New Days from Old Family Scripts

By Ken Wells - 09/20/2022


Series Three: Blog Sixty-Three

Family scripts and experiences are carved in stone. Recovery requires significant long-term effort to disconnect the emotional wiring that sabotages relational intimacy caused by family dysfunction. Many of us have turned into ourselves, unable to connect to others. It was, at the time, a necessary choice in order to survive the lack of safe, loving and consistent care from our primary caregivers. For many mom and dad were good people who did some lousy parenting. They did the best they could most of the time. It just wasn’t enough. As a result, many of us learned to numb ourselves from the myriad of unhealthy childhood experiences to protect ourselves from disintegration and pain.

Today our relationships become conflictual and difficult. We recreate past disappointments and losses that were experienced from family past. We become compulsive. We are driven from boredom by a compulsive desire for more excitement. We seek ways to not think or feel. We think that if we control situations and people around us, we will not be so likely to get hurt or be alone. So our truth becomes black and white, driven by thoughts we would like to avoid. Many of us deny reality. We want others to do our research for truth. We tell ourselves that the realities that surround us are not actual. It’s all fake news. Addicts have done this their entire lives. It’s an illusion that we embrace to numb the out of control and over control cycles that create more and more chaos. We learn to compartmentalize so that we see these weaknesses in others in order to avoid the impact of our own past experiences in our family of origin.

Here are a few recovery reflections from old family scripts.

  1. Grieving unmet needs is important to accepting what is. There is a desire for others in our family-of-origin to embrace new found awareness and truth that is discovered in recovery. But, they don’t! In many cases, your insights are ignored and not even acknowledged. For a season, much of your energy is spent trying to help your family of origin to see what you have uncovered. Grieving takes time. You will need to let go and accept that your loved ones will likely never see what you know. Acceptance is not compromise. Rather, it leads to separating yourself from your truth. Without grieving you will fight your family and fight yourself trying to get them to understand. Acceptance leads to embracing whatever relationship you can engage with your family-of-origin. It always means letting go of what does not exist but you it wish did.
  2. Learn to internally regulate your feelings. Allow the emotional pain from your family-of-origin to surface.  For me, it was like trying to hold down powerful springs that were essentially painful experiences. There was a pattern of behavioral experience that included religion, fast-paced living, and addiction that served as a cocktail for numbing out what I did not want to face or feel. The reality of painful past experiences were the springs that kept pushing back against my stubborn will, which tried to avoid the experiences I feared to face. Finally, I wore out and all of the springs started popping up all over the place. I was unable to control them. Internally, I fell apart. This was the place I began to learn to regulate my feelings. It required that I surrender to trying to control what was uncontrollable. Internal regulation included facing what was real about my parents and childhood.  Until this happened I relied upon life skills that led to intimacy disability.
  3. Reconstruct your beliefs about relational fulfillment. The way in which you do relationships will change as you reconstruct your fundamental beliefs about yourself and the world around you. Detaching from your family-of-origin is often necessary to realize that you are worthwhile. Others see that you are an unrepeatable miracle of God. Give yourself permission to take it in. There was a time in my life that I enjoyed the connection and friendship of others but I craved for the acceptance and connection that I did not have from my family of origin. I desperately wanted their smile of approval. Like wolf pups hovering around the carcass of their dead mother hoping for milk, I hovered seeking the approval and acceptance that would never come from my family of origin. I learned to let go and move on. You must too. Learn to believe that who you are is valued. Rebuild your mistaken beliefs into affirmations that help you realize your destiny of connection, value and relational intimacy. This reality is a result of accepting you being just the way you are.

For many of us it takes a lifetime to unravel the family scripts that were carved in stone. For those who take the journey and stay the course discover the secret of their own brilliance and genuinely rejoice in being an unrepeatable miracle of the universe.

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