Saturday, October 12, 2013


For a long time now, I've likened my own recovery to a journey. I still believe that it is a journey ... only not in the way one might think.

A journey metaphor implies a beginning, a middle and an end. It's a place of departure and a destination at which one arrives triumphant. But recovery, I'm discovering, is not like that. 

It's a journey all right. But it doesn't go in a straight line. And you NEVER arrive. NEVER. 

The journey I mean is not one toward a goal that can be measured, some sort of award you can place on your wall and point to and say, "There. I did that."  Rather, it's an excursion into the self, drilling and chipping past layer upon layer of sediment: hard-packed rock built up over years and years of pain, trying to find that elusive commodity that got buried all those years ago - the true self that dares not show itself lest it be trampled. Again. 
Photo "Whole And Halved Onion" courtesy of
bplanet at the site

Sometimes, after getting through one layer and seeing some progress, the tendency is to think that I've arrived ... to want to share that knowledge with the rest of the world ... and all that succeeds in doing is that it alienates those who care about me. And it isolates me. 

Getting past those layers (which have to be handled one at a time) is like peeling an onion. Each layer involves ripping ... pain ... and tears. Lots of tears shed.

The missing ingredient to all this - is the other entity that tries to escape detection: the person I had to become very early in my life in order to survive, the person in me that I hate. That is the monster that disguises itself as the victim, the martyr, the watchdog, the warrior, and any number of other things that SEEM to be justified. It's there just beneath the surface, seething in anger, trembling in fear, waiting for an opportunity to rise up and take over my life and regain control over others. It's the old me, the one who wraps herself in graveclothes and then puts on a mantle of respectability. 

Until it's exposed. Until someone pins it down and calls it what it is. 

Someone I care about a lot, someone who was very hurt by that monster as recently as yesterday (and for many years prior), finally decided to stand up to it. And that person exposed it for what it was, in all of the stench of decomposition that clung to it. That old me didn't like being exposed. It fought. It lashed out. It squirmed. But the new me - the one who is just barely beginning to be made known - along with the help of this loved one, realized that this whole thing was another manifestation, another mask, for that monster. And that it was something that needed to be addressed ... and NOW.  

So I had to do a few things that were very uncomfortable. 
  1. I had to admit that I was wrong, that the monster existed and had hurt my loved ones. 
  2. I had to root out the source of the underlying attitudes that were wrong.
  3. I had to reject those attitudes and agree not to adopt them anymore.
  4. I had to admit them to myself, to God and to the person I had wronged, as well as to those who were witnesses to that behavior and who were affected by it.
  5. I had to ask those people to keep me honest with myself.
Before I go any further, let me first say that it is totally impossible for me to do all of that on my own. I need to be empowered to do those things; I usually find such empowerment from my reliance on and relationship with God. 

I am grateful to that loved one for pushing past the fear and confronting the monster in me. At the time, it was (shall we say) NOT pleasant. AT ALL. But it needed to be confronted.

I'm not as cock-sure as I was before; my arrogance about "recovery" was pretty off-putting to a lot of people, I'm sure. I know that this angry, fearful Thing is likely to resurface in another area; that is the major take-away from this experience. There is always going to be more. More layers, more hiding, more excavation to do. It's very humbling ... and that's likely a good sign. 

And as I go through more layers - painful as that process is - there is one more side-effect. A positive one. I get closer and closer to the real me - that one who's trapped beneath the surface. At least now I can hear her voice ... even through the bedrock.

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