PREVIOUS: Inner Child Speaks, #2
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
“A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.” Roald Dahl (writer of children’s books)
“Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance.” Joseph Chiltern Pearce (author of child development books)
Play with a capital P is a process, not a specific thing, which lights up our brain, benefiting us in PMES ways (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual). Being a ‘whole’ person means balancing between being serious & having fun, but ACoAs tend to live in one extreme or the other – being over-responsible or under-responsible.
In general, it’s any activity someone voluntarily chooses to do (or for ACoAs to not do) because it’s fun, relaxing & enjoyable. It can include being creative, & sometimes even competitive – but without the need to win – otherwise it stops being Play. Debbie Mandel, Stress Management expert suggests that F-U-N = Feeling Uninhibited Naturally. And a formula for ‘balance’ is: Concentrated Energy + Relaxation = Healthy living.
• One of the many sad results of having a traumatic childhood is that we were & are still deprived of the joy of relaxing thru playing & having fun. As a result of our damage we fall into several categories (lifestyles) which seem very different but underneath each has the same problem – our WIC listening to the Negative Introject, believing the Toxic Rules:
“Life is hard / you have to suffer / you can’t play until all your work is done / no one wants to play with you anyway / if you don’t like it you have to stay / don’t be yourself / the world is a dangerous place / you always have to struggle, but never get there!…..”
REACTION to growing up in a dysfunctional environment:
a. Many of us turned out to be compulsive, over-responsible worker bees, doing something we hate or are bored with, trudging thru life trying to be perfect, but never quite making it. No time for play, unless we consider participating in addictions as a way to relax. Obviously not real fun.
b. Some of us decided early on to give up & not really try at all. Hide & be safe, don’t rock the boat, don’t stick your neck out. No fun here.
c. And then there are those of us who are openly rebellious – the flamboyant addicts, promiscuous, belligerent, running wild, never finishing our education, never sticking to anything long enough to become accomplished, terrified of being trapped, controlled, of even committing to a book – much less a good job or relationship….
• To the rest of the world this third group may seem to be having a lot of fun. They do whatever they want, get away with ‘murder’ & play all the time. NOT SO. Sometimes even this type of ACoA may think so while in the middle of it, but it wears thin over the years, since the internal foundation is built with inferior material – not ours but what was given to us by our family & community. It’s cracked & crumbling. This is not fun.
BTW, If you identify with either the a. b or c. group, & are reading this, presumably you’re in the process of healing your wounds & working to outgrow the category. You deserve a lot of respect & encouragement!
• However, some of you may say – “I’m an ACoA & don’t fit into a. b. or c. I have a decent life I’ve carved out for myself – family, career, some accomplishments, some travel…. & I know how to have fun & play.”
Response: “GOOD! You’ve used your own native skill & drive to achieve these things, & have a lot to show for it. BUT – how’s your anxiety level? Are you free of addictions, perfectionism & S-H? Are you content & relaxed? Or do you over-do for others & under-feel – for yourself?”
NEXT: ACoAs & Play (Part 2)