Its tricky learning how to endure the overwhelming scariness of being vulnerable if you come from an abusive background. There is a tendency to either over indulge or repress, as well which doesn't help. All these thing require a very skillful, mindful, balancing act interiorly. Its quite subtle. Plus nigh on impossible if you cannot tolerate overwhelming emotional states without needing to drink to deal with it. so I suppose the heavier stuff, works best after step 9. Well that's what I've found anyway.
If you come from a physically abusive, sexually abusive, indifferent or cruel emotionally abused background, my guess would be that the TOUGHEST thing you will EVER learn in sobriety will be letting your guard down and allowing yourself to be utterly vulnerable. Trust basically.
No front. No defence. No second guessing.
Not everyone is the same, but I think that will be your greatest and toughest lesson. My experience is that the miraculous power in trying to live along spiritual lines by doing the steps can create enough healing to make that possible.
By the way, some people have a ‘front’ but do not make it obvious in their outward manner. These are the types with GOOD social skills, who nonetheless, never REALLY drop their reserve. These are just the ‘controlled’ types. Again this need to ‘be a certain way’ is a little inflexible and fear based and can be reduced with a good step 11 practice after step 9.
For these people the lesson is ‘not being in control’. Not having all the answers. But don’t worry. Basically if you bash away at the programme long enough, you Do get to be more like the ‘wearing life like a loose garment’ type. You DO get there in the end!
For those in search of a surrogate parent, or ‘someone to take care of them’ I recommend step 11. It ! Should leave you feeling connected to an ever present feeling of love, no matter what is happening. I refer to this in a previous post called a ‘‘dual mind space’.
Basically ‘god’ is the new ‘mother’, or parent you never had. The new benchmark for trust, security and wellbeing. Perhaps the first TRUE constant you have ever experienced. Its very cool. And step 11 brings you right into the bosom of your higher power. Steps one to nine, ‘set the stage’ for the step 11 magic to happen.
Personally I prefer ‘spiritual’ ? Esoteric ? Remedies for these things rather that (what I see as) the very limited scope of man made intellectual awareness that is available in 20th century mental health. Too limited! I want something MUCH more advanced than that. Ancient wisdom from the great masters. So that’s why I do not promote therapy with my Sponsees regardless of their histories. I understand that is not a currently popular view, but when I say this stuff, I say it to explain what I do. Not to try to control others or ‘make’ you do what I do. I have MUCH better things to do with my very limited reserves of energy than try to herd cats! No Siree! MY life is centre stage. I have NO power over others so that is not my concern. So what I mean is ‘do as you please’. I do not ‘need’ people to agree with me in order to feel ? Validated.
By the way, if these things didn’t work I would never subscribe to them. My experience and observations is that these things DO work. (Just in case you think I am a deranged idiot!)
Anyway! Regarding the abuse personality type, it’s worth noting that alongside this ‘invincibility’ (which is just another way of saying they NEVER let their guard down, or ‘show their face’ that this heavily defended approach is often coupled with a ‘god shaped hole’ of YEARNING to be take care of. This is because people with these backgrounds seem to spend the rest of their lives looking for surrogate parents. In the form of a partner often. Women with this tendency can often have a terrible emotional desperateness about ‘wanting ? Something’ from a relationship that it can never really provide.
They are looking in all the wrong places so to speak. Looking to fill the god shaped hole in relationships. Looking to satisfy the "Hungry Ghost". Relationships were never designed to meet the needs of a desire for a surrogate parent.
In addition. These types can be the ‘We don’t make friends we take hostages’ type. Meaning there is a clinging also. A sort of ‘hanging on to the apron strings’.
I find that people with these types of background have the most difficulty with abandonment issues and ‘letting go’ when I complete the first nine steps with them. They kind of want ‘more’.
‘More’ is just another word for the "Hungry Ghost"., and I direct people to a GOOD step 11 practice who are suffering from this condition. Step 11 is a VERY effective tool for addressing this spiritual condition. The hunger is finally satisfied! Wow. That’s how powerful a GOOD step 11 practice is. It reaches places in the soul that neither you or I will ever know exists. Its very powerful. Make sure you have a good teacher!
By the way, vulnerability does NOT mean being a 24 hr pool of weeping ? ..whatever. It means not being afraid of being exposed, of being (temporarily) a blobby mess. Not being afraid of being 'seen'. It is not a blank check for catharsis, or anything else. It means TRUE honesty. TRUE intimacy. No holding back. No trying to be 'clever'. Its an unflattering exposure of self. There is no ego. But more importantly, its a decision to NOT BE SUSPICIOUS or defended.
It can mean many things. Bu that's more what I mean in this case. So basically, I am not advocating limitless weeping as a hallmark of vulnerability. It is MUCH more than that.
- An Irish Friend of Bill
- I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Abusive Background?: Your TOUGHEST lesson in sobriety is VULNERABILITY
Posted by An Irish Friend of Bill
Labels: Abuse, After Step 9, Authenticity, Buddhism, Honesty, Step 11, Therapy
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I have read and reread your post several times. I know that I've not gotten the parenting that I needed. My childhood had emotional abuse and a lot of denial. I have never wanted to totally give up control before but since being in Al-Anon I see that I don't have the answers. I am really very vulnerable and trusting and willing to lay myself out there. It is a balancing act for me though. I need to take some care of myself to make sure that I don't go too far into losing my ego.
Another great lesson. Thank you my Irish Friend of Bill.
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