Posted by: innerpilgrimage | February 21, 2013

Experience, Strength, and Hope

      After a few days of frustration, I picked up on a few self-awarenesses and started walking down a path of following whatever was coming up as my mind meandered destination unknown.

      Among the odd yet colorful bits of mental string I found:

      (1) When I was a child, I used to draw and tell stories about what I drew. I also would look at pictures and think about the stories within them. I also, in youth, imagined changes and sequels for stories which would resonate with me more deeply. It wasn’t about making it for others ever; this was part of the self-talk and journey into my own invigorating truths.
      I lost the desire to draw after decades of criticism–first from others then myself. So, I don’t create art for anyone, not even me, as an adult. Sadly, that act of artistic creation is how I connect to my spirit. I lose sense of time and of self. When I write a novel, the only hunger is to complete the story so I can return to human doing. If I had my choice, I would be out in the world writing and drawing for myself all of the time. My responsibilities, however, keep me from it.

      (2) I asked myself, “How do I balance independence and interdependence?” Well, I considered it, and I plan to work with boundaries. Why boundaries? Well, as a codependent, a healthy and enforced boundary keeps me intact and integrated as myself. No one or nothing to complete me as I am. Boundaries also help my interdependence. Because I enmesh readily in order to rescue others or be rescued by others, boundaries help me respect others while extending myself to trust others when I reach the point where I cannot go alone. Reaching out is one of the most known tools, I think, in program. Sponsorship, meetings, telephone. Seeking the fellowship of others in order to not fall into the ego-trap of believing I am alone in suffering my compulsive urges to seek excess or deny myself food, sexual intimacy (instead of bartering sex for security), and meaningful social interaction with other human beings.

      (3) If I want to help people, I have to stop trying to rescue them from their own spiritual journeys. My spiritual journey has a lot of pain in the unlearning process and reconnection process. I have a lot of attitudes and judgments which harm me terribly, and I know they harm others because I filter all thoughts and actions through them. So, despite the pain I feel watching others struggle? I have to let them struggle. It’s like trying to help a butterfly leave its cocoon: The butterfly needs to struggle to get out of the cocoon to strengthen its wings enough to fly once it’s dry. It may look like suffering, but it’s not. It’s nature’s way of going beyond survival. The strength gained in what seems like a cruelty of nature will help the butterfly to thrive. With my “rescue”, the butterfly dies because it has no strength of its own. It needed to develop it on its own, just like each of us struggling to understand: “Who am I?” and “Why am I suffering, if I have everything I need to survive?” and “Why did I have to suffer as a kid then get ‘rewarded’ with suffering addiction as an adult?”
The great questions of life and meaning and purpose are hidden away within me, in the darkest places of myself. I’ve set traps over time to protect my innermost self from a soul-killing violation at my core; now, I am tasked to travel through that mazelike dungeon of the ego-built self to reunite with my authentic self–which holds my meaning and purpose. As I travel, I face everything I thought was necessary to my survival, only to be confronted with the truth I’ve outgrown those pit traps and false walls.  Clinging to the belief it is a protection instead of a trap hinders me, not serves me. But it appeared to work for so long, and I need to believe in something in order not to lose the will to even survive. A Higher Power works, and as an atheist? I can see the reasoning that we exist in a sentient Universe. Why not? Sentience exists (I interact with sentient human beings and have since I can remember and I think it’s reasonable to assume I will until my life ends). My difficulty is trusting that the will of that sentience is beneficial, with all of the suffering I see people force upon other people for their own gains. Everyone is hungry for something at some time, I’ve observed. I still struggle with a scarcity mentality over an abundance mentality.

      (4) I want my answers external and easy. That means I want something to give me a to-do list of what it would take to reach an assured future of abundance. Hard to admit to myself. Of course, I think it’s hard to admit to others, but my actions have spoken for me when I wasn’t using my words to manipulate my way into a sense of externally-created and enforced security and safety. That doesn’t work. Why? Because that rescuer would have to be guessing what I wanted the whole time and be right. Well, I have someone who knows what I need and want in order to live a fulfilled and meaningful life (as opposed to a hungry and empty life): Me. I am mentally aware I need to cut out the middle man in order to get what I need to live a life of acceptance and plenitude–one I would consider a sacred life over a mundane life.

      (5) I struggle with wanting to know my purpose in life yet fearing it’s something I won’t like. Well, I’m sure I can’t hate my purpose because a purpose is generally considered a spiritual thing which energizes and uplifts an individual. A life’s purpose is about human BEing, not human DOing. That, to me, means that my life purpose will encourage the development of all aspects of my authentically-lived life: mind, body, heart, and spirit. How can I not like it . . . unless I want to turn back now and just start self-destructing using addiction. I can’t, however, go back to the blissless ignorance before I started this spiritual journey toward authenticity and away from addiction.

      (6) I keep avoiding the effort by surrendering to the sea of self-help books and web information. I think I have a self-help book collection larger than many public libraries. While, yes, this helps me open up to new ideas . . . when I approach it trying to find the needle easy-life-fix answer in the haystack of information (as I often do), I am avoiding real effort. Surrender without effort means no lasting recovery and definitely no spiritual awakening as the result. Sure, awareness drops into my lap, but they’re simply pieces to the puzzle as opposed to the actual puzzle box with all of the pieces together for me to build a complete picture. So, I get progress, but it’s slow and I stall often when I get lost in my ego judgments based on worn-out attitudes.

      (7) I’ve spent a very long time looking at the question, “Who am I?” and answering any question but that one. I have answered “What am I?” and “What do I do?” many times. Those are answers for a human DOing. I never actually considered it as a human BEing. My purpose is part of that human BEing question-and-answer conundrum as well. I’ve looked for a purpose to give me emotional and mental security and material wealth out of a series of tasks which will, risk-free, give me the material windfall I want. Well, who am I? I am. That’s it. Everything else answers what qualitative descriptions can be used to identify me to others or what tasks I have historically performed (for others to predict what actions I may or may not repeat). But who I am . . . the answer is in the silence between the words. The closest I can come to is, “I am.” It acknowledges I possess self-awareness, and that’s about as far as I can really get. Everything else changes–even “I am alive.” So, I am. It’s a statement of finality and the opening for myriad opportunities.

      (8) To observe in order to act, I realized if I acknowledged my basic humanness (mind, body, heart, spirit) then I could try to act as authentically as possible. I was thinking about what the body, mind, heart, and spirit each bring to a whole experience. So with every troubling person, place, or situation, I hope to start asking myself:

“What does my body sense (see, hear, touch, smell, and possibly taste)?”
“What feelings arise, and what do they signal?”
“What do I THINK about this? (Is it: True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind?)”
“What will sustain my and others’ spiritual journeys?”

      I also considered how I can clearly sense, feel, think, and be–self-caring all aspects of my authentic self.

      (9) I got the gut feeling to find what the acronym for THINK was first; then, I was considering something I used to call CIA–Criticism, some I-word, and Advice-giving. It was associated with judgment, so I searched for judgment, criticism, and advice. I found a Nar-Anon 12-Step forum board with a fantastic post about communicating with the fellowship. As a CoDA member, it really spoke to me. I have left meetings when I couldn’t trust the safety of the meeting because of crosstalk, advice-giving, and (in one case) arriving at a step-study just in time to hear one member viciously and angrily criticizing another for a resentment from a conflict within in that meeting room a long time before. I’ve been told many times to consider whether something needs to be said in-room or privately to a sponsor. The safety of the room was compromised; I felt unsafe there. I certainly did not trust that certain among the membership would uphold the final oath to keep private what was said and who was seen at meeting. I felt threatened, and I didn’t have strong enough boundaries to stand up and say, “I feel uncomfortable because I doubt the safety of this room. I am angry because I empathetically feel violated, too, despite it not being directed at me. I want to violate the boundaries of the person I have already judges is a bully who is victimizing a member of the fellowship. So, I have to leave because I’ve already judged that the CoDA principles I rely on for my recovery are absent here and I will be triggered into relapse.”
      Is this a perfect statement? No. It’s thick with the anxiety of remembering being in an unsafe meeting room (and resenting myself for staying when I should have left–I emotionally shut down and stood on my grandiose sense of intellectual superiority and experience). If I can speak my triggers instead of completely go unhinged? That has to be better. Doesn’t it? I am unsure, because this could be considered “constructive criticism”, which is criticism. So, the best would probably be, “I have to leave. I don’t feel safe here. I am triggering because of what I am experiencing right now in this room.” Part of my codependency is setting down my judgment and opinion-as-fact before bullying with criticism and advice-giving. No, this isn’t comfortable to admit anywhere, but I am sick of being sick (because) of my secrets. I am a bully in codependency to anyone who will let me, though I don’t always get in and scrap with the world in order to force my will on it. If people-pleasing and caretaking works to get what I want? I start with that. However, I will steamroll anyone who doesn’t play nice back when I start being “The Nice One”.
      Well, yuck. I wonder if it was wrong to even say that right before a meeting started, one of the meeting members was just tearing apart another for a perceived ill. But I hope if confronted by the same situation, I would stand up and say something. The person being criticized? I can’t rescue them, but I can stand up for myself. Stating my boundaries are being violated because I do not sense the meeting room is safe for me to speak openly and not be criticized and shamed at another time.
      Oh, who knows. I’m tired and irritable and triggered because I’m trying to be perfectly recovering, and I can’t. I know what to do, and I am trying to get past overwhelming feelings of fear and despair at the pain that meeting rooms can be extremely unsafe and the few I felt safe in are hours away by car. I feel . . . grief. I lost something I didn’t realize I valued so deeply, and I am hoping (but not expecting) I can find a safe room again. I feel really dislocated. I am where I want to be geographically, but the program support is just . . . well, I’m struggling and I’m trying to avoid feeling the pain of taking what I had for granted.

      Which I do. A lot.

      My name is Jess. Still a freaking addict. Abstinent with the food; socially anorexic, though I can be polite; codependent and hungry to stop wanting to take others’ journeys for them in order to avoid taking my own. I don’t believe in God, and I resent people who say I need to or that “God did this miracle or that one”. That makes me so angry, still, and I have no one in program to share that with safely. So, here it is. In public. I resent the language of the AA 12 steps because it excludes people like me. People who demand God answer for punishing me twice over–first with my childhood victimization then with the self-victimization as an adult resulting in the addiction to food, to lust and obsession being mislabeled “love”, and the caretaking of codependency which is caring on credit and rescuing with a selfish goal to be repaid with devotion and loyalty to me. I HATE living like this, and the only way I can reconcile with this and retain sanity is to trust in Reality than a willful deity who clearly is trying to get me so deeply in despair that I return to the edge of debating whether death would be preferable to life (pain isn’t permanent; death is; try telling that to someone suffering something which has no physically visible source).
      Road to relapse. I feel it. I am freaking walking toward it (and possibly toward recovery, too) because I am starting to feel that burning pain of self-induced suffering. I don’t know how to leave this place of anger and grief and frustration. I don’t know what it means, and crying neither helps me or relieves it. I hate emotions. Thinking, at least, kept me too busy chasing the answers. Emotions . . . I wish I could just cut them out completely and not have the damned rage, terror, or panic overreaction that comes from avoiding them. I honestly think I don’t care about ever feeling joy again. I just want the fear and anger and sadness to go away. I don’t want advice. I am sick of damned advice. I just want to see someone living in recovery again, actually living the promises. To have hope again that it’s possible. That the promises can happen in my life. After all, if they can happen for someone who once lived in turmoil I empathize with? I live in a reality of possibilities, and that possibility can happen for me, too. And that really is the hope I need right now.

ADDENDUM: Well, the funk passed when I talked to and was listened to by my spouse. So, we’re going to play games, because I want to do something playful with people I love. Not just any games, either. Ones which the outcome cannot be determined even through strategy and plotting: Fluxx and Zigity.

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