How do you heal from addiction and alcoholism that you created? You may impact others through your addiction but you can also impact them through your recovery and healing. On today’s episode, Duane talks with Wendy Adamson, author of Mother Load and Incorrigible, about intergenerational trauma and how that impacts addiction recovery, getting better, mental health, relationships, and more. 

During COVID, Wendy witnessed the struggles of teens and adolescents who were having suicidal ideation, self-harm, and gender questioning. On top of that, a lot is going on with social media and bullying. 

As a teen, Wendy was labeled as incorrigible which is defined as, “not able to be corrected, improved, or reformed.” That’s what the justice system called her. They pretty much gave up on her and put her into the system. Wendy was taken away from her father, plucked from her life, and put in a juvenile hall. From there, she went to foster homes with different environments that nobody ever questioned. Nobody was asking about her or what she had been through. She was locked up not just physically but also mentally.

Unfortunately, there is still a lack of trauma-informed language for kids going into the system. Saying to a parent that their kid is incorrigible just sounds hopeless. Part of Wendy’s desire to write a book is to give other people hope that they are not incorrigible and that they can come out on the other side. Taking her experience and using it as a tool to help others became a transformative experience for her. 

Wendy explains that there’s intergenerational trauma being passed on unconsciously through children until somebody wakes up in the family. Wendy’s mother was 38 when she had a psychotic break and killed herself. She lost her mind and never got an opportunity to get it back. Wendy, too, had a drug-induced psychotic break at 38 and ended up shooting her husband’s girlfriend in the arm. She didn’t own any responsibility for it. She was blaming others and deflecting as addicts do. 

When Wendy finally reached a moment of clarity, she realized she was not only breaking her own heart but her children’s as well because the trauma was being transmitted to them. It was the same trauma that she had not resolved. As a result, her older son went into the juvenile court system just like she did.

In this episode, you will hear:

  • The lack of trauma-informed language in our society evidenced by our justice system labeling teens as incorrigible
  • The shame around mental illness
  • Going from a moment of victimization to a moment of clarity
  • Taking one step in the right direction
  • There’s no defense against kindness
  • How to create a positive feedback loop
  • Understanding the impact of ​​intergenerational trauma
  • Letting go of the outcome
  • We’re always getting opportunities to redeem ourselves.

Key Quotes:

[03:14] – “You may impact others through your addiction, but you can impact them through your recovery and through your healing.”

[12:27] – “When you’re level to the point where you’re out of ideas, and you surrender, and people are kind to you, you have no defense against kindness.”

[15:41] – “What we put out there, we get back, the universe responds by corresponding to my nature.”

[22:05] – “We have the power to transmute the trauma when one person decides to change, there is a ripple effect within the family system.”

[25:28] – “As a parent, you’re just throwing information over the wall and you don’t know if it’s landing and if they’re catching it.”

[31:08] – “There’s something that happens and the things are revealed to you that you didn’t know through your writing.”

[33:42] – “Life is not a snapshot. You know, it’s not just one image frozen in time. We get opportunities and we’re always getting opportunities to redeem ourselves.”

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Supporting Resources: 

Mother Load: A Memoir of Addiction, Gun Violence & Finding a Life of Purpose

Incorrigible: A Coming-of-Age Memoir of Loss, Addiction & Incarceration

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