This is my blog. I write to know what I think (and yes, I got this from someone else). I THINK nearly 24/7. It is exhausting this mind of mine. This post looks closely at the conversation with the produce lady that my son said I was “bitchy”. I am discussing it again because I looked at it from the “bitchy” point of view.
This point of view came about because of 12-step. It kills me how often events and direction come together if I pay attention. This year my ACOA group is taking a thorough approach in terms of topics to discuss on the calendar. We have The Laundry List, the Flip-side of the Laundry List (not being compelled to behave by the laundry list), the Other Laundry List, and the Flip-side of that one. So I can literally look at things 12 ways from Sunday. And I do. (For once I was NOT involved in the microscopic, all-encompassing, this-is-what-we-are-doing-now project. YEAH ME!)
I originally shared “Who Taught Whom?” for the topic “I no longer have the need to play the role of the victim and am not attracted to that behavior in others” or something close to that. It’s the Flip-side of the Laundry List. That is, the positive or healthy behaviors that have been acquired through recovery. For me it was a win to stand up for myself even with the twist of my son’s message for me.
As ACOA meetings moved on to steps 4,5,6,7, and 8 I kept applying 12-step to the produce scene. If I believe that addressing “Am I not people?” was a win over victimization (discounting really), and accept my son’s expectations that I not appear “bitchy”; then what exactly was my behavior? What did he see? Why was I brief and reserved?
It took me a few weeks but this is what I couldn’t let the produce lady know-
“I am almost the same basket case I have always been, I have not managed to utilize my education for financial security, in fact I am in the biggest financial mess of my life, and I am so fucking embarrassed that I don’t want to talk to you (or anyone for that matter).”
I was full of shame.
I am beginning to think Shame may be the biggest cause poor behavior. The shame I feel is the textbook shame of Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw. It is a three going on four generational shame that I am determined to write my way out of. Since the first week or so of January this year, I have been painstakingly emerging from a deep freeze brought on by PTSD. Shame keeps me in denial of the depth of my sorrow. Even when I address it, I don’t want anyone else to know. Especially the nice produce lady because she has known me for 28 years. Her daughter was my college roommate.
How did behaving brief and reserved or “bitchy” serve me?
It served to hide my shame. I know that shame keeps me in my maladaptive survival strategies and these strategies create even more maladaptive behaviors. Because of the generational shame deeply rooted in my own parent, and it’s influence on me; I have not kept up with my peers. One of whom is her daughter. The fear of this or anything really, “being found out” causes me to panic. I don’t want others finding out how unsuccessful I have turned out to be, given the “bright future” I once had. Even when I have prepared myself for quiet humility and sunny politeness; apparently my subconscious readies for battle. Hence acting “bitchy”.
I am leaving behind Co-dependency (being “nice”, fearing rejection) / Counter-dependency (aloofness, bitchiness) and working toward inter-dependency. Clearly I am still struggling with the Counter behaviors. These will be the most difficult as I have a rejecting kind of mother.
I have to be very careful not to slip into addictive suicidal ideation thought processes. (If nobody finds out about my failures, I won’t have to be suicidal.) This is a very real danger when in my hometown. Also a danger is falling into the victim trap. There are more situations than not that can lead to me being victimized, feeling victimized, or playing into when I actually was victimized. I avoid these more than anything else. And it bothers me a great deal that I have to. And of course this plays fear of Counter and “bitchy” behaviors. I need to remember that some people there will always judge me.
My most painful maladaptive behaviors and the ones I am the most afraid of coming out are chronically under-achieving, under-earning, and poor self maintenance. Until last year I had no to poor self-esteem and was convinced that others determined my worth. I don’t have successes that point to financial and material worth to share when I go to my home town. I am getting to the age where “in progress” is a problem to explain too. This is what I must have meant when I said, “I don’t owe anybody anything. Nobody needs to know or cares what goes on in my life.” I got nothin, and nobody needs to know. Very embarrassing.
Until three years ago I over-spent to hide my shame and loneliness. Moving 2 1/2 years ago was the best thing I did. Closing all my bank accounts, all but one credit card, all lines of credit and refusing to pay all bills but rent, phone, and insurances was necessary to stop the hemorrhaging of money. I am still only able to sit up. I ain’t even standin yet. I don’t want even a glimmer showing that I am barely making it. Conversations with people who I have known for decades, but who are not part of my recovery story, are a challenge. Often I just don’t want to go there. I think my son is unaware of the depth of distress that I feel most of the time. As he should be.
Was I wrong to behave that way? Yes and No. Yes, it may not have been the best way I could have behaved. No, I am doing my damnedest here. It takes practice.
Does this need to be inventoried? Yes. Do I owe an amends? Yes. A little acknowledgement and a hug would go a long way to apologize for my uncharacteristic behavior towards someone who was probably pretty shocked at me.
Shame is a big deal to me. It is the core of why I have some serious consequences coming my way. Shame driven decisions have not gone well for me. Shame based denial has to go as it is no longer an option. Or at least I am getting to enough sustainability and balance that I don’t have to be in denial to survive and indeed my survival may now depend on my ability to face things.
In a little over a month, I am going to see my son again. So far I have plans to stay 4 or 5 days. Chances are pretty high that I will need produce from the grocery store. I owe someone an apology and a hug.