At the age of 26 I became independent for the first time. That is when I started to abuse alcohol and drugs. Then in July my mother passed away. This was devastating for me and I was unable to cope with her death. I started go to the bars and hanging around with the wrong crowd. I did everything I could to make these people like me in order to try and fill the void that I was feeling. I even gave them money and so that they could use it to support there addiction while I was still supporting my own addiction. I let them use me so they would be my friends.
Our formative years present the potential for self-harm to thrive. Our early experiences, for better or worse, shape us. And sometimes, that shaping can take the form of addiction. Hypervigilance often results from certain incidents, in which trauma somehow established our need to self-medicate.
“… When a child grows up afraid or under constant or extreme stress, the immune system and body’s stress response systems may not develop normally. Later on, when the child or adult is exposed to even ordinary levels of stress, these systems may automatically respond as if the individual is under extreme stress… Adults with histories of trauma in childhood have been shown to have more chronic physical conditions and problems. They may engage in risky behaviors that compound these conditions (e.g., smoking, substance use, and diet and exercise habits that lead to obesity).” “Effects of Complex Trauma,” http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/complex-trauma/effects-of-complex-trauma
My first memory, a traumatic one at that, was when I was three years old; my parents decided to move the family’s sewing machine from one floor of our house to another. But they neglected to remove its drawers, filled with hundreds of needles and pins. Inevitably, I toddled downstairs, stepping on many of them.
“… I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee…”
2 Kings 20:5
There was once a product called “No More Tears” detangling spray I used frequently as a child. As a little girl, snarls were my reality; therefore, this product was mandatory. Mom pulled and sprayed my hair, while I’d stare at the bottle’s portrait. Radiant mother was brushing radiant daughter’s flowing tresses. There were no feelings of inadequacy, no complicated views of human emotions and no sore scalp. The bottle simply promised, “No More Tears.”
If only life could be that easy.
But, indeed, my personal experience with tears has been un-easy. Crying – unpleasant emotion of any kind – was viewed and treated negatively, as something to be avoided, covered, silenced or punished. Tears were the uncomfortable evidence all is not well; there is disease, pain and trauma here.
However, in the last fifteen years, I have come to view tears through a healthier, more meaningful lens. As we deal with our addictions, disorders and traumas, addressing what our tears represent to us, we aren’t far removed from the harmful beliefs which contribute to our struggles and thwart our recoveries.
I once stumbled across a photo which compared four types of human tears: tears of grief, tears of change, tears cried from onions and tears of laughter. I was struck by their imagery; each seemed to offer a specific signature concerning life experience.
Tears of Grief:
First, we see this microscopic picture of tears of loss. It resembles a sparse wasteland. To me, the prevalence of the tears’ open space appears as a lonely island surround by an ocean. The impression I get from these magnified tears is one of disconnect.
And this was exactly where I was as I was confronted by my dad’s death in 2003.
“The Easy Death:”
Even as I found connection within my faith as an adult, I still did not deal with the unresolved issues I had with him. By this point, I was married, living in another state, and pursuing my writing career. I had also been in therapy. Still, the dysfunctional relationship with my dad proved to be painful and powerful.
I have this roll around bag I carry with me every day to work. In it, I carry my journal, extra pens, a small laptop, and anything else I think I might need for the day. I decided to get a bag that had rollers because the one I carried over my shoulder grew too heavy for me. I wish I could do the same for the other baggage I have carried with me over the years.
The other suitcase I carry with me has no handle. It resides within the chambers of my heart and the confines of my soul. It has years of control, co-dependency, self-blame, regret, sadness, grief, and pain within it. As I face Step Four of my recovery journey, I know there is more in that piece of luggage. I know there are things I haven’t admitted to yet. I know there are probably even things I am not aware of. But I know this is an important step in the recovery from my past.
These issues I have carried with me are common for people like me. I haven’t always known this to be true. Working diligently on making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself showed me this. Reading Psalm 139:23-24 guides me toward God’s loving arms to reveal the truth about me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
I ask God to search and know my heart. I ask him to
In the work of recovery, we address the danger of triggers. Its very word itself suggests the power to cause us harm:
“Something that precipitates a particular event or situation; To set off; initiate; To fire or explode.”
On one August morning of 2003, I encounter such a trigger. The phone rang. My dad was dead.
My grief, for the next year and a half, was an alarming, unexpected reality. And each subsequent “anniversary” proves equally tricky also. Both defy what I thought I would – or should – be experiencing.
After all, coming from an abusive childhood, I didn’t think the loss of this pain-inflicting parent would register as significantly as it did.
…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9
Some days I am just tired. Some days I have a difficult time with letting go and giving my worries to God. Some days I have the full confidence I can let God be God and other days I want to wrestle control back into my grip. Do you ever feel this way?
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.James 3:17
The Serenity Prayer is believed to have been written by American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr sometime in the 1930’s. Although at the time it was written, it was not directly related to alcoholics, later it was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous as the prayer stated at each of their meetings. It would then become a regular prayer at many other recovery meetings, including that of adult children of alcoholics.
hungryforjesus Abba Father
YOU are a Good Good Father
and You love us
with an everlasting Love
a love we cannot fully comprehend
but we can believe
and grow in
and learn from
Member #6 an d find healing and strength
Thank You Holy God for this chance to meet with others
and to grow in YOU as we seek YOU
for who YOU are
in Your might y name
Name above ALL Names
hungryforjesus Hello from Ottawa, Canada the frozen north, eh
member #2 sure
thank You for Divora and her willingness to share her journey with us
we are not made to struggle alone
and CIR helps with that so much
bless this time together
may we leave here with more than we came with
in Your name
This is a two part article. See: Part One
Therefore, concerning what is being asked of or expected from us, which approach are we seeing from the particular leadership in question?
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity. Titus 2:7
And many will follow after their sensuality, through whom the way of the truth will be maligned. 2 Peter 2:2