Addicted to Trauma? Rejection? Drama?

I wasn’t sure what else to title this.  So, I am wanting to explore some thoughts I had in the middle of the night.
Do you ever just wake up in the middle of the night with “aha” moments and some quiet, clear time to think?
That is what happened to me last night.

I have been pondering the events of the last year in our family, and also the makeup of each of our sweeties, and just sort of comparing notes.
Something STRUCK me and I don’t know if it has been explored carefully by the mental health community.  I’m sure I’m not the first person to ponder it, so if you know of any information regarding this, DO SHARE!

Everybody knows that there is what is called an “addictive” personality.  Folks can be addicted to all sorts of things including, Alcohol, Drugs,Pornography, Sex, Food, Sugar, TV, Video Games, and more.
Some addictions we find socially acceptable, and others not so much, as in Alcohol, Drugs and Porn.
As I was thinking about our girlies who ALL came from extremely difficult backgrounds, two of them came from addicted parents, and two did not.
The two who didn’t are doing fantastic. The two who did, not so much.
Is it possible, that just like with cases of domestic violence, women may not necessarily be suffering from low self esteem as much as an additive problem to emotional or physical abuse?
I know many will say that the REASON they seek emotionally damaging relationships is because of low self esteem.  I’m just exploring the possibility that it may be addition for some and that is why they do not respond to those who encourage them and try to help them in the area of self worth.
IS IT POSSIBLE that kids who have suffered trauma, may become addicted to the drama of the trauma?
I have witnessed personally in my own life at a younger age, and with my girls, the stirring of the pot so to speak during peaceful moments just to get to a point where they can blow up about something or try to cause somebody  else to blow up at them and thus recreate drama.

I have heard Sweetie 4 say many times, “Normal life is boring.”
Meaning, even though there is peace and calm that is something to be thankful for; people may be singing or dancing or playing a game or going boating, or there are endless things to do, it is boring for her, because there is no turmoil or drama!  So the more peaceful the day, the more she would try to create something to sabotage.
In detention she seems to play both sides of the coin regarding drama in the pod she is in.  She complains about it, but there is a sly smile of satisfaction attached to it that we observe when we visit.  She may cry about something happening, but seems to be really “into” the fact that it happened.

It is as if the addictive brain craves that “high” it gets from the chaos.
I have seen that “look” in both of our girl’s eyes when they are doing what I am talking about.  It is a look of power and control, but also a look of being desperately out of control.

If this is an addiction issue, the things we have dealt with are not necessarily  about not feeling loved;  as our two have most certainly responded to unconditional love over the years, and both given and received it.
But there is something in them that draws them away and they begin to try and recreate the atmosphere of trauma, and  the OLD feelings of being rejected and  unloved.  It is like craving a candy bar.
But it is a very negative, unfortunate, dastardly  craving! AND…..It doesn’t work here, because they ARE loved!  They have tried in EVERY way to make that not so.  But it IS so. They both say that they know that we love them, and that they know we are faithful to forgive them. And, it is the very thing that makes them angry.  It is like they hate innocence, or the pureness of childhood joy and are drawn to the dark side of chaos.

So I’m wondering if all those years when I was rocking and encouraging, teaching, lovingly instructing, modeling and trying to create a home of unconditional acceptance and love,  we have actually been dealing with ADDICTION, not low self worth or fear of rejection; or, a combination of both.
As I’m sure there are moments of self loathing, especially AFTER a drama incident, or horrible accusation,  just like the alcoholic probably regrets getting drunk or the drug addict regrets getting high, because there is destruction that occurs and natural consequences of that destruction  are not easy to face.

It is like a light bulb moment here went off and I’m not sure where to go with it.
I do know one thing….. We LOVE our girls and HAVE loved them all along.  One has been home 12 years, the other 5.  It SEEMS that if the issues they face were purely from PTSD or TRAUMA, then healing would be taking root as with our other girls.
I have ALWAYS made the assumption based upon what I have read in from the adoption community over the years, that these behaviors stemmed from fear.  That is, until
both of these girls made similar statements that not only are they NOT afraid, they are happier in more dramatic circumstances, away from us.  Neither of them are depressed.  And I do know depression can look many different ways in young people, but it still LOOKS like a representation of depression!
Addiction to trauma or drama vs. no addiction to trauma or drama, MIGHT,  just might explain why two of them, have responded to that love in every way, even though they have had some of the most horrific neglect and abuse possible yet the other two, who have responded off and on,  are continuing to make choices that are damaging to relationship and family unity; especially family safety, and have spiraled out of control. 🙁
They both live on the “edge” and flirt with dangerous behaviors.

I have written before about children recreating chaos, , because that is what they are used to, and many of those articles are here on this blog.    But after YEARS and YEARS of working through individual  past traumas, it seems there would be change.  And there WAS, for a time.
This post is not about a newly adjusting child who has just come home or the child who is going through the grieving process of loss.  I can totally get those thoughts, and have been there with our other girls too.  And yes, grief can visit in cycles and at different levels;  one cannot discount grief and loss in adoption.
It is however,  about the possibility of  something else going on…..Could it  quite possibly be addiction?

Any thoughts?

10 Responses to Addicted to Trauma? Rejection? Drama?

  1. MamaV says:

    I have a friend who worked in the medical field for many years who talked about people who were addicted to illness. Being ill, needing medical care, became so much a part of some people’s identity that it became an addiction. Not to say that all people with chronic illness have this problem, but for some it is a real danger. It feels safer to stay sick than to try to be healthy…

  2. Melin says:

    I know that it is not this simple but a lot of what you describe fits neatly into mental illness. Personality disorders versus character issues.

    I do see your point and I agree. But I think it can all be summed up by the dx of mental illness combined with intentionally poor decisions. Yes mental illness contributes to poor decision making but not always. Not by any stretch.

    I’ve added nothing but thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christi.

  3. Melissa says:

    The fear and prolonged stress response does, in fact, create a chemical change in the brain. Someone at CAFO explained once that one can be “addicted” to that state. She said that the drama was familiar. Peace in her family, which caused the chemicals to subside, made her feel like she was falling into a bottomless pit backwards. It was an unknown, scary, out-of-control feeling, so she would misbehave to increase the stress level in the house to get her brain back to the high cortisol levels she was used to. So, yes, there are some addictive qualities, but I think fear is also a factor—fear of not knowing how to navigate “withdrawal” or the trauma brain not being resilient enough to handle a withdrawal. Or not being able to trust a family to help you get to the other side of withdrawal.

    We’re probably dealing with kids who have trauma and addiction interlaced which is why trauma-treatment seems elusive and just sending them to rehab for an addiction probably wouldn’t cut it either. We’re just praying for a big, huge, fat miracle from God at this point.

  4. Sandra says:

    Wow, what an interesting thought! We see the same thing in our sweetie’s. I will need to reread your post, to process all you have shared. Thanks so much!

  5. anniekitching says:

    I wish I could give you the link, but I watched a demonstration of TFCBT where this anxiety about a peaceful situation was what they were dealing with. I do think that is a way of coping with trauma for some people. Maybe it is fear of change. They know how to cope and function in the troubled, drama-laden situation, but not in a peaceful loving one. That makes them filled with anxiety – perhaps, lest the “other shoe drop” and they aren’t in control. I think it is a lot like my sweetie, who having been sexually abused, now initiates sexual behavior with just about anyone – in an effort to be in control of that aspect of their relationship – it she starts it, she won’t be a victim.

  6. Nancy says:

    This is a very interesting thought . . . what you write makes me think of someone who is an adrenaline junkie – someone who is addicted to the rush, to the thrill of engaging in dangerous behavior. I wonder if what you are referring to is something similar, maybe, as someone mentioned above, a craving for the feelings that excessive stress hormones produce? It’s probably more complicated than just that, but perhaps it involves the part of the brain that is prone to addiction? You may well be on to something . . .

  7. Laura says:

    Hi, you might want to consult the concept of FORT-DA, as proposed by Freud. It has to do with a compulsion to repeat or recreate a traumatic event.
    Anyway, you’re awesome, I truly love your posts.

  8. Penny says:

    Trauma and drama are emotional intense experiences involving biochemical “rushes” that leave deep imprints on the brain and its memory-forming apparatus. In a twisted sense, those intense emotions can make a person feel very “alive”, and yes, that feeling can become biochemically addictive, especially if it is repeated.

    And as Annie says, there is another aspect, that of recreating the situation so as to be in control of it. Sort of like constantly probing a painful tooth with your tongue, maybe, but on a much deeper level and with much worse consequences.

    • ChristieM says:

      I conversed with our counselor about this, and she had some very good insights too. I love Annie’s insights! 🙂

Comments warmly welcomed!


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