When "Taking Care of Yourself" Seems Like a Foreign Concept
I went to an ACOA meeting for the first time in years. The subject was "self-care" which triggered many thoughts. Listening to everyone share I received a renewed realization that I don’t really pay much mind to "self-care". Several things were mentioned such as massages, manicures, being kind with yourself, drawing and sticking to work boundaries, relaxing, etc.
I realized again my motto of if I can live without it then I don’t need it. Going to massages is foreign to me although I have gone a couple of time. It is very uncomfortable in many ways. I tend to get emotional because certain emotions are triggered by the physical contact. The physical contact in-and-of-itself is very difficult to deal with. I’m on guard about physical contact because I don’t know if my body will react in a sexual way. Also when I’m being touched in a situation like that by a complete stranger it makes me feel not safe.
Manicures…ugh…I’ve done that one time. It was fun, but then again most of the time it doesn’t occur to me. If it does occur to me I discount it with my motto of if I can live without it then I don’t need it. I’m not very kind to myself. I ignore my needs most of the time. Well maybe not most of the time. I think I’ve improved in this area.
Relax?! Who has time to relax. Most of the time when it occurs to take a break I just flat-out do not want to, just refuse and continue to push myself despite my inner promptings directing me to take a break. Workaholism…boy this is a big one. I really can get caught up in this if I’m not careful. I’ve been getting into that a little bit this week. My body is a pretty good monitor of my working too much in that if I work too much my body starts screaming at me. My normal aches and pains especially in my neck and shoulders start becoming more pronounced and more painful.
Not letting go of relationships…In the ACA literature in part of the "problem" was read in the meeting about the inability to let go of relationships due to basic needs in childhood not getting met and settling for any crumb of a need getting met by a dysfunctional relationship over the threat of abandonment and being alone. That was seriously paraphrased. At any rate, that’s what I got out of it. I could relate to that in holding on to the relationship with Michael for a year-and-a-half too long (that was the length of the relationship). I thought it was the only resemblance of my needs getting met that I could possibly get. The fact is that it is very unlikely for me to get these vacuous caverns of my needs met by any one person or relationship. I could also relate to this notion of "letting go" of expectations (especially unrealistic expectations) in any relationship I’m in.
Insecure in relationships (any relationships)…So many of my basic needs weren’t met as a child that this is a big one for me. Part of my motivation in going to ACA is to work on that. I really think one of my current relationships has an incredible amount of potential and I just don’t want my insecurities, fears and anxiety to negatively contribute to it. Someone said that if you dwell on something long enough (ie. insecurities) then you could tend to bring the event you’re insecure about to reality. You can focus so much on that insecurity that it becomes reality. I don’t want that. I want to be healthy in this relationship (and all relationships for that matter). I want it to have a fighting chance. The odds are already stacked high against it because I’m pretty dysfunctional, but I want to do anything and everything in my power to contribute to its success.
The other day I was waiting to spend time with someone. It was painful to wait. I tried several things to distract me from my impatience. I went to a meeting. I read in my meditation books. I wrote in a journal. I even got out the markers and drew. My therapist has been trying to get me to do this "non-dominant hand" writing for a really long time. I’ve done it a couple of times…enough to be scared of it. With me it really taps into another whole realm within my being. I write as a child and some weird and interesting things come up. Well this day I was patiently or not-so-patiently waiting…I decided to draw with my left hand. I actually drew a little red heart with my right hand first, then handed over the marker to my left hand (non-dominant) which also drew a read heart.
After I drew this heart with my left hand, a flood…and I mean a flood of emotions hit me like a tidal wave. All of the sudden I realized why it was so painful to sit there waiting. I vividly remembered the pain involved in waiting for my mom to wake up from her many naps when I was a small child. The excrutiating pain involved in waiting for her to wake up to pay attention to me, to hold me, to play with me, to acknowledge me…any little crumb. I very quietly waited…if I made any noise it would arouse her anger. So I vividly remember waiting patiently as a little child…bored out of my mind…trying to find something quiet to play with. When all I really wanted was to be loved, adored and paid attention to. I wanted my mom to hold me. I wanted my mom to love me. I felt invisible to her. Even when she woke up, she’d push me aside or shoo me away. So much pain I cannot contain it. Of course…what do I do?…I eat over it.
Today it’s important that I don’t wait around for my needs to get met. Waiting builds my anticipation and expectation of those needs getting met. Then when those needs don’t get met, I set myself up for disappointment. I need to diversify the sources for these needs to get met; if they can be met. It tend to look everywhere but the places I know to look. I have this awareness that my Higher Power can be a source for these needs to get met. He just very well may be the only place to get certain of these deep cavernous needs to get met. I also have the awareness of myself being a resource for these needs. Part of the goal in therapy and recovery for me is to become "my own loving parent". This is no small task, especially since I didn’t have great examples of this growing up and this learning process is significantly hindered by the levels of pain I’ve been experiencing.
Pain surrounding my mom hating me which takes it a few notches farther than "mommy doesn’t love me"…She hated me with a searing hatred. Her rage penetrated my being. Memories surface of her pure disdain and intolerance of my presence. She would care for my physical needs, but for her that was just a chore that could be hurried so she could get on with more important things such as her naps. This disdain was evident when she dressed me, brushed my hair, etc. not lovingly by rough and hurriedly. She despised my very existence. I was an interruption in her life. It was all my fault. I carry that notion or belief deep down.
I think one of my reasons for going to ACOA is my apparent addiction to "trauma & drama". Someone told me that Al-Anon would be the program for this addiction. While I don’t connect that much in regular Al-Anon, I tend to connect rather well in Al-Anon ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). The notion is that "trauma & drama" is what we became accustomed to in our childhood so we inherently tend to create it in our adulthood to make it feel "normal". Fucked up, huh? Yep.