Today I want to talk a little about feelings.
As a recovering (Insert your choice here: alcoholic/addict/people pleaser/middle child/abuse survivor), I do not love to talk about my feelings. Okay, maybe a more honest statement is, I do not love to sit with my feelings.
I know… I am not making much sense. Bear with me. What do feelings and all those “titles” have in common? For the sake of confusing you more, I am just going to call myself an addict. Okay? You may not like labels, and that is okay. But, for me, I can relate to this term. To this title. Hiya Everyone, my name is Denise, and I am an addict.
Soooo, back to my point. (In case you have forgotten… yes, I am also A.D.H.D) The mother loving Superfecta!!
As an addict, I ran from my feelings. I believed that I wasn’t capable of any more disappointment. I couldn’t imagine any more pain.
I used drugs, alcohol, relationships, sex, food, body image, work, you name it… to not face my feelings.
Why?? Because I didn’t know how to process them. I didn’t know that it was okay to say, “I just don’t know.” Nobody showed me how to be okay, with not knowing.
So, I did what any toddler, at the age of 12, 16, 23, 29, or even 32 would do. I lied. I hid my feelings, because I couldn’t explain what was happening, within.
When I drank and used drugs, I felt like a different person. Alcohol made me feel smart. I felt like I fit in or belonged.
I hid my feelings and used people, to cover myself up. I chose relationships thinking that this person would save me from where I was.
I didn’t know I had the power, to change my own circumstances.
At the age 21, I had a baby with a man that I was not, married too. I felt surely, this will make my life better. Maybe this would fill that void. Maybe this baby will bring us closer or make my life better. I didn’t love him. I didn’t know how to love someone. I thought conquering him was love.
I picked the men who didn’t love me, made them love me, changed who they were… then I would leave them. I did this for years. It was about the conquest. I would also never stick around long enough to get hurt.
I didn’t have much in common with my daughters’ father, even after five years of being in the relationship. I had no idea who I was, or why I stayed.
I also didn’t have a clue of how to raise a child. I knew the basic stuff about how to care for a baby… but how to nurture one? No clue.
Being a mom felt so foreign to me. I would sit for hours and just stare at her. This beautiful little girl… Sometimes I would weep. Was this love?
Did God finally give me something, to show me what love was?
At the age of 23, I left my daughter’s father and I married a man who was 18 years my senior. He drove fancy cars, drank expensive wine and took me to some pretty lavish places. I was a princess. (More like an arm piece… but hey, I was 23. I was enjoying the ride.)
I didn’t love him either. He was abusive. I stayed for six months. We drank way too much and fought even more when we were drunk. I called the Police, he went to jail, I dropped the charges. When he started seeing other women, I left.
I continued to try to make sense of my life.
Now, I had a toddler. I was responsible for her wellbeing, her needs and what about me?
At 24, I was a divorced single mom, living in subsidized housing.
Insert first DUI. (OUIL)
I got a slap on the wrist and continued, on my destructive path. A few more years passed, I found my way back to a church, then got a second DUI. (So thankful for that church family, they showed me acceptance. I am not sure if they talked about me behind my back… all I knew was, they made me feel whole.)
My daughter was in grade school and my family joked openly about the revolving door of men or relationships that I had. (Baskin and Robbins, was a term they used, who was the flavor of the month?) I was still picking men that I didn’t like, molding them into something that I really didn’t like… then setting them on their way.
I was reading books, listening to cassette tapes, trying to learn how to be a parent. I was trying to learn how to mold this beautiful child into something… other than me.
Fast forward to my last DUI. Jan 13, 1999. This scared me. Something had to change.
My daughter was almost 12. I had finally hit my bottom and had to stop running. She deserved better.
Maybe, just maybe… I did too?
This is where I learned how to feel. At 33 years old, I was finally going to face myself.
I have had some amazing spiritual guides and strong women who paved this path for me. I have learned how to have healthy relationships and not take people hostage. I have learned how to honor my feelings.
My biggest lesson?
To know my self-worth.
To own my power.
Now that you know the basics… let’s talk about the title of this post.
Understanding the Unknown and facing my feelings. How, was I able to jump from that train wreck to the person that I am today? It happened one day at a time. I stopped listening to the voice inside my head and the people around me who weren’t cheering me on.
I left friendships with people who didn’t have my best interest.
I stopped inviting people into my life, just to manipulate and change them. I learned how to accept people for who they were, not who I wanted them to be.
I asked for help. I admitted that I didn’t know what I was doing.
I suppose, this is what I did, when I read those books to learn how to parent my little girl.
Except, this process of me, asking for help from a woman, allowed me to get humble and to understand that vulnerability was, strength.
These amazing women showed me how to be the parent, that I needed.
I became my own parent.
I had a conversation with my sponsor the other day. We were talking about my new online Yoga classes. I have been leading weekly live classes and also began offering Children’s Yoga.
Yes, me… the person who was always told that I didn’t like other people’s kids. I heard it so often, that I believed it. I started telling myself the lie.
So…. What does any of this have to do with feelings?
I am battling with that voice that says, what do you know about kid’s yoga? I am also still struggling with a few extra pounds and am insecure about how “not tone”, I am these days…
So, why would I do it?
To squash the fear.
So, back to the title of this blog.
Understanding the Unknown.
When we take a minute or two, to pause. To feel. To process… things will become clearer. When I can sit, with my feelings, instead of shooting anyone that doesn’t believe the same as me… I can begin to understand the source.
Rarely, what I believe that I am experiencing, is really what is happening with me. So… peeling back the layers of BS, I find the source.
Many of us are making decisions based in fear today.
I am not going to profess knowing the answer for each of us… I am not a Phycologist. What I can see, doesn’t take a Doctorate, to recognize.
There are many people battling an internal battle and subsequently they begin bullying others, because that is what toddler’s do. They hit. They smack. They scream. Why? Because they are learning their power. They are learning their truth. When given a secure place to grow, a toddler will experiment with these behaviors, to understand what the truth really is.
If I eat all the frosting off this cupcake and tell you that I ate the entire cupcake… throwing the evidence in the garbage. That is my truth. I really believe it. I am not trying to manipulate you… but as a three or four year old… this is how I learn.
What does any of this have to do with feelings and understanding the unknown?
I told you my story, to show you my process. I needed to find a safe place, with people who nurtured me, to find my truth. I am still finding my truth.
Instead of bullying me, abusing me, holding me back… today I have people who believe in me. I have people cheering me on. I have people to lean on. I have friends who support me. I have a husband who encourages me. I have surrounded myself with cheerleaders, who see me. I don’t keep friends who say things like, “That’s stupid.” “What were you thinking?” or even “I can’t believe you did that.”
I surround myself with people who don’t roll their eyes at me. I no longer need the validation from the ones who tell my secrets or share my pain, for their own gain.
Adults that have lived through trauma, need find a safe place to deal with the trauma. Until they do, they will continue to hurt everyone around them and create chaos in the lives of those they love.
If no-one takes the time to show us a new way, how are we supposed to understand there is such a haven?
When toddler’s feel threatened, they scream “NO!” Look around… We are a bunch of adults, living with the only tools we know.
We are in a strange time. We are all feeling the effects of being closed off from our people. I miss touch. I miss human connection. I miss genuine friends and embraces. I miss my people.
There isn’t one answer. Not just one thing, that will appease the masses. We all have a right to our own path. We all have a right to feel what we need to feel.
As Northern Michigan prepares to open back up… I encourage you to continue “to do you.”
Do what feels safe for you. But for the love of all things precious and good, stop berating your neighbors for doing what feels safe for them. We have no idea what tools they are working with. We have no idea…
Also, can we stop correcting people on social media? Stop correcting a typo or grammar… or picking a fight with someone who has a different political belief. We do not need to be publicly shamed.
When we correct someone, shame them, comment with “Ya, I saw that last week…” It doesn’t make you look superior or smarter. It makes you look insecure.
Understanding everyone’s level of safe is different, understanding we each must come to our own truth, in our own way… is the key.
I was reminded last week by another addict in recovery, “There are as many ways to recover, as there are addicts.” It’s the same with processing and mulling our way through this… let go of the fight.
Your way, my way… is not the only way. If we can embrace that… we may stand a chance.
Until next time, Peace and Love Peeps!