My name is Don and I am…well…different things. Paradox is a word. I have a growing awareness that I am more precious than ever thought possible and at the same time more evil than willing to admit on most days.
At about 34 years of age I was starting to have a growing awareness of blind-spots, unmanageable parts of my life and regular frustration. Do you ever feel “stuck?” Questions were surfacing about “how do I build a relationship with my wife? Why do I bottle emotions up and then explode at people, mostly bosses? Why do I feel no emotion toward significant people in my life? Why am I so tired of religion?” Then I heard of a group called ABBA (not the band, but “daddy).
I guess I was ready to start a new life.
Yes, it was the end of life as I had known it, at least in my perception of others, problem solving, myself, my spirituality… a new journey began…so many paradigms were shifting.
I began to face denial. I began to feel the pain of my life. And I began to cry. One time, it seemed like I sobbed for 15 minutes. During that year I started to see my performance based living, anxiety, obsessiveness, compulsiveness, anger, viewing porn and withdrawal as mechanisms to avoid pain or life as it really is. It was significant to me that this was done in community; another person guiding us through questions and each of us listening to each other’s unique-but-same stories of brokenness.
All families have dysfunction. Ours did, anyhow. So much of my pain goes back to the needs to be affirmed, the need to belong or the need for affection. Besides my family issues I also experienced sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a male teen. In the recovery process I chose to feel the pain and push through it, instead of denying or minimizing it.
Another “ah-ha” was the “take-aways” or the lies I came to believe and live by. For example, “My value and identity are based upon behavior or performance.” Believe me, I knew how to perform. But am I ever good enough? Now, combine that with belonging to a prominent family and some behavioral control voices in my growing up years and you have a doozy of a cocktail. Fortunately, along the way I heard other voices of grace. Mercy.
For years I was stuck focusing on the wrongs of others without facing my responses to the pain. This does not negate normal coping mechanisms and responses like crying, swearing, screaming or throwing things. Nor does it reduce the incredible need for protecting the vulnerable and stopping abuse. We need more help in that area! For me, healing did not depend on confronting or changing the offender. Nor did I need “closure” or “justice” to experience freedom and joy. I found a type of closure through facing truth and processing my pain in a raw but honest and loving community. I began to re-discover love, belonging and worth. I was asking questions like, “Who am I” and “Who do I want to become?”
That first group “ABBA” rocked my world and since then I seek out authentic community. Yes, those terms need “unpacking.” But another time for that. My best recommendation is to take part in a focused recovery group. The latest one I participated in and facilitated is called “Freedom Session.” Find it at www.freedomsession.org. Top on my list. I also worked through Celebrate Recovery with a friend who found his transformation from addictions at Teen Challenge. Simply building authentic communities in your circle of friends can be a powerful start. I cannot say the following without inviting criticism but I say it anyway,
“Invite the mysterious Christ. Skip the religion.”
I don’t pretend to know your story but I know pain and have found hope. I wish hope for you too.
You can contact me by using the “Contact Us” link on this site.
Photo Credit: Sasha Wolff, Grand Rapids, Michigan www.socialsasha.com