Monday, July 18, 2011

doing the work



i shared in a meeting  today about something very personal. i have blogged about it before, but it was a very different experience to speak it out loud in front of people, some of whom i don't even know and who are new to the recovery experience. part of my truth is that i rarely feel as if anything i do is appropriate. it's a habit i have developed since i was young, and in my mind i first go to the belief that my truth is not a good truth, and i have stepped over a line somewhere and have really offended people.

when i was in the 5th grade or so, i had a sexual encounter with some older boys in my small town. i had thought that it was a private and personal experience, but the boys talked and laughed about it and i became a joke and it hurt a lot. it is a moment that defined me as a person. i couldn't tell anyone because it was too disgusting and i couldn't let them know that it bothered me. i just had to stuff it and do the best that i could. my behaviors replicated and getting high became an easy way to blot out any pain and focus on the pleasure.

when i was 3 or 4 years sober, i had a very similar experience with an employer. i had trusted him with some personal information, something private, and somehow it was used in an anonymous letter that was sent out to colleagues. again, i had trusted someone and they had spit out that trust like milk gone bad. and i found myself  as hurt and as angry as i had 35 years earlier in my life. i was stuck.

miraculously, i didn't revert back to using. the only reason was that working the 12 steps had afforded me a process to deal with emotions that run over. it worked, too. it wasn't perfect, but it did help me see my part in all this. and it did offer me sanctuary when i truly needed it most.

this is something i have lived with my whole life, although i never really took a look at it until these last few years. it takes some times for the blinders to really come off and to start to get a picture of how i actually am in the world. not just how i see myself, nor how i want to be, but how i am.

i say i have lived with this all my life because as i sit here at 4 in the morning blogging about a truth i spoke 16 hours earlier, i recognize very well the self-judgement imposed when i am honest. and in retrospect, i realize i won't give myself a break and describe what i shared as appropriate. but i will acquiesce that it did no harm. that the world can stand that i didn't do it perfectly. that i can be forgiven down the road for lack of forethought.

i believe that the emotional mask is starting to come off. i have been under enormous financial stress because i made some poor decisions over the last couple of years. mostly it was about deciding by impulse instead of thinking things through, and now i am required to live with those decisions. it has been uncomfortable and it has been an opportunity for me to do some very long overdue growing up.

but the stress of it has no doubt stolen some joy. and here is sit, tapping into some of the darker realities in my life. luckily, i have been here before, and i have been here sober, so i know i probably won't crumble. i also know that i have to pull the shit out of the corners and shake it out. otherwise i run the risk of doing damage.

today i spent some time planting some new shrubs along the front walk. we have been working on this part of the yard for a couple of years now. i find i avoid getting started, but when i do get out there and start pulling weeds, or watering, i get caught up in the process and love doing the work. i equally appreciate the end result. the landscape has improved. it looks better. it feels cared for. and it is healthier. i usually get sweaty and dirty while i am working on it, but the payoff is real.