Thursday, November 15, 2007

making friends with the enemy

i saw my therapist today. he's also a friend, one of my pastors and a professor in the program we're doing. it's great because he knows much of my story already so there isn't a lot of time needed to fill him in.

i went to talk about finding better tools to deal with the anger i was feeling so that i didn't become any more destructive to myself or the people around me.

i had two papers due for his counseling class and i used them as opportunities to process some of the stuff i'm going through. i'm sure most of his students don't go so deep or so personal, but i figure if i'm going to do the work i might as well use the process to pull at this tangle of emotions and memories i'm dealing with. it also helped because he knew in advance a lot of what i wanted to talk about.

he's such a gentle, peaceful person. unflappable and even. i really like that about him. his ability to listen and tug at the threads of the story i share really helps me to unravel a lot of the knots.

at one point i talked about how i didn't even care if i ever worked out the anger i had toward my mom because what i really wanted was for it not to push my buttons any more. i said "is it any wonder (after talking about the purging she did to me) that being full is so important to me?"

he listened and then circled back to that place. asking me questions about why full is so important and how empty feels. at first blush i said that empty feels like panic. i know i'll get more from sitting with the word, but right now empty is this place that feels like there won't be enough. that the need will go unmet, so i must fill it myself. that full stops everything from being unmanageable (how we delude ourselves in addiction, eh?) and stops the panic.

he asked if i have ever sat with empty before. he talked of how many addicts find that through their sobriety they find that the thing that was once their enemy becomes their friend - they know that when they begin to feel the emotion/feeling that had set them off before now becomes an indication that their sobriety working, instead of their addiction winning. (i hope this is making sense - it does to me at least). so if i can begin to see empty as something that helps me to know i'm healthy and on the right track, instead of something wrong or broken i might be able to turn it from an enemy into a friend.

that was a tool i had never, ever thought about before. making friends with the enemy...

he also talked about the peace that follows empty - if i can ride out the wave of the panic to the other side, peace waits for me there. i'm not sure i believe him, but he has proven himself to be quite knowledgeable and very trustworthy so i guess i'll give it a try! :)

he also helped me to identify some times in the day when things are the most difficult and begin to make plans to change them. to figure out how to find pleasure in the things i do eat instead of the counterfeit pleasure i have in feeling full (which usually brings with it shame and guilt). to enjoy and savor the things i do eat to their fullest instead of feeling the need to stuff myself full to sate the feeling of empty.

finding something to do that "fills me up" after supper instead of having seconds (or thirds) because i'm so drained and dragged out by that time of the day. creating some space that gives me the ability to read and enjoy myself away from the living room and the television and the chaos that evening usually brings to our home. and maybe directing our family's attention to something more life giving and whole than just sitting and watching that stupid television that steals and stupefies instead of gives and inspires.

anyway, lots to think about and some better tools to work through these part of the tangle.


Hope said...

Oh, I do get this. When I feel empty I can feel panicky as well. I've come to see this place as one where I'm in a hammock resting in God's hand, being rocked and the only thing I have to do is rest there until it passes. It's the one thing I'd rather not do right then. It is painful and scary and seems never ending. In the midst of it I feel the most not in control.

His phrasing of empty as something to show me that I am really living in recovery is a huge, huge help to me. Especially today.

Thank you for sharing this. I am excited for you, for the courage you are living in asking for help to untangle the web even further.

love you.

bobbie said...

thank you hope - love you too. if anyone got this i thought it would be you. i'm so glad it helps!

wilsonian said...

"right now empty is this place that feels like there won't be enough. that the need will go unmet, so i must fill it myself. that full stops everything from being unmanageable"

This has been running though my mind non-stop for the last two days. It is so good to read this post, because I didn't get much farther than this.

One thing I read last night (that's not clicking yet, though I hope it will), is changing the way you look at empty... and thinking of it as feeling "light" instead. Light... unencumbered, free... it seems so much more life-giving.

Patchouli said...

sweetie, you inspired me to post something on my own journey thru anger--my key is to "open to my anger in order to access my love."

Much, much love and a soft place to fall for you...

bobbie said...

thank you erin - light fills the dark places when we let it (i know you meant "lighter" - but i like the play on words here too. i'm glad it unlocked something for you too. it felt like i was given a big present yesterday when he said those words.

patchouli - i will read your post - and found another post of mine that resonates with what you have written here - i think i'll try to find it again and get you the link. i think it will resonate as i've quoted a woman working through her own story. thank you for your prayers!

Kansas Bob said...

Your post reminded me that healthy people see counselors.. you seem to be a healthy person who is get healthier.

Blessings, Bob

bobbie said...

thank you bob! i concur fully!

Sarah Louise said...

oh, so glad you have someone to talk to!! And the empty full thing is something I probably should look at too.

"anyway, lots to think about and some better tools to work through these part of the tangle."

Amen, sister, amen!!

Amy A. said...

bobbie, I so enjoy your blog, but I go through long periods of not reading because you just give me so much to think about. This is huge.

Sometimes I take what you say here to my meetings to share during my speaking time.

You are so very brave and a wonderful model for us in the way you approach your recovery. Progress, not perfection, eh?

Robert said...

such depth of soul bobbie you touch me in dealing with my own continuing journey so much here to feast on as far application to life thank you bobbie keep on

bobbie said...

sl - it helps so much to have someone to talk to doesn't it?? i'm so glad sometimes it's you! :)

amy a - i can be a bit much too often :) i'm so glad you keep coming back and that you find things here for your own journey - thank you!

robert - thank you, i have longed for a deep soul for quite some time, those words touch me.

Jules said...

bobbie, you are a lighthouse for lost souls...every time I am in a state of total despair I am divinely led back to your blog to read and always find a liferaft waiting for me in one of your posts. Thank you!

P.S. Thank you, God, for going before Bobbie's son and preparing him and his way to abundant good health. Amen.