I consider this painting as a base on which to build something to be proud of. Not to cover. Not to hide, exactly…
I consider this painting as a base on which to build something to be proud of. Not to cover. Not to hide, exactly…
Recovery, God, balance, sleep, trust, writing things down, and connection; it does work.
Resisting addictions in all their forms, for me, can be a moment by moment intentional battle. I have no internal middle road. I suspect most people don’t given the lack of compassion and permanent damage we inflict on one another. Black/ white good/bad, on/off, in/out, all/nothing, yes/no dichotomies permeate peoples’ lives. And this, I think, is the crux of addictions in the lives of individuals.
I tend to spend too much and wind up with housing instability, or not at all and keep myself from moving forward in jobs, education, and life. Recently, I have been gorging on burgers and beers with my pal, which has been emotionally stabilizing, and apparently I need the protein, but I am shorting my grocery budget and my sleep. My pal says that this is just how urban people socialize. Good point, but I’m an addict so my life depends on looking at it closely.
Here’s why. I am an only child of one parent who lost their mate. They lost what I now suspect was the one person who might love and accept them. Who might hear and feel their loss of love and belonging. My parent, probably with the loss of one of their parents, lost acceptance within the family. They lost the safety that home should bring a child, a young person. Not just that, but I think my parent actually fled tyranny.
So here you have somebody, emotionally on their own with their own child, bumping along in the world, damaged themselves, with less than a clue, fleeing their home, and no particular guidance. So they do the best they can in their starved state. They lack foundational components for setting up a safe life. My parent lacked emotional continuity. My broader family, as I see them from afar, are not compassionate people. They lack compassion for themselves and everybody else. They are generally not open and honest about what hurts them, and when someone is, they are immediately abused. This poisonous pedagogy has done permanent damage to everyone and has continued into the next generation.
My parent’s permanent damage, thus far, emerges in everything about them. Because they have no emotional continuity they lack middle ground most of the time. My parent lives full-throttle or nearly not at all. (Or the last time I checked, this was still the case. I’ve been away for four years.) My parent carries the labels of bipolar, borderline, depression, anxiety, PTSD, narcissism and “crazy”. My parent is broken. My parent is shattered. My parent’s hope for love, a life with a partner, children, and a home; was destroyed by an auto accident just as it was birthed. Their fragile grasp on “normal” disappeared into an Indiana night.
I think their many addictions are just ways to deal with this night and the left overs from a home where they were refused a voice, and abused by another family member who ultimately pushed them from the nest, changed the stories, and nearly obliterated them from the tree.
Reading has saved my life a number of times and kept me safe while growing up. As the only child of a single parent, I was frequently alone and we moved a lot, perpetually making me “the new kid”. So I turned to books.
My brilliant mom read voraciously. She left all kinds of books laying around, so I read them. In second grade I found Han Ruesch’s Top of the World, thus I wrote my “Indian” report on Eskimos. It was the 1970’s.
My first mystery was Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. I think I was eight. From that point forward the mystery became my favorite genre. I worked backwards from Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple to Nancy Drew to Trixie Belden. I have read every Mary Higgins Clark mystery, most of Anne Perry’s, and Patricia Cornwell up to 2009, among others.
My mother’s Christian interests lead me to Hannah Hurnard’s Hind’s Feet on High Places and C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. This was by the age of ten.
Around this time, my mom began to notice my consumption of her book sets, so she directed me towards more age appropriate material, thus The Chronicles of Narnia. I loved those books and a tragedy of my life was losing them in 2001.
Judy Blume was among the authors of my friends, however, precocious as I was, my first J.B. was the infamous Forever. Again, I worked backwards so to speak, reading Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Deenie, and Super Fudge. Even in adulthood I love Judy Blume, reading Forever and Wifey every ten years. (Skipping ahead, I also read Erma Bombeck’s A Marriage Made in Heaven or Too Tired for an Affair once a decade.) Judy Blume helped me grow-up. She was my guide through adolescence and a validator through my twenties. Today, I follow her on Facebook.
Interestingly, I read the Love Comes Softly series by Jannette Oke after Judy Blume. I came to understand love and sex through Forever and Loves Comes Softly. Important information for an eleven year old.
By twelve, I wanted bodice rippers, but my Christian reading teacher was having none of that, so my mom and I visited the Christian bookstore. The lady at the store gave me a wink and sold my mom and I on Eugenia Price’s Savannah. It took me ten years to read all her historical fiction romances. I read them even while fishing with my ex-husband, much to his dismay.
To date, I have read about a third of Barnes and Noble’s self-help section, a good number off the best sellers’ list, and most recently I am into memoirs. Besides books, I read newsletters, newspapers, and magazines. For Christmas my mom gave me a subscription to Vanity Fair, thank you Mr. Trump! I read blogs and write daily.
I believe nearly every problem can be solved by books and reading, or maybe it’s just literacy. Either way, they can save lives, they certainly saved mime.
Today at church, my minister asked for stories of times we were lost or felt lost. I’ve been lost about a hundred times so there is too much to chose from. I’m currently still lost from my 2013 crash. My fellow church-goers have front and center seats to someone really really lost.
It’s been good though. I am in year five of a horrific mental collapse. Each year I have laid solid ground on top of the rock I finally hit at my “bottom”. This was my response to my minister’s request. It is were I was, and still am.
Yup. Let it happen. Let it crash. Do nothing, just let it all fall. Sit in the ashes of the last mistake, the poorly executed action, the accumulation of misdirects, the covers for shame, failure, and fear. Yup, just be lost.
Hold tight to the floor under you, close your eyes in the dark, feel the rumble around you and inside you. Eventually the clamor ends, the last vestiges of your life fall away, your phone stops ringing. Silence. Stillness. Aloneness.
WARNING: This is a full on rant. I’ve done my best not to use my blog in this manner, but I have cracked.
I came home tonight and literally googled “jobs for people who hate people”. I don’t hate people but I need out of my nursing job because stupid, selfish, entitled, people who think hospitals are hotels and medical staff are wait staff are making my actual MEDICAL JOB IMPOSSIBLE TO DO- YOU WIN!
A twenty year medical person is leaving because my pay is capped, others’ raises are dependent on your “satisfaction” and this is not just the patients’ but also visitors of the patients’, we are under staffed (32 patients to 1 CNA in my ICU) nurses tripled, and our patients in and out averages 14 on PMS. I NEVER get a break in 8 or 12 hours, I can’t pee, and once a week or so my phone rings for 8 hours straight. There is a CBT on “alarm fatigue” but that does not apply to the constant ringing of phones. A long time ago I gave up any kind of routine, goals of patient care or unit orderliness. I no longer try to plan my shift, arrange times with other nursing staff to get care done, or make any promises of help what so ever. I am only there as a “noise abatement officer” or a “runner” or a “customer service person”. Never mind that I have grabbed slippery bloody babies from doctors, escalated a Tele patient’s distress to the charge nurse when the primary nurse was ignored, saving that patient’s life, or performed chest compressions in an elevator from the neuro floor to the ICU (the patient survived) and I was the one to ring the alarm on the neuro floor, never mind that I got RSV from an abandoned infant that I held for 8 hours, or all the hands that I have held while someone died. My 20 years in 5 facilities, home health, and my own grandmother mean absolutely nothing.
Let me clarify, this NOT when we are “slow”, or grandpa has died and 8 people in the room should have water and Kleenex while they cry, or the wife that needs a cup of coffee at 8 am when she comes to fetch her husband to take him home, or the person who is diabetic and has been sitting in the ER with their family member and needs juice Pronto! No, I am talking about unnecessary requests on already ridiculously over-loaded nursing staff.
So, sure, let me drop what I am doing when I am the Health Unit Secretary AND the CNA AT THE SAME TIME for TEN rooms and get YOU, a visitor, a friend, not family, out in the lounge where there is a drinking fountain AND a kitchenette, a glass of water because you don’t want to drink from the fountain, take the elevator up a few floors to the cafeteria, or go to the restaurant a few floors down and get it yourself. You aked me “where can I get water?” I told you- and you stood there staring at me. Oh, I’m sorry, you weren’t asking where to get water so you could get it yourself, you were asking so I would make the assumption that I should wait on you. It’s not about a glass of water, it’s about an ICU healthcare worker, dropping what they are doing because you don’t want to take care of yourself. You seem entitled to what you want. My other recent favorite was a young mother holding her possibly four-year old in front of me while I was the secretary for all 32 beds (why a 4 year old was IN the ICU I don’t know), anyway she asked for orange juice. I said that the person she was visiting was not able to eat or drink. She said “no, I need the juice for him” and nodded to her child. So, you think I should drop what I am doing in a 32 bed ICU and walk to a kitchen to get orange juice for your child, for free. It’s NOT the orange juice, it’s the demand and expectation that I drop what I’m doing to do something that is your responsibility and that you seem to feel you should just have it for free. I’m tired of this “give it to me” attitude of not patients, but visitors. GET IT YOURSELF. Get your own coffee, water, or juice. Bring a sweater! We run out of linens- you may not deplete the blanket warmer of blankets- THEY ARE FOR PATIENTS!
Lastly, this week a family member was upset when we wanted to do dialysis on their loved one at a time they didn’t want because “friends may be coming to visit and they didn’t know when, so could we do it when visiting hours were over?” There were several problems with this one. One, this was literally a life saving measure. So, visitors possibly visiting at an unknown time, trumped treatment necessary to keep the patient alive. Okay, then. Two, we have open visiting hours- my hospital thinks that visitors walking around our ICU 24hours a day is just fine. People actually move into the room with their loved ones and just live there. So, no, there is no time when there aren’t visitors. Three, the dialysis nurse was on-call. So, you want us to call the young nurse with a baby, in at your convenience, not when your primary nurse has her labs and is ready for her patient to have their dialysis, and preferably not too late in the evening.
I have few issues with my patients. I am sick of their friends and some of their families. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF I AM THERE FOR THE PATIENTS. I AM A HEALTHCARE WORKER NOT A WAITRESS, BABYSITTER, OR MAID. If I am sitting down, I might be the secretary paging a doctor, I might be in a chart looking for an electrocardiogram order for which I HAVE TO DO because I am ALSO the EKG tech, or calling for your loved one’s meal; don’t ask me to waitress in the family lounge.
LET ME DO MY MEDICAL JOB, if you don’t, I will leave the profession because I am sick of you. I am very very good at my job, your loved one is safe with me, but I guess it isn’t about them, it’s about you. My bad.
Happy New Year and I hope everyone onWP is well. Like most people with depression, anxiety, family trauma, addiction and dysfunction; I tend to not really embrace the holidays. I tend to feel shame at the beginning of a new year, and as a January baby and unpartnered; I really just want to survive until past Valentine’s Day- March cannot come soon enough. But – have to share that this year went really well in spite if it’s challenges. Through it all I continued to take good care of mysel. I relaxed, I stood strong for others, and I entered the new year feeling strangly stable. All good, right?
Yes, but I forgot many rules along the way. I think this year I will set goals around remembering that other people, organizations, and simply time need to be better accounted for. As a recovering person, a mental health patient, and even a neurology patient; I need to remember that things are hard for me, I forget, procrastinate, and at times try too hard. I need others to fill things out, file things, send and receive things, and do their jobs. Places close, there are holiday hours, there is only so much time in a day. I get busy living my good life and forget.
Immediately after Christmas my driver’s license got suspended for one or two days. Basically someone at an agency didn’t fill something out correctly, then another person at another agency didn’t file something. I got a notice from my state about the impending suspension but procrastinated and underestimated the time it would take to find the problem. It all went fairly smoothly and everyone, even the DMV, was great; but I still faced suspention. I wasn’t fined because I was found to be in compliance and the errors weren’t mine. Bottom line- I was prepared for and enjoyed Christmas so much that I forgot about the state’s rules. It also occured to me later, that I suck at follow-up sometimes. I should have called my state when I met it’s requirements to double check they had my information. New memo: stop and check.
I got through New Year’s even though I was terribly sad for three reasons. A year gone that I am still not “successful”, my son was not with me (a first), and a friend died on the 26th. I spent all of this time, and I mean all, as it was my vacation week, home without driving and with others greiving. I would have stayed anyway because I finally belong somewhere, to someones. Then, my car failed it’s emissions test.
I get the notice to get it checked in October. Again procrastination bites my rear. I have 22 days to clear THAT up or my registration gets suspended. My state is such a pain, rules everywhere. This one I kinda did on purpose because in October I was hot on finishing my kitchen and getting my stove hooked up. I’ve lived in my studio for four years but not used the stove or oven. I wanted to be able to use it by Christmas. So I ran the car emissions close, chosing to use January’s money. I hope it isn’t a huge expensive repair.
I have been to yet another funeral, returned to work, gotten caught up on things at work that I was not in compliance with and began the next two things that are due. I hit the post Christmas stock up sales, began next year’s planner, and looked at my flex-spending. Then I ran out of the medication that runs my brain. On Thursday I went to fill it.
I am dumb. Clearly there is a pattern here. The pharmacy couldn’t fill my pills for two days. OK. I go back today- four days later, still no prescription. They have refills allowed from the doctor but the insurance company says it needs a “preQualifiaction”. Now, I did not cry or react badly at the department of motor vehicles over the suspension of my driver’s license. I did not get upset at the emissions tech over a “failed” report, thus I cannot renew my registration. I did however, spurt out that I will withdraw in six days at the pharmacy tech. I did cry in my car.
More rules that I missed because I was in vacation mode. I had been hanging out with a friend, watching movies, and other than stock-up shopping and funerals; I was lazy about life. I failed to request a prequalifiaction letter from my physician to my drug insurance company so that when I needed meds on January 5th, I could have them. I’m sorry, I was busy living my life.
So I microwaved a pot-pie, poured a glass of milk, lit one of my new stock-up Yankee candles, lit a Bath and Body De-stress candle, slapped on it’s matching body cream, and sat on my velvet loveseat to post.
For me, recovery cannot be forgotten for a moment. I cannot lay it aside for Holidays or death or 70% off sales. My short-comings, my mistakes, my under-estimations will bite me in the butt. My b.s. wlll affect others as they encounter me at the DMV, some agency, the emissions test site, some mechanical shop, the pharmacy, and over the phone to the state, the drug insurance company, and the doctor’s office. Recovery says that we take responsibility for our failings. I did a lot of things right this year end. I did many things new to me. I am very different than I was one, two, three years ago. Yet, as many things still linger. They continue to cause me problems and make me a challenge to others.
I can live my life. I can have fun. I can relax. I can have my emotions. But I cannot forget the Rules.
I have read, “Honesty without compassion is brutality”. My ideas is that balance even balances out honesty. The need to say, “Just being honest”, towards others seems to me to need to me in balance as well. Does that make any sense? I wonder how often my truth is that I am out of balance when I am supposedly being “honest”. Even when sharing positive things like the use of my stove. The honesty of the not having use of a stove seemed to me, recently, to be disturbing to others. I meant it to be a celebratory thing, but is pointed out a serious lack of balance in self-care and was perhaps a bit TOO honest at the time of the sharing. I think that the timing of “honesty” is important and I’m pretty sure I miss this one all the time. But I am making headway through the Grace of others.
Another thing about honesty that am questioning is the need to balance it with just pain shutting up, thinking of possible ramifications, or simply adding burden to the emotional environment around me. Sometimes I think that even the good things can be upsetting to those around me because it raises their awareness to lacking around them, lacking to someone they care about, and may even poke at their own judgement. I’m coming to realize most people really do think the best of those around them, and it seems that if what they thought turns out to be wrong, then it casts doubt on themselves. Certain kinds of doubts about those around you can unravel the emotional fabric that is generally there as a protectant. Good will, inclusiveness simply by association, purposeful commendatory, even the often quoted, “it is what it is”; for me, keeps me in the fold, in the circle of trust, in the social group, in the herd. My honesty at times risks this.
I think some of the words I need to think on to balance this honesty out are: “the work”, certainly “recovery”, “self-accountability”, “productive shame”, grief, motivation, and perhaps “gumption”. I need to rally for myself. I need to shut up and get to work diligently to push myself forward, up and out of my lackings. I feel like it isn’t to others that the honesty needs to be voiced, but to myself. I honestly need to pull myself out of a life-time of indecision, poor choices, financial irresponsibility, and tolerating deprivation, crumbs, neglect, and dismissiveness form others and my own self.
I feel like I need to embrace my shame, my lackings, my shortcomings, and the things I grieve privately. My privacy needs to increase and perhaps my honesty needs to decrease. I feel like I need to remember to be within as much as without, to continue to tend to my insides as I develop momentum working on my outsides, and to balance what I share with why I need to share it in the first place. I am seeing that I need to balance the sharing of my recent accomplishments with the concern for others’ concern that any of these accomplishments were needed in the first place. Maybe a healthy dose of embarrassment would be a good thing. Perhaps really FEELING the grief that resides within me, over a poorly managed life, would be beneficial. When I encounter a flash of shock on someone’s face, a drop in their demeanor, a pause in the conversation, a kind of psychological sigh, and often a collective glancing about for help and some silence; perhaps I can learn to take the cue that this honesty was inappropriate and out of balance.
It is hard because they are often joyful shares for me. They are often wins over other things, skills learned, physical improvements to make my life easier, and these day, opens the door for social improvements. I would make me sad to be dampened by my good news honesty shares, but the truth is; I can barely believe all the missed memos growing up that would have taken care of these needs and the social rules of sharing that would have gone with them. Now that Balance is my third core value, maybe now I can begin to fill in the blacks and do a better job throughout most of the areas of my life.
I am glad I took the time to write today. I am out of balance in my writing. Thanks for the visit and thank you WP.
Per my usual, I am still trying to find balance, routine, and consistency with regard to posting. I am back to writing daily, but my posts are still a long way between. Real quick, my last post, a book really, ended with my personal thoughts on changing a person’s values in order to truly recover from addiction and other mental health struggles. This is my blog and my personal opinions based on what I have done for myself (which is based on reading almost the entire self-help section of my bookstore, mental health counseling, and 12-step).
I do not disagree on the importance of one’s home and lifestyle, of family and friends, of church affiliation, employment, education, pets, nature, hobbies etc. I find them all important to a well-rounded life. What I disagree with is continuing to value the people, places, things, and situations that made me suicidal, depressed, anxious, shell-shocked, frightened, and generally f*d up in the first place. For me, continuing to “value” what made me this way is dumb. Threading those things back in LATER, when I am much healthier, much more solid in myself, much more discerning for my well-being, much much stronger, and truly ready for what they bring my way; can be done. I am not advocating disowning one’s family. I am not suggesting cutting all ties to the past, turning away from one’s up-bringing, or permanently destroying our place in the Known Cosmos; what I’m advocating it that those things not be one’s core values if one wants to build a life based on recovery.
Two and a half years ago I sat in a day hospital break-out session on “Values”given by an old white religious guy. Problem number one. Everyone around me was calling out things to write on the white dry erase board. The group contained a surprising spread of demographics. Three different colors of people, three or more religions represented, a decent spread of education, household income, and employment statuses, married/single, gay/straight/, using/clean, veterans to the program and newbies. But despite the diversity, everyone said the SAME THING. They all valued things outside of themselves, things that did not necessarily put a roof over their heads, pay their bills, keep them from drinking/drugging/addicting. My point is that when it came to the “values” session, the dry erase board looked exactly the same both times and every person in both groups of people said exactly the same thing (of those who spoke, I know..). That was problem number two. It was a colossal re-run. And for some of us there, the whole experience was a re-run, and for others a re-run of a re-run. NO CHANGE.
Doing the same things over and over but expecting a different result is “crazy” right?
Here are my suggestions and what I said on my second tour through the day-time mental hospital.
I have five base values. They are for me to be able to take care of myself. They may seem selfish, but I think I deserve self-care since this is where I am sitting for the second time in two years, and on the second major mental break-down in 14. The statistics don’t look pretty after this. This is what I base my life on, and my life depends on it.
The room was silent. No one spoke for a minute or two. Then someone said, “I never thought of that”.
I think they may have meant that they didn’t think of “values” as something for themselves personally. I think most of the people in the room had on rosy colored glasses and I took them off. I tend to point out reality. Many of us were in fact not safely off the streets, not safe in our homes, not safe among our “values”. Even the staff had to think on this. Problem number three. That bothered me a HUGE amount and almost up-ended my time there.
I don’t know how to use line spacing (and a bunch of other things) on WP so this looks long and I want to keep this post short. I want to leave time for anyone reading to ponder my suggestions. It isn’t that my mother, or child, or best friend, or education isn’t very important to me, or that I don’t value them; it’s just everything else has a place AFTER my safety needs are met. I let things back in when I can sustain them in balance with my life as a whole. I spent an entire year on each value, this year I am on Harmony. As I get along better with myself, I get along better with others, but it is hard with my desire to disconnect (hence my previous post). Next year I hope to be living in a place of stability. I’ll let ya know.
Over time I discovered that each value has an accompanying character trait that I have had to develop to solidify the value. This has been perfect for 12-step work.
I advocate for people to come up with their own words, their own core concepts that will give them a place a safety, mental health, a ground zero to start from perhaps again and again until it works for them. I’m a DIY girl. I believe the ground underneath us is stronger if we lay our most solid work ourselves out of the most solid parts we create in ourselves. I know what heals me, and I believe that most people know what heals them. I think the thing mental health needs the most is CHANGE.
None of the values on the dry erase board worked for me. They actually kept me trapped in co-dependency. They took the focus off myself and my development, even my personal physical safety.
Thanks for reading and I wish you safe.
As I move on, out of a huge major depression, I don’t know how. I don’t know how to live with the idea of my life not directed by navigating the b.s. of those around me. I don’t know how to direct myself without the immediate energy of others. I don’t know how to move my day along with thoughts and feelings at the same time. I know there is much to do, emails to read, appointments to make, help to get to make my BlackBerry and my laptop to talk to each other again, swimming to do, cleaning my refrigerator, cashing a surprise check, thinking on a second job….. my question is how do I do these things without losing myself again. I am a late sleeper, a slow waker, a dawdler; until my brain realizes that time is ticking and I need to move along.
This is different from my long hatred of mornings. I no longer hate mornings. I no longer dread them, wish I didn’t have to endure them, or fight them. These days I wake up peaceful, okay with my life. I wake up safe in the life I have built on my own, for myself. Most mornings my mind is actually blank for awhile. My a.m.routine is written down so that I stay on track whether I am thinking or not.
It is after this that I have questions. And they are questions, not angst, drama, or even that much anxiety. Just, “How do I stay with myself this day and do some of the things I really should do to participate in my Life, as it is and where it is headed?” I think it is a question of balance. How do I love myself, love those so supportive around me, remain connected to it all? How do I cling and continue to grow at the same time?
These are things that get missed in abusive, neglectful, dysfunctional, addictive, and traumatic homes as we grow up. These are developmental steps that get ignored, forgotten, destroyed, or damaged; and to me, it seems, they need to be made up. I am repairing in myself those connections in my brain that say, “Hey, connection is important! Hey, yes I know you need to move on but don’t forget me now that you have found me!”
My questions are things like, “Do I just throw myself together and go swim, because if I don’t, I won’t swim today? Or can I write in my journal, maybe post, and then go?”
Then there are questions of efficiency. “If I stay with myself and write first, should I throw in some laundry or soak my dishes?” If I write and don’t have those things going at the same time, is this good focus or license to go down the rabbit hole?
Issues of time arise for me WAY TOO OFTEN. I hate my struggle with time. I hope that someday it goes the way of my struggles with mornings! Rabbit holes suck up a metric crap ton of my time. BUT I have found that I have also grown-up about 4 years in 8 months of pursuing myself through my own rabbit holes. With regard to time, I feel that time to grow-up the natural way, in the time that I should have had, was mostly taken from me; so I am doing it now. I feel very firmly about this.
So, I guess my questions of good decision making, efficiency in running my own home (for 4 years now), how much I exercise, and whether I post or not; will get answered as I muddle through my quiet solitary days. Days like today I can chose to connect with interested parties on WP as I sort these steps out. As I have shared through photograph, I can connect with my fur-babies, allowing them to demonstrate their dependence on each other. My black and white rabbit is old and frail, she clings to my young brown rabbit who is patient, kind, and quite frankly assertive if she doesn’t like something new near them. They are peaceful and happy with their lives, a good reminder for me to follow suit.
On the thread of connectivity, and now that I have written to know what I think, perhaps I will read the email from my insurance agent and then give her a call to make an appointment for a sit down. This goes to meeting my budget needs, so perhaps it should be my first priority. Maybe then a swim will be the right thing. I don’t know what I will do after that, but later tonight is my 12-step meeting, then my Monday night Backgammon game and beer.
I am learning that gentleness with myself, structure, and hope are as important coming out of depression/anxiety/trauma as they are while in their midst. I am learning that honoring connections the entire time, is critical to sure footing and avoiding going seriously backwards. Staying with myself in the face of economic, employment, social, and societal pressures is vital to my recovery. What would the point be in any of it if I lost myself again? And of course I need to continue to push myself to authentically engage with others to really thrive.
Thank you, WP.
12 step, addiction, adult children, anxiety, being an individual, breaking-the-cycle, CBT, co-dependency, depression, dignity, fear, healing, independence, mental health, ptsd, recovery, safety, self-worth, shame, suicide, trauma
I give to Myself: Inherent worth, dignity, and individuation.
Because I bestow these by Myself, for Myself, I am obligated to uphold them for Myself.
I will do this by providing Myself with healthy, appropriate defense strategies to protect Myself from intentional/unintentional harm by my own or anyone elses’ hand.
I will also provide Myself with as many healthy, appropriate means of acquiring comfort as I can, to protect Myself from further internal harm, and continue to heal old wounds.
Experience has taught me that I also need to give Myself the freedom to declare at least to Myself: That anyone who denies my inherent worth, dignity, or individuation; and/or denies or belittles my need for protection and comfort; in violation of my unique Personhood.
This is my personal Declaration of Independence that I created in February of 2013 while hospitalized for a mental breakdown. I was seriously suicidal again after fourteen years of mostly fleeting suicidal ideations.
In writing this, I gave Myself a Self. Over the years as I encounter the variety of people that I encounter, I have noticed that lots of people don’t seem to have a sense of Self. I mean with a CAPITAL S as I write. I believe that in a persons’ early developmental years, this inherent worth as a human being gets destroyed or damaged to the point where they are unable to see themselves as a separate, autonomous person, with needs unto themselves. I know people who exist only because their physical body keeps generating electrical impulses that maintain the flow of mortal life, but they don’t really live. Unfairly, they don’t know why they can’t live, and certainly not for themselves. I think in this situation, a person has to give themselves a Self. I decided in 2013 to give myself a Self. I get to be a person, just like anyone else. I believe it can also be called the rise of “the Will”. I get to have a will of my own, long last in my forties. Usually, this comes along in the toddler years and gets reinforced through childhood, but mine was f’d up so it either didn’t happen, it was extremely weak, or repeated trauma killed it. Whatever. I decided I needed a Self.
I capitalize “Myself” and “Self” and other words in my writing for emphasis, to bring damaged people “up” to other human beings because we Are, and to encourage thoughts about the words I have chosen. I am a word person. 99.9% of the time I have agonized over writing (often saying) the exact word I want to use to convey the exact meaning I wish to convey. I am also extremely literal (think American TV show BONES.) I think of recovery this way: my child’s mind was broken, often my mind still runs in a broken, sometimes primitive manner, and my job now is to find, heal, and assimilate these broken bits so that I can live rather than exist. I had to have a Self on which to build a life.
I believe all living things have inherent worth and a place in the web of life, indeed the Cosmic plan. I simply took this basic belief and applied it to Myself.
I believe all living things have inherent dignity as well. I have a very old rabbit. She falls and can no longer bathe herself. Her facial expressions appear to say “damn it!” when she falls. She struggles a bit until I pick her up, then she fervently licks my hand as I reset and block her back up with a rug. When I reach down to pet and reassure her, she “butts” my hand, closes her eyes, and sorta smiles. At bath time, she is nervous and seems embarrassed, but then is clearly happy to lay on the bed grooming herself as she dries, then seems cheerful now clean again. I think people deserve the same dignity we afford our pets. I expect from here out to be treated with as much dignity (and respect) as my mother’s cats.
Every person is unique, irreplaceable, belongs in this world, has a reason for their stay, and a story of their very own. Many stories are similar, suffering is often a shared experience, all humans bleed red; but absolutely nothing is identical outside a lab. The human story is also about perception. Perceptions can be as tangled, and layered, and lickity-split as the neurons that pass along the messages. Recovery/healing to me, seems to need to be an individual endeavor, who knows one’s self better?
As children, if these basic human needs are not given to us, I think we have to give them to ourselves, the sooner the better, because life can be long. They need to be firmly for ourselves, as a gift we give ourselves. I needed to learn that I need to put myself first- always. This is tough to swallow, especially for parents, but it is true. The parent that cares well for themselves is far better equipped to care for a child. I believe that whatever the stage in life a person gains in recovery, they can begin to pick up the pieces for their children and move on in a healthier manner. For me, when I stopped arguing with the Universe and took care of Myself, my child also began to take care of Himself.
As an addictive type person, healthy and appropriate means of defense and comfort is vital or I will just keep up the same crap. I have found that now that I don’t spin, and blame, and play the victim, and run around, and pretend that I have “a life”, I actually do. I weigh out and CBT seven ways from Sunday every-single-time I feel I need defense, protection, comfort, some kind of action or attention. My first impulse is usually bad on the budget, a drink to an emotion, some kind of avoidance, or something to cover Shame. Over the last three years I have developed an arsenal of safe, inexpensive, self-contained, productive, sustainable, inexhaustible, satisfying, and replicable defense and comfort strategies. My secret is to STOP. Just freakin STOP already!
I use my arsenal to limit self harm and keep from being victimized by another person while I am in whatever state I am in. I have learned to soothe Myself. Moving ahead, some of my struggles are to not be bitter that I have to soothe Myself, not be frustrated that I need so freakin much soothing, and to come to terms with the Shame I feel about my soothing activates. (I color A LOT. On my bed. While watching a DVD or listening to soothing music. I feel 6 next to busy professional running all over with their families. Who sits on their bed and colors because they are overwhelmed? Me.) My thinking is I will “outgrow” this, increase my tolerance for stress, and someday teach this to others. My thinking also is that I am no longer hurting myself if I am on my bed with crayons.
Finally, I think good declarations need teeth to enforce them. What good is it to give yourself a Self with inherent worth, dignity, and the right to your own individual needs including what is Kyrptonite to you and what makes your heart sing; if you don’t also declare what the consequences are for not upholding the declaration. And not just that, but MY declaration says you cannot even belittle any of my defense or comfort strategies. They are mine. Unique to me and MY suffering. Nobody is allowed to violate my declaration that I created out of violation, to end my violation.
Once my personal “Declaration of Independence” was in place, giving me a Self, with rights, a clear directive to maintain those “rights”, and teeth to bite back against any violations of my D of I, I was free to begin a personal “bill of rights” or institution of NEW core values.
I think sometimes people don’t heal because they try to keep the same values that keep them injured and sick. I believe that where a person puts their spirit, thoughts, feelings, energy, care, time, money, resources, and vision for the future; is where their values lay. If all these things keep going to other people who are not around, or are unhealthy/addicted, or the ones who broke them in the first place; then I don’t see how the new Self, the new declaration of independence, and it’s enforcement could be maintained anyhow. I think that if core values aren’t changed, the person themselves will violate their own new contracts and the cycle will just continue.
Values have to change. The rules have to change. It’s not fun or easy or fast or sometimes understandable; but if done consistently long enough, the Self will heal. We are biologically designed to do so.