It’s a strange place to truly do something differently from what has gone before. I spent so much of my life self-imploding, I didn’t know any other way for years. I am the person who turns things in on herself, that takes on board all other people’s shortcomings, blames herself for others’ lack and then spectacularly implodes. I also implode on my own lack be sure about that.
Not any more.
We cannot and should not wear the shame of other people, carry their emotional baggage when they cannot or will not do work on themselves. It’s a passing of the buck usually from one generation to the next; grandparents handing down their issues whether consciously on not to our parents and then parents handing down their shit to us. We also then pass our shame on to our children. Some things can be a family disease. And at some point, maybe someone within the family halts its ability to infect anyone else by actively changing what has gone before.
Behaviour is a mixture of social, environmental and born nature. But one of the things we are gifted with as humans is self-awareness through empowerment. It’s a huge journey, often excruciatingly painful and it doesn’t cease until we die.
Behaviour change is also putting things into action, rerouting and rewiring neural pathways so that we can move differently in life and experience a new way of being that affords us more peace and contentment. It takes persistence and consistency through continual practice.
My self- worth was often tied in with people-pleasing and external validation. I grew up with a parent who constantly never bothered with his kids, he wasn’t interested in anything we did unless there was a grand payout for his own ego. He was highly critical and never gave any praise. I spent most of my former years seeking his approval to no avail. This is not our relationship currentLy because I know it was all he was capable of and I make moves differently around him; we have a good relationship to date and have done for many years.
However, my perception that formed early on due to my highly sensitive personality, was a concrete belief I was not good enough, I was unlovable and felt I had to continually justify my position, actions and existence. I became possibly one of the most well-defended humans on the planet. I stopped letting others in to my thoughts and feelings and with those awful feelings I felt, I numbed them with anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, alcohol, drugs, spending and bad relationships. I developed a hard attitude so people received a ‘fuck off’ on my face before they even dared to take advantage and it worked. It put people at a distance and it gave me space from many possible avenues of pain. It also lead to a very isolated existence where I was besieged by overwhelming loneliness and disconnection. I felt that I didn’t belong anywhere and those feelings can still pop up and persist if I’m not looking after myself properly.
It has taken me a good decade of self-discovery through treatment, investigation and research to truly understand who I am and why I am this way. It has taken, tears, rages, tantrums, relapses, gallows humour, spiritual awakenings, forgiveness, risk, ploughing on, determination and bloody-mindedness to get to where I am today.
I have my bad weeks and I have weeks where I also feel unstoppable. I have peace on occasion but most importantly, I am taking care of myself in a more compassionate way.
The middle of November marks an anniversary where I sank possibly to my lowest mental state and lost everything nearly, including my life. This year instead of dreading the third anniversary of my own personal hell, I made the decision to really take hold of all the terrible memories associated with it. I decided to make it a celebration of almost being ‘born again.’ The reality is, it was my escape from hell and my liberation from the shackles that had held me captive for too many years. It’s only today do I see it had to happen in order for me to survive.
Through the darkness and the pain, each day I have rebuilt my life. I have taken the devastation and reworked my personal landscape. At first, I wasn’t grateful for being spared; I was full of self-hatred and loathing, bitterness and remorse, guilt and shame, hopelessness and resentment. It’s been a heck of a project and I wouldn’t change it. It’s my journey. It’s a work in progress.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I came home to myself. I had to, I had to start again with nothing, except my family and I’m grateful. Some people don’t even have that.
I have found my feet again by loving myself from inside to out. I have a connection with the angels who I talk with daily on spiritual matters such as acceptance, forgiveness, healing and trying to do the right thing and if that goes amiss then trying to do the next right thing and that is pretty important too.
I don’t have to just implode because of an initial fuck-up, I always have the chance to make the best out of any situation, even the situations that look and feel bad. That’s pretty powerful thinking because it keeps me in the game, it stops me giving up, it allows me to practice a more positive way of thinking (my default thinking has always been fairly pessimistic but it’s something that can be overcome with mindfulness and being aware of my chain of thoughts).
A friend and mentor calls it ‘the chain analysis of stinking-thinking’ and it’s absolutely spot on.
So this year, I spent the anniversary busy, enjoying my classes, making time to talk with other people in recovery, going to my fellowship meetings, putting my heart and soul into work, thinking about other people, honouring where I’ve been but most importantly, how far I’ve come; recognising my attributes and keeping structure.
Instead of imploding, I sparkled and I had a choice in that.
Self-sabotaging behaviour is often about lack of self-worth, it’s often in conjunction with ‘all or nothing’ thinking, it’s also for my part about defiance ‘well if you don’t believe I can’t change, then let the hurricane start and I’ll show you a new level of disappointment!’ But in all of that, it would be me emerging from the destruction more wounded, bruised and battered than ever before.
I don’t need to derail myself these day and that’s because I know I matter. That’s something many people never achieve and most only get a few moments of. I find I’m in the latter group but that’s good enough for me.