I hope that the past few weeks have been a positive healing experience for you. I also hope that you may have considered how family addiction is like a scrimmage which includes several realities. As indicated in my last article about the addictive family, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the seven realities may help to find a healthy solution in our much sought after self-acceptance.
The first reality we will explore is Pathos, a Greek word used to describe deep sadness or to suffer emotionally. Families and individuals suffering from the effects of chemical addiction in the family often suffer a deep sadness and the pain of emotional suffering. Emotional pain accompanies addiction in many forms. For instance; depression, anxiety and somatic symptoms when, in reality, they are the appropriate symptoms of living in an addictive family. As the disease of addiction progresses so does the pathos. Over time the addiction and the pathos merge and become unrecognizable as they devour each member of the family. Together addiction and pathos fulfill their role: keeping the family in a state of denial as to the true reality of their experience.
Pathos describes the ongoing sorrow and the pain of a tormented mind. Eventually, this ongoing sorrow saturates into the body and spirit resulting in the addiction transforming itself into a mystifying powerful figure ruling over the whole family. The family sorrow intensifies.
Every family experiences some level of emotional suffering. In the addictive family there is usually a tremendous amount of emotional suffering due to the unpredictability of the individual or individuals under the influence of a mind altering substance. This is due in part to the daily struggle within the family as they adjust to living with addiction, the scrimmage. Scrimmage, meaning a rough and vigorous struggle which can eventually lead to a “bloody battle”. The progression of addiction, in some cases, sadly does.
Children growing up in an addictive family can be conditioned unconsciously to prepare for a daily family scrimmage. Pathos and scrimmage result in frequent emotional injuries that deeply wound and often destroy the genuine-self. A false-self can emerge and annihilate the true genuine-self, appearing as low self-esteem when in reality it is much deeper than that.
The pathos experiences can often explain current circumstances that may be unpleasant, such as in our toxic relationships. For example, “the amount of pathos in an individual’s life can determine the degree of emotional immaturity or maturity that one takes into a relationship” (Jackson). Pathos will cultivate a painful emotional identity, a Pathos Identity. This will often lead them into relationships that will continue the agonizing experiences of childhood. Without early intervention to resolve this painful emotional identity, their pathos slowly becomes comfortable and familiar and difficult to live without. It becomes excessive. This pathos, the on-going daily emotional suffering leads the emerged false-self into a relationship with another’s false-self; chaos ensues.
How do we heal from this pathos cycle which is experienced in the addictive family? The answer lies in identifying the amount of pathos we have experienced and the scrimmage wounds that remain exposed. Realizing and accepting the family’s pathos, and the power and position it has had on the addictive family, can prepare the family for recovery. The goal is a congruent life, a Profound Coherent life. Understanding all the realities is the beginning of healing.
The second reality is the Abstruse, the secrets, secret. The addictive family secrets are abstruse. We will explore the second reality next issue. Until then, remember we can heal from the family scrimmage and find our own personal joy and serenity. What once was an injustice can now be the teacher that taught us to live in truth if we so choose to do so.