We are asked to face a peculiar challenge in our recovery: facing our past. Like participating in a time traveling video game, we have to journey through the many layers of our existence, confronting and healing unfinished emotional business. As a video game character “levels up” and becomes stronger, so do we. Presented in this task is a true mind bender: connecting with our “inner child”.
It’s easy to remember the stages in which we were using drugs and alcohol, our problematic and stressful years of adolescence. Yet, it is especially hard for some, especially those who experience childhood trauma, to connect to early years. The innocence, in particular, often ends up being the most painful time to remember. Why?
Endless essays and works have been published on the “inner child” and why it’s so important to connect with it, as well as why it is so difficult to do so. Neuroscientists have deeply studied the memory. To great detail they have examined why different kinds of memory can’t connect. Some argue that early memories don’t hold enough emotional significance. Specifically, we don’t have the emotional maturation to make meaning out of many early instances in our lives. Trauma, however, quite quickly makes meaning that is difficult to forget.
Physical, mental, and emotional trauma equate to real pain. Pain can take a lifetime to escape. Pain can consume us, define us, and guide our every decision. In the case of addiction to drugs and alcohol, escaping that deep childhood pain can quite literally take a lifetime away- either to abuse or death.
Recovery is a process of discovery. Among many other things, we discover, layer by layer, why we drank and used the way we did. The “Underlying” issues, as we call them, are what drove us to attach so intimately to the effects produced by drugs and alcohol. For people that experienced childhood pain, we face a saddening truth. We used to hurt that child– for being foolish, naive, not strong enough, too strong– whatever we find fault for. Endlessly, we cycle the timelines of our life, compartmentalizing our self away from whoever we “were”.
Recovery is also a process of healing pain. Through recovery we find out who we are. We uncover who we were, and we open ourselves to the limitless possibilities of who we might become. We heal the pain of our personal identity.
Recovery is an immensely personal process, the likes of which turn many away. “Personal identity,” author Rebecca Goldstein writes, “poses a host of questions that are, in addition to being philosophical and abstract, deeply personal. It is, after all, one’s very own person that is revealed as problematic. How much more personal can it get?” She asks, “what is it that makes a person the very person that she is?”
Recovery is a process of healing one’s sense of self and identity.
Here at the Center for Life Change, we’re committed to helping you rediscover the real you so you can live life free of addiction and chemical dependency.