Monday, August 24, 2009

First Step Topics / Thoughts about "admitting"

As I read through the first step, several things come to mind. First, there's the issue of admitting to things, and admitting we're powerless to whatever coping mechanism we're using to deal with the chaos over which we are powerless. Second, there's the issue of being powerless right now in this present moment over that coping mechanism as well as over the source of the chaos that resulted in our need to cope. Third, the fill-in-the-blank issues over which we're powerless - both the chaos and the coping mechanisms with which we've responded, come to mind. Fourth, there's the issue of how we define our lives. Fifth is that those lives, at their most fundamental level, have become unmanageable; while the sixth is what that unmanageability looks like. A lot to chew on, to be sure, but ya' gotta start somewhere.

I want to hit first on admissions. The opposite, obviously, is denial, and denial is simply a form of secrecy and lies to ourselves and to others about the clear reality. Let me just say that, for the most part, short of surprise parties and marriage proposals, secrecy sucks. Secrecy and denial are what allowed an uncle of mine to get away with molesting his daughter and me for years; and what kept his son learning the full truth about this situation. When confronted with bits and pieces, he said, "please don't tell me any more. I don't want to hate my father." Secrecy and denial are what permitted my mom to name me after one of her ex-boyfriends while convincing my dad she'd seen the name on a move and liked it. Secrecy and denial are what keeps an aunt of mine from admitting she has 2 beautiful grandchildren just because she doesn't want to admit that her 40-something son is in love with their mother because said mother doesn't meet the aunt's muster. It's sick and infuriating -- but understandable. Everyone sees the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room, but no one wants to do anything about it because it's just too big to handle. But, the rebel in me still wants to climb to the rooftops with all of it when family tells me it's not polite to air the family's dirty laundry since other folks might just think poorly of you if you do. To hell with that.

But, of course, it's much easier to call out other people on what they should reveal and accept. When I went to the hospital this May to get help with an eating disorder (my current crazy coping mechanism), the last thing I wanted to do ... and something I still struggle with ... is that fact that there's anything wrong to begin with. After all, doesn't everyone walk / run at least 8 miles a day? Don't all those thin gals I see running around take at least 10 laxatives a day like I do? Isn't it normal to restrict one's eating to no more than 300 calories a day when one wants to lose a little weight? Rationally, of course, none of these things are acceptable. I get that in my logical mind. In my heart of hearts, though, I still wonder. That's why I consider myself still in recovery -- and right now, not doing very well with it.

The way I see it, secrecy and denial hurt not just the person absorbed in playing the game -- for instance, my getting to a perilous BMI, but still fighting tooth and nail to lose a few more pounds -- but also all of those around the game player. My father, who never cries, was in tears before I went in for treatment because he wants me around awhile longer. My daughter wondered -- and still does at times -- why I'd chosen the slow train to self-destruction, and why even now, months later, I still hop on that train now and again, finding myself unable to completely give up the boarding pass. It's ironic how one can destroy him or herself and be totally oblivious to the collateral damage it does to those around him or her. Just watch an episode of Intervention if you really want a good picture of it ... or maybe you have some first hand knowledge either as the one who's self-destructing or the one who's getting hit with the fall-out. Either way, it's not pretty.

I think that's part of the benefit and beauty in admission. When we come clean about where we are with things, then we can get a reality check from those around us because my guess is that our own picture isn't too rational. I know mine isn't when it comes to weight and exercise -- and, for that matter, many other things. And with admission, there's a certain honoring and respecting of those around us. We care enough to trust them with our challenges, and to let them know we're not necessarily at the top of our game, though the devil sitting on our shoulder would love nothing better than for us to continue to try to bluff our way through. And admission also opens the door to help. You can't do a damn thing for a problem you refuse to admit exists, but when you open up and tell the truth -- to yourself and to those around you -- you start to see the forest and not just your little clump of trees.

I keep these things in mind as I get up and go through my day, trying to eat my full meals, attempting to moderate my exercise, yearning to feel okay with nourishing myself -- because it's only when I do that that I'll be able to deal with what's really underneath it all ... the need to deal with the chaos around me. But that's fodder for later postings.

More to come.

1 comment:

  1. And then there is the passage from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man where they shriek at Stephen "Admit!Admit!Admit!" or something like that. It was a crucial point in his break from the Jesuits as I recall from Lit class. Sorry, it is all a muddy mix for me.

    What the character John in Vonnegut's Cats Cradle calls the consolation of literature. I gave that book to my father once but I don't think he read it. My half brother is a doctor now like Dad. There is a scene in the book with a raging plague and the old doc looks at his young doc son and says "One day all this will be yours." Yeah, I know. I'm a sick puppy. But smiling and happy to be here. And they are both Carl Hiassen fans (he has a book Sick Puppy).