Category Archives: Recovery

Ego Deflation Has Been a Constant Throughout My Recovery

15747101962_122092446b_bSometimes I only come to change after God and/or the Universe hits me up against the side of the head with a 2×4. I recently read somewhere (I scan over 300 blogs so it is hard to remember where I’ve read something) that our growth comes about every 7 years. It is spread out which is the good news. I only know to put my head down and bully through it. To avoid it, is disastrous.

From Growing Along Spiritual Lines: “Ego Deflation“:

I bounced along the bottom for many years while spirit dozed on the couch in front of the TV.  Spirit woke up when I finally reached out for help after the pain became unbearable. I must have let go of a ton of ego, because I floated into my first meeting on a pink cloud.  My outside circumstances hadn’t changed, but something was going on inside me that I didn’t understand. I had no urge to take a drink. I felt downright blissful. Like any good alcoholic I wanted more. I wanted to keep this great feeling alive. You pointed to the steps on the wall.

The pink cloud wore off in a couple of months, but by this time I had a sponsor and was well into my spiritual journey through the steps. Ego began to fall away with each successive step. Huge chunks broke off when I saw my part in resentments, shared my secrets, and made heartfelt amends during my ninth step. Slowly I began to get glimpses of God working in my life. These God-shots were like white pebbles leading out of the dark forest of self-will. God was no longer an idea in my head. God became a living experience and remains so today.Ego is like an invisible wall that separates me from God and you and everything wonderful in life. The steps dissolve ego much like a bucket of water melts the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. But unlike the Wicked Witch, Ego has a tricky way of reconstituting itself. If I am not continuing to grow and change through the steps, the wall rebuilds itself. Sooner or later I’m alone again. All alone.

From al-an journal: “The Path of Change”:

I’ve been off the grid for a few months, working through some massive changes in my life. By off the grid, I mean off of blog writing, not my Al-anon program. I guess you could say I’ve been more in tune with my program than ever during this time. But I needed to focus, limit distractions, because I knew that real change would require it. I am so easily distracted by the bright shiny lights my ego tosses out for me.

In these past few months, I have noticed an almost unrecognizable person inhabiting my body. Unrecognizable, but more authentic than before. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? How is it that authenticity could be so hidden that it’s unrecognizable? I guess I have my character defects to thank for that.

When I look back a ways, I can see that there was turning point for me; the day my sponsor asked me to make amends to myself, and with her guidance, I did so, wholeheartedly.  Like most change, there was no big Shazam! Just a subtle shift that altered perspective enough to set me on a different path.

The geometry of change is an interesting thing. Take something headed due north, and turn it one little click to the right, then let it keep running. At first the change is almost imperceptible. But over time the distance grows exponentially between where it was going and where it is. One small change builds on itself over time, and over time, the cumulative result becomes surprisingly large.

It took six months or so for the effects of change to start showing up in my life, but they did. Decisions I made were different. Resentments I let go of freed me. Each little thing that I did differently set me on a path to a whole new place, and now the landscape of my life looks wildly different than it did a year ago.

The changes have not been small.   We sold the house we’ve lived in for the last fourteen years, and moved to a more affordable area, where we rent a house less than half the size of our old one. This week I will go from being a person with a ridiculous amount of debt to a person with almost none. And I experienced the beauty of Europe this summer, something I have “waited for” my entire life. A gift from a friend, which up until now, I would not have accepted.

It’s been a big summer. One click to the right and the places I find myself in now are nothing I could have imagined. The hardest part of all of it is that I have physically moved away from the Al-Anon community that helped me get to this place. I miss them. I feel like a teenager leaving the womb to take the next indicated step, off to college. It’s the bittersweet, but inevitable result of growth. And even though the specific people I have grown up with cannot come with me, the program they taught me will.  They have been an expression of my higher power, one that I have been able to hear.  So today I will attend an Al-Anon meeting in my new community.   My guess is that they will accept me, and love me, in the same way the old group did, because that’s how it’s done in this program.  And I am grateful.

 Photo credit.

Growing Up in a Home Controlled by Alcoholism Means Growing Up Learning to Shut Down Our Feelings

I like to bring the posts of other bloggers about a topic for recovery to my readers. Emotional sobriety comes very slowly but it begins by accepting whatever emotion we are running from.

!.  Syd (one of my favorite bloggers because he posts from his AlAnon experience) has written a great post about growing up with alcoholism. He is not an alcoholic yet he has recognized that he took on the same emotional characteristics of someone who is alcoholic.

From his blog, I’m Just F.I.N.E.–Recovery if AlAnon, he writes: “Adult children of alcoholics”:

“There is a check list of characteristics that those of us share who were brought up in an alcoholic or other type of dysfunctional household.  Isolation, unease with authority figures, people pleasing, sensitivity to criticism, difficulty in intimate relationships, fear of abandonment and rejection are just some of the traits that are developed to cope with alcoholic dysfunction.”

“Sadly enough, many children who grew up in alcoholic homes also become alcoholic or marry one. It is what we know how to do–seek out the familiar–even if the familiar is hurtful.  I can think back on so many relationships that were not right, largely because I was attracted to those who were most familiar, yet the most injurious to me.”

“We really grew up with such a sense of responsibility that there was scarce time for childlike fun.  I know that I would escape through play from the anxiety that was always just below the surface.  Lives are lived in fear of being found out.  So we learn to hide feelings and the truth from others. We lived life from the standpoint of victims, and became reactors. I know that I did what I could to drive people away so that they would abandon me because I wanted to be the victim.”

“It is amazing really what alcoholism does to those who don’t even drink.  I took on all the characteristics of the disease without ever being alcoholic.  When the characteristics of an adult child of an alcoholic were read tonight,  I recognized the “old” me in every single line.  But the “new” me who has been in recovery for four years now sees that there has been a behavioral change.  I no longer exhibit every characteristic.  That indicates to me that there has been a profound change in how I view others  and myself since coming to Al-Anon.  Yes, I still have a fear of abandonment, but it is not as crippling a fear as it once was.  I see that my relationship with others has changed for the better.  I am no longer wanting to solve their problems or accept responsibility for their actions. And I have learned to appreciate who I am at last–imperfect but okay. ”

“Ask yourself these questions and see if some resonate with you:”

  • Do you constantly seek approval and affirmation?
  • Do you fail to recognize your accomplishments?
  • Do you fear criticism?
  • Do you overextend yourself?
  • Have you had problems with your own compulsive behavior?
  • Do you have a need for perfection?
  • Are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly, continually anticipating problems?
  • Do you feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?
  • Do you still feel responsible for others, as you did for the problem drinker in your life?
  • Do you care for others easily, yet find it difficult to care for yourself?
  • Do you isolate yourself from other people?
  • Do you respond with fear to authority figures and angry people?
  • Do you feel that individuals and society in general are taking advantage of you?
  • Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?
  • Do you confuse pity with love, as you did with the problem drinker?
  • Do you attract and/or seek people who tend to be compulsive and/or abusive?
  • Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone?
  • Do you often mistrust your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others?
  • Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?
  • Do you think someone’s drinking may have affected you?

“Just remember that we didn’t choose this disease.  We were simply in the way of it.  And we learned about it over many years.  Now I am undoing all that has been harmful to me.  It takes time–One day at a time.”

2. From Woman Anonymous 7: Family of origin and self-esteem issues:

“I’d stayed up too late last night (watching Battlestar Galactica in bed on my iPad!,) gotten up early, and had a long day. As we waited for the check, Mom asked how my day was and I mentioned that I was pretty bushed. She thoughtfully offered to go to hobby group with Son. Since she’d accompanied him a few times before I didn’t think he’d mind.”

“But when I told him Mom was going with him instead of me, he began to protest and continued to beg me to go as we made our way to the parking lot. I was surprised, and torn because as we approach the end of Son’s single digit birthdays, I have a limited number of such opportunities left.”

“He continued to cling to me and whine (not too passionately, but stubbornly nonetheless.)”

“My mom absolutely couldn’t tolerate it.”

“As I listened to Son’s faux-whining and gave further consideration to my decision, she immediately tried to shut him down – I think in my defense, although I hadn’t asked to be defended.”

“It’s okay, Mom, he just wants me to go with him,” I said, soaking in the feeling of Son’s arms wrapped around me in his attempt to obstruct my progress toward departure. But she kept offering alternatives and telling him to stop being upset.”

“I quickly lost my patience and told her the conversation was between me and Son, and to stop involving herself in a discussion that didn’t involve her.”

“And then came the truly astonishing, revealing part of the conversation:”

Son: You have to go, and that’s that!

Mom: Stop that! She said she’s tired. Do you want her to drive while she’s tired and get into an accident?

Me: Mom!! Stop trying to make him feel guilty!! Stop trying to make him feel responsible for things that he’s not responsible for!

Mom: Well he has to know the circumstances!

“Oh my god, how instantly she can transport us to another universe!”

Me: But that’s COMPLETELY MADE UP!!! That hasn’t happened, and it’s not going to happen!

“But she couldn’t see it.”

“She doesn’t understand that she was trying to make him feel guilty for wanting me to come with him to hobby group, and she doesn’t get the concept that she’s teaching him to feel responsible for everything that happens in the world.”

“If you want your mother to come with you to hobby group when she’s tired, and then she does, and then she has an accident, it will be your fault for begging her to go.”

“She can’t see that she’s teaching him to try to anticipate how things will turn out and then shape his desires, needs and feelings around that, as if anyone can really anticipate the future.”

“She can’t grasp that she’s telling him that he has the power to keep his mother alive by not expressing what he wants in that moment.”

“No wonder I’ve lived most of my life unable to validate my feelings, needs and desires in a healthy way.”

Photo credit.