A lot of people are oblivious to recurring issues they encounter in life when those are actually the result of some unresolved childhood trauma manifesting in different ways. Whether it’s addiction, alcoholism, a toxic romantic relationship, a dysfunctional family, people-pleasing, impulsiveness, or you’re struggling with saying no – all these can be telltale signs of an inner wound that needs to be healed.

In this episode, Duane speaks with Andrea Ashley, host of The Adult Child Podcast, about her own journey of recovery and how she went deeper in recovery when she started to deal with her adult child issues. Andrea shares what it took her to finally find some deeper healing purpose and meaning in her life.

Andrea grew up in an alcoholic home and was the only child of an alcoholic mom and alcoholic dad. She turned to drugs and alcohol at 12 and became the focus of the family for the next seven years. She got sent to rehab for the first time in eighth grade. For seven years, she was in and out of rehabs and boarding schools. It did work in saving her family because her mom stopped drinking as much and her parents stopped fighting as much since they had to come together to deal with the nightmare that she was. 

At 19, Andrea got sober. But that was only the beginning of yet another journey through a deeper recovery of healing her adult child. Seven years sober, she found herself in a toxic relationship. Dating for less than a month and she reacted as if her life was over. She became a non-functioning human. But she had an aha moment realizing that her feeling wasn’t actually connected to the heartbreak but it was rooted in her childhood.  

Nine years sober, she found herself again in another toxic relationship that was associated with feelings of shame and powerlessness. When that relationship ended, she knew she had to treat it just as seriously as her alcoholism. 

It has been four years and the transformation has been mind-blowing. Her journey to healing her unresolved childhood pain led Andrea to launch the Adult Child Podcast, which now impacts thousands of people who are also dealing with their own adult children.

In this episode, you will hear:

  • The concept of the adult child
  • Her journey recovering from toxic relationships
  • Andrea’s childhood memories of having alcoholic parents
  • The manifestations of complex trauma
  • Addiction to excitement
  • Finding a therapist that can help you
  • Healing the little “t” trauma
  • Embracing the pain

Key Quotes:

[18:17] – “As soon as I decided I like the guy, my peace of mind would just be hijacked in a second… and I had no idea that I was suffering from complex trauma.”

[20:49] – “Complex trauma doesn’t have to be like big events, but recurring incidents. It doesn’t even have to be big, but just a parent being hypercritical of you over and over.”

[24:16] – “Our template for relationship and love is developed during childhood.”

[24:37] – “One of the characteristics of an adult child is that we become addicted to excitement.”

[29:04] – “The core wound is all of this faulty programming that occurred during childhood.”

[39:30] – “We don’t grow unless we’re in pain… I can get sober and never feel pain again. But it’s not really presenting very many opportunities for growth.”

[41:46] – “There’s nothing shameful or embarrassing about growing up in a dysfunctional family. Change is possible and you don’t have to do it alone.”

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Supporting Resources:

The Adult Child Podcast

Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families

The Addictions Institute with Stephanie Brown

The ACA laundry list – the 14 common characteristics of an adult child