What is a "family role?" Imagine a circle within a circle. In a dysfunctional family the roles are like pockets in a circle (within a circle within a circle, etc.). The alcoholic (addicted person, or "identified patient," in the center circle) blames other people and other people have to allow that to happen. The co-dependent, or "chief enabler," (the circle surrounding the center circle) feels guilty for allowing the alcoholic to act as he/she does, but feels like the relationship will end if the alcoholic's actions aren't accepted or tolerated – and also feels like there might be a lot of violence. Co-dependency could be called a compulsive depression that is not identifiable. When chemically dependent people and co-dependent people were first identified in alcoholic families, the spouses looked worse than the alcoholics. Co-dependent people learn to react more to the outside. They notice other people's feelings and do for others what they won't do for the "self." They seem to have lost their identities in childhood.
The alcoholic usually ends up having a lot more power in the family system – thereby creating a whole lot of family dynamics – circles intersecting the circles of the alcoholic, co-dependent and the other roles (circles) in the family, i.e. sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. These circles become "enmeshed," or, entangled with one another. The family system demands roles in the family – and it's not how "I see myself," – it's how others in the clan see "me" and how "I" fit into the family. Then the alcoholic and the co-dependent have children:
Child No. 1 (normally the perfectionist, successful one, caretaker, responsible one) will probably feel the need to perform and get all or almost all A's in school, anticipating success and attention. This child will probably feel responsible for all the feelings in the family and will try to cheer them up. Everything is always neatly organized and he/she will feel like a failure for ANY mistake (and will label the "self" as a failure), so he/she will run harder and faster to keep from failing, and will feel like the world is on his/her shoulders by age 5. This child could raise the rest of the family. He/she will listen to others and be perfect for a while. No one usually helps him/her. If there is another sibling born, the role usually switches. Then the perfect one usually turns into a rebel really quick, flushing diapers down the toilet, picking at the baby, not being potty-trained any more, etc. If the younger sibling becomes a rebel, the "perfect" child becomes the perfect child once more. He/she probably will end up being one of the workaholics who is very successful at business and who relaxes with a drink after work. It's HARD to have fun, so they need that drink to "loosen up." When this person hits "bottom," realizes there is no perfect person or thing in this world, and goes into recovery, he/she could make a great counselor!
Child No. 2 (normally the rebel, then usually ends up the scapegoat, also) figures that since there is a already a perfect one, that he/she is not going to win by "being good," so ends up "being bad." This child will probably flunk out of school very early. This child could also end up as the "scapegoat" of the family. As the scapegoat, he/she may start taking the blame for the family's problems. This child feels that if he/she wasn't in so much trouble all the time that things would be better, and usually becomes withdrawn. He/she usually goes with peer pressure, ends up with an unplanned pregnancy and/or is abusing chemicals by age 12 or 13, and normally by age 16 or 17 is in an accident of some sort – and alcohol or drugs may disable the person or perhaps even claim another life too early. This can be a "normal" pattern! The child may grow up, staying in trouble all the time and being defiant to the world. He/she somehow secretly drinks, doesn't clean his/her room, skips out of church and school, wears wild clothes, listens to wild music, marries "outside the church," etc. If this person could get into recovery, making the journey to becoming happy and healthy, he/she would also make a great counselor. He/she would be very honest and open, living a capable and full life.
Child No. 3 (lost child) would probably be neither "good" nor "bad." This child watched the siblings who came before him/her and decided not to be like either of them – the roles of perfectionist and rebel were already taken. This child would be sure that there were no problems. He/she would get C's in school. This child would not want to draw attention to the "self," so the tendency would be to just "let this child be." Unfortunately, he/she will probably not learn normal social graces, and will feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy. The child will most likely be overweight or extremely overweight. He/she will appear to be independent and will "blend in" at the workplace, but will secretly be feeling devastated and will probably die earlier from loneliness. This child feels abandoned, a potent and horrible feeling, and feels like he/she is not "part of the family system." He/she totally believes in "don't talk, don't trust, don't feel." If this person could get into an early recovery, he/she would have great independence and usually be very creative. Unless this person has a full recovery, he/she will usually not be able to relate to other people very well because of childhood fears – but will probably be great with machinery or become a computer whiz!
Child No. 4 (mascot) probably would feel fear of others. He/she would most likely be "protected" by the older children, so his/her fears would go unresolved, would never be acknowledged – and this child probably will become very phobic.
Child No. 5 (clown) will break up the family conflict by putting bread sticks up his nose, barking like a seal, making faces at the table, etc., so he/she can get others to laugh, defusing the tension caused by others. He/she doesn't know how to live with tension and doesn't know how to resolve conflict.
Child No. 6 (identified patient) will frequently be a child "acting out." The wife and husband love one another, but can't talk out and resolve conflict as long as the kid is a "pain in the bottom" – and since the concern over the kid keeps the man and wife from talking, the whole family turns on the "patient" so that he/she ultimately becomes the scapegoat in the family. The parents may "smother" this child with love and keep him/her "in the nest" so they don't have to resolve any conflict between themselves.
Child No. 7 (hero) doesn't have to be the successful one or the perfect one. This child will be a hero in football, soccer, etc. The family system elects him/her, even though the hero may not want to be doing what he/she is doing – but would actually rather be out collecting butterflies.
Child No. 8 (scapegoat) is the one who takes all the blame for everything bad that happens in the family. He/she will feel like anything that happens anywhere is his/her fault, even at school, work, etc. Usually the child that is the scapegoat for the majority of his/her young life will not make it into adulthood.
If you get "left out" of the family setting, that is a role, too.
These are just a few of the roles in a family. There is also peacemaker, etc. These roles can be acted out in church, work, etc. You probably have a piece of each one of these roles within you. You may be a hero at work and an enabler at home. It's when we become "stuck" in one role that we end up in a lot of trouble! If you're stuck in one role (possibly two), you probably won't be able to get out of it without some professional help or Divine intervention. We learn roles to survive. We could control that role and it seemed to work, so we just stayed there – but should we? Perhaps the mascot, a male, grows up to become a "joker" or comedian and goes to work normally "happy"most of the time, but one morning goes to work in a sullen mood because his dog died – and the dog was his only companion and friend. People start asking if something is wrong. The mascot may not be able to express what is wrong and/or may not be taken seriously if unhappy feelings are brought up. This person may just go home suicidal because he was supposed to be happy, yet was unable to bring forth the happy feelings at work, so he feels like a failure. That was "the role," to be "happy," right?
If you get "stuck" in any of the roles, that is where the pain really starts. An only child can fill all the roles. Normally, everyone goes through each role – the trick is not to get stuck in any one (or two) role(s).
In the dysfunctional family there is also the "triangle" of persecutor, rescuer and victim. On one side of the triangle, traditionally the male or "dad," is the persecutor. The persecutor is the "sniper" in the family, the one who starts conflict most of the time, and "hammers" the victim with remarks filled with criticism, or, if the persecutor is an older sibling, may say things like, "Mom loves me best!"
On the other side of this triangle, traditionally the female or "mom," is the rescuer. The rescuer is responsible for the victim, and is the caretaker and peacemaker.
On the bottom of this triangle, either male or female, is the victim. The victim is not allowed to grow up, so no one can resolve conflict, and mom and dad don't feel very good about being parents. The victim will run away, rebel, wreck the car, be sick all the time, etc.
Sometimes to have value, our whole "pseudo self" is tied up being a persecutor or rescuer or victim. "I can't," "Someone help me," tugs at the heart of the rescuer – "I'll save ya!" This is "normal" in our childhood, so when we are adults we won't feel normal until we are back in the same situation – perhaps even creating the same situation. The persecutor can hammer subtly, "I want you to be a brain surgeon." The rescuer, "Cut her some slack!" The persecutor, "Stay out of this!" The kid, the female victim, trying to tell mom and dad that she doesn't want to be a brain surgeon, tries to express her thoughts and begins to say so in a plaintive voice, "Dad..." But before she can say anything more, the Dad is immediately back hammering at the kid again, "Get back to your school books! You gotta get good grades so you can get into medical school!!!" Some of the other things the persecutor might say: "If you're not home for dinner you will go hungry until tomorrow night." "If you're not home by 8 p.m., you might as well go someplace else." "I'll be proud of you if you remain a virgin until you are at least 20 years old," etc.
The persecutor role is self-serving, and uses "will be proud of you ... if..." a lot of the time. Yet if you were to go to college, the persecutor would still not be pleased. So you go for your master's degree. That doesn't even seem to please him/her. So you think that if you get married to a really successful person and have kids, etc., that would do it – but it doesn't. The persecutor will never be pleased because he/she is not pleased with the "self," is very uncomfortable with the "self," and is probably "projecting" onto you the displeasure he/she feels with the "self."
The persecutor (for example, a male) never understands that he really only had to say that he was proud of you for growing up, taking responsibility, loves you and is proud of you for "you" and the things that you have done, etc. If you try to please a persecutor, you will be "chasing ghosts" trying to make the persecutor "proud of you." You do not have to "please" dad, mom or anyone else.
Unconditional love, which is usually what parents feel for their children, is: "I love you for you – you don't have to please me. I LOVE YOU, no matter what – I just may not like some of the things you DO and I may not like your behavior!" Conditional love is: "you have to do this (or that) IF you love me."
We all need to take the responsibility to treat each other kindly.
Now imagine that circle within a circle again. Remember, the inner circle is the alcoholic and the outer circle, surrounding the alcoholic, is the co-dependent. More and more the alcoholic's life revolves around alcohol with predictable outcomes. The alcoholic does not like to live alone and he/she usually requires someone of the opposite sex. Since the co-dependent's life revolves around the alcoholic's life, what kind of day the co-dependent has depends on the alcoholic's day. They both may think that children will make their lives better somehow. The dad thinks maybe he will feel better about himself if he has some kids "to carry on his name." So, they have a child that's athletic, another one who is reckless and does crazy things, and the youngest one, who ends up being a computer whiz and making a lot of money – all of them becoming an extension of dad. Dad wants them to do for him what he cannot do for himself – have money, be athletic, yet still be crazy and reckless. So those children become part of the system of circles, or become "enmeshed" – the children's circles are interconnected with the alcoholic's and co-dependent's circles – and even with each other's circles.
They may bond with mom, and she may have her "favorite." Because the parents are unable to meet the children's needs, the children are there to take care of the parents' needs. Those children may keep their parents "on a pedestal" or they may be used in their childhood by the parents – including emotional incest. Usually a child will become more bonded to the person who abuses the most (usually the alcoholic), losing his/her rights, and will usually end up in a love-hate relationship with that abuser.
For example, let's say Terry, the third child in the family, becomes the "lost child." Mom needed a husband, even though she was married (to a drunk), and so Terry becomes an extension of dad, even teaching dad how to fish. He also becomes mom's therapist, etc., and ends up losing his "self." He clowned around and bonded with mom. He needed to "play" each role separately to deal with mom. He felt close to her, but yet she was already married. He felt angry, but yet protected her. He grows up and finds a girl he really likes and ends up getting married. Yet he couldn't really marry his wife because he needed an emotional divorce from mom! Eventually, with help, he realizes that he thought mom was there for him when in reality he was there for her. Terry's younger brother was sacrificed. He rebelled against dad's chemical dependency and so therefore, his dad had another reason to drink! Sometimes the children can adapt, but Terry's younger brother couldn't. He became enmeshed and couldn't differentiate between mom and dad. He felt shame with others and was depressed all the time. Being enmeshed with his family who were in denial and who had all these secrets, and believing that there was no hope for happiness, he ended his life.
Most children will actually "act out" parent's repressed (denied) feelings. Somehow the feelings must be "made real" and/or verbalized. Parents show kids how to have rage, affairs, drugs, shoplifting, a death wish, suicide, etc. A child may say that his/her dad works a lot and then ends up acting out the secrets. The dad was really out late with another woman and drinking, not working late. Does anyone know why that child grew up and became a "lady's man" and an alcoholic? Does anyone know why the child's sister grew up to become a nun – who ended up getting busted for shoplifting? The dad stole secretly from the kids – his time and his trust, among other things.
This family really needed boundaries. If there are no boundaries, no one will respect another's boundaries and then you end up with enmeshment, denial, secrets, etc. No one can make choices because no one really knows what is going on. Therapy should help uncover the secrets and denial, allowing the family and the individuals therein to make more healthy choices. Dysfunctional families damage the children by keeping secrets – and many times the children will "act out" the secrets.
Children need love, food, shelter, respect, intimacy, and a lot of other things, but do not get any of their needs met by either dysfunctional parent. The children usually end up trying to meet the needs of the parents and/or of other people's needs, resulting in the beginning of the loss of their own identities, and if the parents have two children, the results could be:
1. The first child, a female, may take on the "mom" role and she will stay "stuck" there. She will probably adopt everything loose in the neighborhood. She will be a loving, caring, responsible child and she will usually become a provider. The parents will fight about money. Money insecurity is a really major problem.
2. The second child, a male, may take on the "rebel" role. He will usually be self-destructive, and even if he doesn't want his life to be like his parents' lives, he will probably become like them anyway. Violence becomes sub-level. Dad beats people up. This kid will be able to turn a warm, fun, summer day into a cold, stormy, winter day with just a word or a look – all done subconsciously. This child may be moved from the rebel role to a hero role or to a scapegoat role. His rage is internalized and he may become an extension of his parents in an addictive role.
When these children grow up, they may take on the role(s) of the abuser(s) – or, as a victim, will become the offender or will marry another person who is an offender.
The co-dependent role may be passive. This person doesn't notice anything or does notice something but does nothing about it because he/she doesn't know what to do about it. Sometimes this person becomes a passive-aggressive personality. This person probably won't notice "because things were so much worse in my family!" This person may become addicted to anything that may make him/her feel euphoric – it may be drugs, TV, food, money, cleanliness, religion, rituals, material things, sex, anger, fears, etc. Co-dependency, or passive collusion, is knowing and leaving the room, closing the door and allowing things to go on.
Normally the co-dependent is a care taker, and may want someone else to feel like he/she is feeling, too. If he/she doesn't want to feel any pain, anger or hurt, etc., those feelings are hidden, and this type of person will stop talking, become a workaholic, twist ideas or input from anyone, etc.
We keep parts of every role we "play" in our family. If we become a perfectionist, a hero, a mascot, a rebel, a caretaker, a clown, etc., we will also keep the emotional unavailability, the shaming, etc. We will react to outside influences and probably not care for the "self," etc. Just because a child gets straight A's in school doesn't mean he/she is okay with the "self" and may be really sick. Normally in a dysfunctional family the motto is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!" Unfortunately, we don't see the "broke" part and eventually the breakdown occurs. In a really dysfunctional family the child may suffer as much as a veteran of war. Trauma is trauma is trauma.
This child (or children) may end up with post traumatic stress syndrome, they may suffer spiritually and lose any meaning in life, etc. If children were to be held captive on a bus for 8 days and suffered physical and other types of abuse, and if you could check on each of them 5 years later, you would probably see results of the bus incident (unless they had been in some sort of therapy which worked). Most of them would feel like they were "lost" and wouldn't feel like they could do anything with their lives or even change anything in any way – and the grief issues would be overwhelming! If these children do not process grief in a healthy way, they may even have delayed grief:
1. Compulsive Caretaking: crying for others, not for the "self;" having caseloads, not friends – entering a profession like a social worker, doctor, etc., which is reinforced by society, doing a really good job, perhaps too good a job, and burning out very quickly.
2. Fixed Rage: never crying, always angry – or always "cheerful" on the outside, angry on the inside; numbing out a lot; not feeling.
3. Constant Undoing: marrying the "mother" or "father" figure or working for the same; wanting to go back and find mom and/or dad so they can "do it differently;" trying to redo any relationship and work it out with them again (and again and again).
4. Avoidance and Isolation: not staying around people so they don't have to react to or feel anything.
5. Drug/Alcohol Usage: avoiding any issues by "self" medicating; not dealing with any issues that come up by doing the same.
6. Symptomatic Problems: having physical problems that are stress-related – headaches, ulcers, eye problems, etc.
Even if you never want to do what your family did to you, at some point it could happen. It may be a tone of voice, shaming, transferring violence to shaming, active co-dependency or actively participating or allowing things to go on in front of you, etc. You need to resolve grief issues so your children or other family members and friends don't have them pushed onto them. If you go into recovery you will help yourself and those you love, and it will also separate grief issues that belong to your "self" and those that belong to parent(s) and grand parents(s), etc.
We need to be honest and question any relationship (with God, the "self," husband, wife, daughter, son, friend, etc.) and reassess it periodically. For example, the relationship could be with the "self," and could be 25 years old – and on your 25th birthday you might wake up and wonder "why am I acting this way? I'm acting like a rebel – when did I become a rebel? I don't want to do this any more!"
We react to someone else because of our belief systems. You control your own feelings, so you may wonder why you allow yourself to feel a hurt, i.e. someone called you a wimp – are you? You assess the situation and realize that you are not acting like a wimp and you do not feel that way, so – whose problem is it? Was that other person projecting onto you how he/she feels about his/her "self?"
Do we have to go to Thanksgiving dinner if grandma invites us? "Aunt Sue will be wearing a lot of makeup – when she kisses me, it will go up both nostrils! Cousin Judy will hug me and will be wearing way too much perfume – I will probably smell like it for a month! I don't want to go!" As a child, you usually don't have a choice in this matter. As an adult, you do! Will you go then? We need to re-evaluate what we are doing and why. If you feel a need to change, do it for your "self." You can also make a decision to not change anything.
What decisions did you make at 5 or 6 years old? You can change them now. For example, if a girl was sexually abused about age 5, she might have decided then that it was because she was pretty. As a 30-year-old woman she "pigs out" at every meal, gets fat, doesn't take a bath or wash her hair very often, doesn't hardly ever go anyplace and in general, makes sure she looks awful – just so she won't be abused anymore. She sabotages her "self" so she won't be hurt ever again – and in reality she is hurting her chances for a healthy, happy life. We can make decisions at 5 to 10 years old that will make big differences in our lives later on. We might have to question a belief that we have – did some survival decision as a child cause you to get "stuck" at that age, and now, as an adult, your decisions are still being based on a child's decision?
Should you remain a victim anymore? Are you tired of people taking advantage of you? Should you remain a "perfect one" anymore? Are you so tired you feel like you could drop because you work so hard – and you never seem to have any fun (with the "self," with friends and/or with family members)? Do you think you might possibly be depressed?
You might even use your "self" to persecute your "self." To persecute yourself, you say to yourself that you shouldn't do something. As the victim, you say "poor me." As the rescuer, you may "rescue" yourself with a drink, drugs, food, shopping spree or some other addiction.
If you decide at age 5 that you are a "nobody loves me, no good, worthless piece of poop," you will probably grow up and never be able to find someone to love who will also love you. If you do think that you have found someone, remember that you won't be able to rescue a drunken cowboy with no teeth by listening to country music and trying to "love him until he doesn't drink anymore."
It's highly doubtful that you consciously wake up saying, "Gee, what a nice day – guess I'll be a victim today." Or, "Gee, guess I'll be an awful, mean person today." These are usually subconscious decisions we make, normally from decisions made by you in your childhood.
You can usually break a habit in 21 days (unless you're stubborn). Yes, you may slip up, but you can keep on trying to break that habit if it is unhealthy and if you really want to break it – and you will eventually succeed – unless you stop trying.
So if you have a problem – any problem – and you are in denial of the problem and not talking about it with a trusted person, eventually most everyone in your family will end up "acting it out." If you don't talk and you're the only one in trouble (or so it seems), you probably won't get help. If you are getting straight A's, why do you need help? Aren't you "all together?" Isn't your life just wonderful and everyone should have a life like yours? I wonder if some of those straight A students who have committed suicide "for no reason" – or who have ended up becoming an addict of some sort by age 30-40, thus destroying their "wonderful" lives – thought about some of those things...
If children are not taught how to get rid of denial, are not taught how to become optimistic about life and are not taught that things do change and/or will eventually work out, then they may try to self-medicate or fix others, lose the "self," feel hopelessness and despair and wish they were dead (and sometimes even deciding to end the "self").
Whatever the problem(s) is, we must "get real" and face it! If we don't, we will pass the problem(s) on to our children, our grandchildren and even past our great-grandchildren. Will your problem(s) become the inheritance you wish to pass on? Or will you pass recovery on to your heirs? Will you help your children learn and know how to be happy? One of the interpretations of addiction is a loss of choice. Recovery is a journey. This journey doesn't have a destination – unless you don't do it! If you hurt your child (even if you don't mean to), realize that hurt was an example of a fact that you didn't get what you needed as a child, so you couldn't meet the needs of your own "inner child," which means that you are unable to meet the needs of your own children. We need to nurture our "inner child" so we can help our children learn how to nurture theirs. Recovery can be passed on to future generations – just like addiction can be passed on! Choose recovery! Recovery is a choice – addiction is the loss of choice.
If you choose to go into recovery, and you decide a good therapist would be a guide, get in and out of therapy as fast as you can, with the willingness to go back into therapy if necessary. Choose a good therapist carefully! Or, if you don't think a therapist is necessary at first (or you fear going to one), go to a group meeting such as AA or ACOA and let your "self" join in. If you need to grieve, too, join a grief group (you can even join both groups at the same time). Then, if you realize that you need to, find a good, reputable therapist and do individual and, if need be, group therapy. The more you can do, usually the faster things work – however, please do not become compulsive (an addict) about recovery! Also, be aware that you will also need forgiveness. You will need forgiveness for your "self" and for others. Remember that it's a journey – a process – that will probably last your lifetime.
If you are going to a group for recovery and you get to a place where you want to separate yourself from that group, perhaps feeling like you are becoming "too dependent" on them, you might find another group or see how you do without going to a group for a while. If you are feeling better because you've learned how to become intimate (done with clothes on) and you have several family members and/or friends you trust, and you can share with your family members and/or friends, you may not even need to go to a group because you have found acceptance and love for your "self" and from other people. However, if you start feeling lonely, remember loneliness is the opposite of intimacy. You will need to talk with a friend, a family member or a group in order to help yourself alleviate the loneliness – even if you don't really feel like communicating with anybody! (Usually that's the time when you need to share the most!)
If you are in a relationship with someone, and you feel as if you are becoming too co-dependent or that it is not a healthy relationship, please end it tactfully – don't ever allow your "self" to be bitter or allow a relationship to end bitterly. If you think the relationship is worth saving, suggest recovery to your partner, also. If he/she is in pain and is willing to begin the process of recovery, chances are you may be able to make that journey together – and you may marry and celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary, wanting to be married forever because both of you are happy and can enjoy life to the fullest extent possible.
Learn about yourself – recreate your identity. You may realize that you don't have very much tolerance for people who are addicted and are not in some type of recovery process. Again, don't end a relationship bitterly. They just don't see what's going on (the elephant in the living room and no one sees it) nor do they understand how crucial recovery may be for themselves and/or for their families and friends.
Forgiveness is the ultimate – and you can get stuck in recovery if you can't forgive. It's okay. Forgiveness can be elusive. It can also become a desire when you truly understand that true forgiveness will free your "self" from all sorts of unhealthy feelings, attitudes, physical ailments, etc. Forgiveness is for the "self" – and you do NOT have to allow a person who has hurt you very badly to harm you again. You don't have to become a masochist to forgive. The person you are forgiving may not even know that you forgave them because he/she may be too unhealthy for you to want to be around. That's okay. Don't put yourself in a position where you would be harmed physically and/or mentally, etc.
Healing comes in stages – and again, recovery is a process, and you will be in this process for a long time – perhaps even for the rest of your life. The levels for recovery are:
1. Survival: survival is an unconscious act, the mind just "takes over" the body
2. Emergent Awareness: becoming aware, whether by intervention, having grief/anger issues at the work place or some other place, having anxiety attacks, sharing your feelings, becoming ill, etc.; then realizing the need to take care of the "self" and get in touch with your feelings; recognizing wrongs and the feelings of those wrongs so you don't pass them on
3. Dealing With Core Issues: grieving about the core issues such as abandonment, anger, etc., and realizing you need to share
A. Acknowledge - grieving about the core issues such as abandonment, anger, etc., then realizing the need to share and face the "rotten" core of your being; risking; practicing forgiveness and "letting go;" sharing feelings and really feeling them – don't deny them – and sharing even with people who have hurt us, remembering that criticism is not allowing other people to be who and/or what they are; making decisions about people who hurt us (remember, to decide "not to decide" is also a decision) and separating from those people for a while so that you can find the "self" – then later having a relationship with those people (if you wish to) without enmeshment – detaching from the enmeshment and "becoming close" or intimate (done with clothes on) without losing your "self"
4. Transformation: beginning to feel better and beginning to know that all the hard work you have done is worth it - your life is changing, becoming more healthy
B. Accept - you are human, you will make mistakes, you can learn from the mistakes; accepting and getting a sense of serenity about a wrongdoer, or about the violence or about not getting what you needed as a child is very important – you can share when appropriate – and it's okay to relate to your parents, kids, etc., that you CHOOSE to have a relationship with the parents, kids, etc., and YOU decide where to spend Christmas, where to shop, etc. – embracing your feelings and feel them!
C. Choose - knowing that you have a choice in your life
5. Integration: your inner child and your "self" are merging, beginning to become "one" – your child can play, your adult can be responsible – and they can both be together at the same time
6. Genesis: beginning the transition to your higher self with the knowledge that there is purpose, order and continuity in this life; understanding that you have a part in this life; gathering strength from the "bad stuff" and learning and growing; continuing to educate yourself
Remember: A family is only as healthy as its healthiest member.
*Recreated from notes taken during lectures at various hospitals, and at the YWCA, etc., including classes given by Jim Osborn, a great teacher