Alone in the car with my younger son, today, I pretended to take credit for saying something fantastic, a quote which actually came directly from him. He was like: “Mawm, I said that, not you.” In all seriousness,straight-faced, I replied; “Nah-aaaaah, I am totally the one who said it.” He was rightly disturbed- I admitted to playing and went on to share about about gas-lighting–how it can make a person feel crazy when someone repeatedly insists that things are different from how they know them to be. I explained how gas-lighting is a real thing that some people do- and that it is a form of abuse. He recalled how his bully did that to him in 4th grade(which he then began doing relentlessly to his brother(we have nearly fully recovered over the course of a year)) I explained how it is especially troublesome when a person who is older or in a position of authority, whom is believed to be trustworthy, does this to a person who must depend on them. The person being gaslit will begin to doubt everything, lose trust first in themselves, and then in others. And that is an impossibly scary way to be in the world. Depression and anxiety often result and can sometimes be healed. I stopped with that.
We have a deal, my sons and I– If they ever catch me in a lie, of any sort, I will pay them $500 each, on the spot. I do not have $500!! We have clarified what makes a lie a lie, is when person intentionally conveys a message which they know to be untrue or inaccurate. Anytime they doubt me, which is rare, I just say “Why would I lie? I have no reason to lie. To anyone. I am not afraid or trying to get anything.” Plus, I now have faith and courage. Yay,me, finally.
I feel strongly about and extremely proud of the way I live my life and tell the truth. Lying is for when you are afraid of losing someone or something or you are attempting to gain something which is not rightly yours. If you have to lie to get it or keep it, is it ever really yours? Anyone who knows me through their own experience, in the last 15 years would report that I prioritize truth telling over others’ opinions of me. Not brutally honest, just honest. Recovery teaches me the virtue and value of truth telling. Not only speaking with factual accuracy and full disclosure, but behaving with emotional honor—mindful of motives for why I choose to or not to say or do a thing. Will I offer a partial truth because I need to control the outcome? NoPe–Partial truth is the same as partial lie.
I accept having been labelled(by those who need to label) too sensitive, too emotional, inflexible, sometimes careless and mean (nearly guaranteed when I am hungry, tired, need a restroom, space, or am in a hurry-Recovery teaches me to live my best life by prioritizing my basic needs without apology). No matter what- my words match my actions and my beliefs, regardless of who is listening or watching. There is no proof anywhere of me being any other way since recovery. I make no claim to being recovered, only to being a person living recovery/GOD centered life, which rewards me with integrity. Spiritually striving one day at a time, living in ways that do not require or tolerate even the teeniest bit of hiding, denying, pretending, or lying. I am not sure it is possible to prioritize what others think and to be completely honest in word and deed. The more honest and transparent(For those who do not know, this is called being vulnerable)you are, the more likely you are to displease people. That is reality, not everyone will appreciate our truths and choices, but the right people will.
What I get to post here, is my experience, sacred and worthy of being told exactly as it has happened. Only I can do that. One day my boys may read this blog and reflect for themselves on the validity of these statements. I no longer live in fear of my truth. Not even my past. I recognize that my truth will not be the same as others’ and may be unwelcome, but that does not make it wrong nor does not change it. I lament the way things stand with my family. And yet, I feel good about my behaviors and contributions. Any actions of mine, being condemned, I would bet, are based more on “information” from a third, threatened, and unreliable source, than on a current encounter with me. I continue to observe how vanity, fear, greed, and entitlement- drive and justify outrageous dishonesty. There really are only a handful of motivations at the core of all dishonesty. In recovery, we learn this in our fourth step work.
“She gets away with everything” griped my sister with frequency. I got away with nothing. I was treated poorly and forever in trouble, and even on my best days, there was literally no hope for getting the guidance, love, food, or material things I craved. As far as I could know, I had nothing to lose. Life could not have been scarier or less comforting and fulfilling. Desperation will make you crazy reckless. You run out of fucks pretty fast when all of the days are hard, harsh, void of comfort and connection. And because my sister experienced approval, praise, or status in the family, she chose not to risk those, by acting out as I did. She has remained steadfast in her commitment to finding ways to preserve her status as the good and right one and to serve me, my well earned and long overdue punishments. Perhaps, in scheming with my ex and wrangling my kids, she finally feels the long awaited relief of some sense of having now done that. I cannot know.
I made my efforts toward healing and still feel grief over what is not possible. But they, and their judgments, are only the measure of them, not of me. My salvation comes from two things for which I feel especially wholesome–my recovery and my parenting (while not stellar—-is freaking miraculous, and not half bad).Much Love,
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