Don’t stuff it down

This is not something I am saying to you out there, but more to myself.  I am beginning to recognise when I turn to sweet things to deal with feelings simmering away inside that may be a cause for fear or anxiety.  I have been watching myself over the past week and seeing when the desire for something comes to take to edge off a feeling or to deal with a boredom or loneliness that would be best dealt with by connecting with myself or with others.

I am also aware that I have to become more aware of when I look to a connection to others as an escape from being with my own self.  Ideally we live in a connected world but I am beginning to see that often my need or demand to connect comes out of the fact I am not connecting as deeply with myself as I need to.   I then search for someone to validate me and my feelings, when really that is my job as an adult.

While writing this I am also aware that it is no surprise that for much of my adult life I was like the little bird in the story Are You My Mother? looking around here, there and everywhere to find the lost perfect parent who could mirror me and explain myself to me.  I did not know myself.  In my loneliness as a child in the absence of connections, as the inadequate connections I did have faded away I turned more and more within and then to substances.

Turning within was no real solution, although on one level I know that deep inside my true feelings WERE living.  They were just very hard to access and validate.  Even now in therapy a constant theme is how often I repress myself or invalidate my true feelings, impulses and urges, needs and self expression.

It didn’t help at 31 getting into the AA fellowship where the confusion continued.  According to AA I was ‘self will run riot’.  Possibly so but the self will needed to be connected with so I could develop a healthy ego and healthy ego boundaries. It didn’t help just to be told there or by other spiritual bypass sources that I needed to let go of ego.

I also had a hard time believing in an external God as recovery progressed.  I could relate to the sense of a loving force of balance and reality in nature. I imagined if that force existed it wanted me to be natural and my true self, rather than to adapt to or adopt the practices of those who told me they ‘knew better’.  I witnessed too much subtle emotional abuse of foundlings by so called self appointed gurus in AA to be gun shy and that is when I moved away from meetings.  Since then I have gone back and found that not everyone who is older in sobriety is that way.  Some are loving but there was still a lot of subtle self and other shaming that I saw.

A loving force which I believe may be the highest form of a so called ‘god’ obviously is not about the threat and terror and obligation of the terrible vengeful God of the old testament.  The words of Jesus resonated with me more in that he seemed to eschew phonies and hypocrites who only talked the talk but did not walk the walk of empathy, compassion and love.   He seemed to champion the inner child and to preach a message of staying true to the real self despite external conditioning pressures to buckle down or engage in self repression.

A few years into sobriety I came across a lot of great information from the Jungian discipline which explain the image of Christ as an archetype or universal symbol of the self, the containing, loving presence within us which is larger than our purely personal ego formed by defences dictated by woundings of our childhood.    This made more sense to me than a lot of the dogma espoused by various sanctimonious religious groups or institutions and this included some of the self appointed ‘leaders’ of various 12 step groups who still had firmly in place a lot of their own split off repressions and were actively splitting off their shadow and projecting it all over the place.

I finally left meetings last year after having this done to me for the third and final time.  I didn’t have sufficient energy to go back in and confront it face to face, because I finally knew that if I was ever to really grow fully into myself I needed to be in places where I could be validated until my healthy ego could grow strong enough to understand what was really going down.

Now I could probably go back to the group and laugh about it rather than get angry as I did in the past, finally seeing my anger says more about me.  Its okay to have it but I can’t expect anyone to change just to make my life easier.  Life isn’t easy and unfortunately it doesn’t run to my ego agenda, valid or not as it may be for me.  This is perhaps where I have to watch self will running away with its own agenda.

Golly just scrolled back to where this blog started and it seems to have assumed a life of its own.  I started with the title Don’t Stuff It Down  and I seem to have been able to express in this a lot of personal truths and feelings I feel the need to for today.

I am sorry if some of my experiences of 12 step groups are a bit skewed to the negative.  I try to be as honest and truthful as I can.  I know all groups have inherent limitations.  Ideally the groups we join allow us to be individuals within them and make our own minds up about what heals and what hurts, what helps and what doesn’t.  In AA there is a saying ‘take what you like and leave the rest’.  I had more problems in Al Anon than in AA as a recovering alcoholic at times.  This is just my experience so ‘take what you like and leave the rest.’

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