Power Over

Is there anyone who hasn’t been oppressed, or been an oppressor? In small or large ways domination shapes the mammal world.

Who’s the boss? Our parents often oppress us rather than guide us well – with a mix of aggression or passive neglect. Lucky are those who have balanced parents – they’re in the minority.

Teachers, police, employers: all oppressors, unless we’re self-taught, self-regulated, and self-employed.

I oppress myself, hard-wired as I am from even the prenatal stress of my father’s battering my mother and my older siblings, continuing until we escaped at the end of a loaded gun.

Well did I learn that my being was subordinate to others. I was made ripe for predation.

I am resilient. I did survive, but I didn’t thrive.

Drinking and drugs were a fantastic escape, until they weren’t – and I’m lucky – I didn’t drop down into hell, but swirled in purgatory – unable to stop destructive behavior, cowardly in both suicide attempts and pursuing life.

My half-hearted suicide attempt during my last drunk set in motion a stay in the hospital’s mental health unit, which, while little more than a warehouse for the acutely mentally ill, I found a thin title I walked by several times, eschewing the idea it presented, until I finally picked it up. The title: Living Sober.

No white light, or heavenly choir filled the room as I read, but I was struck sober, finally willing to entertain its contents. Nearly every word I read I could identify with. I had wanted to stop drinking for several years, teetering on the line between stopping of free-will, or tumbling into unrelenting addiction.

It’s been four months since I last drank, and the first month was free. I’ve earned the last three. It’s not a craving, like I might crave chocolate, it’s more the idea that I can’t anymore. It’s an inner tantrum, and it’s exhausting.

I’ve gone to AA meetings, and while I appreciate, and can relate to stories, the cult aspect chills me. Having lived in a cult, I hear the ‘us vs them’ mantra & many variations of ‘we’ll die/fall apart/suffer’ unless we attend meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, do service & never leave. I was in 12-step recovery for ten years, and nothing subdued my mental illness.

I understand Alcoholics Anonymous works for many, but not for me. SMART recovery is few & far where I am, as well as SOS, Rational Recovery, or any other secular, non-cultish program.

Two meetings I regularly attend don’t push god like they used to push drugs. The spiritual aspect came to me in that dingy room, turning each page of Living Sober, more and more certain I was done drinking. I was free, but remaining free while mentally ill is challenging.

The only power I have over this is the power to not pick up the first drink, and to not romanticize drinking, but remember my last drunk, or any time I said ‘I’m done’, but wasn’t.

Two ideas from AA remain: I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and in order to remain sober, I need to work with another person seeking sobriety. I have already met and surmounted – so far – besting my defenselessness, and my goal is to find something that works for me that doesn’t require relinquishing my hard-fought autonomy.

I’d love to hear others’ experience of being sober without AA, and thriving rather than merely existing.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

 

 

Parental Freak-out

My child is grown and gone.  He’s 25, and living large in the city, and yet, I have trouble not interfering.  I want to say, ‘please listen to my advice because I never listened to those wiser than me, and I totally screwed up my life as a result.’  But, I know it wouldn’t do any good.  That was me, not him.

I try to remember that I survived domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.  He had a pretty solid upbringing, regardless of my Momzilla-ness.  I was present and available.  I provided structure, love, and guidance.

Did he have cotton in his ears the whole time?  I warned him about my DNA, about his father’s DNA – that the likelihood of him becoming alcoholic is stronger than it was for me, and for his father – but I think he took that as a challenge.  He can defy history.  He can out-drink his DNA.

It’s painful, and I know he’s young, and he’ll probably survive – but he also might not.

And there’s nothing I can do.

I don’t want to badger, advise, attempt management, or control.  It’s not my job anymore. Maybe I fucked up so bad that drinking is his way of getting through life, but that doesn’t make sense.  I know I did a mostly good job, and he appreciates my influence in his life.

Letting go and letting him figure it out is what I need to do, I know, but it’s proving very difficult.

I continue to love him as fiercely as ever.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current