When I entered into the divorce process many years ago, I had no idea that the divorce would take a few years. And then, of course, there was co-parenting. It was a stressful time. I was in such uncharted territory that confusion and overwhelm became my constant companion. There was so much that was out of my control, but what I could control was ME.
The following is my fifth entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Step 5 is found in Chapter 6 (Into Action) page 72 through page 75 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. In step 4 we discovered the deeper causes in our nature that were creating our problems. Now we need to start the process of healing by telling them to another person. We have to stop hiding from life and others, we have to finally find the courage to remove our mask and be entirely honest with another person. The book gives the reason why this is so important on page 73; “More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. They are very much the actor. To the outer world they present a stage character. This is the one they want others to see.” This mask or “stage character” is the lie that is presented to the world and the alcoholic is terrified that the lie will be discovered. This makes for a life of constant fear and tension which empowers the addictive behavior.
As a young woman I was terrified to stay alone in the house overnight. As the mother of two young children, I would bravely pretend confidence and bravado. One night when alone in the house, I lay awake listening to the sound of rustling leaves under my window imagining the footsteps of the intruder outside.
Fear paralyzed my body and my mind.
This is the season for compassion. How can someone with ADD find compassion for themselves in a season filled with societal traditions that are difficult in the best of times and monumental during the holidays? One may really want to send holiday cards and yet never accomplish the task. Friends who visit may be handed letters left unfinished from the 1990's, or some bizarre craft project instead of the well-respected holiday card or invitation for coffee. Shame and guilt can pursue you like a storm cloud in a cartoon.
I was talking with a friend the other day. She was lamenting about waking in the middle of the night, thinking about things she needed to do. She has mastered her calendar and doesn’t miss appointments or meetings or events – it’s the daily, weekly, etc. tasks– buy bandaids, organize the coat closet for summer, drop the books at the library, write down something, finish a project, etc etc etc - that keep her awake (ugh! For me, a good night sleep is money in my immunity system bank!)
I understood; I told her I’d go nuts without my lists.
She answered that she doesn’t do lists – why not? – because the list never gets completely done and she feels like a failure.