An adult child may spend a good portion of his pre-recovery life on the outside, looking in, yet never understand how others seem so comfortable and connectable with each other. The need to bond with others and, indirectly, the whole and home from which his soul came is intrinsic and God-given.
“Most human beings have an instinctive need to fit in,” according to the Al-Anon text, “Courage to Change” (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1992, p. 361). “The urge to belong, to keep the peace, helps us get along with others and be a part of society. This instinct has allowed many civilizations to survive… “
While this may be both a natural and logical need, it may be little more than an unattainable theory to an adult child, whose development was arrested and whose reactions stretch as far back as his initial parental or primary caregiver betrayal, shame, and trauma.
Several reasons can be cited as to why.
That original trauma, first and foremost, may have left him as a resource-less infant with no ability to protect himself or escape the danger the very parents who should have nurtured him created, leaving him little choice but to spiritually flee within and tuck his soul into the cocooned inner child sanctuary, which remains mired at its time of impact.
Substituting this true or authentic self with a false or pseudo one, he is unable to connect with others and, indirectly, God or a Higher Power of his understanding. Indeed, the substituted ego, as has often been dissected, only “edges God out.”
Chaotic, unsafe, and unpredictable upbringings, secondly, only breed mistrust, leaving the person to subconsciously believe that those he will later encounter in his life will subject him to the same predatory attacks and danger he experienced in childhood, since he has little or no experience with environments that were stable and in which he was not the target of his parent’s anger and hatred.
Because these circumstances have most likely resulted in a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) condition, leaving his protective radar high and causing his chronic hypervigilance, this dynamic, along with his inherent mistrust, causes him to maintain his distance from others. He repels intimacy and his relationships become superficial.
He can, for instance, be in a room with a dozen others, yet feel alone and isolated, because he cannot find a crack in his defensive wall that will allow them in.
If I couldn’t trust my own allegedly loving and protecting parents, he may reason, then how can I trust them?
His detrimental upbringing, which he justified as having been the result of his own intrinsic flaws and unlovability as a person and which further shattered his self-esteem because of its demoralizing nature, additionally diminished his value, leaving him to believe that he is not worthy enough to be with others. If he cannot connect with them, how can he feel equal and up-to-par with them?
This lack of worth was equally reinforced by the abusing parent …