Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) was the resultant research from one of the largest studies ever conducted for understanding the associations between childhood maltreatment and adult health and well-being. It showed a clear correlation between negative early family life and later adult struggles.
A summary list of ACE categories includes:
· Emotional/Physical/Sexual Abuse
· Emotional/Physical Neglect
· Household Substance Abuse
· Household Mental Illness
· Parental Separation or Divorce
· Incarcerated Household Member
Studies indicate that anyone who experienced two or more of these negative childhood categories was highly susceptible to negative adult situations. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way, but these folks do tend to have significant adult life struggles. ACEs are not an excuse for adult behavior, but an important explanation.
Many guys at Helping Up Mission over my 14 years here have commented on their struggles with SUCCESS! They couldn’t understand why – after getting clean from drugs or alcohol, acquiring a good job and restoring meaningful relationships – they would “sabotage” their newly found success by using again and losing everything they recently gained.
I had trouble understanding it, too, until I learned about Adverse Childhood Experiences. Guys who grew up in traumatic negative environments where they were abused, abandoned, helpless or “the cause” of the family’s problems grew up feeling like victims or “losers.” That’s hard for a child to cope with and, sadly, even as adults guys continued to see themselves the same way.
Consequently, while having success as an adult, it made them uncomfortable and they continued to feel like that little loser-boy who never would amount to anything. Deep inside they just knew that they didn’t really belong here and that it wouldn’t last.
HUM Spiritual Life Director, Mike Rallo, talks about the need to replace the true but old pictures of “little loser-boy” with the equally true, new and NOW picture of the successful adult they are today. Once I understand that I do belong here and that I am this new guy, I can begin to get comfortable with these new surroundings.
Today I have the opportunity, under God, to be a new guy and enjoy all the benefits that come with it. But to do that I need to begin seeing things (especially myself!) as they really are.
One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Pastor Gary Byers