Friday, February 24, 2017

Why I Choose Healing and Recovery


As I live my life, I regularly experience situations in which my issues from living with Maxine are triggered. One of the most stubborn is one in which I’m triggered by women in positions of power or co-workers who are angry and controlling. This problem has come up over and over and heavily impacted my employment history. I’m not going to discuss the specifics of this, because it ends up being about people I currently need to deal with. My focus will always be on what is true about me in these situations. I know it has to be this way because I’m literally the only person I can change. When I lived with Maxine, I was living my day to day life with a woman who was basically in charge of my mood and quality of life. Her anger influenced every aspect of my existence. Since I was a child, she controlled every thought and experience. Her anger frightened and depressed me. I struggled with believing that I caused her problem.  So, Maxine’s behavior was of direct impact in my life. I realize that at that time, I was a child and unable to change the adults around me. I’m sure that you understand that too. It is fact. Children are kind of like little rag dolls who are thrown around and injured by forces beyond their control. I had no idea how to deal with Maxine at her worst. Sometimes I used my own anger to try to control her. It didn’t work. That usually resulted in more anger and name-calling. The result for me was fear and a feeling of powerlessness.


I also felt that way when I dealt with the bullying at school.  I took it on as somehow being my fault. I resorted to my own anger and tried to fight it. Or I was totally passive. I didn’t have any skills to deal with it appropriately. Maybe there really wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with it. For years, beyond the childhood trauma, I was consumed with anger about it. As I dealt with the fallout from Maxine’s behavior, I also had to work on feelings surrounding my schoolmates and their contribution to my misery. How did I deal with it? Avoidance. I left my high school and dropped any contact with any high school schoolmates. That was my effort at taking control and it was somewhat successful. If I’m not in contact with you, then I can’t be hurt. I ignored any efforts to contact me, which honestly were not very frequent.  I didn’t attend any reunions.


When I lived in San Antonio, Texas, I was thrown into a situation in which an old high school buddy was in a newspaper article concerning her family. I made an effort to contact her only because she had been such a kind human being during my childhood. We again established a relationship, which ended when she moved to Europe with her husband, and I went through my divorce. Years later, I found out that this woman died of breast cancer.  So, I was faced with this realization, at a time when I’d done much of my work healing from Maxine. The realization was this: You can’t escape pain through avoidance. My only hope was in healing myself. I really was grateful for the time that I had in San Antonio with this friend. I benefitted from the contact with her. And it wouldn’t have happened had I not taken a risk.


Because of that, I allowed myself to be contacted again when some high school ‘buddies’ reached out to me on Facebook. I was very selective in terms of who I was going to let into my life again. I was looking for healing, not further victimization, and there were some people who I remember as particularly cruel. I didn’t have any interest in finding out whether they had changed. I know how to protect myself now. This has been a rewarding decision. I now have friends who knew me back when. This has added to my life, not detracted from it.


I’ve also made strides in terms of how to handle situations in which a woman is nasty or controlling. There are bullies in adulthood also. I still tend towards that pattern of reacting with anger. But now I have an additional skill. I call it detachment. When people show me who they are, I respond in a self-protective way. I will use whatever tools I have available to me to deal with it. At work, I’ve addressed it with a supervisor. Then, eventually, I’m able to let it go. I also use my instincts to protect myself. When it happens over and over again, I recognize that there needs to be a limit. I’ve ended friendships over bullying behaviors. I don’t fall into the hopelessness that I experienced as a child and earlier in my adulthood. I simply let go and let God.


How does this relate to why I choose to recover? Recovery is about me.  It is about my safety.  It is about making changes in myself. It is about peace. It isn’t about revenge. It isn’t about living in the past. It isn’t about being consumed by hatred of people. It is about moving forward. Being stuck in my past is part and parcel of depression. If I take care of the biological issue, I still have lots of work to do. Today, I choose to do that work. One day at a time……

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