“My family upbringing lacked courtesy, respect, calm responses, and forgiveness. It has taken me years to learn how to pause, reflect and choose a more loving response. For years I allowed an (unwell person) alcoholic to use their weapons of anger and anxiety to provoke me. I didn’t understand the dance or merry go round.” (from my sponsor in today’s meeting…I adore her)
To have the opportunity to mature emotionally and spiritually, and to heal, to unlearn, to create a better experience, is nothing short of a miracle. Learning to be gentle and to remember my intent, is hard as hell. I lack desire to win or silence another. I want to connect, serve, heal, and grow together with my people. But often, when I am overwhelmed, particularly in parenting, my natural reactive instinct is to attempt to win/dominate, in order to get a handle on things. I am not fixed, but I am so much better because of the shitty marriage which led me to the rooms of Al-Anon. Without it, I shudder to imagine the type of mother I might have been.
There is a word for IT, a name for the cycle and legacy of twisted perceptions and troubled relationships. There are places to go (meetings) and people who want to hear, share, heal from the family disease of addiction. It affects everyone, even the pets.
It is shameful and heart breaking to recall how I went from building my life around my angel of a dog “King Simon”, to, after marriage, wanting to have him put to sleep, when his needs (which had not changed) seemed too much for me. It required everything I had to manage life with a man, who was icy cold for days, sometimes weeks at a time, returning to warm and friendly without explanation. It was as if I were expected to respond like a faithful dog–eagerly awaiting, unquestioningly at the door, to be allowed to return, for touching, playing, and closeness. I gag to recall.
I am not wired that way. I am a deep feeler, feeling it all, unable to limit myself to feel only the things he wanted me to feel. My inability to remain vulnerable under those conditions has been collectively labelled as “holding a grudge”. It is actually just being too confused by and scared of a person, to feel closeness. I recall regularly trying to explain that I can not be terrified, angry, ashamed and horny all at once. For me, those things do not happen together. This dynamic mimics my experience in my family–not the horny part, though there was unwanted touching and closeness. Gagging again.
I had been groomed to believe that OUR only problems were my thin skin and my inability to just move on. My reaction of being hurt was the issue, not the harmful words, silences, behaviors. Recovery taught me that I was responding to pain and fear by feeling frightened and hurt.
It is not my job to feel less and to pretend as if things are ok. For as long as I am willing to pretend things are ok, they will never be ok. Healing has divided me permanently from those who refuse change. Healthy boundaries have rendered it impossible for us to be together. Yes, it runs in the family, generations of unhealed pain. And it stops here. I will heal, so that I may not hand IT directly to my children.
I see both in my ex’s family and my own, the ones who feel more and speak more get picked off. Those who feel less or learn to numb the pain and ignore, become favored and develop a sense of righteous entitlement. While the feelers, the canaries in the coal mines, are cast out.
Of my two sons, I have a deep feeler, one who feels all of the things and one who appears to be affected only, by not getting his way. He is readily able to ignore, pretend, and move on as if a thing has never happened or mattered. I worry for them…coming from parents who have siblings who differ in these ways and who remain terminally estranged. We learn what we live. It is time to learn and live differently.Much Love,
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