Posted by: innerpilgrimage | August 31, 2010

The Playground of My Mind

      I’ve been doing some work on opening up to the feelings that I have, respecting and rediscovering that Inner Child which seems to hold on to a mass of forgotten memories.

      The hardest thing about doing Step Eight, I am realizing, is finding that I am bereft of many negative memories. I don’t know if they’re forgotten by choice or sublimated to protect myself. Either way, I am having trouble finding the harm I need to make amends for.
      Some things are completely obvious, and perhaps if I get them down, I can open more. I am hoping as I clear things away, I will find more available to me.
      My mind seems to have a flurry of activity connected with it. Emails I need to send, things I should write. This, I think, is good because it’s helping me prioritize what needs to get done. I just have to write it down if I don’t plan on doing it right now.
      Yesterday, I had an HP-driven day. My computer wouldn’t log onto the internet, so I ended up going into my volunteering opportunity. I was able to talk to someone about feelings I worried about. Most of my feelings involve being afraid of hurting others while I express my concerns and frustrations. In other words, I feel guilty for establishing boundaries. That’s an amazing revelation that I already knew. What I mean by that is that I knew logically what my problem was yet did not have the tools or language to deal with it. I knew something was wrong, and I knew it had to do with my need to isolate because I couldn’t control interactions between me and others–from the influx of information from people I don’t know to the worry that I would be rejected outright by people I do know for not obeying their wants. I am a people-pleaser, and enmeshment (or isolation) have been the only two options until now.
      With the work I have already done in 12-Step recovery, I am finding out the words for the actions I have been taking. Being able to identify it has given me power to use the strength of my Higher Power through awareness of the problems. After all, one can’t find answers if one doesn’t know what questions to ask, right? Well, the questions are receiving language with meaning, so I can ask meaningful questions.
      I am seeing that I am ready to find a therapist who (1) works with Inner Child development in order to help me grieve the loss of my childhood and become an active adults and who (2) strongly supports 12-Step recovery programs so I can find recovery from the addictions where I lost myself in order to avoid the very real pain of finishing mourning a life that didn’t go by he script I wrote for myself. The life scripts I wrote for myself over the time I have already lived are nothing like the reality I have experienced.
      For example: When I was a child, I wanted to become a nun and turn toward God and enlightenment through the self-education available through rare and gnostic Christian texts. I sought the words of God, the manual for living my life with an eye toward Heaven from the inspiration divined by those people who had gone before me. In real life, I was blocked by not being born Catholic (I was too young to realize I could have converted) and the growing awareness that I would very likely not end up at the Vatican around the manuscripts where I felt I could find true faith. So, that went by the wayside.
      When I hit puberty, I touched on my first obsession with a young man. I don’t quite understand why he was selected in my mind–the first year or so I knew him, he did not interest me whatsoever. A switch went on, however, and I imagined a romantic life script with him noticing how special I was. Next would come a long teen-aged relationship which would develop into a marriage of over 50 years. In this script, he would provide my life milestones–from our first kiss to my first intimate encounter on our wedding night. As the milestones passed (my first kiss was at camp, my first time was just before I went to college–neither was with him), I tried to comfort myself that I would have time to put my life “back on track”. When he died in our mid-twenties, I was bereft of understanding as to how I could have missed everything. He was always on the outside and rarely looked in. I lied to myself that he didn’t know. He knew. He just didn’t want to approach me and bring the crazy that was me into his life.
      Good on him. Considering what he was dealing with over the decade before he passed away, the addition of an addict obsessed over him would have harmed more than helped him. My fantasy of how it should have been relied on his actions. The reality was that I chose to kiss that boy at camp, and I chose that young man to sleep with for the first time. I was so anxious that I would lose my virginity to rape in college. Why? No idea, but it drove me to make a choice I was not ready to make in order to avoid a greater trauma that might have actually manifested itself, now that I know that I had no boundaries whatsoever when I left home. As I pick through the wreckage of my past that I can recall, I see the milestones when I could have picked up a 12-Step program. But I wasn’t ready for it. I had family secrets to protect in order to curry favor with my core family and secrets to expose in order to get vengeance on them. I was so deep in addiction that I couldn’t see farther than my own suffering and seemed to prefer to stew in it.

      I think about what has come before, and I hang my head. Then I consider the epitaph test, and apply it to me. “She completely turned her life around at 40.” That’s actually not so bad when I read it. It doesn’t feel bad when I write it, because it means I was able to hit a tangible rock bottom. It is useless to regret not taking hold with both hands of the program I was in at 18; I was not ready for it then. My coping mechanisms were what I wanted. Numbness was what I wanted. I had a “normal”, and that looked pretty normal in the insanity of college life. Well, the college life I participated in. The actually well-adjusted people steered clear for very good reason. All that time I thought I was walking among them invisibly, I think I was more visible than I assumed. Well-adjusted people avoided me; addicts and other dysfunctional people approached me. It was a dance I repeated and repeated because I knew the steps. Well, the steps of the addict deep in addictive behavior.
      I think about the times I did sit with therapists. I never grew. Not one therapist got through, despite a few getting close. But I couldn’t trust anyone, least of all the person who went with me out of the door–myself. I have much to grieve, I am seeing. But once I am done, I can pass through it and get on to a very real life. It’s a loving act, to allow myself to grieve my childhood, my inability to see the swath of damage I left behind–a veritable Sherman’s March to the Sea in my own life and mind.
      The important part is that I stopped now. I have been given the gift of awareness and willingness to find a real solution for nearly a year. A solution which comes from within, as I draw on the unconditional love of the Universe, the unending willpower to grow and surrender my addictive processes to something I have learned to trust over the years.
      My logical mind does sometimes rebel against the concept of surrendering micromanagement of my and others’ problems to a Higher Power. Each time I stepped away from the script, one more regret piled up behind me. I have found that is consistent is that I relied on external sources to fix my problems, and the hard work of making real change in myself was forced onto others. I took that energy and tried to fix others’ lives how I thought they should be run as I waited for someone to do the same for me. Really broken thinking, one that has no boundaries whatsoever.
      Today, I am recognizing that the energy I spent trying to control others’ lives so they could be cameos and bit players and even romantic leads in my life was completely wasted. But . . . it isn’t now. The Serenity Prayer, as I have written several times here already, holds that key–accept that I have no power over others (nor should I!), use the awareness and willingness courageously to change myself instead of waiting for others to fix me, and use that HP-given gift of wisdom through awareness to know that only I can fix me. Sure, others can hold keys to my own development as a human being. Others can validate my real feelings by listening and reacting in well-adjusted means and they can share their true feelings with me so I can practice being sympathetic and empathetic. Hell, even being rejected is a lesson in real life. I can take the negative and learn real emotions, explore them instead of hide from them, and I can learn about boundaries and discerning safe and unsafe people from that. I am seeing there is nothing that cannot be made into a victory of spiritual and mental growth–as long as I don’t stagnate in order to avoid the difficulties that will make me grow stronger.
      Yes, some of this (okay, most of it) does require that ability to step outside of the event to pick it apart post-mortem (and in the process, allow myself to use the shutting-down coping mechanism to stay disaffected as I look it over). As long as I don’t hide from it using that shutting-down coping mechanism, I can incorporate those reactions and “act as if” I am well-adjusted. At some point, it will become second nature, like feeling hungry, looking at my food plan, and deciding what I am going to eat based on what I haven’t eaten already in the day and what I will want available at dinner time. I am realizing I am far from eating intuitively, because intuitively I do not yet turn toward choosing vegetables first. If I moved to an intuitive eating plan right now, I would probably stop eating vegetables altogether. The safety of knowing I have a piece of paper to look at and make sensible decisions which have maintained a balanced diet for nearly a year is good. I need the nutrition from what I do not naturally gravitate toward, and until I do so without thinking, I will consistently turn toward starches and sweet things (breads and grains and fruit and even dairy) and completely neglect my low-calorie, filling, fiber-rich foods. If I dropped my current food plan for an intuitive eating plan, my relapse would begin with over-consuming breads and dairy and fruit and end back in the chemically-laden sugar-fat-salt junk food. So, despite ending up in the junk food in limited amounts (because of my discretionary calories, but this is a process to change how I deal with food, not a diet made up of punitive denial because I am “bad” and uncontrolled). I guess that’s why my food plan fits me.
      I am thinking about the removal of abstinence as an OA tool in the 1990s in order to change it to a food plan. I am wondering where I read that, also. Oh yeah! This month’s Lifeline Magazine. I should read more on the evolution of the tools, considering that OA has committed to adding an exercise plan (A Plan of Action) as a tool. I was against adding exercise, but I see now that OA is evolving, just as its individual members are. Abstinence is defined in so many ways by so many people. I was about to write that I would love to see a book about people’s abstinence . . . and I realized there already is one.
      Well, I would love to see what people’s abstinences look like, anyway. Maybe if the main office moves to a bigger location, I can suggest we put up a cork board where people can put up colored 3×5 cards with what their abstinences look like–from food plans to tool use to whatever one uses to define abstinence and to understand what a break in abstinence for them looks like. Just to show that we are all unified within our diversity.
      Wow, that was an inner child moment. That felt good to put out there. The addict mind is worried people will think it’s stupid, and I am okay with that. To some, it is stupid–but I think those who consider it is stupid have other problems. And, to be honest, it’s an easy way to tell a safe person from an unsafe person. An unsafe person would criticize it; a safe person might say that they wouldn’t use it, themselves, but they would support me coming up with it (even if others came up with it before, which I don’t doubt has happened). That would be awesome . . . a Unity with Diversity board with monthly topics. Things like “What is your HP like?” or “What does your abstinence look like?” or “What is your favorite step/tool/tradition/piece of OA literature?” or even “What are the most important qualities of a sponsor?”. I know I would love to see what others put up, and it would give me good practice to not take others’ inventories (I am still judgmental, though with practice and release to my HP, it is starting to ease up as a primary character defect). Plus, I know when I was looking for answers as a new OA member, it was nice to have others’ experiential opinions help me find my own path along the steps and toward abstinence. Hm. Something to consider.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict and a love addict, anorexic. I am an Adult Child of a dysfunctional family, and I am trying to “get real” by acknowledging and integrating my Inner Child (or Real Self) into my everyday life. I look back at my childhood and remember some of the things I admired about my inner Jess–the generosity, the love to laugh and hug and smile, the desire for peace and friendliness, of everyone’s needs getting met (even if our wants sometimes aren’t). That little kid really enjoyed loving people, you know? The sad part in all that was when expectations (both my own and others) made love a bartered transaction instead of given freely for the sole purpose of sowing joy.
      Yeah, I think I want to sow acceptance and love. If people want to pick them when it’s time to harvest, that’s fine. If people want to scoff and think I’m a nut job, that’s fine, too. I think I am starting to understand that inner kid a little more. It’s not about getting love back for the love I give; it’s about being open enough to give it and carefree enough in my surrender not to be concerned about others’ reactions to it. Now comes the real work of learning that unconditional love can flow through boundaries, yet it is necessary for me to have them in order to show myself that same compassion. Well, and others too. Forcing myself through others’ boundaries is part of the addiction–kind of like kicking down someone’s entry door to give them a gift basket. Ugh, and then the belittling and hurt that comes with having the basket rejected because I not only broke in, I tried to give them a basket filled with things they don’t particularly like (but I do). Yeah, boundaries are definitely a good idea, because they encourage my recovery. As opposed to walls, which encourage my addiction.
      Hm. Lots to think about.

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