Thursday, September 30, 2004

going underground

one of the things about the 'onion' of recovery and dealing with our pasts is that the pain and memories sometimes become so great and overwhelming that we choose to stop the process. it's a little disappearing act we play with ourselves and it seems so innocent at first. my self talk goes something like this... 'this is too hard, i just need a break, one week won't hurt... i'm so busy anyway... they don't really understand me anyway...' you get the picture. whether i'm avoiding my recovery group or my therapist the whole point is because i've gotten too close to the issue/memory/cause and it's terrified me.

quick fixes are also tempting. miracle pills, wonder drugs, surgeries or cold turkey, white knuckle abstinence all look more attractive than the work of truly getting to the real pain, uncovering the skeletons in the closet or exposing the family secret. allegiance to the code can sometimes become so ingrained in our psyches that we don't even realize how programmed we are.

liam and i were talking on our walk the other day and he said 'your mom would have loved recovery' or something like that. i started to think about it and realized that i have been freed from much of the family bondage because she died so early. she probably would have come around, but it would have been through much kicking and screaming. her early death in my life, while painful, did free me from her influence and secret keeping.

she and her siblings are masters of it. it used to be my goal to expose that family secret, to root it out and shout it from the roof tops. my mother's older sister, and her younger brother are still alive and tortured by the secrets - but they are the vault. we moved pretty close to my aunt, and things were going well for a year or two, until i started asking questions. it was like she and her daughters went on red alert. the signal went out and they truly have created a wall of silence. the shame is too great.

i finally realized that i didn't need 'the secret' to recover. they did, i didn't. i was able to deal with the truth i had been given and allow the rest to be, and die with them if necessary. but i see the damage it reeks in their lives. the physical manifestations of a life that has decided to say no to recovery.

at group a couple weeks ago we talked about denial, and how truly easy it is to convince ourselves that something true is actually not. the woman giving the talk then went on to explain that denial left unchecked turned mercilessly into delusion. living a life where the truth becomes a lie and life becomes a charade.

this is most tempting when the truth isn't our own, but the truth of one we love. codependent denial seeks to protect, even the dead. when in truth it looks more like shame and slow burning hatred and resentment. if you loved me you wouldn't force me to bear your secrets. one of my best friend's here is slowing creeping out of that tunnel of delusion. she is very close to understanding her mother's addiction to prescription pain medication. watching someone you love deal with pain is truly horrible. but where does the emotional pain start and the physical pain stop? that line is so blurry that denial and delusion seem to be our only line of defense.

this was the state were my mother (and aunt and uncle) lived. my mother-in-law 'visits' frequently. she's in her late 60's and has just finally admitted to me that her beloved father was 'probably' an alcoholic. this is about a man in ireland who heated shoe polish to drink it because they were so poor. 'probably'. it's like that monty python song 'always look on the bright side of life'... this is what delusion looks like.

i have met a couple, i don't know them well, but they shared at group that they both were compulsive overeaters who were at their top range over 400 lbs. each had gastric bypass and look like anyone else you'd pass on the street today. the next words they shared terrified me. they spoke of this past year of how now because they didn't deal with the roots of the problem that got them there they had both been secretly drinking. food could no longer be a comfort because of the surgery. but alcohol wasn't painful for their new stomachs to digest. it had only been recently that they admitted their alcoholism to each other and are now seeking help.

i don't know exactly what david was talking about here in psalm 22 , but i have my suspicions. his secrets and lies had caught up with him, his sins and his disobedience were taking a physical toll on his body.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
i have to keep telling myself that going underground is going backwards. father, please keep me from walking away in denial. help me to own my secrets, face the truth, even when it's horribly ugly and take things one day at a time.

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