When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the circle of creation is completed inside us, the doors of our souls fly open and love steps forth to heal everything in sight.
~ Michael Bridge
“Until we make a conscious choice to address the wounding of our childhood, our past will remain our present. Affecting our lives in ways we may already know and ways we have yet to realize.”
When I look at pictures of myself before the age of 5, I can see the love in my eyes and in my spirit. I can remember waking up early and running into my parents room to dive under the covers to snuggle with my father. It was the safest most loving place that I can remember.
Even now, 50 years later I can close my eyes and go there and even remember how he smelled. But when I look at pictures of me after age 5, all of that is gone. No longer is my spirit shining or my eyes sparkling.
At age five my parent’s relationship began to erode due to my mother’s alcoholism. The snuggling in bed with my father ended. My mother no longer slept in the bed with my father.
She would pass out downstairs on the couch. She stopped taking care of herself. My parents no longer really talked accept when arguing.
It was like they were roommates that really didn’t like each other. My family lived like this for another 10 years. We no longer eat together at the kitchen table.
We became a group of individuals, not a family. Every man for themselves and may the best man win. My sisters, brother and myself started competing for what little attention that was available.
Whoever could juggle the most balls or tap danced the fastest won. Also at this time I was sexually abused by my mother.
Addictive Behavior pioneer Earner Larson says “What you live with you learn, what you learn you practice, what you practice you become and what you become has consequences”. What I learned about love, caring and acceptance was greatly skewed.
I learned that those things were not given, they had to be earned. It was all about what you could do for someone and not about whom you were. That in order to earn love, caring and acceptance from people you had to do the work.
The work was figuring out who and what you needed to be for each person in your life and to be that for them. In living my life that way I lost my identity. I had shifted who I was so many times for so long that I couldn’t find my way back.
I did not learn how to live because my parents who were my first and main teachers became unavailable to me. I understand today that the both were living in their own hell and grew up in the same environment they provided for me. With that said the fact remains that I had no role models, no guidance and ultimately no love.
I eventually could no longer take the pain, rejection, abandonment and wounding, so I put my heart in an impregnable vault and buried it as deep as I could. I then began a downward decent into drug addiction to try to forget it all. And that worked for a while, I even had some fun.
But it did not last. I ended up jobless, almost homeless and estranged from my family and friends.
A few months before my 30th birthday, my mother and a friend took me to rehab. Thus begins my journey to reclaim love. I began to attend a 12 step fellowship where people I didn’t know reach out to me with hugs and helping hands.
They understood me and knew what I need, which was great because I didn’t have a clue. They said that they would help me stay clean and teach me a new way to live. I had been looking for and wanting for someone to teach me how to live for as long as I could remember.
I learned how to be a friend and have a friend. I began building relationships that weren’t built on lies and manipulation. I learned to be responsible, have integrity and to stand for something.
They taught me the Spiritual Principles of compassion, empathy and self-less service. That 90% of being there for someone was just showing up. And most important; that the most healing power of love lied in its action.
My life was really beginning to turn around and I entered collage to earn a degree. I really thought that I was on my way and I was, just not as I had planned it.
You see, I had forgotten all about all that hurt and pain that I had buried in that vault along with my heart. At 18 months clean, without the drugs to hold it a bay anymore, the dam broke and it all came flooding back. I was curled up on my couch in the fetal position being torn apart by emotional and spiritual pain like had never felt in my life.
Getting high was still my best coping mechanism and the only two choices I had was to get high of kill myself. It could only have been God that gave me the strength to pick up the phone and call my sponsor. Having all ready done the work I was going to begin, he directed me to an Adult Child of an Alcoholic therapy group and individual counseling.
Once again I had been led to an amazing group of people that understood me and could help me. They lovingly helped me find that vault; bring it to the surface and to open it slowly at my pace. I then began process of healing all the pain and hurt I had locked away so long ago.
The pain rushed out of me like pressurized steam as I wailed, sobbed and shuddered. Under each layer of pain was one of rage that boiled out of me as I beat pillows and screamed so powerfully I thought my lungs would burst.
For so long I had felt empty and we talk of a hole in our soul that we try everything we can to try and fill it. Today I know that that hole in my soul was made when all my pain, hurt, abandonment, neglect and sorrow pushed the love out of my soul.
The love that I am talking about is the love that I was born with. This love was given to me to share with myself and others. In order for that love to return all my pain and anger had to be cried and screamed out of me.
This toxic energy had poisoned my spirit for far too long and had permeated all areas of my life. I was so sick of my past ruling my present and was determined to do the work in order to heal.
The process was not without its challenges and I needed to learn new skills in order to complete the task. I needed to be vulnerable and access my emotional wounds to do the work that would allow me to heal. I then had to be able to close off that access so I could function when not in therapy.
I also had to learn to be OK without being OK. I didn’t have the luxury of putting my life on hold while doing this work and I learned to persevere.
The choice to turn and face my childhood instead of continuing to run from it was the most courageous and hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It has also brought me joy, love, happiness and serenity that I never dreamed I would have in my life.
To begin your journey you need to find people who understand what you are going through and can support you. Family members, no matter how close you feel to them are still entrenched in the family denial system and will only try to drag you back into it. Friends will not have the understanding or skills to support you.
Instead, contact the Adult Child of an Alcoholic Fellowship (http://www.adultchildren.org/) for meetings and the support of those who can help and support you. If you also chose to seek professional help, please make sure that they either specialize in working with Adult Children or have a great deal of experience doing so. Not all professionals have the understanding and skills needed to help you heal.