Addiction (Drugs and Alcohol)
Attention: Children of Chaos! Stop the Toxic Tornado
Attention fellow “children of chaos!” Here’s how to do what does NOT come naturally: create the kind of sane and loving home life that helps prevent next-generation addiction and abuse. Each week I’ll share selections from my book, The TurnAround Mom. This week a portion of the introduction follows: Child see, child do: Stopping the toxic tornado.
I believe every mother who has truly looked into the eyes of her child wants a sane, loving home in which to live and rear that child. But for many of us who grew up in the insanity of addiction and abuse, or became addicted, abused, or stretched to the breaking point, these are incredible challenges.
Chief among these challenges are the thoughts: If I don’t know what it feels like to be sober, calm, and peaceful, if I don’t know what an emotionally healthy family life looks like, how can I create a sane and loving home? How can I help my child grow up with balanced emotions? How can I help her recognize and create healthy relationships? How can I teach him to live a life free from toxic intensity and compulsive behaviors?
This column is filled with experiences, processes, tips, and tools that I hope answer those questions. The stories are meant to bring hope—hope that we can see how powerless children are over the situations they’re born into, how profoundly they are affected by their parents, and how lives can be changed for the better when there’s a willingness to feel and heal past pains, a willingness to grow and learn. In my volunteer work with women at treatment centers, I often hear stories of women doing what I believe we all do if we are not conscious and committed to a better way: recreating many of the same problems their parents had.
In our time together we will talk about how difficult it is for those of us with deep emotional wounds to realize, accept, and find gratitude in the fact that we do have choices.
Ultimately, we come to the conclusion that even if our parents numbed their pain and created even more pain for themselves and others by being alcoholics, addicts, and abusers, we don’t have to. Our parents’ pain does not have to be our pain; generations of pain do not have to be passed on to our children.
As I join many far wiser than I who believe “what we can feel, we can heal,” and that “pain we don’t heal, we pass on to our children,” my hope is that by sharing parts of my journey, you will be guided and inspired to start or continue your own journey to healing.
I have seen this happen in the groups I work with. When I read my stories out loud with them, they tell me that they do go back to those similar situations and feel the desperation of their childhoods, the desperation that leads, ultimately, to a resolve to do whatever it takes to make things different for themselves and their children. They say they also feel hope and that they get an idea of how much better life is and will be if they continue in their recovery.
It is such a gift to me to watch tears fuel resolve, and resolve fuel hope and action. What is happening to them as they hear my story is what happened to me as I remembered and wrote it. My hope is that you reading this column helps you experience the same feelings of sadness, the same feelings of strength and determination, the same feelings of courage and hope.
My hope is that going through this process helps us all recognize self-defeating behaviors we use to act out our pain, so we will choose to stop destructive self-sabotage, take responsibility for our actions, and then be still and quiet until reality and reason return. I also hope we learn or affirm how to separate what works from what doesn’t, and how to begin or continue the daily routines that create stable, loving lives for our children and ourselves.
I don’t have all the answers; this book is for me as much as it is for you. From what I’ve experienced and what I’m learning from the groups of women I lead, I know that recognizing and dealing with past hurts clears the way for us to feel greater joy today.
Carey Sipp's first book, The TurnAround Mom – How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family, and How You Can, Too, guides fellow “children of chaos” to create the kind of sane and loving home life that helps prevent next-generation addiction and abuse. Her book is available here.
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