Chapter Five – Stage Two: Mourning

In Stage Two recovery, the focus shifts from the details of your past abuse to the impact of the abuse on your adult life. This stage represents the intermediate point in your recovery, in which healing and change occur in tandem, each reinforcing and complementing the other. As in the fourth step of Alcoholics Anonymous, the cornerstone of Stage Two is taking an honest inventory of your current life problems and then dedicating yourself to changing the behaviors that are making your life unsatisfactory. For adult survivors, this means going beyond awareness of your self-sabotage and taking direct action to deal with it.

Stage Two also requires you to delve deeper into your psyche to face your shame, a core feeling experienced by many adults from dysfunctional families. Ultimately, you must challenge the shame and turn it around into self-acceptance, which will then become the source that nourishes your new self. This will enable you to accept and express your grief over the disappointments in your childhood and mourn the loss of your dream of an ideal family. By letting go of childhood hopes for the parents who failed you and feeding your budding self-acceptance, you give birth to a new sense of entitlement. You will be free to be your own person and to choose how to live your new life. By altering distorted perceptions and beliefs and learning how to control your aggressive behavior, you will foster changes in your personality that will end forever thepossibility of your continuing the cycle of abuse with the next generation.

Rarely does recovery proceed in a neat, step-like progression, especially during this middle stage. There will be times when you stray from the focus on your abuse and head off in new directions that seem either too pressing to ignore or likely to yield valuable insights. As you develop confidence in your ability to assert your opinions and even disagree with your therapist, family and friends, you may find yourself examining your relationship with them. This is a desirable and healthy development because it indicates that you are learning to express your newfound sense of autonomy.

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Survivor to Thriver, Page 82
© 2007 THE MORRIS CENTER, Revised 11/06