I remember the first time I was sent to live with someone else. I was about six years old and I remember my mom telling us we’d be staying there for “just a little while”. I remember crying my heart out, “No mommy, no! I don’t wanna go!” She wasn’t listening as I cried, and she turned to walk away from me. I remember someone prying my little arms from around her neck, and I sobbed as I watched her go.
My heart was broken and I was sacred as I cried myself to sleep that first night. I cried because I wanted my mommy. I cried because I didn’t understand. I hurt…hurt so bad my stomach ached. I cried because the people there scared me. I didn’t feel loved…I didn’t feel connected…Oh, mommy, I don’t understand…why you are leaving me? Please come back. Why don’t you hear me? Why didn’t you listen to me. Mommy, do you hear me? Please listen to me. I feel invisible! Are you out there? I wanna go home…Mommy…? mommy…? mommy…?
Thinking back on that first night when my mother left me is painful. I know I must briefly visit those moments because something in those instances defined my current behaviors and identity. It’s important for me to understand what I learned in that hurtful moment. It’s important to take an objective look at the situation and realize the lies I’ve adopted as my truths. It’s all crucial to recovery. Those realizations are the bridge I need to correct some of my current behaviors and help me become a better person.
NO RISK, NO REWARD
Working through my recovery has been painful at times, but those painful times have been some of the most healing and rewarding experiences I’ve had, even in all of my years of therapy.
Why do I go there? When I hit a ‘speed bump’ in my recovery and wonder why I’m not making progress…I start looking deeper. For example, when I’m triggered by those around me, when I find myself angry at the littlest things, or when I’m crying and fighting depression, I start looking deeper. I look more into why I’m holding myself back?
TRUST THE PROCESS
This particular memory is the result of a process I worked after I found I was beating myself up over how I acted during an encounter with my five-year-old son. I realized my actions were inappropriate for what I expected out of myself as a mom. Afterwards, I asked myself, “What in the world happened in that moment to make me get so angry so quickly and lose control?”
When looking back on the moment, I realized it had little to do with my son’s behavior and more to do with my inappropriate reaction to him. When my son began screaming at the top of his lungs (to mask my instructions) and then threw himself on the bed and pulled the covers over his head to avoid listening to me, I started raising my voice and yelling at him to be sure he heard me over his screaming. Wow! That was mature behavior on my part as a mom! When I walked out of the room, I knew I needed to work through this and get to the root of what was REALLY going on for me. I was ashamed of myself and my actions, and I had to fix it.
When thinking back over it, I realized that what I heard him say (through body language, etc.) was “I don’t wanna listen to you.” For me, I realized in that moment, I was ticked off because he wasn’t listening. I was being disregarded and I was being ignored. My advice/instruction was not valued. Therefore, I’m a bad mom because my own son won’t listen to me. Those are ALL lies that the enemy had fed me. They were lies I had come to believe over the years. Those were lies and beliefs that I had owned as part of my identity. As a result of not being heard, I felt the need to scream at him to make sure I was heard. Wow! What a realization. That was big stuff for me.
While processing this situation with an accountability partner, she asked me, “When was the first time you remember not being heard, not being listened to or not being valued?” Instantly, I remembered the first time my mother abandoned me.
Now what? What was I supposed to do with this memory? Well, I am excited because now that I have I have this memory, I can go back to it and process it in a healthy way. I will re-visit this memory with someone safe and find a healing way to grieve that loss. I will work through it while someone who can hold a safe space for me to mourn the loss of my mother. This safe person will help me appropriately deal with the anger and resentment in a healing way while learning how to forgive my mother at the same time.
This is why I love Celebrate Recovery so much. Working the steps helps me stay accountable to my actions. It helps me to be open and honest with myself. It helps me understand and love myself enough to work through it even when I show up as the “yucky me”. When I see my ugly side come out, instead of stuffing that raging moment, I’m able to look at the event, analyze what really happened, look at my part in it and then dig deeper into the reason and root of why my behavior was the way it was. Then, I can consciously change it! I can do all of this with Jesus as my filter.
RE-PATTERNING MY THINKING
When I look back on that first abandonment, I can re-envision this moment with a different filter. I can take away the emotion and rejection in the situation and begin to re-pattern my thinking around that situation and “re-format” those old lies and adopt new truths that God wants me to know. The truth is I am not invisible. I am one of Christ’s daughters. He wants to hear me. I can pour my hurts and heart out to Him and he’ll listen. I know in my heart, that I am important to my family, and I know in my heart that they value what I have to say. Now, I can take this information, these feelings and emotions and find a healthier way to express myself when I feel like I’m not being heard or feel like I’m invisible.
Why do I write this stuff and share my vulnerabilities? It’s because I know we all have hurts. We all have some sort of hangup or insecurity about something. We are all called to be more like Christ (Matthew 5:48) and work on becoming better people. Recovery (or any 12 step program like AA, Al Anon, NA, etc.) gives us practical steps to work through our behaviors and resentments. I believe everyone of us can benefit from a recovery program that teaches us to do life better. Not only does Celebrate Recovery have programs for those of us that are addicted to something, but they also have programs for those of us working through life’s struggles and hangups.
I’m grateful for my program and the tools I’m learning in the process! How has your program helped you?