This is a bit rambley and long. I do try to keep to 1000 words but sometimes the topic is too big for that. Also, this post is inter-active. You will need the Big Redbook, your smart phone, or other material until I re-post. This was my share last night at my ACOA meeting. I am throwing it up “as is” to be timely, because my previous post needs it to make full sense, and I WILL NOT BE LATE for work. Nothing is linear, especially getting well from something. Hang in there with me and I’ll hang in there with you. bc
Due to the holiday I knew the group would be small and I was chairing it, so I seized the opportunity to go really big. It opened up a ton on topics to share on (The Laundry List in the Big Redbook on page 5 lists 14 items that we ACOAers tend to do). All of them, or at least 11 of them show up in my inability to be on time. This is my third draft on the topic.
To save time and space I did not type out the contents of the Big Redbook. After a number sign # and a number (11), read that trait in the book. Later I will come back and amend this or make another post with a warning lable!
I forgot my reading glasses for the meeting so I had to have someone read from the book when I got to the number signs and their accompanying numbers. This was not protocol but it worked and it was fun.
I have been tardy to everything since I was 8 years old. What began as in “instinctual safety sprint” has continued as my family’s pathological fear of success due to addiction and dysfunction in previous generations. Unless I root it out, I will bare the sins of my father, ie grandfather.
For me, tardiness began out of safety. When I was 8 or 9 it was an instinctual sprint from point A to point B. I was alone in the morning most of the time until 8th grade. We also moved every year until I was 11, then again when I was 15. I never knew anyone in my neighborhood or school. When I 2 or 3 our neighbor shot our dog. We lived in that house again when I was 8, and although our dog survived, I found going out scary. The walk to school was long and down a busy four laned boulevarded street. I always made it to and frough safely, but I was terrified, always.
Other years our neighbors weren’t wielding shot guns at our dog and the street were quieter, but there were other perils like snakes, bullies, men in cars, and other kid’s parents. Throughout it all no one could know my biggest secret: I was alone.
I was vulnerable from 4 or 5 on. Even at 15, I was vulnerable to my life being toppled because I had entered the work force, wanted to go to college, and didn’t share a last name with my mom. All my real fears became my Laundry List. Pg. 5 BRB.
However, believe it or not all of it comes down to ONE thing, now in my current reality. And that ONE thing is PLEASURE. Yes, my friends, pleasure. I am usually tardy now because I can’t allow myself pleasure. I don’t deserve it. Pleasure? Really? Yup! I will unpack this.
So, I am at home and have to go somewhere. Depending one where I have to go, the laundry list emerges. Take work, although I am not really late, I definitely need to arrive earlier due to changes that make my shift literally impossible to manage if I am not early. Asking myself why I am late for work-If I get there 15-30 minutes early then I am wasting time. #11.
Wasting time? Calmly driving, parking, walking, changing, refrigerating, reporting, watering, coffeeing, chatting……. Calm and plenty of time for preparation is wasting time? Yup. I don’t deserve it. I should run from the time I get out of the shower until I walk to my car a mid-night. I don’t deserve calmly organizing, planning, or seeing to my own needs as I work. I should cram in as much as possible before work as well. I never get enough done. IT IS NEVER ENOUGH! Never get to rest. #6.
Being late for school or a class (actually anything) can also be because I don’t deserve to go there in the first place. I don’t deserve a good job, education, to exercise, to socialize. There are other things I should be doing and I should not allow where I am going to bother anyone. #7. What I am doing is not important, enough, or is temporary. My needs are secondary, always. #3 My involvements, interests, goals, or attentions to me, bother someone around me. It’s the “how dare you” thing. School and other classes are about success, which is forbidden in my family. Nobody should do better than my mom’s generation, who of course weren’t supposed to do better than my grandfather’s generation. Maybe even further back.
Being on time, always, is risky. I could get noticed. Nobody should like me, want me to be successful, know my secret, or put me in the place of needing consistency. #1. The consistency of timeliness and success and involvement was a threat my family’s dysfunction. How dare I expect them to deal with their own crap!
Its’ hard to be on time when I feel uneasy about leaving whatever I am leaving. My mom taught me to leave the house in “dying order”. No dishes in the sink, no unmade beds, no unswept floors…. If I die while gone, what would people think of my messy home? Also, their needs must be seen to first. Where I am going, and my purpose may not have their total approval, or at least it can’t be more important than them. There is much to attend to before walking out the door. #2. When I arrive late, I know this is wrong and that I suck, but I don’t deserve any better anyway. Since I suck, it makes it easier for others’ to not count on me, which they shouldn’t because for me, nothing lasts anyway. I can’t be consistent or I will lose the little that I have, then who would I be?
Being tardy helps me to calm down. What ever machinations I went through to get there, kept the status quo I am used to. It also weirdly revs me up. #8. The bizarre thrill of getting upset, then overcoming it, pulling out of the fire, getting away with something, or cramming in that one last chore to be good enough after all; keeps the adrenaline amped, thus making me think I am alive, accomplishing things, capable.
#10. What do I feel when I am not tardy that hurts so much? Pleasure. Connection. When I arrive in time for work, the pleasure is reduced stress. I barely know what low stress, putting what I need to do first feels like. I stuffed terror, anger, confusion, feeling less than, unimportant, and being needless for 4 decades. Now it all has to come out, and I have to learn the way it should be which includes relaxation, preparedness, flow, questioning, and connection.
Arriving in time for school, a class, church… the pleasure is the coming together. The pleasure is the purposeful gathering. The pleasure is joining a group, being a member, having a place, dare I say? Belonging? I need to learn that my isolation was wrong. My nomadship was wrong. My outsidership was not good for me. Being late helps me to not deal with painful things. Small talk, being known, ugh, maybe pieces of the big secret.
Pleasure in commitment that I was never allowed because it interfered with someone’s addiction. Commitment that could lead to, gulp, success. Then comes fear of maintaining that success. If I am always late, I don’t have to maintain anything. Now, you see, it isn’t over responsibility, it is being irresponsible. This irresponsibility keeps us seeking others tardy, underachieving, and dysfunctional like ourselves. Yup, #9! We suck, so we love others who suck and then of course there’s # 4. This translates for me, into having to do everything because I am with someone who does little, so I am late because I have so much to do. OI! Allowing pleasure has allowed me to expand my peeps. I sometimes get in with the early birds, cool kids, and successful people. Letting go is actually the normal thing to do. Holy crap!
By being on time is a big push back from victim-hood. It’s saying ” I am person, I have things I MUST do for myself, things I WANT to do for myself, and some shit I am NOT going to do”.
To RE-cap the Laundry List:
I am going out in the world, I don’t care what you say or think, go ahead and leave-don’t come back, you may not pick on me, this is about me not you, I said, I don’t care!, I am not here to pity you, I want and deserve calm and less stress, no I won’t stuff my feelings, and I refuse to judge myself anymore.
Now, get the hell out of my way; I have places to go!