Co-NNections Recovery Stories

Unraveling Coping Mechanisms From Childhood – July 9, 2024

I take this opportunity not to regurgitate debilitating pain, but to gently arrive at a new understanding of the effects of pain from my childhood, that I realised I still carried with me as an adult.

To work through the layers, it is hugely important that I admit that my childhood experiences negatively impacted how I have perceived myself as an adult. My aim for this experience was to overcome the trauma that had dogged me throughout my adulthood as an effect of the pain I endured in my childhood. The trauma drove my authentic self into hiding so that I could survive and cope. I remember distinct feelings as a child of hiding away (metaphorically) and that it was very important for me to somehow not be a bother. But where did this belief come from?

I think back to the beginning. I picture myself as a helpless infant dependent upon my emotionally suffering mother. By the age of four I was one of six children. Instinctively I knew that my role in the family was to hide away and somehow not be a bother. My mother was so busy with my five siblings that she needed me to be quiet and not cause a fuss, and as the introduction in Peeling the Onion states, ‘we came to realise that we were groomed to meet their needs’.

I was groomed to be quiet and not make a fuss. So, I kept quiet…

My mother seemed very unsatisfied in her role. Her frustration was expressed through regular innuendos about herself not being good enough, where she would say ‘wrong again Charlie’ – and she was Charlie.

The subtle innuendos were passed down to me.

She had feelings of abandonment from her mother and would talk with me about this at times when I had grown up. I believe she continued to feel abandoned as a wife. I think that her unaddressed love and abandonment shaped my experiences as a child. In my process of being groomed to be quiet and not make a fuss, I was to experience ingrained feelings of loss – loss of her love.

The cycle of abandonment continued.

Through years of relationship addiction, I finally found my way to CoDA. Here I slowly learned that due to my childhood experiences, the root of my codependent behaviour was an absence of intimacy with myself. Ever so slowly, I picked myself up and began to forgive myself for not knowing what I didn’t know. I found a sponsor, worked through the First Fourteen Days, and then progressed through the CoDA Steps.

I gradually began to forgive my mother and in doing so, forgive myself.

Today, I know I am in the right place, right now in my recovery as I approach experiences in a gentle and loving way. As I keep coming back to my weekly CoDA meeting, I pick myself up in a forgiving and supportive way. Through the support of CoDA, I have become aware of coping mechanisms from childhood pain.

Today, I have a desire to only be engaged in healthy and loving relationships.

Debbie R. 06/01/24

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