For members of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA), part of our solution for healing is to become our own loving parents. We do this through 12-step work and by taking a blameless inventory of our caregivers to recognize the wounds that we received from them so that we may heal them. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” We take this generational pain and turn it around to start a new family legacy of loving, faithful, and virtuous living.
Ignoring an infected wound and denying that it exists will only make it fester and eventually cause great harm to the whole body. The only way to heal our wound is to understand its origins and apply the appropriate cure. Adult Children have found an appropriate cure to the wound of family dysfunction, which combines the Twelve Steps with reparenting.
So, what exactly is reparenting?
In a previous article, I wrote about how we can recognize various parts of ourselves and what roles they play in our psyche, an idea that comes from A New Hope: ACA Beginners Meeting Handbook. Here I want to focus on the importance of developing the voice of the inner “Loving Parent.” For me, this is where reparenting began. At the beginning of my recovery, feelings and buried memories from my childhood emerged and it was terrifying! I would wake up every morning feeling afraid. As a result, I got into therapy and kept attending recovery meetings but one of the most helpful things was learning to speak gently to myself. In other words, to learn to reparent myself.
I stopped pushing memories of my childhood away and began listening to the voice of my inner “Loving Parent.” My “Inner Child” had so much to say and felt neglected and abused for so long. She was longing to hear the voice of a loving parent instead of those internalized messages from childhood that kept telling her things like: “Stop being so sensitive!” “What’s the matter with you?” And “Just get over it!” Early on I started to gently rub the sides of my legs at night, imagine myself as a little girl, and say, “It’s ok, you’re safe now. You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re not a bad person.” I began allowing my “Loving Parent” to speak.
Eventually, I discovered that there were a host of different voices from various stages in my life who needed to be heard, known, and understood. So I learned about and developed an “Inner Child” meditation as well as discovered The Loving Parent Guidebook: The Solution is to Become Your Own Loving Parent.
Recently I came across a free scaled-down version of that book online and I thought to myself, Maybe we could start a virtual CIR ACDH Reparenting meeting using this workbook? And we did just that! The CIR Adult Children of Dysfunctional Homes meeting is held virtually on Monday evenings at 6 pm EST. In the meeting, we place a particular emphasis on developing the “Loving Parent” voice and getting to know our “Inner Child.”
The beauty of this virtual meeting is that it’s offered in an open format so that people can come when they can and learn about this aspect of adult-child recovery. Working the Twelve Steps is crucial, but learning to reparent ourselves is a major part of “the solution” for healing our deep childhood wounds. This meeting provides a gentle, safe, and respectful place to begin or continue that healing process. We hope you’ll join us.
Born and raised Catholic, Chloe is an adult child of alcoholics who recently rediscovered the beauty of 12-step recovery through attending Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and Catholic in Recovery meetings. For many years, Chloe was an Evangelical Christian before the Blessed Mother, the saints, and the witness of a dear friend eventually drew her back to the Catholic faith.