Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Denial - Don't pass it on

As I mentioned in my PodCast last week, I look back in ...awe? Frustration? Resentment? Gratitude? at the fact that there were warning signs of my anxiety problems on the mid 70's. And from what I've read, there were diagnoses, if not "good" treatment options at least as far back at the early 80's. There are probably a dozen different outcomes that could have still taken place, had anyone in my family known where to look. Honestly, many might have been worse than what happened. Still, it makes me wonder.
Because what happened was -  nothing. So there is reason to wonder.
Before I let myself go too far down that rabbit hole, though, I always have to remember that to maintain my serenity and subsequently, my sobriety, I need to not engage in the blame game.
If I'm going to do unto others as I would have them do unto me (Matthew 7:12), I need to recognize that I have made mistakes that have dearly cost others, as well. I need to understand that in the same set of circumstances as my parents, at a time where the stigma of emotional or mental issues was even greater than today, I might have chose to live as they did - in denial.
In fact, in many ways it wasn't a conscious choice on their part. It was simply living by the rules of the house that they either created out of some type of necessity, or had created for them earlier in life. People don't KNOW what they don't know. I couldn't expect them to know terms like panic disorder, chronic anxiety or toxic relationships. Words like co-dependency or enabling would have sounded like "head-shrink non-sense" to them. They didn't know the correlation between substance abuse and the effects on their kids. No clue.
Granted AA and AL-anon were around before I was born and The Gospels have been around for more that 2000 years, all telling us the same things -  Live in reality. Stop thinking you can do it all on your own. Just because you're angry, doesn't mean you're right. Your past has a lot to do with your pain.
Nowhere, in any of our secular or faith based recovery are we told that if we ignore the problem, it'll go away. And rightfully so. That's not reality. Just because many choose to believe that lie, doesn't make it any more plausible.
If I choose to be a victim, I can live in denial and be in pain all of my life. I can figure out ways to blame it all of someone else, if I choose to. Or I can cast aside the confusing crap of who had what responsibilities and when and just accept that I must now be the one to break the chains of denial. My life goal- Leave this generational line better than it was when I entered it.
Denial is not just a obstacle when it comes to substance abuse. It comes in the form of "I can't" or "I won't". It shows itself in "At least I don't use drugs" or "I just have a bad temper" or "We're all basically animals", "I'm still hungry", "I'm still fat", "I don't make enough money". "If my kids would just behave.."
This is why we say, "It is what it is". And that saying can be MADDNING.
Why? Most often because it's true and we don't want to look at it. We might find that we have a part to play in changing it.
Those of us in ANY kind of recovery have taken up that challenge. We don't need anyone to go back in time and fix themselves for us. We need to live in the now and look at our pasts as something that we cannot change, but we CAN heal from and not pass on to the future generation. No matter our circumstances, we all have that responsibility. We all have influence.
We have to choose....
Denial vs. reality
Denial vs. acceptance
Denial vs. help
Denial vs. hope
Denial vs. freedom
Our parents, siblings, spouses and friends don't make the choice for us. In fact they can't. They are just as flawed as you are. As I am. No person is LESS valuable than another. No matter what you've been told or by whom.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Link to the 1st podcast....

AudioRising PodCast 1

So I was kinda proud of myself as I posted the 1st PodCast. It was an internal thing. Heart level. I had to get past my head. The audio wasn't what I wanted, and I had NO script at all. Just me sitting in front of my mike rambling on. Even my pop filter was AWOL.  BUT...I let it go. I LET it be anything but perfect. I had to talk myself into it, but I did it.

This may seem like a small or simple thing, but not for me. I don't particularly think of myself as someone with OCD. I used to have a seemingly mild form back when I was a kid. Eons ago. I watch my family deal with it, but it wasn't until I got into recovery that I noticed just how serious it was for one or two members of my family of origin. The way it's always been portrayed on TV is this totally debilitating compulsion; like the hand washing we all see/hear about. The germaphobic aspect made sense to me, to an extent, but I always became annoyed at my family members for getting so caught up in that stuff.

Later on in recovery, I began to notice that, when I was around them, I noticed more and more behavior that got on my nerves! Had I been raised in a culture of fear and compulsion along with the enabling and alcoholism I was already aware of!?

I guess in my case it could be called being a "perfectionist." But I'm not! I can leave a t-shirt on the back of a chair for 2 or 3 days. I can remind myself that I need to put my tools away, but forget for a week.

Yet when it comes to "putting myself out there", nothing is ever good enough.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Quick observations: Looking back at a child

Sometimes I just write for the sake of writing. I decided to ask myself why and actually look and listen for answers. Once in awhile I feel as though I need to perform an "honest assessment of" myself. It's amazing how quickly and deeply I can fall back into thinking that is not realistic. As I typed that last sentence the memory of once living in a mental and emotional fantasyland popped into my head.

I remember playing when I was a kid, like all kids do. It's make-believe. It's guns and police cars and robots and starships and heroes (super or otherwise). It was riding an imaginary horse, packing everything I needed to go off into the mountains and capture the bad guys. I was the best shot ever in my head. It was traveling alone into deep space and finding ways to escape the clutches of bad people.

All in all when I look back (on those rare occasions I let myself) I see a kid that wasn't really that "different". I do remember having a feeling that people just put up with me and if they had their way they'd just as soon not have to deal with me. I'm still working on how an alcoholic/enabling home contributed to feeling that way by the time I was - ?? - 8?... 9?

I know for a fact that by age 11 I was dealing with some version of anxiety or panic. I can remember that my mind would never shut down. Especially when I was trying to go to sleep at night. I was never afraid of the dark, but I was deathly afraid of the silence. The overwhelming thought that I was going to die....someday...gripped me and would NOT let go.

One of this things that I've learned (notice how I moved off the previous topic) is that, my childhood mental/emotional state was not that far removed from other kids. The observation I make these days, is that it just lasted a couple decades too long.

Substance abuse causes a stunting of natural, emotional growth. I see that EASLIY from a recovery point of view at 49. But the alcohol abuse didn't begin until I was 18. It seems between 11 and 18 the anxiety/panic/OCD was at it's peak (well...first peak) during those years. It was post-adolescence; pre-alcoholic.

It's intriguing/maddening/aggravating/sad/exciting. Many times I just don't know what to do with the information I've had revealed.

Other times I know exactly what to do....and don't.

One thing I certain: I don't live back there in those days anymore. I have too much to do now that is productive. Ahhh yes, productive. The polar opposite of how I used to see myself in this life.

But there has to be room for that dramatic, dreamer. That kid who never did much with the stories of heroes and villains. Who always won the big one in his head, but knew nothing good could come from him in the future. Now that I know that isn't necessarily true, I sometimes feel too serious and wish that boy was as vital, energetic and imaginative as he was back then.