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Archive for the ‘12 Step’ Category

How many times have you heard people say “if only I could go back”? Sure thing I’d reply, but only if I knew then what I know now!

I’ve started bumping into people who I haven’t seen for around four years now. They never fail to comment on how well I am looking.

I smile to myself because they knew me back when I was stuffed with prescription drugs and hiding away from the world. There was rarely a smile and I spent most of my time wishing I wasn’t where I was,  in my head or listening to podcasts on bipolar disorder and depression to keep me company.

Bipolar Nation was my lifesaver. Without Captain Joe’s podcasts I don’t know where I’d be.  It seemed as if he was the only one who understood my suffering. His humour and voice were a great comfort to me for two years while I was being treated for bipolar disorder.

(To listen to Captain Joe’s podcasts click HERE).

I used my Ipod to disconnect from the world around me, to cope with my emotional pain and suffering.

Most of my suffering was the result of the side effects of the drugs I was being prescribed.  You see I wasn’t bipolar at all but I made myself fit that label (that’s another story!).

The side effects of antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants and benzodiazepines all rolled into one took a toll on my body and I believe they took a toll on my mind too.

I was even prescribed Artane, a drug used to stop the tremors in Parkinson’s Disease sufferers.  Fancy that, a drug to stop the side effects of another drug!

Never do I forget where I’ve been. I am grateful for where I am today but I feel somewhat sad that I don’t have the desire like others to want to go back to my early years.

It is sad that the fond childhood memories I do have do not outshine the negative ones.  The fond memories are not enough to make me wish I could go back in time.

I am so grateful to be where I am today. My past will never leave me but my present and future can only get better.

I give thanks to 12 Step Programs for my new way of living.  They have taught me new problem solving skills which I have been able to share with fellow sufferers of mental illness.

It is my belief that mental illness stems from dysfunction.  What I mean by that is as children we mimic the coping mechanisms of our caregivers.  When our caregivers have unhealthy/dysfunctional coping strategies, we as children learn to manage our difficulties in the same or similar way.  Our parents are our Gods, we trust them and trust that they know best and will tell us the truth and we model our lives on those of our caregivers.

We bring our learned unhealthy coping mechanisms into adulthood. By now they are comfortable and they are all we’ve ever known.

Learning to reverse our old belief systems, our old coping mechanisms and to do things differently and functionally is a long hard journey.

There is only one way to travel a long hard journey and that is forward because like I always say, I’d never go back!

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I’ve created a Rapid Cycling Facebook Page. Feel free to stop on by to pick up some healthy tips and tricks to building a better life 🙂

I’ll be sharing things on 12 Step Recovery, Codependency, Sex, Love & Fantasy Addiction, Co-Addiction, Mental Health, Inner Child, Adult Children of Alcoholics and other Dysfunctional Families and some great links to related articles and audios.

I’ll still be writing the bulk of my work here though so if you don’t have a Facebook account, click “sign up” to receive my posts in your inbox.

I look forward to reading all your comments and thank you for stopping by 🙂

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There’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza dear Liza, there’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza, a hole”.

My grandmother used to sing that children’s song when I was young but little did I know I would have a hole in my bucket (my soul) when I grew up because my caregivers were so focussed on each other and my father’s alcoholism they were emotionally unavailable to me.

As a result I developed coping mechanisms, ways to help me feel loved, wanted and accepted for who I am.  I tried to fill the gaping  hole in my soul  the only way I knew how as a child, by self medicating through fantasy and role-playing.

In essence, I stuck a band aid over my hole when I needed love and comforting.

Band aid’s eventually wear thin and get replaced with new ones, sometimes bigger and stronger.

I still carry my band aid close to my chest but it has served little purpose except to temporarily patch up my underlying problem – pain, loneliness and an inner longing to be loved, accepted and wanted by my family. 

I can scream, rant and rave that life’s not fair but it won’t change the fact that I cannot go back to my childhood to ask my caregivers to meet my un-met needs.

It is now up to me to fill the hole in my soul by reaching out to a power greater than myself to provide me with the love and acceptance denied of me in childhood.

I can do this by reading 12 Step and self-help literature, attending 12 Step meetings, talking to other members and/or attending counselling.

As I watch a few grains of yellow sand fall into my bucket I am reminded of what a slow process this journey is and every now and again the band aid comes away and I am reminded of the deep despair I carry within.

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There is nobody here to share my sorrow

There is nobody here to cut the ball and chain of my responsibilities, my chores

To allow me to run and play like a carefree child, to think of happy things and make daisy chains in the sun

When will someone hear my cry?

You walk away and leave me alone to deal with my internal sadness, you desert me

Who is here to soothe my pain, to love me and tell me it will be all right?

Only God, but Dad said God does not exist

So I am alone

I get tired of fighting for acceptance, to be heard, to be understood and to be unconditionally loved

But most of all I get tired of fighting to be considered, to be thought of and cared for

You cannot look at me, you stare away or down at the ground

You no longer care what happens, you are not interested in my words unless they are happy ones

I am an adult yes, but I am still a lonely child

It’s deja vu, its history repeating itself.

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I learned very young to deny my reality, to wish and minimise it away because I didn’t know how to deal with what was put in front of me, the pain was too great for a child to bear on her own.

“Mum – is dad drunk again?  No dear, he’s just sick today.  But mum, he’s swaying all over the place, he smells like beer, he’s angry again?  No he’s sick, don’t worry about it, just get to bloody sleep!”

Oh OK then, it’s not how I see it, I must be wrong, I’m all right, there is no problem, I’m safe.

Move forward twenty years.  “Mum, I don’t understand why my boyfriend never has any money.  I pay for everything, he works but I never see a cent of it?  Well dear, he’s probably got a lot of expenses, things must be hard for him, don’t let those things get you down.”

You can see from the above now ingrained minimising and denying my reality is.  I learned to do it from a very young age so come adulthood, I was faced with situations that were harmful to me but minimised and denied what was in front of me through habit.  I continued to protect myself from my reality as I had learned so well to do as a child.

I continue to be skeptical of sexaholism being apparent in my family of origin.  My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather had affairs during their marriage and my mum’s father had sexual abuse issues with women and children – so what right?  Affairs are normal aren’t they?  Men think of only one thing don’t they?  That’s what my mum told me.  It was just bad luck I picked a sexaholic as a partner wasn’t it?  When dad whispers to my recovering partner he has three women on the go at once and feels like he’s struck gold why do I still not see that he is a sexaholic?  I feel so naive.  Family history and past events are slapping me right in the face but I refuse to accept that evidence.

I think for me to believe it I need for him to admit he is a sexaholic.  I need to hear the whole kit and caboodle.  I need to hear it from the horse’s mouth, I need to hear him say he has a problem and he needs help.  Trouble is, he thinks multiple partners are “gold” so I doubt I’ll be receiving any admissions from him in the near future.

I”ve discussed him attending a 12 Step Program for sexaholics before but he gets so anxious at any suggestion of it.  You see, he too has spent years denying and minimising his reality but with the added factor of alcohol helping to numb his pain.

On writing this post I’ve had a light bulb moment.  In securing my father’s admittance to his sexaholism it’s quite possible I’m looking for someone to blame for me attracting a sexaholic partner later in life and I’m needing my father to validate my reality as I see it.

 I can see I still have a lot of work to do on trusting myself.

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As an adult child of an alcoholic I often feel so alone in this world.  Nobody understands me, nobody gets me, nobody will feel the pain and sadness I feel inside.

Imagine a car stalled in the middle of a major highway and all the other cars whizzing by, not noticing it’s there.  It wants some help, so badly wants to get out of the way of the onslaught of others but it cannot do it alone and it’s driver is not strong enough to push it to safety.  Somehow that car needs to get a message to it’s driver to have courage, to take another step forward, to do things differently and to hold out her hand.

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A fellow Program member shared something with me that has been very valuable when I find myself unable to control dysfunctional coping mechanisms.

They said “A normal person wouldn’t put their finger in an electric pencil sharper because they know they will get hurt but people like us do it time and time again”. 

I think of this analogy a lot especially when self harm plays on my mind or when entertaining  the idea that the object/s of my desire will save me, make me their princess, look after me and meet my emotional needs by filling the hole in my soul.  It has stopped me many a time from running to someone who will only cause me heartache and pain, someone I think I can “fix” or physically and emotionally love enough that they will change.  I am guilty of being a heavy fixer of others for a long time.  Fixing takes the focus off “me” and puts it on the other person.  I don’t need to look at my issues and others see me as “a good person” when I am helping them.  Fixing esteems me but I must learn to esteem myself through practising self love.  Sticking my finger in an electric pencil sharpener is not self love and is a disastrous merry-go-round that I must remind myself of on a regular basis. 

My childhood experiences denied me the parental love, acceptance and validation I needed in order to blossom into a healthy adult and as a consequence I’m needing to fill the holes my parents left me with by seeking out relationships with people who are not emotionally available to me but who relate to me on an unconscious level due to their own dysfunctional upbringing.

The electric pencil sharpener analogy also gives me something to compare to and aspire towards.  I want to be like others, I want to be “normal”.   

Someone once told me that the only “normal” I’ll ever find is in my laundry on my washing machine but there are certain behaviors I need to fine tune or rid myself of so I can live a happy functional life – that’s the “normal” I’m aspiring to be.

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