There is no autonomy or self-governing; control is exerted over the other’s movements, money, sexual activity, or friends; through emotional, psychological manipulation, or physical abuse. Adult children of alcoholics easily fall into the same patterns as their parents: picking a partner or raising their children, in the same manner, they were, remaining trapped in the cycle.
Life itself will offer moments of clarity.A crossroad, a breaking point, or outside intervention. A realization that something could be different. That one may enter a recovery program, peer support at a church, or counseling center. To break free and recover, emotional detachment is vital, while new information is taken in. There is always an emotional separation from the other co-dependant, if there is physical or psychological abuse a physical separation is needed until both can seek help.These are forms of detachment. Detachment simply allows space to breath, rest, and reevaluate. For most it is frightening and progress may be delayed out of a fear that something is being lost.
For survivors of trauma and addiction, roadblocks were put in place before we realized it. We remain unaware that a roadblock exists, believing we are just like everyone else, until we try to expand ourselves into an adult individual. If we have successes great! But such is life, and there are challenges all along our way. There is illness, loss, death, lost jobs, financial uncertainties, or isolation from families.
A year later, while in a counseling session, attempting once again to make sense of my predicament, I become terrified and disoriented. Directly in my line of vision, a form like a hologram appeared leaving no room for my present life to penetrate. I began seeing the atrocities done to my mother and my brothers. The smell of orange blossoms, bacon, country gravy and biscuits, the moist smell of dew in the mountain air filled my senses. Mashed potatoes mingled with blood on old graying wall paper came into view. I heard my own fear in its’ deafening silence as brown trousers came towards me. Physically, I was left feeling moist, cold and exposed; breathless with unbelievable pain in my throat and shoulders.
Victim. We should only be allowed to use this word to describe a moment in time where something was done to us that was out of our control. It should be an adjective to describe our experience in a tragedy, not to define our character. That moment does not define us. It can mold us, but we have the choice to allow it to continue to victimize us and be subjected to the powerlessness of that situation or we have the ability to become a warrior.
After what we have experienced in secret the idea of being exposed is quite painful. Had we not already had our bodies exposed to lustful eyes and hands? Yes! However the illumination I speak of has an opposite and profound effect on returning to our pre-abuse identity. Leading us out of a fear filled lonely place to a place of joy filled resilience and healing.
1966 I was 9, the year before, my Mom had found a way to convince my Dad to bring us up north to live and then she separated from him. The year would consist of him showing up drunk and unannounced, shattering glass with a bloody hand and head peering in. Mom is beaten, furniture and dishes were broken, until we moved to a house where the Dad did not tolerate violence or destruction, then mother and I settled into a brief period of calm.