Posted by: innerpilgrimage | October 26, 2012

I Choose to Be That

      “Just because I laugh a lot
      doesn’t mean my life is easy.
      Just because I have a smile on my face every day
      doesn’t mean something is not bothering me.
      I just choose to move on and not dwell on all the negatives of my life.
      Every new moment gives me the chance to renew anew.

      I choose to be that.” — unknown (generally unattributed, though I am looking for the source)

      I’ve had a pretty big writing day. I am disappointed that something happened to the OA meeting, but I got my hands on worry dolls. I’ve also named the “God Box” I own. It’s now my Higher Oatmeal Box, the means by which I pray (put into writing the self-care experience, strength, and hope I want from program and recovery and what I need to surrender for today). I am not speaking to an oatmeal container as if it were a transcendent being, but I do treat it like a mailbox to Reality and reason. To, as Bucky Sinister wrote in his book, Get Up!, the Me I’m Not Yet. I have it in my today, to be presented as a CoDA birthday present of proof that progress is possible over the coming year. But I don’t have to worry about it until October 20, 2013–my first CoDA birthday. So, I let go and let Higher Oatmeal Box. Which, yes, to me is funny. I’m not sure if others will find it funny that I surrender to reality through an oatmeal box made up like the kind of kids’ craft project for Valentine’s Day (Didn’t we all make classroom valentine mailboxes at one time or another?) that are part of the pleasant emotional memories I have–even if I don’t have audiovisual memory. I recall it being fun, and having a butterfly-papered oatmeal box with its lid taped down and a slit cut in its plastic top amuses me. It’s definitely something I would consider more than a little immature, if I didn’t accept that self-care also means embracing my playful and creative side.
      So, I ended up with the larger worry dolls when I went to Large Chain Importer. Yes, I spent more than I planned, but part of the mania of compulsivity is this almost-OCD sense that things must be a certain way before I can proceed. That is definitely something to surrender over, in hopes that I can learn the source of it. I know it’s there in the murky deep–which is the worst and best of codependency recovery. I am diving into the depths, to the dark bottom of this sea of self in order to discover the life there. It is dark, and things in there can be pretty damned terrifying. However, the beauty of those depths, once illuminated, is also there. Life exists there, and even the ugliest parts of the past–both in how others treated me and how I treated myself and others–have a beauty to them which can only be appreciated by the silence of wonder that life exists there at all.
      So, armed with my Higher Oatmeal Box as my transference tool and MINY as my transitional transitory being of a future sempiternity, I have my tools to connect me deeply to reality, with just enough whimsy to keep it silly. Laughter helps in recovery, because it’s probably the means to break the ice over the depths. I need to descend in order to ascend, though I will return wholly changed by the experience–even if it appears I came up in precisely the same place. To crack through that layer of false emotions in order to reach the natural and authentic emotions–by being vulnerable and letting go of being a stoic and emotionless adult who has her shit together–is a hard thing to surrender to. I won’t willingly surrender to the pain, because I know what codependent pain does. That kind of pain shows up as unrelelenting sorrow, unceasing anxiety that I cannot be trusted to succeed without an authority choosing for me, time-slowing despair which makes the sound of unwanted breathing seem louder than tornadic or hurricane winds, and depression which feels like I am in an oubliette with only a tiny spot of daylight even on the sunniest and most beautiful of carefree days. Codependent pain brought the terrifying belief that life is not worth living, that I wouldn’t be missed, that I am unwanted, that I deserve the ultimate punishment–to not get to live any longer in this incarnation (be it the only one or one of many–though Jess-as-I-am is a one-shot deal). That . . . I never, ever want to return to that. So, I resist surrendering because I am terrified it will drag me back into that darkness permanently. That’s not an option. I have already wasted enough years living in self-imposed misery.
      I did my time, imprisoned by addiction. Yeah, I did the crime–I fell into patterns of behavior which harmed myself and others and kept the self-destruction cycle going. It is too much to live as a prisoner in my own home because I fear I will become this manipulative and abusive monster. I am terrified and I am griefstricken that this monster could be the real me. I don’t want that to be the real me!
      That’s not the real me, however. The time I have had in recovery has shown I am a creative and generous and loving person. I see the pain in others, and I empathize. I feel their lack of even the basic needs of life, and I connect emotionally to it. Lack is such a wretched thing. The despair, the scrabbling, the adjusting. Sometimes, one small act for me changes the world. Yes, it’s a tiny part of the world, but somewhere? I moved a small obstacle and allowed myself or another to make progress. To not be stuck in an extended moment of suffering. It doesn’t create happily ever afters, but it builds faith in the goodness of people. It builds faith in community. It creates trust that when energy is put into overcoming an obstacle, someone or something will be so moved to act that he or she does because it is part of their authentic self to improve the world.
      It is a character strength, not a defect, to inject a little love where lack exists and to inject it with no desire for acknowledgement or praise or unrealistic earned rewards from a benevolent transcendental enigma. The tug from the heart gets to be so big, that voiceless warning, “I will regret this and feel guilt and shame if I do not act on this opportunity to create instead of ignore or destroy!” I have perfectly functional physical sensations which make very clear to me that my intuitive self knows I want to actively participate in life and create a better world to celebrate life, itself.
      And I have to remember that creating a better world is self-care. I get to live in this better world. That’s quite a reward for someone who’s spent so long punishing myself for being a manipulative bitch toward others in order to get my excitement fix. I suppose that was how my codependency progressed. First, I wanted to survive to eighteen and believed I would receive a Fairy Godmother-like gift of independence and confidence. Next, I found that was a crock of crap, so I wanted to feel happy when happiness wasn’t simply granted me. Next, I chased the thrill of feeling mega-alive–the chemical highs of sugar rushes and the romantic-chemistry rushes of meeting someone I wanted to validate me. In essence, to say, “You are alive and you are lovable.” Oh, that went really wrong, let me tell you. Next, I sought saviors thither and yon, people promising the illusion. Last, I found someone I learned to love, and I believed all would be right. When my old survival and codependent coping mechanisms to chase my highs reared their very ugly heads? In came the anorexia. To push the rest of the world out, I paid the price of pushing those closest to me to the edge. I didn’t want to hurt them more than I had, but I only had the repertoire of codependent coping mechanisms to choose from. I had no free will; I was a slave to the codependency and all of the coping mechanisms that came along with it.
      Now, this doesn’t mean I am not acting codependently most of the time. I definitely still act as a codependent. I have an awareness of recovery and I have chosen by my own free will to use the 12 Step program to recover among equals–seeing as I give authority over me too freely. I suppose that is why the 12-Step program is right for me. I have gone to therapy, and I have given them authority over my physical and mental states. The results were consistently disastrous and caused more harm to me than helped me. So, I am among my peers, now. I am among the people who are seeking a new way of life and are a fellowship of equals and empathetic beings. These people know the me I have consistently whined that no one will like if they actually knew me. The thing is, they know the authentic me. The vulnerable me. I admit my failings; I admit my recovered progress; and I admit I know that progress and growth is as natural a process as life, itself. The hope in the fellowship of recovered (we were recovered from the sea of addiction, pulled into the boats to be numbered among the living) people is vast. It is a strength in numbers of the anarchy of equals seeking individual liberty in a democratic community setting. All are valued for their contribution to the recovery of the whole. That is why we say, “Together, we get better.” It’s just like the American revolution, when Benjamin Franklin said, “We must hang together or surely we will hang separately.” We must recover together, or surely we will die of our addictions separately. I accept this is a bleak and grim view of the necessity of fellowship, but there is also hope in the message. We reached a time and place in our lives where enough was enough. Not everyone gets that option. People die of their addictions–and not just drugs or alcohol. Suicide is a possibility for sex and love addicts, as well as codependents. I also learned the grim truth that a binge can kill if one eats too much too fast, just as anorexia nervosa can kill quickly if one submits to punitive fasting in order to find an illusory ideal, the curse of that 20th century mantra: “You can never be too rich or too thin.” I’m not sure how gambling kills, outside of suicide and getting connected with people who value money over the life of the gambling addict. Perhaps it’s the neglect of self-care that really does it to us. We choose to deny our basic needs to chase an illusory one.
     
      Well, I choose recovery, as I’ve stated clearly before. I choose free will to have an option besides addiction. I accept that the addiction will not be cured, but I take hope that recovery will provide me with more choices (and more opportunities to practice living instead of surviving). To me, recovery is a conscious choice to be. Recovery, to me, is a conscious choice to participate in my own life. To go into the world and experience it instead of hide because I fear hunting then manipulating people to get my emotional high from a mutually destructive interaction. I want to improve lives, not destroy them.
      Perhaps if people really knew me, they would like me after all. I am naturally a vulnerable person who trusts. I am naturally honest, open, and willing. I am naturally filled with experience, strength, and hope. These are what I have adopted in program, and I feel whole and serene when I practice these things. I am naturally an artistically creative person–though I get a little down once the process of creation has ended, and I am left with something which represents a quantity of time out of my life . . . the most precious commodity any of us possesses. However, if I choose to use that time to add laughter, frivolity, silliness, and playfulness into the world? I have created more than just a thing. I have created an opportunity for others to smile and to laugh and to be silly. For others to play and to self-care with others. Community. Love. Creation. Learning through play. I am seeing I don’t need to abandon those in my life to be a mature adult. The halcyon days of childhood are looked on with intense nostalgia, even for someone like me who seemed to have near-equal measure of joy and pain. For someone who spent years being told there was a sadness in my eyes people couldn’t understand. For someone who I think accepts that the sadness has been replaced by a coldness, by anger at times, by determination to control everything and everyone because I am angry that I didn’t get a fairy-tale promise of perfect happiness to go with my punitive Grimm-like childhood.
      It’s sad when Snow White becomes the Wicked Queen. Who’s the fairest in the land, oh magic mirror? Everyone and no one, because beauty is arbitrary and is a bullshit standard which sends women into the throes of self-abuse in order to stay Queen Bee. Or worse, have I become the Snow Queen–my heart made of ice? (No, I haven’t, because I have empathy and I feel pain when others suffer–but not when I am acting out my addiction.)
     
      My name is Jess, and I am a layered addict. I am compulsive about food, about bad romance, about external validation. I have groups I belong to (Oh, thank you, whoever wrote the traditions!) according to Tradition Three: OA, SLAA, and CoDA. I have found the rabbit hole, and it goes down very, very deep. I am at the edge of illusion and reality combined, yet I have choices. I have real and considered choices–even if I choose to submit to compulsion and addiction instead of surrender to reality and recovery. The choice is there at all, and that is something I am deeply and humbly grateful for.
     
      And I choose,
      I choose,
      I choose to be that.

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Responses

  1. […] on the great outdoors with me). I have resources for contemplation, like my God Box, a.k.a. My Higher Oatmeal Box, a.k.a. My Acceptance Box. I have inspirational quotes and poems, secular program sayings (and […]


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