Posted by: innerpilgrimage | April 7, 2011

Transactional Dysfunctionality: Oh Those Madcap Seventies

      I really think I need to get a hands on a copy of T.A. for Tots very soon. Transactional Analysis seems to have an eerie amount of hold on my life in how I deal with people.

      Could it be that it was the very first place my ego went for answers after losing that sense of connection to the core? Well, it doesn’t really matter. The nice thing is that I can put down resentments, among them that T.A. and addiction seem to be at odds (though I cannot entirely say at this point). I mean, in looking at T.A. and looking at the 12-Step program, it jives well with that simplified view. In addiction, I am Parent (Authority, the Grandiose, the Controller) and I am the Child (Victim, the Martyr, the Submissive). What I never seem to settle into is that respectful in-betweener: The Adult.
      I’m not looking to eliminate my childish joy or my maternal protectiveness. Those parts of me have brought a lot of good into life–from being “the Bubble Lady” at my son’s preschool playgroup to committing a year to living in a hospital and getting my son to survive weekly life-saving treatments which were, in essence, poisoning him to keep him alive. Those parts of me are so important to my functioning. However, I am an active parent and an active child, and respect is the order of the day.
      As I have wandered self-help sections, my goal really is to become part of this world. It’s very hard, seeing as I am that being Anais Nin says we are–a person who looks at the world through me, not simply looking at the world as it is. Intuition tells me that when I integrate the adult by abandoning the abusive inner parent and the rebellious inner child, the result will be a much more balanced human being.
      I am planning on reading Eric Byrne’s Games People Play to understand, as an adult, what I might be doing inside. The addiction is a symptom of the warping of the message of T.A., the foundation that Transactional Analysis was lain on was faulty already. It is what it is; I can run around blaming the world for it (as a child complaining life isn’t fair–which it is not, but sometimes it’s unfair in my favor and sometimes it’s unfair against me and sometimes it’s simply neutral . . . and I’ve found my definition of fairness means I’m winning and someone else is losing).
      At the core of me, I find that the balance of physical, mental, and spiritual is out-of-whack because of the need to survive my childhood. Do I blame my parents? Well, in a way, because I resent them for not understanding that their perceptions of reality influenced my own. That’s partly what Step Four is about. Getting that blame out into the open so the reasonable and spiritual self can see them with deep empathy and understanding. I see how it could have happened that I turned from the primary addict substance of my parents and grandmother. Yet I turned toward food and the sex and love stuff, which was played out all over my family. My father’s father had affairs on my father’s mother; my aunt refused to talk to her own father because of the intense betrayal she felt, and she was the rebellious child. My own father slid into a submissive role for his father, and we played happy family. After all, my father’s mother found an amazing man after my father’s father and she divorced, right? Everyone ended up in a better place, right?
      Reality, I think, is part of learning that there really is no ultimate “good” or “bad” but an ultimate “different”. Personally? I have goods and bads. That’s part of being human, I believe. We find things that connect with our spiritual cores and those become the core truths we want to live by–even if the filters we lay over them end up messing up our heads by turning what is into what we perceive.
      Perception is reality only in that each individual sees the world through lenses of our own making–jaded, rose-colored, whatever. Perception is the meaning attributed to what is. It’s the label gun we carry around, spinning the letter disk as we punch white letters into our tapes, clip them, then adhere them to a person, place, or situation. For me, I want to toss my label gun. That isn’t going to happen, but I think I can at least stop labelling everything based on my perception of the world being a hostile and threatening place.
      I think it’s not me that I want to be perfect, it’s the world around me. The weird thing is . . . the world IS already perfect. It’s just not my perception of perfect (or anyone else’s, to be honest). For example, if I want hunger to end in the world, what can I do about it? Well, in addiction, I can whine about it, feel guilty about it, and hoard food around me and inside me in order to make sure that I am not going to be one of the folks that goes hungry. Well, I live in a First World country where food is plentiful and I don’t have to sell everything I own for a loaf of bread. Could that happen to me? Well, yes. It happens in the world, therefore it can happen to me.
      This is where perception steps in. I can live in yesterday and struggle with the times I denied myself, kicking myself for not choosing to enjoy the abundance all around me. I can stockpile for tomorrow, not acknowledging the reality that even canned yams go bad and that I don’t eat them because I don’t like them. Or I can walk into my kitchen today, see I have enough food to feed me and anyone who decides to visit today within my cabinets and refrigerator. And the foods I have there are varied enough that I can offer lots of choices–so it’s not just expired canned yams in my cabinets. And I have access to a grocery store (and so do others, the more important point) if I don’t have what a visitor might want to eat. So, for today? Reality is that I am not going to starve, that I don’t have to trade my home for food because I have food right here and right now. And I have it in abundance.
      So, I feel guilt I have when others do not. Should I just sit here and whine about it? Should I deny myself the food in my cabinets and refrigerator because others don’t have any so I can earn something that I feel I am lacking–even though I have the food and I am hungry? Reality says to me if it’s so important, I can give money to organizations which feed the needy. I am sort-of locked in the life I chose, one where I make sure that my core family has what it needs (and then some, to be honest). But even though I can’t stop hunger as an individual (trying to make myself a Higher Power by trying to change things I, as one human being of seven billion, cannot), I can certainly share what I have and at least one person doesn’t have to go hungry.
      It’s a lot easier to complain than act, because complaining and feeling guilty allows me to hoard. I keep my money, beat myself up, and go on as usual. I martyr myself in solidarity but do not act compassionately. After all, I perceive that someone has to lose for me to win, and I gotta win this game of life.
      That all-or-nothing, winner-takes-all mentality–trying to feed that hungry ghost within me with the wrong kind of substance–goes against my core. Do what I can, my core says, and hope that enough people will do the same. Be the message that one person can make a difference, even if that one person can’t fix the problem so that others can decide if that’s what they want to do, also. And, if people want what I have from living in alignment with myself? Then they can choose to act, as well, and more people can go to bed with full stomachs.
      So, that’s the point of it. Yes, I will always have filters through which I see the world–just like I will always wear glasses. (I’m not getting Lasik because the inconvenience of eyeglasses is not enough to get surgery and potentially lose my eyesight in the process; I can see with lens-based vision correction. I’m content with that.) My desire is to get the clearest lenses possible. To see the world through me as close as it actually is. No green-tinted lenses; no pink-tinted lenses. No tint at all, actually. Just see.
      And this, now, is why I have to step away from this and get down to the business of my Step Four Inventory. I swung by here to pick up what I already have available to me–a Big Book Step Four Inventory process that my OA sponsor gave me and that I disseminated here. I lost it (as I expected) and am thankful that in knowing I lose and forget things regularly, I decided to place it somewhere I could find it easily: here.
      I planned on doing it on my computer, but I am finding that it won’t work that way. So, I’m printing out a table and I am hand-writing it this time. Making copies, too. I am not wild about having the hand-written stuff out here because there are things that I honestly am not comfortable having people find. But I also have to learn that part of letting go is trusting that my Higher Power is taking care of me completely and that if they are supposed to be read, they will be read. Generally, my most private stuff isn’t read by my family, even if it’s out in the public places of my home. I don’t want to write my resentments about my core family because I don’t want to lose them. However, they stuck with me through some really crappy stuff, things that explain a lot of why I acted like I did and sometimes still do. I have deep-seated guilt over my secrets–many which will never be published here. Some things are not meant for public dissemination. It is odd that the secret I was supposed to carry for life–my family’s battles with addiction, themselves–is one that I trot out here. I wonder, sometimes, if I am using it to explain away what I did to a hopefully approving readership. Then again, I also know that so many people’s addictions are sourced in keeping the family secret of generational addiction alive. Even if we only admit it to ourselves, to “G-d” (a Higher Power, speak it aloud in a private room so the words are real, write it in a private journal so the secret is outside of us, finally), then whisper it to a trusted person (best friend, therapist, 12-Step sponsor, 12-Step group)? That’s one less secret out there. And I have found that a person with empathy will offer love instead of condemnation. A person with empathy understands the pain of holding in a secret like that because they have held in (and sometimes revealed) their own secrets. That’s part of the miracle of Step Five . . . we wait for someone of our Higher Power’s choosing, someone we intuit we can trust with seeing how we survived and not criticize what we did or advise us on how to do it right next time. Once the secret is exposed, it reveals so much about the layer just above our core–the one that (in addiction) completely warps what our natural and spiritual selves know is real (even if there are no words for that reality).
      If I must look at this logically, I can see the process within me pretty clearly. I experience something intuitively and have no words for it; instead of settling for having no words for it, I pull out that label-maker and label it; because of my intense drive to survive in a perceptibly hostile world (because of what I learned through personal experience, trial, and error), those messages are rarely positive; I look at the real thing and I look at the perceived meaning I applied and I despair because something that is beautiful to me at my core is labelled as poisonous or unattainable; I turn toward my addictions to self-soothe and comfort myself into believing that the world isn’t all bad: that I can stuff myself with sweets until I become a woman made of sugar and spice and everything nice; that I can slide on the embroidered silken robes and heady perfume of seduction and lie to myself that sparking some man’s lizard brain to breed means I have acquired “love”.
      I want to perceive that eating food that nourishes my body only until it sates me makes me feel physically better–because it DOES. I want to perceive that non-sexual expressions of love as a spiritual being in a human body means that I have given love–whether or not it is returned to me in kind. It doesn’t matter if I get love back because that’s not the purpose of love to me. Love is about giving my time and effort compassionately, sympathetically, empathetically; to try and hoard it goes against the whole purpose of love to me.
      And to start loving others, I kinda do have to give myself the compassionate, sympathetic, and empathetic gift of my time and my effort. I need to use the 5 A’s on myself (Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing) when I go backwards and remember that I built my original perceptions to survive once upon a time. The loving act of getting me to adulthood served me in childhood.
      Now is the time to perform the loving act to step out of that permanent childhood into the adulthood reality has placed me in so I can align myself with who I am today. I have had many real experiences in adulthood, ones which need to be respected and given their chances to show that–when faced with real disaster–I turn toward my spiritual core every time. I align with who I am because I don’t really have the time to pull out that label-maker and label stuff. I am in action at those times, and I don’t have time to apply filters because I don’t have time to ponder what things mean.
      This entry is already getting to be a distraction from the work at hand. I have my diagnosis, and I am facing death by addiction if I stay stalled at the two-step dance of Steps One and Twelve. To do a Step Four right now is to actively believe there is a Power greater than me which can restore me to sanity (Step Two) and actively accept the help of said Higher Power (Step Three).
      A Jehovah’s Witness came to my door, and instead of being nasty, I was very nice. Though I wanted to be nasty about the prophecy that they were all going to ascend in 2000. Then I realized that working on the “We” was going to be better, and when we talked about prophecy and living in the Bible, I talked about what I’d learned about living in today–as opposed to yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. And now I have an Awake! and a Watchtower–which are generally fun reading. And there’s an article on the creation of the Devil, which goes completely counter to G-d. That will be an interesting discussion, if J— ever returns to my door. See, I don’t believe that a perfect G-d would make a Devil in order to cause lasting harm to people. My Higher Power wouldn’t do something like that because causing lasting harm is part of the imperfection of being human and self-serving. And also, it goes against the Biblical verses which say G-d created everything (Nehemiah 9:6; Acts 17:24; Revelation 4:11). And it most certainly goes against Isaiah 45:18, wherein G-d purportedly said: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.” Therefore, a firm belief in the Devil means that one worships two beings and therefore is a polytheist–not a monotheist.
      Me? I still follow the apophatic view of God. What is evil? Meh, who knows. Did G-d create evil? Well, in theory the creation of evil would be an evil act and therefore not part of G-d . . . though since G-d created everything (which does include the concept of a discrete being called “Devil”) as is stated in the Bible, and my concept of a Higher Power doesn’t involve “evil”. Besides, evil really is a perception thing. Some people might consider it evil to say the Devil doesn’t exist, that the Bible is an interesting text written by man (and not the Word of G-d) filled with a whole lot of conflicting concepts about divinity. Evil is relative, a label. Acknowledging the divine power of the Devil is Devil-worship . . . especially if one worships it in fear and anger and grief–as people are wont to do. The devil-concept doesn’t fit with my concept of reality, anyway. But it is interesting and reinforces what I do believe (and what many others, including St. John of the Cross, have believed over time)–that we find our HP (G-d) from within, not from external sources. That the journey of the Divine is not given to us from a pulpit or read from a book but is taken by the individual.
      . . .
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      . . . Holy Cats! I think my Higher Power just used a Jehovah’s Witness as a teacher to use my own mental resources to break down that mental tape that I’ve used for years saying I’m undeserving of anything positive in my life because I think I’m evil! Calling myself evil is taking out that labeller and slapping on my butt the word “EVIL” with a label tape. It’s a perception, not reality. That is, uh, I don’t even have the words for that. And that, thank you very much, tells me very clearly it was a spiritual lesson, brought to you by the letters H and P.
      My name is Jess, and I am an addict. I gotta go, since apparently the persistence that is my Higher Power is in the driver’s seat right now (I surrendered my will to my HP and acted in recovery, not my addiction and my ego, when I talked to the Jehovah’s Witness), and I am gonna use that perseverence gift right now and get into my Step Four before my ego realizes what’s going on and stops the whole process.


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