Monday, February 21, 2011

DialoguesWithDignity Guest February 23, 2011

At 5:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday, February 23, 2011, I will be a guest on the BlogTalkRadio program of DialoguesWithDignity hosted by Ellen Brown, Dan Hays and Stash Serafin.  The topic is "Reconciliation - Is It Always Possible?"  Here is the link to Reconciliation - Is It Always Possible?  

If you follow DialoguesWithDignity, you already know that each of the shows are archived shortly after the live talks.  You can go to the same link as above to find the archived version of our chat.  Apparently BlogTalkRadio has recently made some changes and the live call will only be for 30 minutes.  In order to hear the whole conversation, you will need to listen to the archived talk which will be posted soon after the live talk is over.  I hope that you will come back here and leave a comment and let me know what you think.  You can also leave comments on DialoguesWithDignity.  The archived version will last one hour.

I will be speaking from the position of an incest survivor and adult child of an alcoholic who forgave her abusers.   Reconciliation sometimes comes with forgiveness but sometimes it doesn't.   Ellen, Dan and Stash thanks for inviting me to be a part of your program.  I am excited and looking forward to talking with each of you.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anger, Fear, Sadness And Hurt - How They Interact - Part 2

If you are visiting here for the first time you might want to go and read my previous post which is Part 1 of this series.  My article will take you to the blog  Emerging From Broken  post where I left my comments.  Without any more introduction, here is Comment #3 that I wrote in response to Darlene's post and other comments.   Any words in brackets [ ] are my thoughts that I have added as I wrote this post.  They were not in the original comment.

Comment #3
"Darlene, I got what you meant in the first comment rather than reading it as only being all in your mind.  Ever since I started this recovery journey, I have been aware of the battle with the part of me that resists change.  It doesn't matter that recovery brings about good change.  Change of any kind was always terrifying to me as a child and still can be as an adult if it is sudden.  [Change in my family of origin was often sudden and sometimes quite dramatic because my dad was very unstable usually with his drinking and/or rage so change became frightening to me as a child.  This is a thought pattern that I still struggle with today but to a lessening degree.]  My husband will gladly agree with me when I say that the child inside of me when she gets scared will still argue and get angry sometimes, not all the time, before the adult part of me steps in and thinks about the change and sees that it is reasonable and good to make the change.  Sometimes the battle between inner child and adult just goes on briefly inside my mind.  Sometimes she is quicker than the adult me and voices her fears as anger.  Then the adult me has to step in and discuss what was just said rationally, with my husband usually.  He is more adventurous and more spontaneous than I am so he is usually the one to stir up the fear and anger.

Anger is an emotion that I know well.  It was allowed in our house when I was a child, but the only one who was allowed to feel and voice his anger was my dad.  His anger came out as rage.  His rage always came out with a threat of violence, especially if he was drunk.

For may years, I could go from calm to anger to full blown rage in a matter of seconds.  [Just like I saw my dad do when I was a child.  I didn't realize for many years how I was copying him.  I would have hated it if I had.  I didn't want to be like my mom or my dad.  Neither was healthy but I didn't know any other way to be.  I saw my mom as weak and helpless so it was better to be like the parent who was strong and in control.]  It sounds strange even to me to say that anger was a safer emotion to me than fear was.  I think maybe, in my mind, that I felt I could control the anger better than I could control the fear.  Anger was also a powerful thing of strength.  Fear was not.  Fear showed weakness.  Anger showed control and strength.  I didn't want to be afraid and weak.  I wanted to be strong and powerful so that I could feel protected.  (This is a very big ah-ha moment for me in typing that - Something that I have never made the connection to before.  I will have to share my 2 [actually 3] comments in a blog post of my own.  This is really big for me.)

I have known for many years that my anger was almost always a cover-up for my fear but I never realized the powerful/safety - weak/not safe thing before.  I felt powerless and very frightened when my dad was doing the anger/rageful episodes in my childhood.  He was so controlling that as an adult, I always think of him as a dictator.  He was in total control of each of our family members.  I wasn't allowed to participate in sports or any after school clubs or activities.  Neither were my brother or sister because it would give us something that was out of his control.  Isolation was the only way that his control would work. . . . "

There was a little more to my comment but it doesn't really apply to my topic here so I didn't copy it.  Again you can go to Emerging From Broken to read the rest of my comment if you haven't already.

Something else that I realized while typing the above comment was how much all of this came from my desire to not be like my mother.  Safety was a really big part of this too.  If I was in control then I could pretend I wasn't afraid.  If I wasn't afraid, I could feel safe.  The bigger part though has to do with my mother and what she taught me.  I have always known that my mother was the one that my real issues would be with.  I have done very little work on my mother issues.  I always told myself that since my dad was the abuser that my major issues were with him.  That is and isn't true.  My dad was the violently abusive person.  Rape, even when it doesn't appear physically violent as in beating you up violent is still violent because of the physical pain that penetration causes and the emotional lines that it crosses when the person raping you is your parent or some other close relative or someone who has authority over you as a child.  Throw in boundary violations and you have another big area of emotional rape.  Signs of physical violence heal much quicker and easier than those of emotional rape caused by crossing of boundaries.  Okay, I just distracted myself from the mother issues again.  The above needed to be said and I may continue it at another time.  Back to my mother.

Anger/rage represents my dad and what he taught me about feelings and myself.  I saw him as the stronger, more in control of my two parents.  As a child, I had no control.  As an adult, I swore to myself that no one would ever have that kind of control over me again.  I became like him because I saw him as strong.  Strong meant powerful instead of powerless/helpless like my mom was. 

The fear came from my mom - fear of feeling, fear of really being alive, fear of dreaming about a better life, fear of being a powerful human being, fear of being a woman in all of her glory.  These are the things that I learned from my mother.  I learned how to be a woman and mother from watching my mother.  All of the things that she taught me, I didn't want to be.  I saw her as weak, as helpless, as controlled by others, as afraid of her own self.  Because in being a woman, I was like her, I hated myself.  I couldn't hate her.  I could hate my dad but I couldn't hate her.  She was weak and helpless.  I learned at an early age to protect her.  You can't hate someone that you have to protect, someone who is weaker than you.  Wow!!!  This is intense for me.  My solar plexus is full of churning emotions right now.  That is where I feel all of this.  It may be a different place for you. 

I have never equated my fear with my mom before.  I didn't realize that I didn't want to be afraid because I saw fear as weak and powerless.  I can even take it to the next level in that fear covers my hurt which I feel as heavy, heavy sadness.  I can barely remember a time when I didn't feel this great sadness.  The fear of feeling the hurt has to do with my very existence.  My fear of feeling the hurt was that if I let it all out and felt it that it would just be too much and I would cease to exist.  I would either kill myself, lay down and never get up again until I died (I did this in a past life which you can read about in the very first post that I wrote here back in June 2007.)  or I would go stark raving mad and just totally lose myself.  I was always afraid that if I felt the hurt that I would start screaming and never stop.  The silent screams would have a voice and become my reality.  How does a child feel that much pain and survive it without disconnecting in some way.  As bad as the physical pain was in the beginning, that isn't the pain that I am talking about.  I am talking about the emotional pain of being betrayed by your parents, your parents who are in charge of your very existence.  I was always afraid that if pushed too much my dad could cross the line and kill all of us.  I was always afraid that if I told my mom about the incest, she would get a gun and shoot my dad and go to jail which were have left me parentless.  I was always afraid that my mom would cross the line and go into limbo somewhere that I couldn't reach her even on a physical level.  If she was ever there for me emotionally, I don't remember it.  I know she was gone emotionally by the time that I was three years old.  There are more ways than just physically to commit suicide and I was afraid that she would fine a way.   You can shut down so much that only an empty shell is left behind.  I couldn't take the chance that my mom would do that.  She had to be there so that I could continue to lie to myself when I told myself that my mom loved me.  I couldn't let go of that or her for many years.

What frightens me the most is that I know that I have all of those things that my mom and dad taught me inside of me.  I fight so strongly against being like either one of them because I know that I could be just like them if I just gave in and gave up.  I refuse to give in to the helplessness or the hopelessness that my mother taught me.  I am stronger than that.  There is a balance - a middle ground which is healthy - which is somewhere in the middle of the extremes that I learned as a child.  Let me know what you think about my ramblings.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Anger, Fear, Sadness And Hurt - How They Interact - Part 1

This post comes to you from my comments on Emerging From Broken's post "Coping Methods ~ Trying to Escape Myself" which you will find at the following link: .  My comments brought me a very big ah-ha moment that is still making more connections in my mind.  Those connections are what I want to share with you here.  I hope that it doesn't sound like a crazy person just rambling as you follow my thoughts here.  My words inside of brackets were not shared in the comment.  I have added them as I write this post.  This is Part 1.  Comment #3 deserves a post all its own which I will write and post in a few days.

Comment #1:
"I survived my childhood by shutting down my emotions like my mom taught me and by taking care of others.  [As an adult, my taking care of others became a way to control the people around me as my dad controlled me as a child.  It was years before I realized what I was doing and why.]  As an adult, I did the two extremes that my parents taught me with feelings.  My mom was always emotionally unavailable so I learned to not feel. [Stuffing down my feelings with food has become my method for not feeling as an adult.  This is one coping method that I still catch myself doing today.]  I stuffed the feelings deep inside of me hiding the hurt even from myself as long as I could.  When the pressure would become too intense then I would explode in rage like my dad taught me to do.  Neither extremes were the real me.  They were the coping mechanisms that my parents taught me.  I continued them into adulthood and added controlling as another coping skill.  In not wanting to be like my mother who portrayed helplessness very well, I became like my dad who was the dictator of our family.  He controlled all of us to the point that I wasn't allowed to have needs or an opinion different than his. [I also wasn't allowed to have wants or dreams of a future that he wasn't in control of.]  In order to not allow anyone to control me, as an adult, I became the controller.  If you came anywhere near me, I tried to fix you.  If I could fix your problems then I had some value as a person and I could feel good about myself.  You would like me if I could fix your problems.  I don't know if I ever knew the 'real' me until I, like Darlene, [the person who writes Emerging From Broken] learned to love and respect myself and learned that I had needs and worth.  I was always 'good enough' and so much more.  I just didn't know it until I started working on my incest issues and started loving me."

Comment #2
"Darlene, I too found that the control was just an illusion.  [Today I quickly recognize other controlling people when I meet them.  I see, in them, all of the things that I used to do to feel safe.  The more controlling a person is, the more afraid they are.]  The more that I was into controlling, the more out of control I really was.  I didn't try to fix you because you needed fixing.  I did it so that I wouldn't have to see my own issues that needed fixing.  If I could concentrate on you and your problems, I didn't have time to look at my own.  I didn't have to feel about my own issues if I was focused on your issues.  It was my method of escaping my own pain and anger.  It seemed to work for awhile (or at least that is what I told myself at the time).  The reality was that I was disconnecting from the terrible rage and under the rage all of the fear and hurt that I was carrying around inside of me.

When I got into 12-Step programs, I discovered that, for me, (I don't know if this is true for anybody else or not but it was true for me.) the emotion that I could see and feel was rage.  The rage meant that I was in control (like my dad when I was a child).  The rage covered over my fear which was this big, big monster.  The fear covered up the terrible sadness and hurt that was overwhelming if I allowed myself to feel it.  I felt like if I acknowledged the hurt that I would cease to exist as a person or I would lose my mind.  It just felt so big and endless [and uncontrollable if I felt it].  I didn't know that grieving would release all of that sadness.  The sadness was so much a part of me from a very early age.  [Even today, some of the sadness is still there.  It is such an old part of me that I am not sure who I would be without it. I only have one memory of me without the sadness.  I was younger than three years old.]

I once told a group that my fear would fill the entire space of the room that we were sitting in.  That fear was weighing down on my body all the time until I started chipping away at it a little at a time. . . ."

[There was a little more to this comment that doesn't pertain to my topic here so you can read it on Emerging From Broken.]

I will tell you that Darlene's blog Emerging From Broken has been bringing up feelings for me for awhile that the inner child in me doesn't want to look at so I haven't read all of her posts over the past few months.  I intend to start reading more of those posts that I missed in the coming month.  I thank Darlene for her blog.  It is helping me and so many others.  We have some pretty intense conversations in the comment section of many of her posts.  I am going to stop this post and make Comment #3 into it's own blog post sometime in the next few days.  I am still processing the information that is coming in for me.  It is okay if you have already read Comment #3 on Emerging From Broken.  I am going to be expanding on Comment #3 in my next post.  Feel free to leave a comment here and on Emerging From Broken. 

If you aren't a subsciber here or at Emerging From Broken, I invite you to do so.  As a subscriber, my posts will automatically come to either your email address or in the reader of your choice when they are posted.  You will find subscribe buttons on the right column of my blog page.  I know that I haven't been posting very often since I got sick with pneumonia in November.  I have needed the private time to recover from the illness and to process other things that have come up. 

Just as I was in the final stages of recovering from the pneumonia, an aunt died and a few days later it was Christmas with all of the family activities and traveling that Christmas brings with it.  Five weeks after my aunt died, her husband, who was one of my dad's younger brothers, followed his wife in death.  They were both good people.  They have hosted our Caldwell Family Reunions for many years.  Their daughter is a very strong, caring person who has been taking care of them for the past few years.  They were both diabetics and are a reminder for me to take better care of myself with my own blood sugar issues.  My cousin said, at my uncle's funeral last week, that she is going to continue the family reunions in honor of her dad who enjoyed them so much.  Funerals always bring up any unresolved grief issues that I may have so I have been feeling some of that sadness that I have carried for so many years.  Feeling the sadness is so different from all of the many years that I stuffed it instead.

One last topic before I close this post, have you ever seen weather like we have had this Winter?  We have our third snow of the Winter melting outside right now.  We have another chance of freezing rain and snow tomorrow and then again on Wednesday.  It is rare for Arkansas to get more than one snow over several years time.  We got three inches of snow yesterday and three and a fourth inches of the snow on January 9 which we kept on the ground until the following Saturday (1/15) before it all melted.  Our temperatures have been below normal too down in the teens and 20's for the lows at night over much of the past month.  We usually have a week of these cold temperatures in February.  I am glad that I don't live in Chicago or Boston or Maine.  They have gotten every snow storm that we have with a lot more snow and ice.  Ice is what can be so damaging here and Thank God we haven't gotten any this year.  I hope that all of you where ever you live are staying warm and dry.