PREVIOUS : ACoAs & Play (Part 3)
SITE:: 7 Secrets of Dysfunctional Families (ironic)
QUOTEs: ◆ “There is nothing that human beings do, know, think, hope & fear that has not been attempted, experienced, practiced or at least anticipated in children’s play” Heidi Britz-Crecelius (‘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’)
PLAY & the Wounded Inner Child (WIC)
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. The same attitude 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. It’s actually a necessary component of being healthy. In a busy & competitive world ‘normal’ adults have forgotten to play the way they did as kids, & 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 in it
• 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!
🦠 But it’s also understandable that some of us 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 can’t feel free to play with too much anxiety. Even the idea of Play doesn’t make 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
• our own persistent efforts to use all the tools at our disposal, including ‘constant contact’ with the IC
• 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)