See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
FIRST: The Inner Child (IC) is the repository of all our childhood experiences, from birth until we left that environment – our memories, emotions & immature thinking. It includes our True Self, which did showed up in some ways, but was mostly suppressed or distorted. Our IC now holds all our own wounds PLUS the wounds of our parents.
The ACoA DIS-EASE
Our childhood damage is housed in the Adapted Child, who is intensely loyal to family & culture. In order to know how to heal ourselves, we must first know our wounded part as thoroughly as possible*.
➼ Remember, we are DAMAGED, NOT Defective. Damage can be healed.
✶ Learning about & connecting with our Inner Child is not a waste of time & effort, or wallowing in the past, as some people believe. It IS a means of breaking thru our denial about how traumatic our childhood was. If there is any doubt, we simply have to look at the areas in our present life that don’t work – to tell us how our family (& other sources) damaged us.
• To heal we need to know specifically what our negative thoughts are telling us, because it is the basis of all self-defeating behavior patterns. These toxic beliefs are our version of our family & community, called the Negative Introject.
So no matter how much we may ‘know’ about our past, we need to do deep emotion release work as well as correct our beliefs. Otherwise the old pain we’ve stored up from the past will keep driving us toward harmful ‘people, places & things’, & make us strongly react to events whenever our buttons get pushed (wounds get activated).
HOW DID WE GET LIKE THIS?
While growing up, kids are never supposed to be fully in charge of themselves or other family members. This only happens in dysfunctional families, sometimes out of necessity, but mostly because the parent(s) are not mature themselves.
• ACoAs were both criminally neglected AND forced to be hyper-functional – with is also abuse: not be allowed to just be a kid. It left us terrified & confused. There was too much we were never taught, left to figure out on our own the best we could. We managed to survive, but now we always feel incompetent & fraudulent – no matter how well we do!
We had to ‘raise ourselves’ because:
• their focus was on drinking, fighting, chaos, rage ….
• there was only one parent & she (usually) was working, depressed….
• mother had 1 or more boyfriends /mates, who were always more important than the kids
• being the eldest (the Hero) meant being the parent substitute – for younger kids & sometimes for a non-functioning parent
• one parent was absent & we had to take over some of the ‘adult’ responsibilities
• we were expected to grow up very fast – ‘little adults’- so they didn’t have to deal with us
• parents were only interested in each other & we were mostly ignored
• one parent or sibling had a serious mental &/or physical disability, so our needs were neglected, & used as servants / slaves… (expected to ‘do’ for them)
• parents were too overwhelmed by their own difficulties to notice us…
• there was constant physical upheaval – moving, loss of jobs, trouble with the law, school, neighbors..
As ACoAs not fortunate enough to grow up in safe, nurturing homes, we learned to survive by the skin of our teeth, using every T.E.A. ‘trick’ we could come up with. If we made it into adulthood more or less in one piece, it was because our adapted child (AC) found a way to do that, with some help from a teacher, friend, relative or random adult.
• Our Natural Child (NC), always in the background, contributed our native personality to the mix, but most of the time in distorted forms.
• We learned very early that no ‘close’ adults were safe to trust, but unfortunately we internalized them as the pig parent (PP/ introvert) & ended up carrying the danger with us.
NEXT: Our Wounded INNER CHILD (Part 2)