life and supply your own parenting.
You will not do this alone. Look around you and you will see others who know how you feel. We will love and encourage you no matter what. We ask you to accept us just as we accept you.
This is a spiritual program based on action coming from love. We are sure that as the love grows inside you, you will see beautiful changes in all your relationships, especially with God, yourself and your parents.
Through counseling and CR, I began to confess the years of shame and guilt that I had carried. I then began the process of pealing the layers of shame and guilt away. Through this process, I finally figured out why I was the way that I was, what triggered me to act the way I did, and most importantly how I could stop the pattern. A few months ago a friend sent me an email with this verse from Isaiah 61 'They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.' God is in the process of restoring and rebuilding me. He has been faithful to continue the work that he began. All I have to do is admit that I am powerless to control my struggle. Through God's word, my family of faith, my counseling center, and Celebrate Recovery, God continues to restore me. For the first time in 27 years, I have experienced true freedom in Christ. Through freedom from shame and guilt, my identity and significance have been found, I found it in Jesus Christ. My rescuer in times of trouble, my redeemer, healer, and lover of my soul, I invite you to join others and myself in Celebrate Recovery. I can celebrate my depravity because it is the very thing that keeps me at the foot of the cross.
-- A CR Participant
When a step study opened, I decided to step out in faith and join the group. As I worked the steps, I began to find forgiveness and after some time, felt safe enough to share the frightening aspects of my depression, things I had felt I would never be able to share. I found acceptance, love, and understanding. I came to understand myself and my unhealthy coping as never before, and eventually came to be able to laugh about my compulsive behaviors. I also discovered that I had never really let anyone get close to me. In the safety and love I found with this circle of women, I could finally see my fear of rejection and all the ridiculous things I do to avoid that pain. I formed real connections with these dear 'step sisters.' I can now identify my triggers, and I have people to call or email when I need accountability. I now know where to place my trust: I earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover. I have a long way to go, and I still struggle, but through my experiences in CR, I am learning to seek balance, and to give myself and those I love, a measure of the all-sufficient grace I receive from my heavenly Father.
-- A Grateful CR Participant