At the age of 54, after many years as a clean, sober, productive individual, I came to a point where I hated my life and wanted to die. This was the beginning of a mental and emotional breakdown that took well over a year to come out of—and I was only marginally functional even after that. Racked with depression, anxiety and rage, I began to aggressively seek out the cause for the breakdown and my destructive emotions, and of course how this syndrome could be mitigated, though I still contemplated suicide nearly every day for several years.
Closing in on 58 years of age, a dedicated therapist and I finally zeroed in on the cause of my pain: unresolved childhood trauma arising from having been raised in a home with a particularly abusive alcoholic parent. I obviously knew that I’d been raised in an alcoholic home, and that it had been decidedly unpleasant but, having reached adulthood, having been long-removed from that environment and having conquered my own demons of addiction, I figured I’d be alright.
Despite having been aware of the phenomena of codependency and “adult children” for many years, I came to the knowledge that I had a lot to learn about them, and about how pernicious and destructive unresolved trauma can be. To my consternation, I learned that although there was a process in place for resolving this trauma, it would be the emotional equivalent of being dragged naked across a mile of salted, rusty razor blades and having the wounds dressed with concentrated lemon juice.
There were times when suicide or self-medicating myself into oblivion still appeared a more merciful course of action than attempting to tackle yet one more cadre of demons. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted, more rageful than I thought possible and hopeless despite the examples of recovery I’d seen around me—because by this time, I’d been conditioned into hopelessness. The many failures I’d encountered in my life as a direct result of the trauma and codependency only reinforced my hopelessness.
Besides—how much could I reasonably expect to accomplish in life assuming I could complete this program of recovery? I was closing in on 60, and the promise of a the reasonably happy adult life I believed I had at 20 had essentially been stolen from me…
And I was tired. Over 40 years of this sort of emotional struggle would exhaust even a well-adjusted person—and I definitely didn’t fit into that category…
– Rob E.