Here is something that can be overlooked for those of us struggling with addiction and mental/emotional health issues - My family of origin might have contributed to many of my problems.
This statement can be a powder keg if not handled properly. It's literally a balancing act between me and them. Whether they are still living or not, makes little difference in this context. The die they created was cast a long time ago. In recovery it became imperative that I define what balance looked like. And it's still a struggle.
Parent or sibling, aunt or uncle, it is my desire (and duty, really) to find out where they end and I begin. I believe it is that way for everyone, but especially those in recovery. I need to learn how to honor and love those people of my past, without getting caught up in their b.s. They are related to me, but they don't define me.
One way to picture how this might feel is to imagine taking a 4x4 up an incline that is, by no means impossible, and yet is definitely the road less traveled. On either side of the narrow path that I'm travelling is a steep embankment. Left or right too far, and I will slide right off into a ravine. Even though I have to pay attention, steer carefully and keep my foot on the gas gently, moving forward at a slow steady pace is the only way to remain healthy.
Too my right, down past the ravine I see the flat, easy path I used to be on, far below. From up here it looks flat. When I was down there I was constantly dodging quicksand-like mud. The earth tilted back and forth in subtle, but often quick angles and I felt like I might tip over. I always refused to slow down. I would panic and rush headlong into that mess and wonder why I always felt out of control. That was where I came from. Fight or flight. Navigate the terrain in front me, with no rules that make any sense, as best you can and hope for survival. No training on how to drive, where to drive. This is just what you do. Some loved ones set you in motion with no direction, no purpose. Just drive. Cause that's what they did.
What this really is - Familiar. Not good. Not healthy. Familiar. It's what I'm used to. The known path. The devil I know. It's not safe, but it feels safe even though there is a TON of anxiety. It's the side that says, "This is what I've been taught via observation. It's chaos and confusion. It's anger and resentment. It's co-dependent and enabling. It's hiding the elephants in the room. It's thinking that peace is always defined by an absence of conflict. It's seeing one thing and being lead to act as if the opposite is reality. It's ridiculous. It's inauthentic.
Off to the other side, to my left, beyond that steep drop, is a place obscured. I can't really tell what's over there. It looks a lot better than where I am though. It's lush and green, but it's darker. Like a place I could get lost in and never find my way back. It's appealing. It gets me excited with an energy that makes me feel like I might explode. On those occasions when the view seems clearer, I feel an angry, hysterical laugh begin to develop in the back of my throat. My heart races and it feels like this is where I need to be. Still, I'm fearful of that place because of the darkness. It seems I catch glimpses of thorns, snakes, entangling vines. A different, but still deadly, type of quicksand. It looks like it's full of horrifying traps.
What this really is - Blame. It would be so easy to give myself over to this. To resent if not actually learn to hate those from my family of origin. To put it all off on them and say, "I'd have been fine if not for you! YOU did this to me! You let it HAPPEN! You ruined me before I even had a chance to start!!" But this kind of thinking is an attempt to "rewrite" history by saying, "I never had free will. I didn't know the difference between right and wrong. I was forced to turn left when I should have turned right". That would not be true. In many cases I was compelled by my own flawed and untrustworthy emotions to make the decisions I made. No one forced me. Oh I might have been unable to stand up for myself and say "no" from an emotional standpoint, but to say I was not physically able to walk away from people and situations would be a lie. And I don't want to live my life in a thorn filled, dark, decaying, dangerous, lifeless, lie.
I am a work in progress. Emotionally, I still get it wrong more often than I get it right. I am usually teetering somewhere between old comfort and outright blame. Thus, I'm on this rocky incline. I could topple off to the left or the right, with just a slight miscalculation due to lack of paying attention. This path, the one less travelled, is not easy and sometimes the tension feels like more that I can stand. My "muscles" get stiff and I get sick of keeping myself steadily on track. I curse and scream and groan at the tediousness and boredom. But to do anything else, is my probable demise. Even if I survived the "fall", a slow, lingering death awaits below on either side. I have to continue this slow steady climb. There are beautiful spots and restful plateaus, but I have to be on the lookout for them or I'll miss 'em.
I have to trust that I'm gaining ground and seeing bits of progress, is the fuel that sustains the forward momentum.