To be an adult child of an alcoholic or a drug addict often means that you are vulnerable as a child, but it also means that you have an adult's resources. With help, you can reconcile with your past. In order to get there you must have the possibility to find words, or in other ways become aware of, what you have been through. You need to see and to understand the connection between your childhood and your situation today. You must give yourself time to mourn the things that have been bad, and at the same time understand and appreciate good things in life.
In other words you cannot disregard your past. The road to liberation goes through breaking the silence and through breaking the unwillingness to see and to listen to the small child within you. In order to reach this goal you must, however, make your way through the pain - and not slide over or around it. The pain that this journey causes is the foundation for recovery.
What does it mean to begin to listen to the child within you? It is a question of being able to see and to express your feelings, to find and to understand your own needs, and to take them seriously. The American therapists J. & L. Friel have developed a simple, but useful, model for the different stages in this process:
- You have to identify the things you have been through as a child.
- You must experience your feelings concerning these things - it is not enough to talk about them.
- You have to really feel these feelings, which means that you have to make them as strong as they were when the situation occurred.
- You must share these feelings with other people.
- You have to make a decision about your relationship with the person or persons who hurt you, and still are hurting you.
- Not until after these steps can you begin to recover and forgive.
It can be difficult to go through all this on your own. Talk to your friends and close relatives, and ask them to help you to seek a therapist for treatments.