I was not fully aware at how difficult some of my own family would make the process of forgiving them. Lets call this person family member Z. Oh by the way, Family member Z is a self-proclaimed alcoholic. I did in fact do the work with family member Z (9th step). I was over the past, or so I thought. Family member Z did say the words “I forgive you”.
We had one of those AA moments you only get doing 12 steps. However Z would bring up all kinds of past events at the past at random times. I always felt so sad around this person. I would eventually make some judgement about them and try not to show it. Overall, what I am saying is that the relationship was unhealthy.
Boundaries were needed for this person in my life. Good thing I was court ordered to therapy 3 times a week for 3 years. I knew what boundaries were and how to communicate them, that was for sure. I clearly told family member Z. However, they did not understand what I was doing.
They would tell me exactly how I felt. I was being a bad person by putting up a wall of communication. Eventually I just stopped talking to Z (I had to stay sober). At times I was sad about it, so eventually (6 months) I did talk to them again. But, it took everything I learned, Ill tell you why.
I did some CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). Really this is just mindfulness over every single thing that has ever happened to you in your entire life! It all gets worked out in counseling something like this. The counselor asks you over and over, “So what happened to you?” Eventually you talk about your parents.
Here is the thing, my past is really not that interesting. I grew up in Detroit. Mom and Dad both drank alcoholically. I fell in with the wrong group and learned some bad habits. Now I am 34 years old so big deal. I try to own my own shit.
Understanding yourself is not at all judging. CBT is like a microscope on how you really feel. In life we have problems, Shock! Some of my examples are women or gambling issues. Oh, sometimes I am a dramatic dude! If you relate then ask yourself, why am I drinking or using drugs? If you’re drinking or using drugs to excess because that’s just what your parents did. Okay get real, why do that?
I am asking, what is the real reason? You may say something like, “umm, dad worked hard and he felt like he deserved beer”. “Mom was stressed from life so she needed pills to escape.” Those things may be true. But why do you personally drink or use?
Whatever those reasons are for you, there are feelings behind that event or person. I arrived at some kind of realization. If you know therapy, then you have heard this first part before. I learned and accepted, “my parents did the best with what they had.” Okay great, acceptance.
Later on I added to that, “I do not have to be anything like my parents, as an adult I get to choose.” No big deal, I am a adult, wow! Look again, what are the values behind this thought? Freedom or courage, or both? Once I started doing this second part, I more clearly understood the reward center of my brain.
The bottom line for me was; I never had to do one thing with the expectation of another again unless I choose too. So I do not owe my family anything. And that is not being selfish if your family is full of unhealthy alcoholics. Rocky said “People do cause they want to!” I eventually want to count myself as a person who gives back to others what was freely given to me.
I do not know how to be unselfish if I am trying to live up to my parents expectation of me. I have to live up to my expectation of me. So who the hell am I? I wrote down some values that I want in my life and I try to think about them in prayer or meditation. Some of mine are self-compassion, discipline and faith.
Do you know how to get any sanctification out of life at all? This alcoholic does. I need to have, Discipline and dedication. Whenever my mind wants to take the path of least resistance that I learned as a youth. I start to ask myself, “What must happen?” Then I get a laundry list of goals that leads to my vision for my life. Values, goals and vision!
I did all this stuff in my life to find freedom. I never knew what freedom was until I got sober. I always had someone telling me what to do in life until I was middle aged. Have you changed any values in your life? If so comment below some values that have helped in your sobriety.
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