When one person in your family is in treatment for addiction, the entire family is in treatment. This process is meant to be a healing process, but before your teen can heal from the behaviors involved in addiction and mental health disorders, they need to heal emotionally. As they are completing an inventory of their life and their problems, emotional baggage involving your family is likely to surface. This is an excellent time for your whole family to deep clean the emotional baggage.
Finding Those Proverbial Skeletons in the Closet
Most families have some type of emotional baggage, even if it has been tucked away, like a skeleton in the closet. Even simply the way everyone dealt with a traumatic event, such as the grief of losing a loved one, can create emotional baggage. Something that might surprise you when you inventory your family’s emotional health is that family members often carry different baggage, despite having lived through the same experiences. Everyone experiences life differently.
Facing Your Teen’s Emotional Baggage
The emotional baggage your teen may be carrying around may be particularly surprising to you. They may be carrying around pain surrounding something as seemingly innocuous as something you made them wear. Or they may be hurting from words you said about them that you did not know they heard. More than likely, their baggage is more significant than that, especially if they are now acting out and abusing substances.
However, you need to be prepared for the ugly truth: their pain may have been caused by something you said or did. The relationship between parents and children often creates emotional baggage, especially when communication and healing do not happen spontaneously. Words and actions cause wounds that fester over time when not addressed, and before you know it, your teen is carrying around some serious emotional baggage.
The Burden of Family Emotional Pain
No family is perfect but, within each family, certain events can cause pain and trauma throughout the family. A serious illness, loss of a loved one, accident, or natural disaster can create emotional scarring when each family member tries to deal with these events on their own. More harmful are the times when as a parent, maybe you said or did something you regret, or as a child, they caused the family pain and grief.
All of these experiences add up, and when experienced together, can either be healing or create a heavier burden, especially when no one ever addresses the pain. This can create long-lasting pain on a familial level that can impact each person differently. In the case of your teen, family pain may be the root cause of their behaviors.
Making the Most of Family Therapy
The most effective way to deep clean your individual and family baggage is to invest in family therapy. To invest in family therapy, every family member’s time and sincere efforts are needed to invoke healing on a familial level. When even one person is not invested or does not participate, family healing may be thwarted. The pain that exists on a family level needs to be healed on a family level.
When Do We Need Individual Therapy?
Sometimes, family therapy alone is not enough. Because each family member experiences life differently, one or more family members may be more deeply affected by the same events. Different personalities also struggle with communication, healing, or simply letting go of the past, too.
All of these scenarios call for individual therapy along with family therapy to help the individual and the family heal. Your teen will be accessing individual therapy in their treatment for addiction. You or other family members may also need to find a therapist to help you work through the painful emotional baggage that is keeping your family from healing.
Improving Relationships Through Emotional Deep Cleaning
As you and your family work through challenges individually and as a family, don’t be afraid to dig deep. This is the time to put all of the cards on the table and go all-in on the healing process. Serious neglect or abuse may require more time and more intensive therapy, but family issues that can be addressed together can be healed together.
By not holding back, you can lay bare the true underlying problems in communication and behaviors that have been weighing your family down. Just like spring cleaning, the more work you put in now, the more your family can reap the benefits later. By being honest and thorough in your emotional cleaning, you can improve family relationships by developing new communication and family habits. Going all-in on healing equals going all-in on your family.
This spring, while your teen is in treatment for addiction, do some emotional deep cleaning to remove the baggage that is weighing your family down. By getting to the root of your problems and investing yourselves in family and possibly individual therapy, you can improve family relationships and facilitate family healing. The family is the heart of healing at Sustain Recovery. We know that addiction in the family equates to family addiction – every family member is impacted when one person experiences substance abuse. Our extended residential program allows teens to heal individually and as a family as we gradually re-introduce them into the family setting. We work with teens who exhibit substance abuse and mental health disorders to find the root of their problems and help them heal individually and as families. Contact Sustain today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is right for you and your family.