************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christmas Mourning

Painful growth... as I go through the past a piece at a time, I'm coming to finally release the last of my denial and see my mother's part in all of it. It's hard. She has always been the "good" parent. Yet, where was she when I needed her most?

I twisted my ankle Saturday night. When I mentioned this to my mother - a fall down the deck stairs and a sprained ankle - what do you suppose her response was?

She told me of her dinner plans with my brother.
That's it.
And the thing is, while I felt hurt, dismissed, unheard... I wasn't surprised. It was the catalyst for the grief I'm entering into.

I know - I've always known on some level - that her concern is really only with herself. Even her constant support of my father is selfish in that it is fed by her fear of abandonment.

When given a choice between my father and me, well... there's never been a choice. No matter what he was doing, she stood by as if the world was a perfect place and never said a word.

It is what she has not done that cuts the deepest, and her lack of compassion this weekend was the straw that broke the back of a camel called denial.


Christmas Mourning


The child wants
The child needs
And so the child must believe

Anticipated fancy’s flight
Pledges of a daybreak bright
Hope, a beacon in the night
That never sees the morning light

Hurt and fear and sorrow fade
Promises divert the pain
Longed-for wishes softly prayed
This time let it be okay

The child wants
The child needs
And so the child lives the dream

Words of comfort, Mother’s touch
Doesn’t really hurt so much
Her back is turned, her smile a bluff
It’s what she doesn’t do that’s rough

Keep dreaming child, suckling malaise
While mother seems to proffer grace
With offerings prepared in haste
To keep the world’s eyes from your face

The child wants
The child needs
Watch closely and you’ll see her bleed

Cold as wintry blizzard drifts
Are Christmas morning’s promised gifts
And foiled and failed family trips
Bring about another shift

Mother’s eyes are vacant holes
As empty as the child’s soul
As the fractured walls explode
What does she have; what can she hold?

The child wants
The child needs
The child is grown and she is me

The pretty ribbon’s ripped and cut
The wrapping paper's torn apart
The open box, my fissured heart
At hope's end I must learn to start

Like storefront gifts on Christmas morn
Disguised, empty, and timeworn
True concern and care, stillborn
So sad there’s nothing there to mourn

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Magic Mirror

Who Am I?

I may tentatively tell you
Who I once was
Where I’ve been
What I’ve done
Who I desperately wanted to be

I have meticulous memories
Of isolated incidents
Complete with emotions
Desires
Accomplishments
Disasters
Every perfect detail of things I didn’t want to know
And those I only wished to be true

I may cautiously present
The ghostly personas possessed by ‘shoulds’
I  thought I ought to be
I’ve desperately tried to be
I know I’ll never be

But I don’t know which
Of the broken pieces of my reality
To keep
To discard
Are completely ingrained
Or were never mine

The illusion
Was nearly perfect
To a casual observer
Or a master denier
Camouflage, untouched
By tears
Or Rage
Or longing

But now see
While a magic mirror illuminates, with sincerity
Inside the fa├žade
Beyond the frozen mask
The world tilts at an impossible angle
And nothing is what it seemed to be

I want to pretend
To lie
To scream, that is not my reflection!
But I only gaze at what is not there
A child’s complexion
Adolescent hair, dark and full
The dimpled knuckles of a toddler

That is what was
But what is
Is Ordinary
Middle-aged
And completely unsure what to hang on to
In this topsy-turvy landscape

I dart through the twisted halls
Of my internal dwelling
Straitening the crooked images
Hanging copies in empty corridors
My purpose in question
My motives askew
My sense of self as tenuous
And fragile as dust
Scattered in the swirling wind

Monday, October 4, 2010

Can You Identify Yours?

I believe there are two distinct kinds of twelve step programs. While programs in either of these two categories have many similarities, there is one big difference that sets them apart:
How does one measure sobriety?

In a program like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA(Narcotics Anonymous) , sobriety is measured by giving up a specific substance. If you are not consuming alcohol or using drugs, you are sober.

It's a lot harder to know what where to begin in programs like CoDA (Codependents Anonymous), SLAA (Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous) and OA (Overeaters Anonymous).

How does a food addict measure sobriety? One can’t walk into an OA meeting claiming to have given up food! More subtly, one also needs love, friendship, and, arguably, sex, so how does someone in SLAA measure sobriety? And what is a codependent supposed to give up in order to move towards self-reliance and interdependence?

It’s widely accepted that there is a driving force that pushes an individual to self-defeating behaviors in first place. In AA, there are terms like “dry drunk” which describe someone who is sober but still not “working the program.” This shows that even within AA or NA, there is an awareness that simply giving up an addiction is only the beginning.

When we engage in addictive or obsessive behaviors, we are reacting to something from the past. This could be things that happened to us or things that were missing, in childhood. These ghosts of the past are painful to see, so we find ways to avoid looking at them - like over-eating, drinking or drugging, or focusing on others. By engaging in these behaviors we can make the whole world, including the problems of the past, go away for a while.

That's control, isn't it?

No.

Eventually, we learn that this only makes us feel more out of control. We give up another little part of ourselves for that brief interlude of peace. By the time we realize it isn't worth it, it's very hard to figure out how to unravel the ties we've wrapped around ourselves. 

The key is to identify those underlying behaviors which are “reactive” rather than “active”. I’ve said this before, and so was fascinated when I went to an ACoA meeting, last monday, and found that “my” theory was a foundational concept in that program. Their document, called “The Solution,” states:

When we release our parents from responsibility for our actions today, we become free to make healthful decisions as actors, not reactors.
But how do we identify these underlying behaviors? Whether we are attending AlAnon meetings – and trying to understand why we allow another person’s addiction to control our lives – or have labeled ourselves as codependent, we must understand what the driving force is behind the harmful thoughts and actions that make our lives unmanageable.

And this brings me to what ignited my desire to write this post in the first place. At a website I frequent (Get to the Inside), Melissa Greene writes:

A bottom line behavior is a behavior that, when engaged in, leads to loss of self. Engaging in this behavior can prevent the addict from experiencing valid and necessary feelings of anger, grief, or even intimacy. The bottom line behavior is sometimes used as a smoke screen to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of anger, grief, or intimacy. Engaging in the bottom line behavior tends to bring an immediate relief, an ah-h-h-h feeling, at least in the early stages of addiction. As addiction progresses, an addict often has to engage in more of this behavior or more intense forms of it to achieve the "high."

… If you are an addict trying to define your bottom line behaviors, ask yourself these questions, "What is the behavior that, if I stop doing it, I'm going to feel like I'm going crazy? What behavior, at the thought of no longer doing it, makes me almost panic? What behavior, when I stop doing it, is immediately going to send me into emotional withdrawal symptoms?" Whatever you answer to these questions-- that's your bottom line behavior.
So, I challenge you. What do you do to avoid looking at what you most need to address? What is keeping you from being all you can be? What are your bottom line behaviors?

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.
~Shen