The presence of parents or role models during our early childhood years can have a tremendous impact on our lives. In the midst of heartbreak or hurt, many of us express the desire or noble intention to be better than our parents. And once we have found stability in recovery, we can truly begin the work of addressing, healing, and transforming harmful generational patterns.
The consistent day-to-day presence of these two role models can greatly influence our ability to be reliable and present. If your mother figure and father figure weren’t present for you, take time to grieve this loss, and to fully feel this pain.
Hold yourself through this reflection time and make the courageous commitment to stay present for yourself, your recovery, and your future. Use these questions to track your presence and ensure you are showing up in a way that will break the pattern:
- Did I feel my mother or father figure’s presence growing up?
- Where did I need them more?
- Are those tendencies in me too?
- Do I follow through on my responsibilities?
- Where do I run or hide?
- Where can I be more present?
Think back to how communication was when you were growing up. Was the communication from your mother or father figures abusive, inappropriate, withheld, infrequent, or harmful?
Were you afraid of the words that were spoken? Allow yourself space and time to feel how much this hurt. Ask yourself:
- What are the ways that I like to express myself?
- What are my communication styles?
- Do I have patterns that are similar to my parents?
- If so, what work can I do to change and improve on them?
- In my future, what do I want to say differently?
- Where have I been afraid to speak up?
- Words are medicine. Am I healing or hurting myself or others with my communication?
Reflect on the affection you received as a child. What feelings of love were shared and felt?
Was it safe to express affection or positive emotions? If your mother and father figures weren’t warm and loving in a way you needed, try to focus on forgiveness. Find healing from those wounds through grieving, processing, and holding yourself. Oftentimes, it can be scary and hard to show love and our emotions, especially if we don’t know how, and are used to not sharing because our parents never did.
Or, we could have experienced serious trauma from sharing where we were mocked, seen as weak, or ignored, which caused us to close our hearts up completely.
Make a commitment to share love and affection. Take time to explore these questions:
Where has my heart closed to warmth and affection?
How much of it stems from my past?
What would it take for me to share what is in my heart?
Who are safe people I can turn to and practice this vulnerability?
Inner Child Work
During periods of frustration and pain from your past, picture yourself as a child.
What attention and care would you have wanted your parents to give you?
What do you wish your mother or father would have said to you?
What love do you wish your mother or father would have shown you?
Now, with those responses, give yourself all the love, attention, and energy you didn’t receive.
How can you always work to hold, love, and support your inner child?
Hold Your Own Hand
Never forget that abusive behavior, harmful words, or neglect from your parents were responses to their own unprocessed pain and depression, and they projected it onto you. Address and answer the questions below by yourself, or with a care team, a counselor, or a sponsor. If you are alone, make a plan to connect with a trusted ally and share your responses.
What are the positive traits of these masculine and feminine figures?
How do you want to continue these good, hopeful, or enjoyable characteristics?
Now look at where there has been harm.
How do you want to heal generational patterns?
What are the traits you want to change?
What behaviors do you want to end?
Do you understand how, when, and why these patterns get triggered?
What are some solutions?
Taking the opportunity and making the commitment to heal generational patterns takes truth-telling, tremendous effort, and patience. You have the resources and the ability to heal yourself, hold your inner child, and transform what gets carried on to the future.
Are you ready to heal wounds from your past, but substance use is interfering with your ability to start? Or are you wanting to work on your presence, communication, and affection, but don’t know how to begin? Contact us at Ashley Addiction Treatment, a residential treatment facility that offers supportive and safe individual therapy, as well as family therapy, if and when it feels right for you. We are committed to walking the path of recovery by your side and will provide comprehensive and therapeutic support every step of the way, as you work to heal yourself and address harmful behaviors. Our peaceful campus is located on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, in Northern Maryland. You, and your inner child, deserve to live a life of happiness and healthy patterns. For more information, or to speak with one of our safe staff about how to get started, contact us at 800-799-4673.