When we were 3 or 4 we couldnít look around us and say, ìWell,
Dadís a drunk and Mom is real depressed and scared - that is why it feels
so awful here. I think Iíll go get my own apartment.î
Our parents were our higher powers. We were not capable of understanding
that they might have problems that had nothing to do with us. So
it felt like it was our fault.
We formed our relationship with ourselves and life in early childhood.
We learned about love from people who were not capable of loving in a healthy
way because of their unhealed childhood wounds. Our core/earliest
relationship with our self was formed from the feeling that something is
wrong and it must be me. At the core of our being is a little kid
who believes that he/she is unworthy and unlovable. That was the
foundation that we built our concept of ìselfî on.
Children are master manipulators. That is their job - to survive in
whatever way works. So we adapted defense systems to protect our
broken hearts and wounded spirits. The 4 year old learned to throw
tantrums, or be real quiet, or help clean the house, or protect the younger
siblings, or be cute and funny, etc. Then we got to be 7 or 8 and
started being able to understand cause and effect and use reason and logic
- and we changed our defense systems to fit the circumstances. Then
we reach puberty and didnít have a clue what was happening to us, and no
healthy adults to help us understand, so we adapted our defense systems
to protect our vulnerability. And then we were teenagers and our
job was to start becoming independent and prepare ourselves to be adults
so we changed our defense systems once again.
It is not only dysfunctional, it is ridiculous to maintain that what
happened in our childhood did not affect our adult life. We have
layer upon layer of denial, emotional dishonesty, buried trauma, unfulfilled
needs, etc., etc. Our hearts were broken, our spiritís wounded, our
minds programmed dysfunctionally. The choices we have made as adults
were made in reaction to our childhood wounds/programming - our lives have
been dictated by our wounded inner children.
(History, politics, ìsuccessî or lack of ìsuccess,î in our dysfunctional
society/civilizations can always be made clearer by looking at the childhoods
of the individuals involved. History has been, and is being, made
by immature, scared, angry, hurt individuals who were/are reacting to their
childhood wounds and programming - reacting to the little child inside
who feels unworthy and unlovable.)
It is very important to realize that we are not an integrated whole
being - to ourselves. Our self concept is fractured into a multitude
of pieces. In some instances we feel powerful and strong, in others
weak and helpless - that is because different parts of us are reacting
to different stimuli (different ìbuttonsî are being pushed.) The
parts of us that feel weak, helpless, needy, etc. are not bad or wrong
- what is being felt is perfect for the reality that was experienced by
the part of ourselves that is reacting (perfect for then - but it
has very little to do with what is happening in the now). It is very
important to start having compassion for that wounded part of ourselves.
It is by owning our wounds that we can start taking the power away from
the wounded part of us. When we suppress the feelings, feel ashamed
about our reactions, do not own that part of our being, then we give it
power. It is the feelings that we are hiding from that dictate our
behavior, that fuel obsession and compulsion.
Codependence is a disease of extremes.
Those of us who were horrified and deeply wounded by a perpetrator in
childhood - and were never going to be like that parent - adapted a more
passive defense system to avoid confrontation and ìhurting others.î
The more passive type of codependent defense system leads to a dominant
pattern of being the victim.
Those of us who were disgusted by, and ashamed of, the victim parent
in childhood and vowed never to be like that role model, adapted a more
aggressive defense system. So we go charging through life being the
bull in the china shop - being the perpetrator who blames other people
for not allowing us to be in control. The perpetrator that
feels like a victim of other people not doing things ìrightî - which is
what forces us to bulldoze our way through life.
And, of course, some of us go first one way and then the other.
(We all have our own personal spectrum of extremes that we swing between
- sometimes being the victim, sometimes being the perpetrator. Being
a passive victim is perpetrating on those around us.)
The only way we can be whole is to own all of the parts of ourselves.
By owning all the parts we can then have choices about how we respond to
life. By denying, hiding, and suppressing parts of ourselves we doom
ourselves to live life in reaction.
A technique I have found very valuable in this healing process is to
relate to the different wounded parts of our self as different ages of
the inner child. These different ages of the child may be literally
tied to an event that happened at that age - i.e. when I was 7 I tried
to commit suicide. Or the age of the child might be a symbolic designator
for a pattern of abuse/deprivation that occurred throughout our childhood
- i.e. the 9 year old within me feels completely emotionally isolated and
desperately needy/lonely, a condition which was true for most of my childhood
and not tied to any specific incident (that I know of) that happened when
I was 9.
By searching out, getting acquainted with, owning the feelings of, and
building a relationship with, these different emotional wounds/ages of
the inner child, we can start being a loving parent to ourselves instead
of an abusive one. We can have boundaries with ourselves that allow
us to: take responsibility for being a co-creator of our life (grow
up); protect our inner children from the perpetrator within/critical
parent (be loving to ourselves); stop letting our childhood wounds control
our life (take loving action for ourselves); and own the Truth of who we
really are (Spiritual Beings) so that we can open up to receive the Love
and Joy we deserve.
It is impossible to Truly love the adult that we are without owning
the child that we were. In order to do that we need to detach from
our inner process (and stop the disease from abusing us) so that we can
have some objectivity and discernment that will allow us to have compassion
for our own childhood wounds. Then we need to grieve those wounds
and own our right to be angry about what happened to us in childhood -
so that we can Truly know in our gut that it wasnít our fault - we
just innocent little kids.