Emerging from six weeks of treatment for a lifetime of depression and compulsions, I was finally free, or so I thought.
“At least now, I don't want to kill myself” I told the doctors, a low level of hope streaming across my face. They'd seen it before, people arriving in complete despair and emerging a month later with tools to keep themselves sain and deal with a world that can often be just too much.
“Robin, we recommend you do 90 in 90.” That means I would attend 90 twelve-step program meetings all in 90 days. It was a large task, especially given the fact that I had no car, no job and was holding $256 dollars in my pocket and a one way ticket to a friend's home that promised me she'd pick me up from the airport.
When you fight depression for all your adult life and then it's gone, a different kind of emptiness floods over you because what gets taken away from the human heart must now be filled.
So I did just that – began filling the void of pain and regret that I had identified with for WAY too long.
If you're in (or have been) in a similar predicament, I won't fill you with stories and lectures of how you need to be praying, meditating, doing yoga, reading, journaling and for god's sake, there is NO grand call to action at the bottom of this encouraging you to take my program.
This is just my experience.
What you may find interesting is, even though I too participated in all those healing practices, it was one little letter that helped me the most.
The practice is called, Re-parenting.
Pioneered from the late, John Bradshaw in a book titled, Homecomings, John did books and lectures most of his life about the wounded inner child that forms when we have what's called a “defining moment.” This is when our vision is ruptured from our true identity and we become someone else to remain in safety, or accepted by the tribe/family.
It's all very primal, and nobody, not even our parents, know it's happening.
In that moment, we begin wearing a mask, hiding our true identity from the world and like a soldier concealing his wound under extensive armor, we bleed out little by little every day.
You have options. You can pick up a countless number of addictions, compulsions and distractions from dealing with the nagging pain in your heart.
Or, you can begin the process of re-parenting and finally be free.
“Write a letter to your inner child.” the counselors said to me.
By this time, I was so broken, I'd do anything to stay alive and reach a symbol of happiness.
The joy that I found was priceless as this below is what I wrote:
“Where have you been sweet child? I searched high and low, far and wide, all with no trace. I never thought to look inside. I heard your call, or was it a scream? Your tears have traced the developing wrinkles on my face.
Here I am, all grown and mature, yet I feel you alive, buried in the dark caves of dreams forgotten. Your eight-year-old little face peers from the shadows of security blankets, green eyes bright and yet hiding your fear in a toothy grin indicating mischief and eagerness.
Damn, you're so cute!
I regret all the times I was too busy, caught up in a frivolous pursuits of acquisition, status and title. In so many ways, I did the best I could to be called a “good man” and never would have known it would require rescuing an innocent young boy to find completion of myself.
Ironically, you my son, are all the greatest things that constantly leak out of me. The poet, the dancer, artist, lover, it is you that I have to thank for the soul gold I cherish so richly.
I've watched you grow through the years. Eight, nine, ten..Such confusion beginning to line your path, stone steps rocky, balancing like a gymnast on beams intended for fun.
You're now 14, developing in ways foreign to you on the mystical journey to manhood. That path was intended to last 5 to 6 years and you were saddled with the ultimate hero's journey to save mom, church and family.
With rigorous and unbending compromise, every level of your development was micromanaged so all remnants of your identity were placed into oblivion.
You held the burden alone, never once complaining unaware of the plot. Mom dismantled your sexuality and rebuilt it to a form all its own. I can only imagine how confusing it was to look up on your body with all its new sensations and vibrations tucking yourself away in shame and fear only to be wound up for another pleasure like the ultimate Jack-in-the-Box.
Education became a hodgepodge of downloads on righteous living. Life was lived in duplicate, one side vigilant to keep the contracts of behavior metrics and adhere to their puppeteering. Another side was fractured off to explore the woods and rivers like that that life's fortunate circumstances afforded you.
What a fun Tom Sawyer you were. Unbounded and free, you turned to embrace nature's love and nurse you along to live another day. Your bravery is astonishing, resilience pumping through our veins all these years later.
Your teens became a blur, over like a single moon cycle, moving from the only home you knew your final tour was over. As fast as the tide comes in, adult life is upon you to experience your ultimate disappointment. If you doubted your value your eighth-grade education made certain the final nail in the coffin was in place.
Like a proud parent watching a child cross the stage at graduation, I have forged the path and this is now your time. Commencement speech in hand, sing your triumph oh valedictorian. Adjust your cap and gown to a tilt, float your 2015 tassel to the other side and strut on that stage for you have graduated!
Like a soldier coming home, you have graduated from the countless tours of duty in service to toxic parents, abuse of your precious care and isolation that created 100 false starts.
My three boys, stand with me now. Eight, fourteen and eighteen. Look left and right, take us in and join hands, resolved to unite and rise from the ashes to become the Phoenix for all or misplaced hopes, dashed dreams and distorted views.
Sing your songs sweet children, spread your wings and embrace your light. No I'll be your champion and never leave or abandon you.
Like a long-term dysfunctional family, we will required some time of adjustment to scale the walls, navigate the minefields, but we are here, handpicked like fine jewels from the caves of despair and the mountains of survival.” ~Robin, Adult Parent – 07/18/15
There it is. Like a kind and nurturing parent, I said to myself the very things I wanted to hear from my parents/caretakers for so, so many years.
The freedom came from being empowered to give myself, everything I ever needed. That's it! The power was inside me the entire time, not outside pursuing the trappings of this silly world that promises the good life.
Re-parenting. Who knew it was even possible.
If you are suffering from this ailment, or would like to learn more, I encourage you to look at ACAoA: Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. https://adultchildren.org/
The organization is a non profit and is free to anyone that resonates with the message to heal themselves.
Much love to all of you. There is healing, hope and restoration within.