I DON’T HAVE TO STAY TRAPPED
in my childhood pain
PREVIOUS : ACoAs & Play (Part 3)
SITE:: 7 Secrets of Dysfunctional Families (ironic)
QUOTEs: “There is nothing that human beings do, know, think, hope and fear that has not been attempted, experienced, practiced or at least anticipated in children’s play” Heidi Britz-Crecelius (author of ‘Children at Play’)
“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.” Charles Schaefer (“Therapeutic powers of play”)
The Wounded Inner Child & Play
ACoAs: Not taking time out to play is a lot like our great resistance to developing the daily habit of talking with our Inner Child. We would greatly benefit from continually staying connected to our younger self, but for many of us, starting each day with a loving interchange – maybe even some 2-handed writing – is the last thing we want to do. And we have a ‘good excuse’ – we simply don’t have time to ‘deal with the kid’ – being soooo busy with ‘real’ life. Then we wonder why we’re still stressed & unhappy!
The real reasons we aren’t willing to talk with our child-aspect are deeper & harder to admit to…. • ….thinking we don’t know what to say / • ….secretly not liking the WIC
• ….the most obvious – that it hurts to connect with our wounded self! ld wounds, so it won’t be alone with pain, the way we were originally.
Yes, we’re stuck with the task of having to heal the damage we did not cause, but our rage needs to be directed at the abuse & neglect which crippled us, rather than at our WIC, who is the victim. We must not abuse the victim even more with our S-H – ONLY loving him or her will change the way the kid reacts! It’s important to not wait until we’re upset about something. Without having that strong connection slowly built up over time it’s much harder to stay present in our Adult when stressed.
And we can have those positive conversations any time, anyplace. There are always a few minutes in our day when we’re in the bathroom, walking or riding somewhere, being put ‘on hold’, and especially if something has upset us… when we can check in with the kid.
PLAY: The same applies to not building in down-time (just vegging) & play-time (doing something relaxing & fun). We think: ‘Why do we even have play? Isn’t it an indulgence, a waste of time? Aren’t we always supposed to be busy DOING something productive?’
NO. Adult play is not a waste of time. Rather, it is a necessary component of being healthy. In a busy & competitive world ‘normal’ adults have forgotten to play the way they did as kids, and need to be reminded of the freedom & benefits of spontaneous enjoyment. But most ACoAs don’t have those ‘good times’ to look back on. WE didn’t have much of a chance to play – too busy care-taking, while being terrified, isolated & hiding from real danger!
• were programmed to live un-healthily, & play was not a part of that
• say we can’t decide what to do (but our Healthy kid knows!)
• are afraid to break any of the Toxic Rules
• can’t allow ourselves to have fun if our family members, or other loved ones, are in pain. We would feel guilty to not co-dependently suffer with them!
• can’t find the fun in anything if we’re severely depressed or ill, still live in an abusive environment &/or are always worried about something serious ($$, lack of work, an ill child or parent, an angry spouse…. )
Just like we can’t let love in when we feel unsafe, we also can’t let ourselves play. Even the idea of Play doesn’t make any sense to us – at first. John Bradshaw reminds us that ACoAs were forced to become Human Do-ings instead of Human Be-ings. So as adults it scares us to just BE, either doing something we like – or nothing.
BTW, this is not the ‘nothing’ of depression or laziness, which is actually fear & hopelessness. Rather it’s the Be-ing of pleasure! It comes from feeling relief, being in our own skin instead of in someone else’s head. It’s being good to ourselves, knowing we are safe.
And that safety comes from:
• finding the right person & style of therapy, 12 Step meetings & books, mentors & friends – to set an example & give us the correct info about our past and what Mental Health is
• from our own persistent efforts to use all the tools at our disposal, including ‘constant contact’ with the IC
• from having a daily, deep connection to a safe, loving Higher Power Who supports us in the healing process
As we heal we can add recreation into our schedule. It may be uncomfortable for a while, but as with so many things, repetition makes it easier, & then becomes the new norm. For healthy play & ‘good, clean fun’ we need TO:
• carve out or use available free time to ‘waste’ on fun
• not be under pressure to produce anything in particular
• have a measure of control & autonomy over our choices – not compulsively obeying our self-destructive Family Rules
• practice using our native imagination &/or skills for play
Ultimately, we need a decent amount of self-esteem (for internal permission), a relatively low-level of anxiety (at least at play-time).
* Don’t wait for some magical future time when you’re ‘well enough‘ – to have some fun & relax. Start slowly, but start now.
NEXT: Childhood PLAY (Intro)