Willing to be Willing
by Terri C
(Rainier, Oregon, USA)
This powerful, unrelenting story can be summed up in the title of a book by Anne Katherine called When Misery Is Company...
(STORY THEME: Self-sabotage )
I was 12 years old when I was assaulted by a man more than twice my age. I was left alone in the woods miles from home. I was drunk on vodka which had been supplied for me by adults I had no business being around, let alone trusting. I was covered with blood from my own vomit. I was scared. Not only scared of what had happened, but what was going to happen when I got home. I could already hear my father calling me the terrible names I had already identified with. I was a stupid, stupid girl and I deserved what I got. I didn't tell anyone what happened that night for another 20 years.
I deserved what I got, and I got what I deserved.
That became a theme for my life. Almost a mantra. Any time I got 'good' things in my life I knew I didn't deserve them and would find a way to prove it. I barely made it through high school; I stayed as high or drunk as I could during most of those years. I remember hearing my father telling me I was good for nothing; a stupid, stupid kid. I finally rebelled against his words and even with the drug and alcohol (ab)use, I got excellent grades the last two years of high school. It didn't change his opinion of me, but it did begin my years of seeking his approval.
I was a printer right out of high school. I ran small printing presses, did bindery work and entered a field dominated by men. I remained a printer for 25 years. I had a couple of relationships during my single years, but when relationships are based around substance abuse, they are not stable. My drugs and alcohol were the most important things in my life, I didn't need a partner.
Somehow, against my own will, my husband came into my life. We met in a bar. Without him, I probably would have died a drug death, but he helped me quit the drugs; he saved my life in 1981. I was 24 years old.
My husband is a true miracle given to me - to someone who has always been filled with self-loathing. I am still convinced that if I told him what goes on inside of my head he will leave me. We don't communicate very well because of that, but he is still here 27 years later. I still avoid conflict at all cost as I will always lose in a conflict. I just back down, you are right, I am wrong. I'm sorry.
I was 49 years old before I realized I had a drinking problem. I wasn't an alcoholic. That was my parents' disease. I knew better. No way could it happen to me. Even my husband was blindsided with my withdrawals. He had no idea I had gone that far. I had no idea I had gone that far. I was ready to kill myself. I had planned the method, means and time. It was completely worked out. I would be dead that coming Monday. What had happened?
I have been clean and sober 17 days short of 3 years.
I can now see some of what happened to me over my life, and where I allowed circumstance to shape me and bring me to where I am today.
Since becoming sober, I have played other games with my health to the point of jeopardy:
- I have quit taking my blood pressure medication a few times. The first time ended with me in the cardiac unit and onto a stress test. My best effort to sabotage my health turned into a blessing when they did a heart cath and found a blockage.
- I quit taking my anti-depressants abruptly because I wanted to prove a point to the doctor. Scared my therapist, ended up on anti-psychotics for a short time.
- Had back surgery recently and again have gone off most of my medications and even though I still have pain, I refuse to take the pain medicine until it hurts so badly one doesn't do the job completely.
I seem to have an aversion to feeling good.
I've noticed it for a couple of years, but couldn't identify what it is. I call it my 'black hole'. I thought I had been able to fill the hole with God, but God makes me feel too good, so I deny Him full access to me. I need pain in my life
to remind me not to let things get too good. Good things go away; usually abruptly; and the pain, misery and grief flood back in, making life not worth living. It is much easier to keep people and emotions at a distance; under control. This is how I protect my heart. I used to protect and bury my feelings with Jack Daniels, now I am defenseless.
I remember once going to my therapist and telling him I thought I was manic. I had been working with my saws and sanders, creating wooden recovery coin holders. I couldn't sleep, I was obsessed with making a bunch of these to sell as a fundraiser for our local Alano Club. I was passionate with making big rocking horses to donate to any non-profit. I was dedicated to giving away my work for any good cause. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this, but it was making me manic and I didn't like that feeling. My therapist suggested maybe that feeling was joy. I have now taken all my saws and sanders and put them away. I don't use them anymore.
I am a photographer and have loved my photography for over 30 years. I started a line of blank inside cards. It took me months to work up the courage to have 1000 each of 10 cards professionally printed. I was excited about selling through my sister who was going to rep them for me. My sister backed out immediately after I printed them, and now, 5 years later, I consider just burning them. I am unable to market them because I am unable to sell myself, I am not good enough. I rarely even pick up my camera anymore. Joy is not an emotion I am willing to experience.
I have never felt it before, it is not familiar and it makes me feel out of control.
I am an alcoholic in recovery. Alcoholism is but a symptom of what is wrong with me. I have a soul sickness; something fundamentally wrong within me. It's in my DNA. I can't help thinking it started when I was very young with abandonment fears, but was complicated by my assault at 12. From there I learned if I could make myself feel good, I should go for it; but don't depend on outside influences, don't trust others, don't get to feeling too confident about who I am, what I can do, or trusting anyone else to encourage or support me because it will ALWAYS be torn away and I will ALWAYS end up hurt.
Better to never be loved at all than to be loved and lost.
Put up walls, don't allow happiness in, don't allow love in, don't allow anything good because it will all turn bad and painful. Don't believe people who tell you good things about you, they want something and the price will be high. Besides, if they really could see what was in the 'black hole', they would run away quickly and never return.
Yesterday I was working at my volunteer job at church, looking at recovery books on the internet when God suddenly did for me what I could not do for myself. He placed a book in front of me called "When Misery Is Company"
by Anne Katherine. I was utterly shocked to read about ME just in the review of the book. I had been praying all day for God to help me, to show me what was happening with me, to become willing to talk about my "black hole". God answers when we least expect it.
I learned many years ago that awareness is 67% of the journey. Thanks to a quick book review I can see what I am doing to myself. I ordered the book, but have not yet received it. Today my prayer was answered. I am willing to look at this, I am willing to be willing. Today I started my first step on a new journey. Even though I am scared to death, I will put one foot in front of the other, just for today. I have risen above a drinking obsession and a 41 year smoking addiction in the past 3 years. Somewhere I have a strength I don't recognize, or don't want to recognize, and I believe I can rise above self-sabotage too. I cannot ask for God's help to remove this defect in my character until I know it's there. I am grateful for the knowledge.
I am grateful for being willing to be willing."Abandon yourself to God, as you understand God. Admit your fault to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
May God Bless you and keep you -- until then."
(Alcoholics Anonymous, page 164)