I'll never forget the day I ran across the YouTube video from Nadine Burke Harris's Ted Talk about ACES. I've been studying addiction, grief and trauma for 14 years now....and in that order. I thought addiction must come out of grief, and many times it does, but there is an even deeper layer than grief. That's Complex Trauma. CT is when someone suffers trauma, normally as a child and normally at the hands of ones family or person who they should be able to trust, to look out for their best interests. And rather than doing that, they betray a child's trust, wound them very deeply, giving them messages of unworthiness and a shattered view of self. Never being worthy of love, care, respect or any simblence positive self talk.
I've been learning a lot about Complex Trauma lately and how it affects a person as they grow, and its' affects as a child's personality develops. Having grandchildren now of my own, I want the cycle to change in how we pass down unhealthy parenting styles. If we were abused or neglected in childhood, we may pass down those same behaviors unknowingly to our children, and they to theirs.
They are only "conditionally" loved; and only that if they be and do what someone else wants. The perception, is that everyone will either hurt them or leave them.... so now, the behaviors almost force that to happen, which further validates that core belief system.
Sometimes, I can understand the struggle the person abusing substance must go through. My disease, is to please. I've gotten better, but my problem is, I know how to do a lot of things. I've had a lot of life experiences and because I know how to do....doesn't mean I always should. I guess, I'm a fixer. I've had to learn just about every job I've had by being self taught. I've learned the way to do it, and organize it, to the point I have a self taught, self learned expererience.
I've researched the effects of drugs and alcohol on young people, for the last 14 years. I've experienced in my own family, what it is like to watch a loved one struggle with addictions. A few years ago, I figured out that the disease of addiction is derrived from several aspects. Biological predisposition, lifestyle, family, mental illness, grief, trauma, and putting the drug in your system.
- They are biologically predisoposed to addiction.
- They need to have community and be kept active in sports or volunteer activities through school, church, or some other activitiy they have a passion for.
- They need to have a loving, close, protecitve and strong family unit and close ties with extended family as well.
- They need to be educated on exactly, no hold barred, on what can happen to them, IF they ever put a drink or a drug in their body. Not from the stand point of some old grandma, pointing a crooked finger at them and giving them warnings with no data to back it up, but from the grandma who understands how addiction works, whom it seeks and how to prevent it from catching up with them.
- The chain, must be broken.
-- This past weekend, I had the honor of going to the beach on a shell hunting mission with my daughter. In the next state, on certain beaches, you can drive on the beach, park on the beach and tale gate from the beach all day long. You can even move your location several feet away and park there and hang out. I've done this before, when I was married. My daughter has done this with her husband before, but we've only ever done it when a husband has been with us.
We went down to the beach a few weeks prior with my son, daughter and both grandchildren 7 and 2.5 years old. It was a short, busy time, especially with 2 little ones in our room. My son had an upper respiratory infection and wasn't feeling well, so I took on a lot of the duties for the 2.5 year old. I did not mind, as this was the first time I had been in a mini vacation with them, so I was taking in every thing I could with them and keeping them busy. I don't get to spend time like that with them often. Normally, I'm babysitting them at my house, doing the same old routines of making a mess and me cleaning it up. This time was different and I got to watch them explore new things, the same as I was doing.
When my daughter and I went down the 2nd time, it was just us... just us girls. From our last experience shell hunting, we didn't have a vehicle we could take off road; and I think were a little nervous about the process and what we'd have to hear if we got something stuck, or God forbid, dirty. This next time, we were going to conquer that fear and take a suitable vehicle on the beach. We were going to listen to you-tube video's on how to drive on the beach, how to deflate the tires, re-inflate the tires and get a permit to ride along the beach. So, we did all of the above, and with the input and teachings from my wonderful son-in-law, we took off on a 3 hour journey by ourselves to shell hunt for two days.
We talked about how we never were offered or allowed, for lack of a better word, to try something like this on our own. Most of the time, the men folk took the reigns--and notably, do not offer them up. I'm sure this is in a take charge, protective way they have been raised, just like ours is the subordinate, sit back and let the man do man work way.
The last time she and I came shell hunting, we parked in a parking area and walked miles in the deep sand to get to the area that provided the best, largest shells. However, on the way back, carrying a sack of heavy shells 2 miles (my distance gets farther every time I tell this story) to the parking area proved to be a feat of strength and stamina. We wondered why we had to do it this way, when if the husbands were here, we could have driven along the beach and not have to suffer this anguish.
We actually had to sacrifice shells, picking out only the best ones, because if they weren't shell worthy to trot 2 miles back to the parking area, they had to go! But, by driving ourselves this time, we would be able to get more shells, because we wouldn't be carrying 70lbs of shells, miles back to a parked vehicle across deep sand.
We arrived at the destination where we had parked the time before; only this time, it was my daughter who let the air out of the tires, tire gauge in hand and looking like she has done this a million times. We commented on how we tag-teamed it like the best pit crew ever! Before we left, her husband had explained how to take the truck in and out of 4-wheel drive, so after letting the air out, off we went!
Needless to say, the preparation and knowledge did the trick. We were the only two women 4-wheeling that day amid a bunch of men fishing off the point. I cannot describe the sense of freedom we felt, being in charge, making our way through the thick sand, conquering it at every turn.
I noticed, it was like this mysterious, taboo thrill meant only for the men folk in the past. Something that only the most experienced on the man-wall-of-fame experienced...and now, here we were, after all these years... and we did it. As we got some stares being just two women in a vehicle, we laughed and maneuvered around the thick track marks in the sand, watching the men looking at us with this puzzled look on their faces, wondering where I men folk must be? We were free!! And I found it to be quite liberating... and I knew in those moments, that my daughter could do anything.... And most importantly, she knew she could do anything.
Parents, husbands, wives..... do yourself a favor and educate your children on how to do things, so they don't see it as "man code" or not being trustworthy enough, smart or gifted enough. Teach them how to let the air out of the tires and put it back in and where to find the information for how much. Teach them how to get there and shell hunt or fish. Teach them how NOT to be afraid to try something new.
I called it the "male wall of knowledge". It's like it was something kept secret from us girls. I always thought that was because somehow, only males knew how to do such things and we'd mess something manly up if we tried it......or I always thought it was just a bunch of over exaggerated, macho fear.....that if we can figure it out.....it might mean to them, we may not need them.
I have nothing against the breed :) I'm even married to one, but there have been a number of things in my life that I have wanted to do or try, but was afraid to, because it was man's territory. They took it over, taking it out of my hands because as I thought, I wasn't capable. In some cases, I'd hand things over because I didn't want the man to feel bad, or I was afraid of being criticized because my way of doing something may differ from the man way.
I was always taught some things are just for men and women have their place......but I now know, I bet we could do many things listed on the man-wall-of-fame, if we happen to try, without being ridiculed or criticized. Ridicule and criticism comes from places like fear. Fear that I may not need you. Or, I have been assigned a "role". One that I did not ask for or have any choice or say so in without an argument. And to be fair, women do this to men, too. I'm speaking from the aspect of my experience as a woman.
It's taken me many years of growth to realize, I don't want to be in relationship with someone I need. I want to be in relationship with someone I want...not someone I'm made to be dependent on. I don't make people "be" dependent on me, frankly, nothing aggravates me more, than a grown human being depending on me to do something they are capable of doing themselves. I don't mind a child depending on me, because I am the adult and they can't help but be dependent in some things. But, I think rather than protecting them under the cloak of "you're not capable", I'd rather teach them how, so then they can become capable and interdependent, no matter who they are with.
It's hard for me, because I want to over-do for my kids, or my grand kids, but to see the look on my daughter's face and the strength it built in her self esteem, I certainly don't want to suffocate my kids or grandchildren anymore under the invisible cloak of protection; when I can celebrate with them, their victories.
I was speaking to a friend the other day and the discussion went to the phrase "acting like a victim", with regard to their responses to things in life. Someone else, had said this about them. This phrase was upsetting, because my friend had striven for the last several years to change who they were and find different ways of coping with lifes dissapointments and set backs.
I think everyone has had a person come into their life, that female or male that seems to upset the balance of a family. From what kind of role model they are for their kids, to how they treat your loved ones, they seem chaotic and stir up a bunch of drama in the relationship, which spills over to the family. We are left scratching our head and wondering "why?" or "what did we do?" that may have helped stir up the chaos in this person? Because this is impacting me, surely, I must have contributed in some way?
I've been undergoing my own struggles with releasing this site. Putting my thoughts and feelings into a blog and releasing them out to the world is quite frightening. I've been working with a small group of two other women who took the same certification course I just took for Trauma, and we have all been struggling with a failure to launch.
I was reading a daily reading from Language Of Letting Go, from Melody Beattie about what we learned from our parents with regard to guilt or blame. Like her, I'm not going to blame my parents for why I turned into such a people pleasing, doormat for most of my life. I was thinking about how different parenting skills can affect the way we associate and define "rules" for ourselves and others. Some of the rules can be healthy boundaries and some can be harmful for us for many years, and we don't recognize it.. until we are internally miserable about where our lives have taken us.
I was reading from Language of Letting Go this morning, and today's reading was about procrastination. I've been working on this concept for a while and push myself to stop doing it. I find that I am struggling to put my website out there. It's like a "failure to launch".
I hate hearing the words self-care. To me, that should be a no brainer, yet over the years I have found it is the one thing I have neglected to do. I struggle to do things just for myself. I struggle to give to myself before I give to others. Coming along and having children and a husband, I thought that is what I was supposed to do. Selflessly give to my kids, make sure my husband was happy and needed nothing, make sure the animals were well taken care of, everyone and anyone before myself.
I always noticed when I was in Al-anon meetings, that the meetings were habitually smaller grouped or you'd see some people in a meeting for a couple of months, then they would disappear after a while, never to be seen again. Every now and again, they may show back up for a small stint of time, but then be gone again.
I was going down this long, windy country road, when this migraine pulled out in front of me going 15 miles per hour less than what the speed limit was for the road. My first reaction was “oh for Heaven’s sake, why do people do this?? Didn’t he see me coming and know that he drives this slowly, he should have some consideration that others don’t want to go this slowly to their destinations”.
I digress…I realized the other day when I got behind that person who I described as a migraine, that I put myself in that frame of mind. No one else did. Not that driver, only me. I then began to think of how I have always been a person who wants to get to my destination. I never get in the car to enjoy the trip; the actual journey. I’m always getting into the car solely to get from point A to point Z. It then dawned on me how I do the same thing in life. I want to zip through the preliminaries to get to the goods. Everything fast paced, everything in a rush to get that payoff at the end; whatever I have envisioned that payoff to be. I wondered how many others out there are like that. I envy the people who can enjoy the trip and not just have the excitement for the destination.
I look at my trip. My trip through a field of losses and disappointments and waiting for the next shoe to drop. Living in fear, anxiety, anticipation of how to make it financially, feeling like a failure, wondering how I could have changed this situation or that situation from the past, for a better outcome. What would have changed, what would have been different had circumstances been different, then mentally beating myself up for the way things did turn out for years to come. Punishing myself by not enjoying the moment and instead, living in regret. If I really look at the situations, those failures as I saw them, those losses, disappointments, I can see all the things I missed when I only looked at what I lost.
I missed happy, good, fun times that surrounded those events. I didn’t allow myself to enjoy them as I should have, because to do so would have been something I didn’t deserve. I have had a lifetime of friendships and a zoo full of animals that I loved and gave me so much. The people I came to meet, the memories I have from accidentally having these people and experiences in my life, the places I’ve seen, the blessings that came out of the situations being what they were.
Just like that migraine in front of me. He pulled out and slowed down my arrival at my destination. However, what that gave me was the colors of the fall trees that I would have never noticed had I of been flying down the road at 60 miles per hour in a 55, focusing more on keeping the tires on those winding country roads than on what was around them.
The sky was blue, with just the right amount of clouds in them. The car was quiet….this story evolved from that experience. I didn’t wrap my car around a tree and I got safely to where I was supposed to go, none the worse for wear. My other adventure with the person I was supposed to meet, turned out to be wonderful and not stressful and rushed. With the help of my Higher Power, I will try to re-train my thoughts throughout each day to remember that even when things don’t go on my schedule or time line, there are so many blessings that I am completely missing by trying to side step and take the short cut through life.
In talking to my son the other day, I realized these days, we actually have good, meaningful conversations, not like the "pretend, niceties" of the past. You know.... the empty pretend conversations with no real substance, where issues are on the table... where you talk about anything but the real issue? We were discussing how difficult it is for parents to watch as their kids make bad decisions. After all, we have given birth to them, cared for them, loved them, given up freedoms to give time to them, cleaned up their vomit when they were ill, done without giving to ourselves because their lives were more important. Then, we have to switch gears and let them go and make all the mistakes we've made and feel all the pain we've felt, and pray they will grow from it not be destroyed by it.
I based everything on that one emotion and didn't even know it. Fear. I often wonder how my life would have turned out differently if I didn't utilize fear as my guiding light. I would like to have some of the tools I have learned the last two years, to have available in my tool kit; and could have relied more on those, than on fear.
I say the words control and manipulation like I was an ill-intended individual with manacle intent. My intent was always good. It was always for the greater good, or someone else's good, or for some nice thing to happen. No matter what the intent, the actual action was the same. It was control or manipulation, just wrapped up in a prettier package called justification.