Sadie was sleepy, and this was not unlike any other evening, lying on her couch bed. Sometimes she would play upside-down-world just to stay awake. Sadie tried hard to keep her eyes open. She was anticipating another evening of her parent’s fighting. Her parents had turned the lights out, so Sadie could slip comfortably into dreamland, but little did they know, that all she ever had were nightmares. They whispered quietly in the dark, and with each and every sip of beer, the anger built. This was always the way the night turned out. Then, Sadie would find herself startled into awakening, with behaviors happening which she never understood. How could she understand, she was only five.
The above is just one example of how children experience dysfunction within a family setting. When children are exposed to adult situations, they never truly understand enough to make a correct assessment. Given this, the child is left with perceptions of life which are totally different. The child has to look more, listen more, and try to balance these perceptions, if even possible. When their view of the world is filled with distortions, their head becomes cluttered. How can they then perform well at school, when all their thinking goes to what happened at home, and that which they don’t understand? Their brains are not yet able to process the situations and their thinking is altered. They find a role to play within their family and life, which eases the pains from their wounds.
In the article Early Wounding and Dysfunctional Family Roles by Lisa A. Miles, at www.psychcentral.com, it is mentioned that most wounded children will take on one of four to six roles in their family and life, and it even can be a blending of any number of these. Four of these roles are:
1. The Rebel
2. The Mascot
3. The Good Girl or Boy
4. The Lost Child
The Rebel is obvious. They usually end up in trouble to defy the family where they exchange external trouble for internal pain. The Mascot is the child which brings humor to the family to defer the pain. They are the clowns and fail to grow up, but are often kind and good-hearted. The Good Girl or Boy, is the one that always does the right thing at the cost of their happiness. The Lost Child is the one which is never home, appears invisible, and loses themselves in other activities to avoid the home life, and misses out on adult intimacy.
In 538: Murder, Suicide and A Mother’s Love, author Cheryle Boyle’s character Sadie, offers many examples of the wounded child. Sadie experiences dysfunction first hand from a family that struggled just to survive.