Don't Feed the Monster

The more I work with V, the more I am finding that God has lead me to her because she is so experienced in the fields that I need; trauma, first and foremost, and as I'm finding out, addiction. Partially for my own struggles with cutting that in my opinion are borderlining on addiction, but more for my family's addictions. I've never told anyone, but my dad is an alcoholic. I hesitate to even say that because my idea of what an alcoholic is is what you see on Cops; messy demeanor, stumbling over, slurring words, etc. That's not my dad. My dad is (and always has been) well kept, clean and high-functioning, so I never really thought there was a problem.

Today in our session, V and I began by talking about the cutting, since I had e-mailed her about it yesterday and she wanted an update on things. She is very realistic in her expectations with it, not expecting me to quit just because it's unhealthy, but rather she is trusting that I will make strides to include healthier choices for coping as they reveal themselves through my work with her. She will allow me to talk about it whenever I need and will make sure that she does not excuse or condone the behavior, since it is not healthy, but will not make me quit for her. I know that once I make the decision to quit, she will be so vital in me being able to do so. I'm just not there yet.

In part of our discussion with the cutting, she asked me if I use it as a mechanism to feel pain, and I told her it is basically the opposite. I cut to take my mind off the pain that I feel like I carry around all the time. The pain that is too great to acknowledge full on, so it backs me into a corner. She asked me the last time I fully acknowledged any feeling. I had to think hard about it and the only thing I could come up with in the past 5 years was my grandmother's death. The day after her funeral I was so overcome with grief and instead of holding it back, I let myself cry. And cry. And cry. I cried for 8 straight hours. That was really scary for me, for more than just the obvious reasons. I didn't think her death would affect me that much, so to be so shut down by that grief was very hard to accept. I have things that I know have affected me greatly that I haven't processed or felt completely. How in the world are those things going to affect me if I acknowledge them?

She asked me if I have ever acknowledged the abuse. Big fat no. She went on to say that not acknowledging those real feelings basically planted a "monster" inside of me (LOL, I told you she works with kids a lot, but this analogy really helped me to understand) that lived off of that expectation that I'd never pay attention to the real feelings and keep feeding it lies. The longer I neglected the real feelings and continued to feed it lie after lie, the bigger that monster came and the more it took over my life. And right now it's gotten to a point that I've built up so many walls to keep that monster in but it's gotten so big with all these lies that it is just consuming my mind (which is true). I feel like the abuse is the source of all of my issues and the sole reason for all of my problems. I've always felt like that and never understood why it seemed no one else (A mainly) felt that way, too.

We talked a bit more about why I chose to ignore what I was feeling and "feed the monster". My family was far from supportive. We were a put-on-a-happy-face type of family. Never let anyone see anything is wrong. So knowing that it wasn't OK to ever talk about things, I stuffed my feelings. And even now I am continuing to do that because I'm afraid of what acknowledging those feelings will do to my (already rocky) relationships with my family. What happens if I start processing things and it changes how I interact with my mom, or my sister, or my dad? I can't be the one who changes the dynamic. Don't rock the boat.

V had this smirk on her face when I was talking about all of this and I couldn't help but laugh. I've noticed she gets this look on her face when she has something pop into her head that she wants to tell me.

"You want to know what I thought of when you were telling me all of that?" she asks.

*laugh* "That's what I'm paying you for!"

*laugh*"That is a classic underlying theme for a child of an addict. Don't rock the boat. You're messing with our system. And even though your abuse rocked your world at 13 years old, I think that the fact that your foundation was laid with the unhealthy messages of a family of addicts set you up not only to be taken advantage of by your abuser, but to also not be able to cope with it. In my opinion, that has affected you more long term than you can even begin to understand. And it's my hope that we can begin to process and work through some of that."

The last few minutes of our session she pulled out her laptop and showed me a powerpoint that she uses when she leads trainings on these topics. She went through the slides that focused on the common feelings/rules/thoughts/beliefs of children of addicts. I said yes to about every one of them and was shocked.

I think V could even tell I was shocked. She looked at me and said, "Sweetie. You are a child of an addict. It is as clear to me as anything could ever be. Some people like the label, it gives it more of a realness. Others hate the label, they don't want anything to do with being seen as "this" or "that". How do you feel?"

In all honesty, I told her it scares me. I don't like feeling like I have this label of a child of an addict because it sounds so horrible. And in that awfulness it could make me think of my dad in a bad way. I don't want to think of him as bad. I love him. I've worked really hard to accept him for who he is, and throwing this into my mix is not something I planned.

Something she told me as we were closing up tonight I don't think I'll ever forget. She said "You don't have to think anything bad about him. You don't have to hate him. Hate the addiction."


Anonymous said...
November 18, 2010 at 6:11 AM

She sounds like a great t. Very insightful and thoughtful.

I went to a t once who threatened to leave me every time I cut. She would tell me that cutting was her "boundary" and if I did it, then she would no longer see me. It was devastating for me and I ended up overdosing because of it. I think V sounds like she has it together and really knows how to help people who SI.

My mother was the addict in my family - some alcohol, but mostly prescription pills. So, I guess I just wanted to say that I understand. *hugs*

Finding Pam said...
November 18, 2010 at 6:53 AM

Lily, this is one of the best post you have made. I can see your growth in your journey. V is helping you so much.

I am an adult child of an alcholic.

Stay strong and keep your chin up.

Just Be Real said...
November 18, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Lily I believe you have a dedicated t. Here listening dear one...... ((((Lily))))

Harriet said...
November 18, 2010 at 6:46 PM

What a wonderful session. Very difficult subject matter, but you seem to be in an ok place afterwards. That is the sign of a good t! Helping you with insights, and yet not leaving you floundering at the end. She is so supportive.

Being Me said...
November 19, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Love can never be a bad thing. It feeds only positive energy. The stronger it is the more powerful we are to overcome the bad.

sarah said...
November 19, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Lily...v sounds fantastic. She is truly a God send for you and I'm so glad she's now in your world helping you. I think God arranged all those things that eventually led you to her. Stay strong.