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.