Last week one young life ended, and another began. I can be grateful for both.
Here’s something on loneliness in Recovery. Also see here for Diane Haugh Moretti’s take on loneliness. Diane always has something good to read.
I challenged Diane Hugh Moretti to write on how Recovery Can Cause Loneliness… then took forever to respond to my own challenge.
It took a lot of working through, because not only do I go through all the challenges that any of us face when recovering from codependence, but add my own, older issues to the pile.
As we work through the steps, we learn a language of recovery and a philosophy of living that is not common. We learn to be more honest, and to expect honesty in return. We learn to socialize with others undergoing the same process, but we do not learn how to then easily deal with the others, all the others who were there before and afterwards remain. These are the people with whom we live, some acquaintances and others, friends. And as we change ourselves and look at the world with new eyes, we unknowingly ask the others to respond in ways that they cannot yet do.
And therein lies the root of the loneliness that recovery can create, in expectation. We, having learned a new way, expect others to respond.
They don’t. Often, they cannot. We are speaking a foreign language and they cannot understand.
In my case, I had years and years of the brutal abuse that can arise in a family dealing with drug addiction; abuse I dished out and received in equal measure. Abuse. It’s nothing less than abuse, no matter that we are broken and just trying to survive as we lash out with words and fists and manipulation.
And before that, I had the decades of trusting no one that arose from my learning at an early age that I could only trust myself.
What happens when you are abused as a child? What happens when you learn to silence yourself and step mute through the long years and years of your life, only to learn to speak again?
You cry out. You cry out in whatever manner and form that you can, in an unending primal scream of fear and outrage. You give voice to that unheard child. And when your new found language lets you speak, you do, but not always in ways that even your newfound fellows can understand. And sometimes what that child has to say cannot be said within your new language. Cannot be easily understood because it uses no words.
Do you expect a 6 year old to calmly and logically express their grief over losing the innocent trust of father figure? No, you expect that child to sob and scream in grief and fear and clutch at your for comfort and strike at you in fear when your unready hand reaches out to their demand.
So, now I know loneliness as another side of recovery. The loneliness of not being able to be heard and understood by the others, all the others who were there before and afterwards remain, and of those who do speak my new language. For they do not easily hear and understand the 6 year old child who speaks in tears and isolation and fear.
So, having learned that it is possible to have trust and love again, the child expects it from his new family and expecting becomes frustrated, and isolated, and knows loneliness as few others do.
Is it possible that recovery brings loneliness? Yes, of course. We have changed and travel new ground. That is a lonely path. Expect it, but don’t expect every traveler to be the same. Some limp on older, broken bones and weak limbs, and avoid your gaze, and walk on alone when not exchanging the currency of our new language.
What does serenity look like?
I am three years into recovery and I still have trouble identifying serenity. At first I would have said that serenity was the lack of conflict in the house. Later, I would have focused on my response to others as an indication of serenity. Now, I find myself focusing more on the intent that I bring to the table and every action that I take in the day, as an indicator of how closely I approach serenity.
Note the progression, if you will. I moved from focusing on others to focusing on how I felt, moving past how I responded and on to the intent with which I responded.
Serenity is not a quiet house. Serenity is not my calm response to anger and disdain. Serenity is now the moves that I make, the willful intent with which I pursue my life, with no expectation of return on my mental, physical and emotional investment.
What does serenity look like?
I cannot say what serenity looks like for you; I do not walk your path. You cannot say what serenity looks like for me.
We can agree on common indicators of serenity. We can agree that a loving, detached response to others may indicate the presence of serenity. We can agree that a willing approach to divinity, in whatever form that takes, is the likely indicator of an approach the serene, but we cannot define it for the other. Just for ourselves, knowing serenity when we find it is hard enough.
Serenity is for me a constantly changing path in which I make my day-to-day Journey, hoping to learn all the while, and expecting in return nothing more than having done no wrong to others at the end of the day.
That’s good enough for me.
See here for Diane Haugh Moretti’s take on Serenity.
Language is the Third Great Magic of mankind. The First being Creation, and the Second, Compassion.
What is Creation without Compassion? It is sterile destruction; it is the mined out wastes left behind by unchecked greed, it is the orphan left for others to raise.
I wrote this several years go, but apparently I have yet to learn to live what I meant to say. The other night, after several hours of drama by my younger son and in the face of his continued self-destructive behavior, I lost my composure and screamed at him. THAT’S JUST STUPID!
Where was my compassion? With those words I created a scene in which all my son heard was “STUPID”. In my anger I cut away at his already tiny sense of self-worth. It didn’t help to say that it was the behavior that was stupid, and not him. All he heard was contempt.
This is what Creation without Compassion looks like.
What is Compassion without Language? It is unfulfilled desire; it is the empty void between the walker and the beggar on the street, neither recognizing his brother.
Had I been smarter the other night, I would have told my son what he needed to hear, not what I needed to say. I could have told him simply that I loved him, no matter what. When he screamed his hate at me, I could have told him, “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU. THAT WILL NEVER CHANGE”. I didn’t do that. Instead I stood there and yelled at him. Even while I cried inside at his misery, I did not say what he needed to hear.
This is what Compassion without Language looks like.
What is Language without Creation? It is the dreary recitation of facts; it is the lack of spark to ignite learning, the empty mind of the slave.
Finally, last night, as we stood there and stared at each other and I had my final opportunity to make things better, I let my despair and weariness overrule my good sense. Instead of trying again, anything again, I just stood aside and said “WHATEVER. JUST WHATEVER.”. I left my son with the feeling that he was not worth further consideration, that he was not worth his creation. And he replied with his own empty language, “I SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN.”
This is what Language without the spark of creation looks like.
Any two of the three Great Magics of Creation, Compassion and Language take flight when they are paired. Yet it is the third, the gift of Language that can inspire or destroy the soul.
I must remember to use my words with care.
When challenged to write by Diane Haugh Moretti, and having chosen the topic, my heart fell. This is all I could think of at first, that I wrote some years ago after my mother died…
Many years later, after putting all the pieces together, I realized that the father I loved had not been trustworthy. I realized that my mother’s love for him, and her unwillingness to accept reality, had put all of us children at risk.
I had biological brothers once. By the time I was five, I had none. They all died in the womb, or shortly after birth. I always wondered why. When I was taking care of my mother just before she died, I learned that my father had kicked her in the stomach in the days just before giving birth. I learned that at least 3 boys were stillborn. I learned that Mom fought for me, the last one she could have. And I learned that Mom still loved my father, and for most of her life refused to accept that he wasn’t trustworthy. She lived at the brink of insanity all her life, in a fantasy world she created so that she didn’t have to accept reality. I learned, too, that the man I loved so much, my Father, eventually learned to love us, and became the man I remember.
I have no way to verify what I was told as she faded away. Perhaps it was just one more fantasy she lived in, to soften her reality. Perhaps it was just illusion.
Three benefits of a daily personal inventory:
- I bring my fears to my attention
- I learn where I have been wrong
- And I can leave all that behind for today
Three times to make amends:
- When you can
- When they can
- When it feels right
And a fourth, when doing so makes it right, not just different. There is a difference between amendment and emendment. The secret ingredient is honesty.
Three parts to Never Give Up:
- Yes, Maybe, Never
- Yes and Maybe, but No, Not Ever
- Yes, When I Can
Three advantages of separating humility and humiliation:
- I can serve others, without allowing abuse by others
- I can learn from those who would abuse me, not just react to them
- I can improve myself thereby, whereas in the past I only suffered
Three pleasures that separate me from my better nature:
- Pleasure at another’s fear
- Pleasure at another’s anger
- Pleasure at another’s pain