Being raised by addiction

If you were raised in a home where your parents were addicted to something or someone, you learned to raise yourself. I have written about these personalities in earlier blogs. If you had siblings the oldest usually took on the role of super hero and also the responsibility for making sure the rest of you got where they needed to be, they were the little man or woman, old soul.  The second born usually takes on the role of scapegoat.  They will be held accountable and punished for anything that goes wrong in the family whether or not they actually did anything.  The third born is the lost child and they are usually ignored because they never cause any problems, fading into the woodwork.  The fourth child will take on the role of mascot and supply the family with comic relief, the class clown, will use humor to disengage the tension in the house.  In this family the children usually take on more then one role, but have one as the primary function in the family.  In functional families they also have these roles but they are incorporated into each individual and encouraged to grow within that individual.  They are not splintered.  In a dysfunctional family the parents are not emotionally strong enough to encourage this to happen.  Each child is fending for themselves and volunteer to take on these role because they recognize the need for someone to do so.  They have no idea what they are getting into because there is not an adult present to tell them or guide them.  They are raising themselves.  By the time you are an adult, you have learned a lot of dysfunctional ways to manage your life and often times find yourself in trouble emotionally, mentally and physically.  What used to work in your family does not work in the real world.  You find yourself needing another way to be.  Get yourself to ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), Alateen or Alanon.  You may even want to consider AA or NA because most children from dysfunctional families have learned the copings strategy of drinking or drugging to get rid of the problem.  It doesn’t work, it causes more problems.  You will be faced with getting rid of what is no longer functioning in your life and what you want to keep.  There will be things that will serve you well and want to keep and nurture.  Do not throw everything away all at once.  You are stronger then you think, you have survived this dysfunction!  There are parts of you that helped to get you through, hang on tight to them!  They will get you through this process  too.  You will need the support of the above group(s) and maybe even a good addiction therapist to help you throw out what is no longer working.  Letting go is not easy, habits die hard sometimes even when we want them gone.  Change is scary sometimes.  Trust does not come easy because you learned early some people are not trustworthy, you learned that from your parents.  Let go anyway!  You will like your life and yourself better when you’re done with the process.  This guided imagery video will help in the letting go.      Click here for the relaxation and guided imagery videos   Enjoy!


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I became a therapist in an attempt to understand my own childhood and what happened there and how it made me who I am, exhibiting the behaviors that were not always positive, very often self-destructive. I used Art Therapy to help me understand things in my past that were stopping me from making better decisions in my present day. I used Behavioral Science to help me understand underlying causal factors, roots to the present day behaviors that I was seeing in myself. Both help me to change those behaviors/thoughts that were causing me to make self-destructive decisions that were causing pain in life. I have been a therapist since 1985 and have an undergraduate degree Art and behavioral science (double major) from the University of Maine. My graduate work was done at Marywood university and I have a degree in Art Therapy. I have certificates in Forensic Interviewing and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior therapy. I have 22 out of 30 credits toward a degree in Trauma Therapy from Drexel University. I started out as a Community Support Worker, Program Manager/Clinical Supervisor, Family therapist and Outpatient therapist.

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