SO I’M NOT CRAZY?
what a relief!
PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Confusion (#8)
QUOTE: “One who asks a question is a fool for 5 minutes. One who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” ~ Chinese proverb
The opposite of confusion is clear thinking.
For ACoAs, this requires a certain amount of S & I, which allows us to develop a stable sense of who we are as an individual, what our rights are, & a decent amount of self-esteem.
At the same time, it’s appropriate to be confused in certain circumstances. Healthy adults use those situations to notice when something is incomplete or incorrect. It’s a cue to get more information, & ask for help or get verification. “Leaving home” (S & I) is scary & perplexing. From time to time it’s even depressing. But the reasons for Recovery Confusion are not the same as those we’ve been drowning in much of our life.
CONFUSION is NORMAL:
a. during any transition, such as in personal growth
In Recovery we are moving thru completely new territory & don’t know what’s ahead, even tho many others have gone before & paved the way. We are used to predicting all future events based on past experience – but the past we are using is mainly based on childhood trauma. So even if some adult experiences are better, we still rely on what’s familiar, no matter how distorted or harmful – because that feels ‘safe’. But of course it’s NOT. The well-known ‘definition’ of Insanity is: “Doing the same (stupid/wrong/sick) thing over & over, & expecting a different (better) outcome”!
● At first we don’t know what to expect, or even if it’s possible for us to heal. We may not even believe we can achieve our goals of having internal peace & external success. And yet many of us are compelled to keep searching for answers. We want/demand a blueprint, & want to know how long it’s going to take – meaning how fast we’ll be ‘well’. We hate uncertainty – it feels chaotic & unsafe. Transitions are always uncomfortable.
● BUT – by definition – growth means we can’t possibly know what’s ahead – not completely. If we already know what’s ahead there no reason for going thru the process. We need to be willing to risk finding out what’s possible by changing our thinking & actions, in order to get that illusive ‘different outcome’. As we gather new information & courage, we can take more steps along the path.
● Transitions include periods of time when we have to just sit with not knowing – we can’t use the old ways but don’t yet know ourselves well enough to figure out how to be. That’s uncomfortable, but if we persist in the process, we become more sure of ourselves. “I know what I know” applies even in transitional stages, which can help us feel a little more grounded.
b. what we know vs don’t know
This ‘not knowing’ is an indication of growth, confusion triggered with every issue we have to work on (career, relationships, self-care….), & at the different levels of growth for each one. Our reaction will be too little AND too much:
Too Independent : Since we had little or no guidance as kids, many of us are used to doing everything ourselves. What we can’t figure out – we do without! Even in Recovery we still believe that we’re supposed to know everything, making it hard to allow ourselves to:
— reach out for comfort, guidance & information
— make the effort to find out what else is possible in the real world
— try out a variety of new ways to do things
— be OK with making mistakes or having to try many different options
• We were trained to believe we’re supposed to be self-sufficient – both emotionally (“Don’t bother me / don’t be such a baby….”), and regarding how things are done (“You figure it out / should know that”)…. without anyone’s help. So no matter how confused we are – we don’t want to look dumb or make a fool of ourselves.
EXP: You take a college course on a subject you know very little about, maybe just for credit, or because it’s of interest. But you don’t really understand the material & find that you’re floundering. You get the sinking feeling you’re missing something everyone else understands but you don’t know what.
● So, as a ‘good’ ACoA we beat ourselves up – either we should already know the info OR be able to figure it our on our own (“I guess I’m just too dumb”). But how can we? The whole point of taking a class is to learn what we don’t know! Believing otherwise feeds S-H.
This issues applies to work, relationships, self-growth….. Having difficulty with the ‘material‘ means you: — are rushing the learning process
— don’t have enough facts about the situation you’re in
— trying to do too much at once, or everything at once
— are trying to to implement ‘graduate level‘ info before being solid in earlier levels of understanding
vs. Too Dependent (longing for symbiosis, someone to take care of us so we don’t have to). Actually – there are many thing we DO know – and have always known, even as little kids – but have been brain-washed by family (& sometimes church & society) to deny, so we’ve pushed it away or completely forgotten it. The conflict makes us feel crazy. We feel so lost & too afraid to trust our own judgement, common sense or experience – that we constantly, compulsively ask others for info & help, even when we actually know the answer or what to do —
— as a way to stay dependent on others, esp. an authority
— trying to get validation because we don’t believe in our knowledge & experience
— from being taught (usually by a religion) that talking about -even- legitimate knowledge & accomplishments is arrogant, presumptuous or the sin of pride
It’s true that we have many cognitive distortions (CDs) learned in our family, BUT ACoAs are very smart & intuitive. We need to recapture the many truths we have suppressed & ignored for so long. It will UN-confuse us. REMEMBER: “I know what I know” applies even in transitional stages, which can help us feel a little more grounded.
NEXT: Confusion (Part 10)