OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Dismantling the old patterns
PREVIOUS: Self-esteem IS
RECOVERY IS NOT.…❖…eliminating ALL pain from our life
IS...❧…a combination of gains & losses, fulfillment and disappointment, joy & pain – part of being human, not superhuman. Only addicts want ‘no pain’ & think that’s an appropriate goal
IS NOT…❖…being free of emotions (Es) that were unacceptable to our family… controlling our Es or trying to have ‘appropriate’ Es. Those are both signs of damaged thinking (Controlling them is NOT the same as being in control of them)!
IS…❧…accepting all emotions as legitimate. Humans are built with the capacity AND the need to feel. Es are the natural indicators of our reaction to any experience – to let us know whether something is good or bad for us.
• Actions may, or may not, be good, & can be corrected, over time
• Unhealthy thoughts can be reframed & replaced, when they’re harmful or incorrect
• Es just are. They can go from very joyful <–to–> very painful, but are never good or bad! We need to have access to a wide range of Es, with many shades. It gives us a sense of vibrancy & allows us to connect with others. Only looking at B & W tv, paintings or wall colors can become quit boring. Suppressing or narrowing down Es (to 1 or 2, like rage or fear) will make us cold, hard, distant & ultimately limited, one-dimensional. (MORE re. hand-emotions)
The intensity & depth of our emotional reservoir (old childhood pain) is so great that it will never be completely empty. We need to accept this & learn how to manage our Es rather than trying to spiritualize them away!
(see pg 54 of www.acoarecovery.com & “Feelings Aren’t Facts” post)
IS NOT...❖…‘letting go’ of all behavior & thought patterns quickly, or so
completely that we are permanently free of them. ALL expectation & demands for perfection or for any extreme (B & W thinking) – comes from damage & a sure fire setup for self-hate! (pg. 7)
IS...❧…accepting we’ll always have stuff to work on, ‘til our end – never be completely free of early patterns, ideas & wounds. Great improvements – YES! Completely cleaned out? NO. Under stress it’s normal to regress to our earliest default settings. Even when our actions come mostly from the Healthy Adult, our emotions & thoughts can sometimes be from that old place of being a victim, from self-hate, fear, envy, impatience, greed… BUT – they don’t last as long, we know where they come from, can get support, & help the I.C. with love & logic.
IS NOT…❖…trying to fix our childhood damage, to eliminate all character defects & do is easily and quickly. Any effort to fix ourselves means we think we’re bad, that our badness is our own fault & SO we’re responsible for doing anything we can to eradicate it. (BTW, this is one of the reasons why many ACoAs want to be dead)
IS…❧…accepting that alcoholism & co-dependence have left scars & emotional hangovers. (pgs. 3 – 6) These will take our life-time to gradually heal. Being human means we’ll never be perfect – but Recovery IS truly possible!
Many have proven it.
Humility (not humiliation) is acknowledging our human limitations & a consistent willingness to evaluate ourselves with compassion, in honesty & reality, modifying our thoughts & action so we can reach our own goals
IS NOT…❖…being ‘serene’ all the time.
• To always be pleasant, kind, honest, thoughtful…is a disguise for a wide range of emotions we don’t find acceptable
• To still be the good boy / girl, in the present, is the symbiotic need for our family’s approval, rather than becoming our own person.
• Forever trying to be ‘so good’ is a negation of our legitimate rage & pain of childhood abandonment
IS...❧…gaining genuine serenity, based on a solid emotional, mental & spiritual foundation – from the inside. This creates the unshakable knowledge that we are ok even when we’re in pain, under pressure, not understood or supported. We can have upheaval, express intense pain / anger… and still be at peace, deep down. Serenity is the by-product of knowing & accepting ourselves in the moment, trusting our gut, having a great support system & a loving H. P.
IS NOT…❖…trying to get from our family what we never got as kids, or
assuming we can have a ‘great’ relationship with them – if only we were well enough
IS…❧…accepting there’s no ‘if only’ about our family & our childhood (SORRY!)
• It was their damage which prevented them from being all that we needed. It was never because of who we were! (It was done to us, at us, with us – but it was never ABOUT us)
• and, unless family members have been growing, or changing – enough, we may have to cut them off, for our own survival.
We can choose how to deal with them – by having:
a. rare or no contact, to protect ourselves from abuse & mind games
b. no contact for a long time, until we are more healed, so our buttons (which they installed) get much smaller :)! Then re-connect & see….
c. limited contact, to see who they really are, for clarification & validation of how they treated us – which will diminish self-hate, & allow us to gain some emotional distance from the family drama
d. regular contact, spaced out AND only as friendly Adults. Don’t expect them to be parental, if they can’t. Interact superficially or only in ways that suites everyone. Don’t push for the impossible.
➼Others will often disappoint, which can make us sad & angry. That’s normal. It just doesn’t have to devastate.
NOW it’s truly up to us to become Kind Parent & Wise Adult for ourselves, with the help of therapy, H.P., Program & other support systems.
NEXT: Recovery – IS & is NOT (#2)