Last night, I found myself seeking a glass of wine. Usually only drinking socially, I was alone in the kitchen preparing dinner for the family. It had been a busy day…what was this seeking of an experience altering substance about?
Growing up in rural Australia, alcohol has always been present in my life. My father drank to alleviate the stress and pain of history written in his body. My mother drank to be with my father. I drank to because that is what everyone did once they hit adolescence. Alcohol was always present. At dinner, at events, at celebrations, at commiserations, whenever adults were gathered there was always alcohol. It was a “social thing” ….or was it?
As children, we live moment to moment, and those moments define our experience. Whether it be joy in discovering the first egg laid by the family chooks in spring, or the rage of injustice as one sibling crosses the other…children live in their experiences. Yet in our growing up, it appears that some children learn that both the pain and the ecstasy of life are too much and that rather than learning how to regulate their experiences, they begin to seek distraction and in time disconnection from these highs and lows of life.
At the extreme, modeled in; alcohol dependence, excessive food consumption, cigarette addiction, overwork, social media obsession, or perhaps our inability to be alone…as adults, we demonstrate to our children how to disengage from truly living in experience.
This learning to disconnect from experience however is multi-faceted. As parents, as teachers, as caregivers in a child’s life, being unable to simply be with a child, regardless of whether it is meeting the child at their best or at their worst, if we, as adults can not tolerate a child’s experience, how will a child learn to tolerate their own? It is in how we respond to the child in their distress, with acceptance, with love and with care, that they discover their own capacity to self regulate.
Pause and take time to be with our own experiences and with the experiences of the young people around us. This is an investment in both ourselves and the generations to come.
Reflection: “What is your relationship with alcohol or similar detractors from experience?”
(As a Wholebody Focusing oriented therapist, Sarah Sacks actively supports her clients to come into relationship with their experience)
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