My sponsor said tonight, “I can’t believe you only have eight months. You aren’t needy or insecure at all!” and I just wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, because I’m not sure if she’s correct or if this is just another wall I put up to protect myself. She has so many kind things to say about me, but (as with anyone’s compliments) I waver between agreeing with her and wondering how I’ve managed this latest deception.
There’s a passage I keep coming back to in the ACOA Daily Affirmations book, from November 27:
I am strong and capable. Any thoughts about weakness are gone today. I realize that in my home I saw many forms of control. I saw that playing “poor me” or “little child” is as powerful a weapon as forceful strength. I saw that the weak have weapons too. And I observed how emotional weapons ruined relationships.
I will not use weakness to side-step responsibility. I will not put another person in charge of my life and blame them for pushing me around. By using weakness as protection, I not only fail to make friends, I end up captive. A relationship based on protection soon withers and dies.
I want to be forthright in my relationships. I no longer have to manipulate to receive love. What I desire is to receive what others have to offer me.
Today I trust that intimacy will flourish when what is given comes truly from the heart.
I think the real thing I’m struggling with lately is that I’ve never been in a relationship in which these emotional weapons were absent. In the past, I’ve sought out people who mistreated me (or thought of me as lesser-than), and therefore a good portion of my time and energy was spent trying to convince them I needed protection or (even more demoralizing) that I deserved to be treated with love and respect. And the idea of leaving all of that behind, of sitting back to accept and receive what others have to give — and making the conscious decision as to whether what they have to give is good enough as is (or not) — is, quite frankly, terrifying.
When I was eighteen and newly married and worried that my husband was having an affair at work, I wanted him to come home early one day rather than spend time alone with the woman in question. [In my defense — though I have little — he had many times mentioned how much he wanted to have sex with this woman, so my insecurities weren’t completely fabricated.] I couldn’t figure out any way to get him to come home, so I did something completely insane: I called him up and told him I’d been attacked on the way back from the bus station, and to support my story, I beat myself up. Literally. With a rolling pin. And, you know, he still didn’t leave work early… and so then I harbored a resentment toward him for not coming home after he heard about my “attack”…
That was almost seventeen years ago, and those type of deceptions and false weaknesses became fewer and fewer as time went on. It’s been years since I’ve outright lied about something happening just so someone else would come to my aid or rescue (or at least prove they cared about me), but it’s always been the case that I would find myself in horribly dysfunctional situations and when my partners would leave (literally or figuratively) I’d sit there and cry “poor me!” and wonder why they weren’t doing a better job of taking care of me. Well, duh! It was because they were crummy choices for romantic partners and I was seeking out people who allowed me to play out that pattern again and again — people who were incapable of loving me or (maybe worse) thought I was beneath their love.
The problem (for me, at least) is that I am in a relationship with someone who (I think) isn’t a crummy choice… but I’m clueless on how to proceed, how to be grateful, how to accept what is given to me, how to decide whether what is given is enough or I need to ask for more, how to sit back and accept what is “given truly from the heart.” My God — that is scary! Most of the time I feel paralyzed and as though I’m fourteen and have yet to go on my first date.
So what’s the solution? Lately, I’ve been following the direction of other people in the program — and the things I’ve read — who tell me to simply act “as if.” I’m following my intuition — which has become markedly distinct from my fears, which is new — which tells me that it’s spiritual growth and progress and change for me to act without knowing what the outcome will me, to place faith in the goodness of other people, to live a life based on joy and hope rather than fear and dread, to learn to live in the moment and be entirely present and content with life on life’s terms.
That being said, being sober is damn hard.