Many people have experienced the childhood trauma that accompanies alcoholism and other addiction. We may have difficulty acknowledging the impact it has had on our lives.
However, it is important to understand and accept these effects in order to move forward and heal.
As Dr David Hawkins says in ‘Letting Go: The Pathway Of Surrender’, "…repression happens unconsciously; in suppression, it happens consciously". We may have a lot of both going on, but we don’t have to continue to suppress anymore.
Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families
Using the literature of Adult Children of Alcoholics, I formulated the acronym DEEFI as a success formula. It is a simple approach to help us overcome the powerlessness that we feel as a result of this trauma.
It says in the ACA Big Red Book, “Before finding recovery, we suppressed our feelings and were overly responsible. we tried to anticipate the needs of others and meet those needs, so we would not be abandoned”.
DEEFI involves a step-by-step approach that starts with accepting the trauma rather than denying it. This can be a difficult step, as it involves facing painful memories and emotions. However, it is necessary to confront these feelings in order to move forward.
We then can face the effects of the trauma, whatever they may be. Utilising the help of a friend or therapist is advisable. The sponsor model used in AA and ACA is intended to facilitate this and other steps.
This means acknowledging how the trauma has affected various aspects of our life, such as our relationships, self-esteem, and our sense of well-being. By facing these effects head-on, we can begin to understand how they have impacted our life and what steps we can take to overcome them.
Facing Our False Identity
Rather than trying to explain away the behaviour of our caregivers, we must begin to accept their fallibility and try not to blame them for being so stupid or insensitive.
The false identity that we may have been forced to wear is our survival mechanism that has gone over the expiry date. This could have hidden our feelings of shame, worthlessness, or inadequacy that were instilled in us by our abuser.
By confronting these false beliefs, we begin to reprogram our self and develop a more positive self-image.
Through this process of acceptance, facing the effects of the trauma, and confronting false beliefs, we can gain a greater sense of self-worth and self-love.
This is a powerful tool for healing and moving forward from childhood trauma.
Try these practices and see if they help bring a sense of clarity to a long existing issue.
- D. Admit that you were powerless over the effects of the abuser/addict/dysfunctional caregiver (denial)
- E. Investigate the effects of the trauma (effects)
- E. Stop explaining away their behaviour - it’s over! (explain away)
- F. Develop clear vision of how you pretend/aren’t ‘real’ in your actions (false)
- I. Drop the false identity and slowly replace it with clear intention of who you are. (identity)
This advice is given from experience and is not professional treatment, diagnosis, or prescription. I believe that you are on your way to better mental health if you develop your own way to deal with this long-term problem.
And please, seek help - we don’t need to do this alone.
You can learn to DEEFI the continued suffering of abuse that happened long ago and begin to live more joyfully and true to your own wishes.