Laundry List Trait 10: We have stuffed our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (denial.)
Actually that is not actually the trait we are currently working on in our group. However, somehow I sense that I am getting closer to understand what trait 10 refers to… All of a sudden I felt sad these days. “Mama drinks, passes out. Child alone.“ In short, it is at about this kind of sadness. I do not allow myself to escape the situation, I stay in, stay in that feeling, I allow myself to feel the sadness in all its depth. I examine what I feel, calmly, almost like a surgeon. Sadness. Sadness about having been left alone.
Being blind to drunkenness
A weird thing for me was that for a very long time, for almost all of my adulthood, I was literally blind to drunkenness. I could not determine if that other person sitting in front of me was drunk or not (ok, seeing them falling of their seat would me make think…). I had no clue. I figured that this fact was somehow connected to my childhood. But how exactly?
Slowly, after attending ACA meetings for almost three years now, I note that I learn to determine if someone is drunk. It started quite abruptly. What hurts me about noticing drunkenness is not so much that people drink – adult persons should know best what they do, after all they are adults! Today, what hurts me when I see them getting drunk is that it makes me feel quite lonely. People getting drunk leave… they leave for another place, Alcohol Country. And I am left behind. Even if they are loving, caring people: Once drunk they no longer care. The only thing they are concerned with is their… trip.
That is fine. Adult people. I am adult too. I can walk away – what I often do, nowadays, just leave the party, heading home. Walking through nocturnal landscapes/cityscapes is an esthetically uplifting experience. It makes me feel good. No damage done, to nobody.
But when I was a child? What a different situation! A child cannot just walk away when Mama is drunk and unable to respond. Actually I did walk away, as a child, more than once, heading for shelter at my grandmother’s place. What an awful situation.
Re-encounter with that Inner Child within me
And all that dawns on me, these days, just by… seeing people get drunk at parties. It reminds me of myself, being a child. Or eventually: it makes me get in touch with that Inner Child within me. That child that never allowed herself to feel these feelings of loneliness and sadness. Because handling the situation required all attention, no energy left for feelings.
Today I feel good. Save, loved, supported. By friends, by my ACA group. Today, there are people in my life who care, who ask how I feel. Quite a new experience. But why do these feelings of loneliness and sadness creep up now?
Maybe this is natural. Maybe I slowly let go of my survival-mode, a mode that shuts off feelings which are too overwhelming, too painful, too threatening. Maybe now that I feel very OK, I do have that extra energy required for feeling old feelings. Feelings connected with my painful past experiences.
And the good news…
So probably that is the good news: These feelings are connected to my past experiences. And they come up because my present is happy, safe enough so that I can let them allow to come up. Obviously these (childhood-)feelings are a sign that I did something… right. 🙂 That an old wound is healing. 🙂 That I start letting go of that… painful past.
Maybe the only thing I have to do is to give the honors to that inner-child-that-was-me. And I give her the honors by recognizing the feelings she had: feelings of sadness and loneliness. Feelings which I did not allow myself to feel back then. But I do so now.