Dear Kathy, pt 1

Dear Kathy,

As an adult there are so many things I have learned that I wish you could learn also. Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to be the one to share these things with you. Mostly, I wish you could read some John Bradshaw. The particular book I am referring to is Bradshaw on The Family. I have never read a book more particular to my thoughts and feelings as the book, even more so than the Big Book of AA. Sometimes this makes me wonder if I really am an AA or an Al-Anon, Coda, or an ACOA, and most days I am all or some of these roles. I am starting however to see that the most crippling of these, which I once thought was addiction, is really ACOA, or at least for now it is.
I guess I could start by listing some things about you that are bothersome to me, but I think that assignment would be too easy, and I will definitely like the good ADOC I am, will certainly make a million and one excuses for your behavior which typically ands in my own guilt for feeling that I have somehow been mistreated when you may very well have been doing your best. I could in fact do that forever, for the rest of my life, but it would never help that certain void in me. I need to stop looking so much as what happened to you to make you behave in such a way, as I do need to see myself as a child with needs and without sin.
When Bradshaw speaks of shame and makes reference to Gershen Kaufman he quotes that shame is ….a sickness of the soul. As well as stating that, “Shame is a wound felt from the inside, dividing us both from ourselves and from one another.” Shame is kind of self-murder.
Shame murders the soul. And that is so accurate to my opinion of it, if I were ever able to express it, which I was not until the reading of this book. Shame is very different from guilt. Without the ability to see a clear difference, your very emotional and mental health are at risk. The ability to differentiate between the two is of course the job of the parent to teach, which would’ve meant you. Sad to say, this was a role that you were unable to fill, and although I know there is a logical reason behind your emotional handicap, it does not remove the damage that was passed on because of it.
Shame ran my life, and it still does sometimes thanks to the thorough neuro-pathways I have plowed obsessively over the years. You see, what happens with guilt and shame, is that guilt is a label for a behavior, it is temporary. Guilt comes and goes with the consequences of committing an undesirable deed. Shame on the other hand, is owned, it becomes the identity, it is who you are, you are bad rather than the behavior, you are the mistake, not you’ve made a mistake. Shame is an evil power that rapes the soul of any choice as to ever knowing peace. And that is just how I feel.
No matter the amount of therapy, or counseling, or CBT, gives me any hope that I will ever love myself. I feel that no amount of education, understanding or compassion is ever going to move me beyond that shame based identity. I live knowing that I am somehow a decent human being, smart and valued by someone somewhere, but never truly believing it. From infancy, we know the sky is blue because it is what we are told, and the same goes for my self talk.
The piece you don’t remember and will never have to see, if the part of my life where my soul never existed, and or was never given a chance to heal or repair. The 12 Steps are a fantastic band aide for a very long period of time. But eventually, when one gracefully floats off of the cloud of recovery gratitude, the realness of the past will set in. We may not be aware of it, but this is typically when God deems us ready to deal with our inner child issues. I guess I had thought I was chipping away at that all of thee years, by allowing myself to sing in the shower, or occasionally goof off, be selfish and nap all day, or dance around the house like a twerp kid. But it turns out its not so easy.
There is a major component missing in my life or recovery or whatever it is that I am doing. You see, when I am telling my story, it does not even feel like mine, like it happened to me. It is like reading out of a book, there is no connection for me. I DO NOT FEEL IT. I DO NOT FEEL THE PAIN, THE HURT THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF THAT LITTLE GIRL. I have separated myself from it so much, that I cant even feel it. I can not even describe what I think I should be feeling. I even feel as though I have possibly felt such deep grief in my life that I can not be hurt. I sometimes feel so broken that I am indestructible. Untouchable. I can not feel the feelings of that little girl. I don’t even know who she is. I don’t even know where or when she died. I wished I knew. I suppose from a therapeutic point of view, I should treat myself like any other hurt child, by holding them, reassuring them and rocking them to safety, but I can not do that for myself. Nor do I even want to. I can feel deeply connected enough to a movie, or a story or a book with tragedy, and pain and grief, but I can not feel it for myself.
I hate being me because sometimes I wish I could feel. But in order for me to feel, the endorphins have to soaring above normal. I need an extreme amount of pleasure to feel even the mildest sense of joy. How will I ever be able to give that to me, I can barely create it with others? The company of others barely if at all stimulates my interest. Another reference Bradshaw made that makes real sense to me is that of psychic numbness being the foundation of what becomes the living dead. That is very familiar to me. I am often in a mindset where I am wondering, am I even alive, is this happening? I feel nothing; I know that I am supposed to feel things, but a lot of the times I cant. I know when my husband touches me I am supposed to feel love and arousal or romance or passion, yet none of those come to play. I know I am supposed to care more deeply about the things that go on in my childrens lives, yet I get away with doing what I have to and not truly being unselfish. Sometimes I feel like I am a horrible child, doing nothing but feeling crazy and acting like a spoiled bitch. And I don’t know why I feel these things, and nothing needs to happen to trigger them. Somedays, I just wake up like that.
Rarely I have days where I do feel smart and confident, but by the end of the day I am so sick of hearing my own voice, so sick of the thought of my ego speaking, that I experience guilt and shame for the following few days for being so self-righteous and ignorant, like what do I really know. Most days of my life I just fake it till I make it.
I hate that everyday I wake up. I hate that everyday when I wake up I remember that I am broken. I hate when I wake up everyday and feel broken that the only person that can fix me, is me. It pisses me off. I have wasted so much time trying to heal, trying not to quit myself, and my children, so much time treating men and relationships with them so disposable. Why is it that I live life with a back pack policy. Take what I can and leave when need be. Never get to comfy, don’t get close, everyone and everything is temporary. I am bored quickly. I could very easily be a horrible and mean person if I had not practiced some seriously disciplined structure through treatment and 12 steps. I don’t ever want to harm another person, but I definitely had to make a conscious effort to learn to have compassion for others.
One thing I can say for sure is that I have zero attachment to any other humans outside of my children. I am sure some shrink somewhere will tell me that is unhealthy as well, which I already know and a lot of the times I just let them share with me what I already know. Yes, the kids and I are the only unconditional and consistent thing we’ve had. Yes I am lost without them, yes I will experience great pain when I am left to my own self without them to focus on. Yes I will wake up and have no one to see but myself. But for now, I want to there for them. Yet my self-defeating behavior will shield me from being truly able to do that as well. Ahhh the age-old question, what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Who’s life is it, theirs or mine? As a Sick person, how do I piece myself back together again and be whole for them at the same time? There is no winning!
I just spend everyday forcing myself to feel better, act better, and do better than what my head tells me I can. And sometimes that means just getting out of bed.