Video: Growing Up in a Family That Hurts

If a child is witnessing a lot of chaos or has an addict parent who is wonderful one day and a monster another day, the child is left to make sense of that with the developmental equipment of their particular age. And you can just guess what kind of sense they make of it: “I’m bad, I can’t figure anything out, I can’t get anything right.” And then you transplant that child into adulthood, and that’s where it’s going to come out.

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Adult Children of Alcoholics

What happens when the family itself becomes the proverbial saber-toothed tiger? Children cannot flee – where would they go? They cannot fight, because they would lose. So they shut down; they freeze; they flee on the inside. But without somehow processing what’s going on for them, that numbed and frozen pain can live within the self system, an emotional accident waiting to happen.

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