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Healing from child abuse Self help techniques

What are the impacts of child abuse on children and their lives as adults?

What are the impacts of abuse on children and their lives as adults? (50:06 mins)

There are many impacts of abuse on children. If the child does not receive assistance to break free from these impacts they often carry over into adulthood.

Loss of childhood – abused children lose their sense of innocence, their sense that the world is a safe place. A sense of mistrust that persists develops with the abused child often expecting people to abuse them. They, therefore, do not let people close and often go inside themself, close down and withdraw. They begin to parent themself and protect themself as best they can. They may even try to parent their parents to gain a sense of safety. They cannot relax and enjoy their childhood. They may act inappropriately sexually or become withdrawn, confused and silent. They may become less intelligent than they were or more bookish if they find some safety and security in being alone.

Repetition of abuse – abused children have acutely low self-esteem. They feel there must be something wrong with them because of what happened. This low self-confidence makes meeting people and relationships difficult. It leads to difficulty in creating appropriate boundaries and recognizing their own needs. Abused children often accept more abuse as they grow, as they do not know any different and they may feel that it’s their fault somehow. They can’t easily identify the kind of person or behaviour that is harmful to them; only that something doesn’t feel good. They become more likely to be bullied in school and abused in adult relationships. A sexually abused child is 4 times more likely to be sexually abused again than a non-abused child. Castine (1989) points out that 50% of the time daughters of alcoholic fathers marry alcoholics while Jorgensen and Jorgensen (1990) report that one out of every four children of alcoholics develop alcoholism themselves.

Blaming ourselves – children can’t bear to believe that those who are supposed to love them and care for them can be wrong, so they take responsibility for the abuse themself. Blaming themself gives them a sense of control. It’s easier to live with the guilt of themself having caused it than to accept that their caretakers could be so terrible. Abused children believe that they are bad. Some may try to hide their feelings of weakness by acting strong, while others will be cowardly and subservient. They live their lives afraid of being confronted at any time with their badness. This sense of badness may not be conscious; it may be suppressed however it affects all parts of a person’s life (this is what gets changed through therapy).

Emotional rigidity – the abused child carries their hurt and their damaged inner child with them as they grow. The emotional damage affects their development. They tend to become rigid, stuck in particular feelings, thinking or a particular way of looking at the world. They often can’t feel all emotions or express them and maybe stuck in feelings such as happy or loving or angry or fear or complaining. Being stuck is a defence mechanism protecting them from feeling the other emotions that they see as threatening or that may result in re-experiencing an aspect of some earlier abuse. An adult who was abused as a child is often unable to be spontaneous. They do not see their rigidity but are aware of a vague dissatisfaction with their life. They tend to see both people and situations as either positive or negative, good or bad, there is no middle ground. They may blame others unnecessarily and direct their bad feelings and suppressed anger at them.

Isolation – starts from a young age as abusive families often try to hide their dysfunction from others, siblings don’t talk about it and they compete for the attention of the parents. They may abuse each other as they try to cope with what has happened to them. They don’t bring friends home from school or venture out into the world for fear of someone discovering their secret. If an abused person feels they can’t deal with the emotions they’ve buried inside such as sadness, anger, and shame, they will often continue to isolate themselves as adults. They feel separate from others. They do not have a sense of a way out of their position and may overreact to any situation which touches on a felt memory or when people seem like their abuser, or where the feeling is the same as when the abuse happened to them. They may act as if in danger and push people away even though they’re not in danger.

Control – Often abused children as adults feel a need for a strong sense of control. This is so that awkward, painful and difficult to handle emotions/feelings can be kept at bay. Giving up control means facing the pain, which they may feel is overwhelming and therefore must be denied. The need for control can show up in rigid demands that partners, children and others also hide their feelings and control their emotions carefully. It may show up in compulsive behaviour like obsessive cleanliness and tidiness, excessive fussiness, or a need to get things right at any cost whether at work or at home. This anxiousness or desperation can be sensed by others and often makes them feel uneasy around the abused person.

Dependence and insecurity – abused children and adults often have an external locus of evaluation. They judge themself on whether or not others love and accept them or on the size of their career success and assets. These people, who feel a need for someone else to nurture them, to tell them they’re okay, are often taken advantage of by others who see their desperate need and know they can do whatever they want to them and the abused person will put up with it, they won’t leave.

Ambivalence – abused children as adults are often ambivalent to what occurs to them. They learnt to be ambivalent while being abused. They didn’t want to dob in their parents as they wanted their love, feared their loss and the consequences of telling the truth. If the parent only abused them occasionally, they may have seen it as an occasional error to be put up with. They may have pretended that they liked the abuse or told themself that not making a fuss is better or that they might not be believed even if they did say something. Hence they learnt to accept it and just get on with life. They are ambivalent about the effect of this on the rest of their lives. They may never relax and feel safe with those they love. They may never allow themself to be emotionally supported for fear of the loved one becoming an abuser. They may believe that anything good can contain bad and vice versa. The result is apathy, not knowing what to choose or where to turn.

Identifying with the abuser – identifying with the abuser can make an abused child feel strong rather than a weak victim. They will therefore act strong using anger as their dominant emotion, blaming others for things. This is a defence against their underlying feeling of danger and the fear that they may be abused again. If they were sexually abused they may be sexual with other kids. This can be an angry gesture: it happened to me now you; it may be a confusing way of trying to share the experience, trying to make sense of the pain and humiliation; or they may have felt the abuse was pleasurable and want to do it again; they may want their child friend to feel what they felt. Many kids who are abused are also cruel to or abuse siblings, kids, pets or wild animals. They may feel ashamed or guilty of this and beat themselves up. It’s really important to always remember it is not the child’s fault. They learnt what they lived, they know no different, be compassionate, do not abuse them further.

Abusing our bodies – abused children as adults often have a high level of self-contempt and self-loathing. They abuse their body by over or under eating; alcohol or drug abuse; physical abuse or ignoring their body’s needs. They may scar themself in an attempt to make themself less attractive to others or to punish themself.

Splitting and multiple personalities – if a child can not cope with what happened to them they may go inside themselves, go somewhere else. People often report leaving their body and looking down upon the scene when being abused/watching from outside themselves. Everyone has sub-personalities, parts of themselves that are happy, sad, achievers, doers, relaxed, etc, but they are all a part of the one person – they make up me. Some people after extended abuse, however, can form almost whole or partial separate personalities. Their sense of ‘I’ is not always the same, the different personalities take control. They never know when they wake up who’s going to be there. This interrupts their memory as each personality has their own preference, skills and memories. The different personalities may or may not communicate and the person can feel horrible, trapped, unable to control them.

Continuing family abuse – when abused kids grow up they often repeat the pattern with their own children. They frequently fail to connect with their children emotionally and do not know how to behave appropriately so the cycle of abuse continues They may feel horrible about what is occurring but do not know how to break free from it.

The impacts of abuse often go wider than just affecting the individual who was abused. There are also impacts on siblings who were not abused and on their partners, children and those they interact with within their adult life. The following information is offered for non-abused siblings. Recognise that it is normal for you to have felt glad not to be abused, but guilty that you weren’t and your brother or sister was or you may have been jealous of the attention they got and sought it out too – being afraid and eager at the same time. You may feel that you should have protected the abused sibling or at least protested. You may have tried to be perfect to avoid abuse and pointed out how much better you were than the other child as a way of trying to protect yourself. Remember you were a child. You coped the best you could. Don’t avoid the abused sibling now because of your guilt. They’ll probably value your friendship and you can both seek assistance in sorting through your issues and developing a closeness.

Partners of adults who were abused as kids may face all sorts of feelings. They may want to rescue their partner, trying to help them heal and protect them from hurt. This can be problematic as relationships always have some tense moments and both partners need to be able to express their feelings and get their needs met – don’t be silent about your needs as this will only cause problems down the track. The abused child as an adult may occasionally behave poorly trying to get the partner to treat them like their abuser did, provoking them. They are trying to feel familiar, comfortable as they are not used to always receiving love. They’re testing you to see if you really do love them and will accept them. If this pattern occurs talk about it, don’t abuse them.

Partners may feel a lot of confusion about what to do, how to handle it, they may get impatient or tired of their mate always being affected by the past and wish they would get over it. They may then feel guilty or ashamed of themselves for thinking this. Don’t bash yourself up over it. It’s normal for you to feel these things. Talk to your partner about your concerns or seek help or if your partner is open to it you can both seek help together. Accept your feelings of helplessness, your pain at seeing their hurt and your anger at their parents. It’s normal. It’s also normal for you to dislike interacting with his or her parents and not saying anything. However, if this is what your abused partner wants then you need to respect their wishes. But look after yourself and vent your anger and frustration healthily when you leave from visiting their parents. You need to get out any negativity, sadness, anger, etc that you have inside about the situations. When you do this you’ll feel better, more in control and react less to what is occurring. You will be able to change the dynamics of how you interact with your partner.

Learn to own your feelings and behaviour and express yourself effectively with no blaming, no judgment, or criticisms. Learn to use I statements – when you do X, I feel Y and I’d prefer it if you could do Z. If you can do this, creating a safe space for them, with love and encouragement it creates the conditions required for your partner to consider facing their own issues. They have to be ready to change. If they’re not keep working on yourself so things don’t upset you so much and you can enjoy your life fully. This is the best thing you can do for both of you. When your partner does become ready to take action you’ll be able to show them what to do or point them to where they can get help. Remember that what we focus on expands so focus on the positive and create more of it! Be a role model for your partner. Don’t see them as sick, but as a healthy person yet to take action and break free of their symptoms.

While the consequences of child abuse are huge there are also gifts that come as a result of our healing and growth.

  • Ability to persevere and survive
  • Ability to feel and understand emotions and reactions
  • Ability to empathise with others and to accept them and not judge them
  • Ability to connect in with Spirit,  Source and Mother Nature
  • Ability to know yourself on deeper levels and to have a greater emotional intelligence than the majority of the population
  • Ability to receive intuitive guidance & access inner wisdom
  • Ability to appreciate the simple things in life, to stop and smell the roses
  • Ability to be a better parent, friend and partner as a result of all you have learned and healed
  • Ability to be happy, peaceful and grateful for all you have
  • Ability for self love and acceptance of all that life brings, learning to flow with it not fight against it

In Australia, there are a large number of support services available that you can access for free. If this blog has triggered you please reach out to one of the below services to get the support you need. You are not alone and help is available. Similar services should be available in most countries.

Prepared many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith. Some content is summarised from:

  • Bradley R & Johnson Marshall C, 1993, A safe place to begin – working to recover from childhood sexual abuse, Thorsons, London.
  • Castine J, 1989, Recovery from rescuing, Health Communications Inc., Florida
Categories
Healing from child abuse Personal Development Relationships Self help techniques

Why do we fear rejection so much?

In the past rejection meant death, whether it was the witch hunts, the torture chamber or being left to fend for yourself in the wild as your tribe moved on without you. To be isolated and alone meant death, not just sadness and loss, death.

In today’s world rejection is less serious, a loss of a friend, a job, a group. They can easily be replaced. It is not life-threatening. It only feels like it is or like something serious. In reality, it is not.

The intensity of our fear of rejection depends on how much we were hurt when little. If our parents were there for us and we felt accepted, seen, heard, and loved, we will have a sense of secure attachment, love, and safety when interacting with others.

But if our parents weren’t consistently available to us or our interactions with them led us to feel not seen, heard or accepted, we will have pain interacting with others. If we felt rejected by our parents, not good enough for them, that is a deeply painful process to experience. It is this pain of not being loved and accepted fully by our parents, the devastation of that which then taints our interaction with others. We fear feeling that pain again.

But the reality is as an adult we are not dependent on others like we were as a child on our parents. We needed our parents to care for us, to provide for us. As adults, we can give that to ourselves. So rejection is not as serious or life-threatening anymore. It is just the emotional pain of our past experiences with our parents that leads it to feel so serious.

We can do healing work to heal those wounds so that we feel more secure and safe within. We can meet our own needs and reconnect with our body, releasing the stress, tension and trauma, so that we feel safe and secure within and can be more relaxed and open with our interactions with others. When the wounds are healed it no longer feels so dangerous and we can react playfully and joyfully as we meet others, knowing we are safe and can have fun. Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) can help us to release those tensions and complete the old trauma activations freeing us to enjoy life more fully.

The reality is you may be rejected many times throughout your life. It may be lovers, it may be parents ashamed of your choices. It may be misunderstandings between friends or work colleagues. Do not react with anger or hurt, simply move on, accept it for what it is and move on.

While rejection feels like a loss, like a forced change of direction or focus, it is actually occurring for your highest good. That person or situation has served you well. They have shaped the next chapter in your story. They have helped you redirect your efforts to something or someone else. 

Not everyone will be in your life forever. People come and go, they grow and evolve, and their vibration shifts. If your vibrations conflict, you will part. It is not actually personal. It is energetic and it is meant to be.

A deep loss, of a loved one or parent or child, for instance, may cripple you emotionally for quite some time. It helps you to release sadness and grief. It helps you question your life and what you are doing with it. This may lead you to listen to your heart more and do something you care more about, instead of just going through the motions, doing things that society tells you to do. 

The loss prompts significant change and it serves you. It is a gift, not a tragedy. A gift, remember that look for the good that comes out of all your experience and it is easier to accept.

A minor misunderstanding with someone you barely know, which results in the end of the blossoming friendship, shows you that rejection, while a little hurtful, isn’t the end of the world. Life goes on, your normal life is still intact, just that person will no longer be a part of it. This shows you rejection is okay, there is no need to fear it so much or give your power away to other people so much.

You are actually okay on your own. You don’t need people as much as you think you do. It is not the ancient battlefield or tribal village anymore. There are large numbers of people out there who are willing to be your friend, your partner, your lover, your work colleagues. When the time is right you meet them. You don’t need to search, you don’t need to try and force it or effort it or think too much about it or what you will and won’t say so people will accept you and won’t hurt you, reject you, abandon or abuse you. Just be yourself. That is all you need to do. Those that are meant to join with you will. Those that aren’t, won’t. It is as simple as that. So stop walking on eggshells around other people. Be yourself and be proud.

Rejection is not a death sentence anymore. It is simply one of many events in life that help shift your perspective and help you evolve, as you travel along this journey called life. Blessed BE, Amen.

In this video, Jodi-Anne explores ‘Why do we fear rejection so much?’ It is one of over 100 questions she has asked about life and channelled an answer through automatic writing. All of these answers to questions about life, how to live peacefully and happily are available for free on the ‘Life Insights‘ page of her website.

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Conscious Evolution Personal Development Relationships Self help techniques

How do you know when leaving is your best option?

This week I’m sharing a video on when to stay or go from a relationship. As conscious, loving beings we often stay longer in a relationship than may be beneficial for us. We keep hoping our love, our sharing, our acceptance of the other will lead to their growth, to improvements in the way the other relates to us and the world. We hope our love is enough to prompt change in the other.

If we stay too long we can become exhausted, angry and resentful. No matter what we do it won’t be enough if the other person doesn’t want to heal, to look within feel and grow. If they are content with the status quo it is pointless staying if you are not being treated how you would like, if your heart is feeling taken advantage of or neglected by the other.

You owe it to yourself to honour your own needs and leave. Trust you will be taken care of by life. You will be guided forward to what you need most and in time that may include a more loving, heartfelt partner who can meet you with an open heart.

Like attracts like. Keep healing your pain, your hurts and treat yourself with love and kindness. No partner will meet all of your needs. You need to meet your own needs so you can then interact from a place of overflowing love and join from that space.

In this video, Jodi-Anne explores ‘How do you know when leaving is your best option?’ It is one of over 100 questions she has asked about life and channelled an answer through automatic writing. All of these answers to questions about life, how to live peacefully and happily are available for free on the ‘Life Insights‘ page of her website.

Categories
Conscious Evolution Personal Development Relationships

How to know when to stay or go?

There are times in all relationships when intimacy declines and you start to wonder whether the relationship is a healthy one or not.

One of you may have diverted your energies elsewhere, making you unavailable fully to your partner. Some people connect in at work, sport, a hobby or focus more on the children leaving a partner feeling alone and less connected. Of course some have affairs. But more often than not one or both partners become distracted internally, dealing with whatever emotional pain and triggers have been occurring.

This diversion inwards makes less energy available outwards and again a partner may feel left out in the cold. They can feel that their partner’s warmth, their focus, and their energy are not with them anymore. Sometimes if this is temporary it can be sustained in the relationship as is. If the distracted partner comes back to focus with the other, all is well.

Sometimes however this disconnection can continue for a long time. It can be completely unintentional and not due to a lack of love. If one or both partners are dealing with emotional pain, they are simply not available to fully connect with the other. They may truly want to, but feel unable to.

If the partners can talk about what is going on honestly. If they can support each other in their efforts for growth, they may find a way through. But both must be willing to talk openly, honestly and to do the work to heal their inner hurts.

No matter how much you love the other, you cannot heal their wounds for them. They have to go within, feel and heal. They have to make the time to look at the way they are living their life and choose to make changes so they can be happier, healthier and more available to mutually nurture and nourish the partner and the relationship.

Each has to choose to make the relationship a priority, to create time together doing fun things. If they don’t it can become stale, boring, not stimulating and they might drift apart.

No matter how hard you try to please the other or to take care of the other, if they are not looking after themselves it won’t work.

They have to step up, take action and do the work to heal their hurts, change their thinking and behaviour patterns, so that they can be more positive, more available for themselves and the other. They have to do the work. You can’t do it for them.

If you stay too long in the above scenario you will become deflated, depressed and despairing. It is outside of your control to make it work. You can’t force it, pretend it, fluff it up so you feel better. You need to face facts and see whether or not your emotional needs, your intimacy needs, your physical needs, etc. are being met within the relationship.

If they are not you need to consider leaving for the sake of your own health. You can’t wait forever. You will get angry. You will get resentful. You will get manipulative and forceful trying to get your partner to take action. But if they aren’t ready, they’re simply not ready, and no amount of pushing, cajoling, crying, etc. will change that.

You can’t roll a boulder uphill easily. That is what you are doing if you are trying to get someone to change who simply doesn’t want to or know how to.

Even if they’re depressed and unhappy, they won’t change till they feel capable and you can’t make that happen. You can love them, encourage them, provide books or other resources, but then you need to accept what is. Step back and wait. Give the person a chance to decide what they are and are not willing to do.

Sadly they may choose not to take action. That is their right. Your choice is whether to accept that or not. Your choice is to decide how long you are willing to wait before you start focussing elsewhere too.

The healthiest thing to do is to focus on making your life happier. Spend time with friends, do activities or hobbies you enjoy. This takes the pressure off of the relationship so you both can breathe.

If the partner becomes more available you can connect back in deeply. If they don’t you will feel more held and fulfilled in your life outside of the relationship and you can let that expand. The choice is yours.

Face facts and decide what to do. Don’t pretend all is okay if it is not. Don’t blame the other. Just see it from their side. They need to focus elsewhere. This is not a rejection of you or a judgement of you. It is just a phase of life taking them in a different direction. The question becomes will your roads meet again or travel further apart.

Surrender and trust that no matter what happens life will lead you both forth to experience what you need to, in order to keep healing, evolving and opening your hearts. You will both be taken care of as you move along your journeys, together or apart.

If you do part, give thanks for all you have shared, learned and grown during the relationship. Give thanks for the good and challenging times through which you gained more clarity on what is important to you, and what you will not accept or compromise on.

Give thanks for the love, the joy, the passion which may have long gone cold. Give thanks for the acceptance and connection which would have nourished you in the beginning. Let go of judgements, condemnations or harshness. Just let go with love and trust you will be led forth into that which you need next in your life.

When the time is right you will meet another and the cycles of love and growth will continue. We go through many of these cycles each lifetime. Sometimes the cycle occurs with the same partner, when relationships cool then warm up again, and sometimes it occurs with new partners.

Trust that what is meant to be will be, and all is truly okay, even if it feels painful to acknowledge the truth of the current situation. Take a deep breath and smile, knowing all is okay deep within and anything that needs to shift and release will.

Flow with the waves of emotion and let them dissipate. You will have grief over letting go of something you thought would last forever. It’s only natural. Be kind to yourself each day and don’t think too far ahead. Relax and let go knowing all will be okay in the end. Blessed BE.

By Jodi-Anne (27 April 2019).

  • Further free guidance on healing techniques and self love are available on the Life Insights and Healing from child abuse pages of this website.
  • If you found this blog useful you may wish to consider purchasing a copy of Jodi-Anne’s book ‘Advice from a higher Source’ which contains 85 more answers to questions about life. The paperback book or ebook can be purchased online at – http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/JMS2011. (Once you have clicked into view the description of the book, go to the top of the page and choose the flag symbol for your country, this will show you the price in your currency and enable you to purchase it in that currency)
Categories
Healing from child abuse Health

Addiction – understanding and overcoming addictions

This post contains information I prepared as a course handout on addiction several years ago. I share it in the hope that it assists someone to gain clarity and insight into how best to help themselves or a loved one suffering from addiction. Love, Jodi-Anne.

Addiction types and why used

There are many types of addictions. They vary greatly from substances relied on to help us get through the day (coffee, tea, sugar, fat) to those stronger drugs used to escape our feelings and reality (alcohol, smoking, cannabis, LSD, coacaine, heroin, etc). There are also addictions that are action based (work-a-holism, shopping, gambling, lying, stealing, sexual addiction). There are many types of addiction. Some society condones – study, working, shopping. Some society fears and shames those involved – illicit drugs and alcoholism.

All of these addictions are used as a way to cope, to attempt to feel better, to enjoy life, however the high is only temporary, requiring the addict to use again / to repeat the activity over again. Sometimes at higher doses or risk. Until ultimately there is a crash – a near death experience – over dose, car crash, blood poisoning; a terrifying experience – waking up in an unknown place or with an injury or person you don’t remember connecting with. It may be a loss of a job, home or family when they can take it no more. Some tragedy has to happen for the addict who is truly afflicted and caught in the co-dependent cycle to wake up and want to change. Without that crash the addict may not be ready to make the effort to heal. No-one will be able to force them to. Healing is an inner process that must unfold at a rate the addict can handle. It must be done in a supportive environment where the addict feels safe, accepted and encouraged. Any guilt, shame, pressure or judgement will just drive them further into addiction.

codependency cycle

An addict may seem to improve temporarily but if you watch closely you may notice that they have simply swapped one source of addiction for another – changed substances or fixes.  To really heal you have to go within, deal with the source of the unrest, of the need to medicate, numb out, find a high. You need to heal the pain, release the shame, guilt, feelings of loss, abandonment, not being good enough, not being loved and accepted as you were by your parents and any others through your life that have caused you trauma or a low sense of self-esteem and self-acceptance. You have to learn to love and honour yourself and treat yourself well – to become your own happy, loving parent.

Addiction sources and healing process

Some addicts do come from what appear to be happy homes, but somehow they developed an angst that needed to be filled by an addiction of some sort. Perhaps they felt stifled as a child, given too much attention, felt a need to achieve or be perfect. They may have felt trapped in a box of expectations and felt they couldn’t live up to it, so they gave up.

They may indeed have had a happy home (this is extremely rare due to the way the conditioning process works – the psychology of child development and the most common child rearing practices and disciplines). But let’s say they did have a happy home. They were totally loved, accepted, held regularly, fed when they were hungry, comforted, had all their needs met. They weren’t yelled at, disciplined through harshness but through kindness. They escaped unharmed from their early years. Then they went to school! For many people school is a nightmare – from bullying, to challenges with subject material that they can’t grasp or feeling they don’t fit in, or can’t do what others can – sport, academic, dance – whatever it may be. Some very rare individuals may escape school unscathed. Then comes relationships and work where further potential loss, hurt, betrayal, feeling not good enough, rejected, etc can come.

Somewhere along the line life provided a knockout blow that the person couldn’t cope with and they turned to an addiction to cope, to numb the pain, to feel free of their inner pain. They may be able to cope when the specific events occurred but they are cumulative all adding together until one day the foundation crumbles and addiction commences.

Even those who start young experimenting with drugs and alcohol do so because they are unhappy in some way. This is not to say their parents did anything wrong. They probably did the best they could. But their child has grown vulnerable to addiction due to some experience. The way society operates today encourages this. We are all so busy rushing around that we don’t get to love and cherish our children as we should. Working parents, divorces, step-parent issues, poverty, stress, use of TV and computer games as ways to escape and entertain children. All diminish the quality time connecting – talking, sharing, encouraging / accepting, honouring, loving each other, sitting quietly together or in nature playing non-competitive games or art or dance or many other ways that we can interact in positive relationship building and affirming ways that let our children know they are loved, accepted, okay. They are safe. The world is a good place that will provide their needs. They can follow their hearts and achieve their dreams. Few children get such a positive foundation to life, a foundation of self-acceptance and self-esteem to live from.

Most get fear and self-judgement, a need to impress or achieve or hide to keep safe. These are the underlying sources of addiction and it is these issues that need to be healed so the addict stops self-medicating or moving from one form of addiction to another. When they heal they find inner peace, love and eventually even joy and happiness. It can be done. It takes a lot of effort and willingness to face your past, feel and release the emotions buried within, face the fears and risk showing who you really are, risking rejection and ridicule to follow your heart, speak your truth, even if it is very different to other people. You become your authentic self, the person you were born to be, that has been hiding behind addiction and a raft of defense mechanisms acting as a protective mask. Keeping the vulnerable true self hidden away safely inside.

Addiction is very challenging to overcome as using is so quick and easy compared to the healing work. This is why for most people it takes some kind of disaster – trauma and crisis – to get them ready to make the effort, to face their demons and break free. Without that it is just too easy to keep escaping. But when you’ve truly lost something you love, then that shock, that pain may be enough to tip the scales. That is why you should not ‘enable’ an addict. Don’t clean up after them, bail them out, lie or make excuses for them. Don’t try to protect them by rescuing. They need to face the consequences of their actions if they are to heal and take responsibility. Yes, it is hard to watch them suffer but if they create the mess they need to deal with it. You can simply be there to support them emotionally as they pick themselves back up, offering love, forgiveness, acceptance – this is what they need.

Rescuing and the drama triangle

Drama TriangleSome ‘do-gooders’ think they are helping but they actually have their own form of addiction called ‘rescuing’. They get to escape the dissatisfaction they have in their own life – be that with themselves, their relationships, their job, their family, etc – by focussing on whoever they are rescuing. They feel good about themselves, righteous even, and this is their fix. But their love and support is not real, it is conditional. They will be there for the addict for a length of time, appearing so saintly and wonderful, but eventually when they get frustrated enough, they will snap, moving from ‘rescuer’ to ‘persecutor’ telling the addict off, judging them as a hopeless case. The rescuer didn’t get what they wanted – to feel like they saved the addict and the addict owed them, was grateful to them. That doesn’t happen so they move into the persecution role, which does not help the addict at all.

The other role that gets played is that of ‘victim’. When the rescuer knows the addict is lying to them, using, stealing or in some other way being irresponsible the rescuer may accept this for a while, until they again move into the persecutor role. Upon which the addict becomes victim to their tyranny of judgement and imposed shame, blame and guilt.

This is the drama triangle and each person moves through the roles of victim, persecutor, rescuer until someone steps into the centre of the triangle, speaks the truth and stops the game. This triangle happens all the time in life – at work, in families, with friends. It is a pattern that repeats until people become aware of it and no longer allow the game to proceed. Choosing instead to feel, to heal, to speak your truth. This is one of the first steps in healing.

So the seeds of addiction are planted from a very young age, especially if there is a family history of addiction that is repeated generation after generation. This may partly be a genetic predisposition, but it is also simply learnt behaviour. If you grow up in an active addiction filled home – you learn that is the way life is lived. You simply see that as normal as you know no other way. This is how it repeats. Also you will tend to subconsciously play out the pattern attempting to heal the issues with your parents. So many ‘Adult Children of Alcoholics’ marry an alcoholic. They either become an alcoholic themselves or they marry one or work with one. They attract it into their lives so they face their pain and heal.

Again this happens naturally enough – if they were raised in an alcoholic home that is what feels normal to them, so they accept partners behaving that way too. They may believe deep inside that they don’t deserve better, that this is how relationships are. Their beliefs affect their actions and their experiences in life. It is these beliefs that need to be changed to break the pattern and cycle of addiction and pain. Getting to the point where you do believe that you are okay, lovable, acceptable, that you deserve to be treated well, that you are a good person, and that good things can happen to you. These and many other positive subconscious (deep) beliefs form the foundation of health and recovery. “I cope easily with my life”. “I love and accept all that occurs”. “I forgive those that hurt me and let go of the past”. “I live in the now and focus day by day”. “I’m doing okay”. “I’m proud of how far I’ve come”. “I know I will make it”.

The use of affirmations can be very powerful. This can be done for free wherever you are. Have them written up where you will see them and read them regularly. Say them out loud. Write them and notice what negative comments occur within you. Repeat this – writing the affirmation and then listening for the internal reaction, writing that, then the affirmation again. Do it about 20 times in a sitting. This will give you insight into what your resistance to healing is, to what negative beliefs you have that need changing. This is a powerful process to do. You can use affirmations many times throughout the day when you feel yourself tempted to use your addictive substance or behaviour.

You can also use ‘Thought Field Therapy (TFT)’ or ‘Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)’ –  energetic tapping processes that helps to relieve the build-up of energy encouraging you to use. With TFT there is a sequence to use for addictive urge. There are also tapping sequences for releasing the underlying emotions and problems leading to the urge. This helps to release the pent up energy and emotion. It is similar to acupuncture but without needles, just tapping on the meridian points. There are many different treatments that can be used. Some cost, some don’t.

Affirmations is a good place to start as it is free and it works. At first you may feel stupid saying to yourself “I love and accept myself” over and over. You know you don’t believe it. But repeating it regularly plants the seed in your subconscious and it slowly sprouts and grows, till one day you find you do actually believe it. The strength of affirmations is increased if you say them while looking at yourself in the mirror. You stare into your own eyes while saying “I love and accept myself” or “I choose health and happiness now” or whatever affirmation you use.

The process can be sped up by using techniques like ‘Psych-K’ or ‘The Lifeline Technique’ which reprogram the desired belief into your subconscious mind. It literally replaces the old one so that your dominant, underlying thought is the new one. These techniques are part of the new energy psychology tools that have evolved from split brain research. They help to get both sides of the brain communicating which makes subconscious belief change possible – quickly and easily.

There are many different ways to health, for some they will start with swapping from a less desirable addiction to one less dangerous – so the heroin user may become a sugar junkie or a gym junkie and push themself that way. Notice that word ‘pushing’ – that is a key challenge. Most people do not spend enough time ‘being’ – time spent being still, meditating, listening to their thoughts and feelings, dealing with whatever arises within them in the silence. It can feel uncomfortable, unnatural, a waste of time at first, but this is all just resistance to actually being with yourself and feeling everything that you feel inside. Persevere with it and you will find relief.

Whether you choose to meditate, sit in nature, use guided visualisation CDs, or do exercise then rest. Whatever method you use to help your body relax, de-stress and find peace is an important part of the healing process. Some embrace reiki, energetic healing, chakra balancing, massage or other body-work, which helps soothe your body and release the buried emotions and trauma from your cells. It all takes times and you move forward step by step, day by day, removing layer by layer the buried emotions, trauma and debris accumulated within your body. Be kind to yourself.

Surround yourself with others committed to healing so that you can encourage and support each other. This is why 12 step groups work. They provide a safe, accepting environment and community to be a part of. Clearly hanging out with active Addicts is not going to be helpful, so sometimes you do need to change friendship circles, disassociate from family members or others who encourage addictive behaviour. This can be very saddening and challenging, especially as some people will try to make you feel bad for doing so. They don’t want to face their own stuff and you choosing to do so reminds them that they should. Rather than feel that, they may choose to lash out at you. Don’t fall for the ploy. Be strong. Be loving and kind to yourself as much as you can. It is your life and you can choose to live it however you wish.

Remember there is a lot of support out there – from 12 step groups, counsellors and other therapists, to call lines and much more. If you truly want to heal and break free you can. Here are some good places to start if you want to find out more.

Recommended reading / next steps

Carl Peter Lehman: www.addiction-uncovered.com – free e-course and book ‘Addiction uncovered’

Claude Steiner: http://www.emotional-literacy.com/heal1.htm – free book ‘Healing Alcoholism’

Mark Jordan: http://freestopsmoking.homestead.com/ – free book ‘Stop smoking: break the chain’

Louise Hay DVD & Book – ‘You can heal your life’ – free e-course available on You Tube.

Counselling online – 1800 888 236 or http://www.counsellingonline.org.au/en/  available anytime

SA Alcohol & Drug Info Service – 1300 13 1340 cost of local call within SA, available anytime

Lifeline – 131 114 – 24 hour phone counselling available for anyone in Australia cost of local call.

National Cannabis Info & Helpline – 1800 30 4050 available 2pm–11pm Sunday to Friday

Quit Line – 131 848 or 137 848, available 8am–8pm Monday to Friday

Family Drug Support – 1300 368 186, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week