As an adult child of an alcoholic, the quiet in my household was most likely always followed by chaos. The thing I craved the most as a child was peace. The uneasy feeling of impending doom followed me well into my adulthood. When there was happiness in my life, I knew it would be short-lived because that's what always happened. Why would it be any different now?
I had to learn how to obtain inner peace on my own– the hard way. I was in my early thirties when my body told me through panic attacks that I needed to find a sense of inner peace or else I was going to go crazy.
Enter—my therapist, Cindy. She helped me decipher the layers and layers of grief, heartbreak, and the loss of my childhood. She held the key that opened the gates to my hidden traumas. It became a daily battle to keep the flood gates under control. There were many days that I felt like I would drown.
According to the Adult Children of Alcoholics World Services Organization https://adultchildren.org, "stuffing" our feelings is one of the traits identified in adult children of alcoholics. "We have "stuffed" our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial)."
I knew I shut down emotionally because I had to survive. With Cindy's help, I processed the painful discoveries by living through them again. Memories bubbled to the surface, and it wasn't long before my insides felt like one big open wound. I knew it would only be a matter of time before the real emotions would come oozing out—and they did. Becoming overwhelming at times, I knew I had to find something to do with the residual feelings because they hung around for a while.
It was then that I started reading Days Of Healing Days of Joy, a daily meditation book that helped validate what or how I was feeling.
The holidays bring some stressors for me. I've written about triggers and how to deal with them during the holidays. To be present and have peace during the holidays is all about keeping myself centered. So...I pick up my daily meditation book from my bedside table and read it morning and night and in between if I need to. I try to get enough sleep, take naps if I need to, and take in a lot of quiet time.
I remember my life when there was no calm. Holidays were filled with chaos and angst. Even though it was many years ago, the triggers still occur, as those of us with complex PTSD know too well. Holidays are significant triggers. We have to figure out how to be better at our self-care. That took me a pretty long time to do, Self-care had meant being selfish, or that is what others led me to believe. I no longer believe that ...thank God.
To find your peace of mind means finding happiness, contentment, and bliss no matter how hard things get in life. Finding happiness does not depend on a problem-free life or the absence of conflict because we all experience problems in our lives. Life is like riding the ocean tides. I used to fear drowning, but I do not any longer. I know whatever comes along my way, I'll be able to handle it as long as I keep myself centered.
I now know that my lasting happiness lies in keeping my mind, body, and soul-aligned.
I am sitting in my sunlit living room in complete quiet as I write. I hear my dog Coco snoring, making me smile, and my other dog Max breathing down near my feet. No matter how much time passes by, I will never forget the feelings of loneliness and desperation I felt in the past, and for that reason, I will revel in my serenity.
That is what I wish for all of you this holiday season:
A peaceful place for reflection— a time to sit in the tranquility of your life. Find that sense of serenity in which only you can find.
May we all have a peaceful Merry Christmas and a calm sense of renewal in the upcoming new year!