The other night I lead the discussion in Al-anon. The way it works when you moderate (atleast in my groups-I go to a couple of different meetings) is you pick a topic and find a reading that pertains to it. Then you open the floor to discussion. I picked loneliness because I've been struggling with that, and read a page from Courage to Change. What I thought was funny is that when I looked in the index to see if there were any daily thoughts concerning loneliness there was only one. While insecurity, faith, control issues, honesty and trust had several pages to refer to, loneliness stood alone. Hee hee.
It struck a chord with those people. They told me it was a great topic and one lady who's been in the program for 15 years said that she's never heard it as a discussion topic before. My sponsor said, "This was a really good discussion, Genevieve, thank you for bringing up something that I really didn't want to talk about." That was actually a compliment. In the program they talk a lot about loving detatchment, meaning you can love your addict without enabling them and without allowing them to take over or make your life a nightmare. This, as you can imagine, is a tricky business. It takes a sense of balance that we as insitnctive caretakers don't have unless we go out of our way to learn it. Plus, it can make you lonely. Crazy as I know this sounds, I miss the chaos. I'm used to living in it. It's not completely gone, I mean, Chris is nuts in a way that I think only engineers can be nuts, but the craziness has lessened a tremendous amount since the beginning of the year.
At this time last year I couldn't get the thought of mutilating myself out of my head. Things had gotten that bad. Whenever I feel guilty and worthless my brain takes a turn for the bloody and it's always against myself. I didn't really want to kill myself and I didn't give into the thought of cutting myself, but I became obsessed by the thought of it. At around this time last year I was laying down in my therapist's office because I couldn't sit up or move much. It was like wet cement was slowly hardening in my veins and it became harder and harder to move, as if lifting my head would break rock in my body.
She said, "Do you have any plans to kill yourself?"
"No," I said. "I don't want to die. I just don't know how to make it through the day."
"Do you want to hurt yourself?"
"Why do you want to do that?"
I told her that I thought I was a terrible person and a worse mother. I understand the reasons why I thought that, but looking back I wish I could go into that office and give myself a hug. I was always hard on myself, but this was ridiculously extreme. The night before that counseling session Chris had taken me to the emergency room. He'd called my therapist because I told him about all my selfdestructive thoughts and he was scared. She told him to take me to the emergency room because they both thought I was really suicidal. I remember being in the examination room at East Jefferson hospital before the doctor came in. I was lying on the bed when I turned my face to the wall and saw that someone had scrawled in pencil (and I swear to God that I am not making this up), "Kill me 100x." It's when I read that that I realized I didn't want to die. But, as I told my counselor the next day, I didn't know how to live. There was so much selfhatred in that sentence "kill me 100 times." I didn't want to hate myself any more. But to move from that would be to reinvent myself. I'd been so guilty, so weak, such a pushover, and so fucking enabling of every addict in my life, that I knew I was going to have to reinvent myself. I needed to clean the slate in my head, unlearn all of my destructive behavior and learn how, in fact, to make it through the day. Oh and the reason I didn't end up in the psyche ward is because it was too crowded, bu the doctor and the nurse were really sweet people. I don't remember a thing they said, but that they were coming from a sympathetic place.
I'm writing all of this because looking back at the mess I was then, I'm proud of myself for how far I've come. I am learning how to lovingly detatch, even though I'm lonely now and then because of it. I look in the mirror now. I couldn't do that a year ago, not without frowning. Once I even spit at myself. I don't want to hurt myself anymore. There have been times lately, when I feel guilty about something, that I'll have have a flash thought about punching myself in the arm or the head. But it fades because I've learned so many other ways to deal with my guilt.
I'm hoping that all of this helps someone else. Even someone who was disturbed enough to punch herself in the head can turn around. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm not my worst bully anymore. (insert the happy emoticon of your choice)