I want to feel connected, but I get easily exhausted and need to be by myself; I need a lot of time to myself, but then I feel disconnected and isolated.
I escape into practical and/or assigned tasks, and become impulsively and compulsively engaged in them to the point of neglecting relationships, balance, self-care and other commitments.
This is a revelation to me. I don’t know why I had never had this thought before. Pare workaholism and perfectionism, and you have a perfect recipe for snapping in two. For the first time in my life I am naming this illness in me; and I do feel it as an illness. The 12-step community would compare work to me to a bottle of booze to an alcoholic. I feel that. I am drinking; I am drunk. I am ill with a sickness that has been unnamed in me.
I found the pages of the Workaholics Anonymous website illuminating.
There are so many wonderful people and events to get to know, ways to become involved. I cannot do them all at once. That there are possible connections with so many people that may simply be missed because i cannot handle the stimulation, is a revelation to me. I feel anxiety in choosing which ones I can do, and with all the people I said I would call, and genuinely want to call, but simply can’t. On one level, I miss the spaciousness of knowing fewer people here, and having fewer involvements, which brings me right back to the duality of connection vs. time to myself. Really, it ties everything together. When I become involved, I become the workaholic and I become overstimulated and exhausted. The focus on me and my healing, confronting the unknown in the absence of escape, truly feeling alive and present, is lost in exchange for a sense of connection. I am confronted with the need to choose between the two.
Mending, clarrifying the story
In a meeting with my sponsor in CoDA and attempting Step Four, I was confronted with a seemingly simple question: As a child, were there people in my life I could talk to and go to for support? I quickly spiraled down into a pit of confusion. I became tearful and inconsolable in this confusion. It would be so much easier if I had experienced blatant abuse or neglect in my childhood. Not having these, but experiencing all the symptoms as if I had, creates a chronic and destructive split in me — the seemingly eternal and fundamentally incapacitating question of whether I am over-dramatizing or minimizing my experience. What is the truth of my childhood, and my experience of life? What am I a survivor of? What am I healing from? What justifies my need for recovery, compassion and support? Am I being a whiny baby? Do I need to give myself a good kick in the ass, or do I need to find more compassion to soften my expectations, sing my praises, and feel more proud and triumphant for being a survivor? How do I feel? What is the truth? This is the hurricane within, the earthquake splitting the psychic ground on which I stand, creating the voids — the blank places of numbness in me, like icons on the screen that are there, but un-clickable, greyed out. There is a lifetime of pain that was brought out by this simple question. And this is the beauty and healing of CoDA experienced again–that these things in me can be expressed, made tangible, and witnessed by a fellow compassionate human being who accompanies me in the most important work of witnessing them myself. No longer will they lie dormant like termites, eroding my structure. I am acknowledging the confusion in me, and the pain that it creates.
My mom and I go numb together; we stop communicating on the level it takes to know each other, and feel connected with each other. This is her seemingly-permanent state of being, and what is being countered in me by my recovery community and healing experiences. Thaw the feelings, speak them, live them, feel alive. It does not seem part of her way of being to live on the level of consciousness that I need in order to be okay, in order to not feel alien, alone and delinquent. There is this clash with us. It can be hard for me to be fully present in her interests, which seem like trivial distractions to me, and which are part of a reality and way of living that has been invalidating to me. We are, in this way, mismatched spirits, which is a term I am using from the book Psychotherapy of the Quiet Borderline by Vance R. Sherwood and Charles P. Cohen, both Ph.D.’s (see my post on precocious ego development for excepts of this book). Her self-described “numbed-out” state is dysfunctional to me, though completely normalized in her. I cannot normalize it, so how do I be with her? Where and how do I separate myself from her reality? The reason I become so annoyed and disturbed by the fact that her numbness keeps her in so many cycles of struggle is that I have not found a way to separate myself from that reality. I have taken it on as my own in order to connect and feel close to her, but this has cost me greatly, and i cannot continue to do so. I guess the theory that seems to be presenting to me is that for a deeply sensitive person such as myself, what is normalized in much of traditional / mainstream society, becomes a traumatic abuse to me, and that is my abuse.
Dear Universe: How do I contain these forces in my psyche? How do I contain the creativity that flows through me like a thousand volts of energy through this 2 volt circuit? How do I enlarge my circuit and avoid electrocution?
- Notes on trauma, PTSD and finally healing (beyondmeds.com)
- How are volts ohms and watts affected by each other (wiki.answers.com)
- [Re-Volt] Flip Buffer Error (thekdl.wordpress.com)