Adult children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families need to learn how to re-parent themselves. To learn to cultivate a loving Inner Parent that can take care of the Inner Child – at least after you get in touch with your Inner Child, that is.
For me, this involved a lot of imagination, a lot of visualization. Sometimes I’ve visualized my inner child crying in the dark, turned away from me, in the early days of my trauma recovery. I had a fair amount to recover from -from the dysfunctional childhood I had and from having a husband who was angry, depressed, had a drinking problem and would occasionally run to the gun cabinet to threaten to kill himself.
In the early days, I was really hard on my inner child. Sometimes I could get really mad that she was hurting and made things difficult for me. But over time, I learned to love her and feel her [my] pain. I learned more compassionate presence for her [myself] from listening to audiobooks or reading the books of Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, and Pema Chodron.
Yes, though I could be compassionate with other people, I had no ability to be compassionate to myself, to even be present to my own pain. Strange, isn’t it?
Healing from a lifetime of emotional pain is hard work.
It can’t possibly be easy, when you’ve stored 20, 30, 40 years of pain up. Sometimes I think to myself, why do I expect it to be easy? How can I possibly expect it to be easy? I can’t bypass this process, no matter how much I’d like to.
Since I didn’t have a mother who ever held me when I was hurting, or even touched me except to slap me, that I didn’t know how to really hold myself with tenderness and compassion when I was hurting as an adult.
What’s more, I didn’t like women for the LONGEST time. I was afraid of most of them (and yes, I am a woman…). I think I’d been lacking feminine love and nurturing and guidance, and didn’t know how much I really needed that. In all the women I’ve had in my life (grandmother, mother and sisters) and the few female friends I’d had. I’ve really not found any real comfort, but instead a lot of relational bullying, manipulation, judgment, and betrayal. And a lot of religious guilt-tripping.
I’m patching up some deep holes inside. I used to think I could ask other people to help support me, to give me what I needed. It turns out, that only served to hurt me more when they couldn’t possibly give me what I thought I needed when they were dysfunctional, too. They can’t give what they don’t have.
I have been visited by visions of healing feminine presence when I was either meditating or crying. I’d been comforted by some very ancient, wise women once who placed their hands on both sides of my body (in my mind’s eye) and another time by a beautiful mother figure who was stroking my hair and told me I was going to be okay and that she loved me.
Something amazing happens in those moments and I’m grateful to have had those experiences of deep healing.
Between these visualizations and some of the art journaling I’ve been doing, I’ve felt my Inner Child now has a voice and I’m finally paying attention to her. As a result, she’s stopped acting out so much in my life and she’s experiencing so much joy and happiness.