Unfinished Mosaic

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On Thursdays, I go to the club right after work to "steal coffee." I don't stay for a meeting, I just go there and visit with people for awhile and then take off when the meeting starts. Everyone knows it and they all laughingly ask me if this is "drive by" night. I used to go to meetings every night after work when I was too afraid not to. Now I go about three or four times a week, and Thursdays are indeed a drive by. It fulfills a need that I have not yet identified. And I'm not so certain it begs to be pinned down.

There is one particular man that I adore, whose been sober about as long as me. In other words, we're both still pretty new. He looks just like my little brother. And the "new" person he is, reminds me of my brother as well. Plus, he and his wife are having a baby shortly after my brother's baby is to arrive. Suffice it to say, I treat him like a...wait for it... - brother. And it's fun to interact with him knowing that my little brother is too far away for my liking. I love my little brother. He was the first one of us to break away from our enmeshed family and announce to my parents that he was done. It was a knock down drag out between he and my father in the living room one night when he was home from college. And that was that. He freed himself from their expectations. My sister was next. She just up and moved halfway across the country in order to escape. Me? As with most things in my life, I just kept going back for more, hoping it would get better and berating myself when it didn't. Frozen with the inability to cause any sort of conflict and lacking the skills to live through it and come out on the other side with any sort of stability. Whenever I was in trouble - i.e. going insane, and my mom and dad started in on me, my little brother would stand as a buffer between us. Knowing that I didn't have the capability of standing up for myself. He has always wanted me to learn how to do it, and I finally am in recovery. Little bits at a time. But he was always my champion when I needed him to be.

Sioux Falls Brother reminded me of that last night. How much I did/still do shy away from any sort of conflict and how much it upsets me. He runs a very prestigious company and manages alot of people. And he's total Type A - willing to do what it takes to get what he wants when he wants it and doesn't really give a whole lot of thought to how people perceive him. He'll slash and burn and claw his way to the top if it will suit his pruposes. In his recovery, he's learned that there are times and places to use those skills and that his personal relationships probably aren't the best ones to practice that on. We're all works in progress. He was talking last night about how he does not deserve how much his wife loves him for all he put her through and continues to put her through. I simply stated that I didn't think I could live with him - that I'd spend most of my time cringing in the corner, waiting for him to lose his temper. And he said, "Oh Kate. I would OWN you. I would SO own you. You'd be a trembling wreck of a mess if you ever tried to deal with me." And I said, "I know. People like you scare me." And he responded, "Well. I know if my wife gets teary-eyed, that I probably need to back off." And I'm all like, "What? You make her CRY?" There's been plenty of people in my life that have made me cry, but the strident, loud and subtly manipulative ones? I'm always halfway on edge, waiting to get in trouble for having done or said something that appeared to displease them and I spend my time thinking more about what I've done wrong, rather than enjoying what I've done right.

I know exactly where that kind of emotional and intellectual response stems  from. It's all fairly learned behavior. But I'm not quite sure how to dismantle it. Every once in awhile, I stand up for myself and even though it feels really liberating, I spend hours and hours running the tape back through my head, wondering if I should have just not said anything or if I should have just kept playing along. But playing along makes me just as miserable. So, I take those hours that I spend beating myself up and balance them against how I feel when I allow someone to continue to control me with their words and actions, and the standing up for myself wins almost every time. But it's still horribly uncomfortable and the self doubt gets crippling. And in my world, it means more throwing up, but that's just the way it is. I keep hoping that with practice, it will get easier.

The most interesting thing about this whole journey into recovery is that even though I'm learning more than ever and trying out new thoughts and behaviors? I feel even MORE fragile than I did before. I don't quite understand that. Maybe it's the newness of acting in a different way that makes my on-edge-ness go on code red terrorist alert. Maybe it's because I still don't trust that I'm doing what's right by voicing how I feel, even (and ESPECIALLY) if I'm uncertain of the response. Maybe it's because I do indeed, still allow people into my life that would rather walk away from my feelings or displeasure in how I am being treated than work to make a change. It's like I reach back and invite people in who remind me of old behaviors and I try to use new behaviors to manage those relationships. Maybe THAT'S it. Anyway, my body may not be as fragile as it once was, my intellect is as strong as ever. But my emotional state? Still piecing it back together. And sometimes I try to fit one shard of it into the space left by another shard and that means wrenching pain. But I'm really hoping that someday the pieces will fit together in a shattered, but repaired mosaic. It may not ever be rock solid, but someday, I would like it to be in one piece.


Anonymous said...

It's all about self confidence, and the inner voice that says "My thoughts and feelings are just as valid and important as anybody else's."

This rebuilding process you're in makes that inner voice stronger. You're not comfortable with the "new" Kate yet, but you will be. And when you are, that inner voice will be shouting loud and clear, and you'll be able to listen to her above all else.

Kate, I've never met you, but I can hear your inner voice all the way from here.

veganmama said...

It's a process, and even though you feel shaky now, it's true what they say in the promises. I assure you that they are all 100% true, even though I haven't been sober that long myself (coming up on 2 years).

LiLu said...

"We're all works in progress."

So, so true. I needed to hear that right now.

JoLee said...

It's amazing how influential our baby brothers can be to us, don't you think?

stoogepie said...

It's true that we are all works in progress. But for some of us, progress moves along at a snail's pace. For others, progress is in the wrong direction. Maybe you do focus a little too intently on what you've done wrong rather than enjoying what you're doing right -- though that focus is probably a natural part of learning more than ever before and trying out new thoughts and behaviors -- but you also know that you fall into neither of those two categories: the pace of your progress is so tirelessly swift that it often makes your head spin, and you know it's in the right direction. That's something to celebrate.

Jules said...

"Unfinished mosaics"

I like that! We really all mosaics of our experiences, our past mistakes and triumphs, and what we've learned along the way. In the end we are works of art.

Sparkling Red said...

Whenever I feel like I've gone back in time 10 or 20 or 30 years, and like I'm right back at square one, I remember the saying "You can never step in the same river twice." Yes, I have changed and grown. Every time I go back is just another invitation to move forward more completely.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

One of my favorite artists? Gaudi, who became famous by his mosaic-inspired architecture in Barcelona. I say, some of the most incredible people are mosaics - pieces of their past, present and future thrown together in a scattered, yet beautiful canvas. Keep taking the little steps, Kate, and you will get there.

melissalion said...

How are the pukes? I doing a lot better. Thank god. No more running to the bathroom!