I struggled mightily, since my earliest days. My formative experience strongly suggested my defectiveness as the cause, willfully imposing, as only an asshole would, on those whom I counted on to comfort and nurture and provide for me. The list of things over which I struggle(d) is too great to begin. Life was scary, confusing, and seemingly impossible. I was pierced by anxiety and depression from my deep knowing that I would struggle and that trouble and shame were guaranteed to follow. What a mess. My difficult feelings were appraised as “a lack of gratitude or a negative attitude”. If I were grateful, I would just be happy and the same as them.
My distorted and unwholesome understanding of struggle made me judgmental and harsh toward myself and others. Often, when I saw another struggling, my trained instincts begged me to race to the rescue, mock it, call it out– but mostly to leverage it. It makes me ill to recall moments of bragging about my helping while underhandedly pointing out the issues of the struggler. Ew!
As a naturally empathetic person mostly, I wanted to help. But my urges and efforts to help were unhealthy—a manifestation of my desire to be needed and to not be the pathetic one, but the strong and able helper. So dirty. I believe the roots to most of my sadness and anger are are here: Feeling disconnected, persecuted, unprotected, unheard, insignificant, unwelcome, and unsafe. The MYTH of my unworthiness drove some very sick behaviors.
It is human to struggle. It is woke AF to hold space and show up as a compassionate ally who may have nothing more to offer than a kind presence. Sometimes, the broken me will emerge when I am run down or burned out and I will react unfavorably to someone’s “unnecessary and tiresome” needs. I am pretty quick to catch myself and make immediate reparations. Old habits die hard.
In this home, we are breaking the cycles of shame, denial, addiction, secrecy. One day at a time. We are growing and changing together. When we know better, we do better.
The 12 Steps teach us how to show up as allies, not heroes, punishers, nor fixers- intent on taking charge —forcing an end. We learn to strive for understanding, compassion, and empathy. Frequently, the icky helpers show up from a place of feeling elevated and they confuse pity for empathy. (In reality, we each struggle at times. Learning to accept struggle as a part of life allows us to offer and to receive wholesome support as an ally, something I first experienced within the fellowship–one which stresses HOW we are equals– because get this: not a one of us is more or less worthy than another.) The dynamic of the helpers and the helpless is a key contributor to the legacy of the alcoholic family cycle.
I do seek help when needed, but not from anyone possessing judgmental and entitled beliefs about what it means to help and be helped. I am very clear that I do not wish to have the support of anyone believing themselves to be in charge of rescue and fixing–as I no longer need or accept that definition of help. An authentic ally lacks interest in acknowledgement/praise for helping, as well as any expectation of something being owed to them.
There are actually such things as bad help and bad love. They make you feel worse, in an unnameable way. NOTE: If a person’s love or help leaves you feeling helpless and alone-ish, that is powerful information to be explored.
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