You Mean It WASN’T all my Fault?

Recovery is tough but life is a lot tougher when I am not in Recovery.  Not learning that I have a Pandora’s box inside my heart that fogs up my brain was tougher. Some people have said in meetings, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”  I sure didn’t!  The fun/odd thing is that while I worked the Steps I learned some things but it feels like SINCE I worked the Steps I started thinking differently and I have learned much more about myself than I ever could have imagined.

It has been more than a year since my first trip through the Steps.  There is a meeting in our area that uses the “Came to Believe” book as the foundation for the format of their discussion.  A couple weeks ago I was sitting in that meeting.  Following along with what was being read.  I could have sworn I heard something in my ear say, “It’s not your fault.”  I was startled.  Sure we are sitting in a church basement and the choir is practicing upstairs but I heard it. After a minute or so, I just relaxed and the meeting went on.  I went home and sort of forgot about it.

Meditation

I meditate.  If you have read this blog you may know I meditate often.  A couple times a day alone when I can and once a week in a group.  This is the cross-legged kind, I focus on my breath and have done visualization and some other kinds. If you have never meditated before, I highly recommend it.  Seems weird at first, but so did not drinking, then after time, I could feel the difference.

The next morning I was in my usual meditation routine and as I was ending and saying the Third Step Prayer, I heard the voice again, though this time it was a whisper and this time “IT” used my name.  “Janis, it’s not your fault.”  I sat there with that, not so jarred this time, but curious and over the next few days meetings and situations kept being put in front of me that pointed to how I have looked at things for probably 30 years.  I have a couple of posts on my mind in the next few days.

It may not be your fault either, stay tuned.

 

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Henny Penny

When I was drinking I always waiting for the sky to fall.  And most times, it did. When I have looked back at my drinking career, I tried to really understand what role I played when drinking.  When the party was on, so was I.  I had a few blackouts, yes.  BUT most of the time I was the person that kept my wits about me to a degree.I would grab my friend that was on the pool table or fighting with her boyfriend and get us out of trouble.

I Had My Rules

  1. When I went home with someone or someone came home with me, I was traveling alone.
  2. If  there was dancing, no dipping
  3. And NO shots.

I often traveled alone. Once my marriage broke up, my broken heart seemed to need alcohol, needed the soothing of alcohol, the forgetting of alcohol.  I couldn’t fix my feelings without it. I never realized that I had married a guy that I wanted to fix either.  When he abandoned me for another woman, I couldn’t live peacefully without numbing myself to live on without him.

On The Outside 

People would see someone smiling, laughing, someone that was fun to be around. But things weren’t like that on the inside.  As the years rolled on and I turned into a daily drinker just to keep my head on my shoulders, there was no party.  There was no laughing or smiling.  There was the whimpering of the broken heart I could never get beyond.  My decisions laid over the top of this volcano of smoldering emotion that only knew extremes.  And before I did “The Steps,”  I never knew that this abandonment thing was something rooted in my ex husband’s  childhood, my childhood  and my father’s childhood. It was a pattern and I never stopped long enough to see it.  To accept it.

The Waiting Gamehennypennysleeve1

I was just like Henny Penny, waiting for the sky to fall because an acorn hit her head. Even when nothing at all was happening, it would feel like something was about to cause my my world to cave in.  Abandonment is a hard thing to sort through, especially when you have no idea that it is there. In my case, I married a guy that had abandonment issues, similar to those of my father.  I never figured it out until I did The Steps and I learned.

 

Patience or Procrastination

“The Good Thing About Procrastination is I Always Have Something to do Tomorrow.”

I have spent most of my life making snap decisions, decisions on the fly, as my alcoholism progressed my decisions were made in haste, because of impatience and emotion and because I did not realize that what I was doing was operating with limited information and lots of booze.  I did not see the correlation.  Since I GOT sober, I have become pretty cautious in a lot of ways, like decision making.   I have found that once a few more facts have come to light the decision I may have made immediately would have been different than the one I made when I had the information. Sometimes VASTLY different.

Where is the Line between Patience and Procrastination?

When I was drinking everything seemed to be EVERYONE else’s fault.  Any problem I had with a relationship was not my doing it was always about THEM and what THEY did.  Right after I stopped drinking I put the brakes on. Someone had said in a meeting that they had to look at what “their part” was in any situation.  My sponsor said, “Don’t make any huge decisions for the first year, unless you are in danger or really have thought it through.”  So I took it to heart.  It was easy to understand.  My emotions were on my sleeve, hell I cried at the drop of a hat and my anxiety was off the charts. For a girl who spent most of her life driving in snowstorms – this past winter was a killer.  I didn’t dare drive some days.  I was reminded that I was going through something big in my life and I needed to take care of myself.  I reminded myself that I spent years not trusting myself and I needed to build that back up and not expect it all RIGHT NOW.

The 3rd Step

I SAY that I am turning my will over to God as I understand him and yet I find I have pulled it back. Then I wonder why I am struggling.  I want things to happen but I want them to happen quicker than they are.  I am in unhealthy relationships, not dangerous ones, but ones that do me no service and therefore I am not able to do them any service either.  So I am writing in this blog JUST BECAUSE this is part of my process. I have realized and verbalized this in meetings, spoken to my sponsor and yet I am very uneasy.  I don’t want to drink.  I want to live happy, joyous and free.

Knight in Shining Armour

The last 3 posts were done in order to explain a situation that happened last week.  As I have mentioned, I was working the Steps and completely out of the blue feelings overcame me.  Writing those posts helped and I appreciate your sticking with me.  This blog helps in so many ways.  I am happy that people read it and I truly hope it gives strength and support to others.   For me, there are good days and not so good days.  Last week was a string of several bad days in a row, all brought about by an innocent contact from someone that rescued me from the abyss I had been living in back in 1978.

Spring

The procedure I had in New York kept me out of the water for a couple weeks and there was a significant blood loss that really wiped me out.  But I swam anyway.  Not particularly well, but I did swim.  I went to practice and went through the motions.  After a month or so, I was physically back to fighting speed.  Since I am a documented asthmatic, we told everyone I had been having a rough patch with asthma and again people accepted it and forgot about the strangeness of the situation.  I stuffed it deep inside. Until just recently, I realized how deep it was.  I learned early how to “fake it till I make it.”

My Brother

My brother is 2 1/2 years older than I am.  The “offender” was his age and one of his high school friends that he had left behind when he went into the military. At the time, he was serving at a base about 5 hours from where we lived.  I told him nothing about what had happened and neither did my parents.  It was not uncommon for my brother to show up with friends from far away places at our house or camp for a home cooked meal or at camp for a party.

In the late summer of that year, on one of his trips to visit my parents and I were at camp.  He showed up with a car full of buddies.  It was a great time of cribbage games and laughs.  I was still swimming and under age, there was no alcohol for me but it didn’t matter, we played guitars and had a great time.

After that trip, my brother showed up with one of the friends he brought to camp at one of my swim meets.  It was great to see him and after that visit, we started writing letters.  Then talking.  I had not been involved in anyone since that Spring and this man was kind, quiet and extremely caring.  Many times, I thought he knew what had happened to me.  I continued to burn up the pool, get through high school and think about college.  My new friend was very supportive, showed up at the occasional meet (after driving for hours) and sat next to me on the bleachers, cheered me on. I always felt safe.

An Item

It was known after a while that we had bloomed into a couple.  Kisses and hugs, no sex.  To think back on it now, I don’t know he did it.  The last thing on my mind was sex, but I could crawl up into his arms and he would hold me close.  One day we were riding in his car somewhere and I just blurted out a very small abstract of what had happened to me before I met him.  I don’t remember what it was exactly but I remember  him saying, “I knew someone hurt you, I felt it.  I want you to trust me, I would never hurt you that way. Ever.”

Geyser

I sat in his car sobbing and trying to apologize for being so damaged. I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t unload the whole story. But once I had started, I needed to know what I was saying wasn’t going to cause him to leave me too.  I told him about my father calling me “Whore.”  All he said was, ” Everything is going to be all right.  Just as long as I never, ever meet this guy.”

I started slowly to rebuild my trust and he was the reason.  We dated for 3 years.  There was no sex, he treated me like a china doll.  It was my Higher Power helping me heal, helping me to grow up.  This part of the story is over but there is more that will be told later on that had come to light during my Step work.  The Good News is he isn’t angry at me now and didn’t feel like my apology was necessary.  More on that later.

Cleaning Out the Locker, Part I

As I started the step work with my sponsor, I was very aware of the fact that I started procrastinating when the “Going Got Tough.”  But because of my impatience, there was also the urge to rush through things just to say I had done them so I could move on to the next thing. This happened when I may not have been thorough in my thinking.  I could “say” that I finished even though I honestly didn’t.

Dirty Laundry

I have it.  Perhaps you do too. That is why I need to work the Steps to have a method in dealing with those things that caused me to drink, drug or whatever I used in an unhealthy way to escape.  Escape from myself.  Escape from you.  Now that there is no drinking or drugging, how do I live?

A Milestone

When I was 16, I started working.  As soon as I could legally work, I worked.  I met new friends from many surrounding towns.  Now many of these people I participated with on a regional sports team and competed around the state and New England.  Because of my athletic discipline, I was developing physically and had the curves to prove it.  The sport I did was swimming. Swimming certainly allowed for less clothes than let’s say, basketball, but I failed to see that my swim suit showed a young woman and not the little girl I was still inside.

The Job

Because of swimming, school and my job, everything was changing for me rapidly.  I developed some self esteem because I was a good swimmer, held records, friendly and popular.  I developed discipline to go to practice, go to school, go to work.  My friends and I were too busy to get into much trouble.  You may call us Jocks and perhaps we were but I generally view it as we had different goals than other kids and didn’t have a lot of time to get into much trouble.

Boy Meets Girl

At my job, I met a boy from the next town that was 3 years older than I was.  He was funny, he was in college and I liked him.  He wasn’t particularly handsome but he lit up my world whenever I saw him at work.  That was a new feeling for me. He had a car and a license.   I had the same name of a girl that he used to go out with.  They had broken up, he had told me the reasons but it seemed to me that he was on the “sad” end of the stick.

One day after swim practice he picked me up.  We went for a ride out to an island and watched the sunset and talked.  Knowing my father had a very strict curfew, we both knew the time we had.  On that day, our friendship turned into a relationship.  I went from being “one of the girls” to being “his girl.” He wasn’t overly possessive but we became a couple and I felt safe and loved and respected around the whole situation.  We held hands and kissed occasionally.

As our relationship grew, the summer came to a close and he went back to college.  We were still “an item.”  I was a sophomore in High School and he was in a fraternity at a University 2 hours from where we lived.  We only had house phones then,  lots of long distance calls and letters.  Fall meant an increase in swim practice.  Because of my ability as a swimmer, I swam on the Girls Team, practiced with the Boys Team and also with the regional team.  I swam and swam.

Fall Regionals

I qualified for the Thanksgiving Regional Meet to be held at the same University that my boyfriend attended.  I was the leading backstroker for that Meet.  Meanwhile, I was just excited to see my boyfriend, whom I had not seen since September.  Regional events drag on for days.  Lots of down time waiting for your turn. I snuck off to see my boyfriend, who’s fraternity house was just down over the hill from the pool.  It was a Saturday night and when I went into the house in my High School Swimming Uniform everyone was happy to see me.  The whole time I knew I was “sneaking around,” I knew I couldn’t stay long.  Breaking rules wasn’t my normal way of operating so I was pretty nervous.  They ushered me into the House and found my boyfriend.  He along with many others in the house had been drinking.  I had never seen him this way.  And as a swimmer I was not supposed to be around alcohol, much less out of the pool.  I would be ineligible to compete if anyone had found out.

After a big smelly hug and a “I am so happy to see you!!  How did you get away?”  My boyfriend and I left the main dining room and went to his room for a brief “one on one” visit.  The minute I got into his room he grabbed me by the arm and pushed me against the back of the door hard and pressed himself and his lips against mine. I would rather not go into the details of what happened next.  But let’s just say, I didn’t plan on losing my virginity that way.  It was rough and painful.  Even though I begged that he stopped, he didn’t.

He Passed Out

I put my bathing suit back on hoping that it wasn’t torn, the rest of my school uniform and ran the best I could, back to the pool crying.  My legs were shaking and I was aching inside and out.  I snuck back into the locker room hoping no one would notice that I had been gone.  I had broken a lot of rules that would get me in serious trouble but all I could think about was my broken heart and lost virginity.

More later…