I’ve been asking myself this since I made the decision to tell my truth and bare my soul in this blog. Am I scared that I will never be able to work in direct practice again? Absolutely. Terrified. When I allow myself to think about it, the ‘what if’s’ take over and it goes like this: What if this was a giant mistake? Everybody has problems but most people don’t elect to share the extent of them in this fashion. Should I have just done it the prescribed way – go to meetings, get a sponsor, tell that one person everything because everyone doesn’t need to know. Maybe. But for ME, I also know that this would only perpetuate my history of compartmentalizing the truth. One person knows everything, another person knows some things, a third person knows nothing, the fourth person went to the market, one fish two fish three red fish blue fish…err, I digress.
My point is, I have a really really really really really really hard time letting people know what’s truly going on with me…It stems from anxiety, fear of rejection, criticism, NOT BEING PERFECT (or even GOOD ENOUGH), disappointing others, etc. Now enter people-pleasing behaviors (because I want everyone else to be happy – it’s a mutually-beneficial aim…not only are you happy, which I want for you (the universal ‘YOU’), but then you are also less apt to externalize negative, bad mood energy, which would make me anxious). So I have this history of doing everything in my power to keep the peace and maintain status quo, not rock the boat and facilitate an outward appearance that all is well. I know I’m not alone in this; we all do it to a certain extent because it’s necessary to be able to function, work, have relationships, etc. However, doing it to this extreme has kept me really really really really sick for a long time. So at one point, (actually many points) along the way, the dam broke and out spilled the mess I’d been holding inside, the inner chaos I’d been denying because it seemed better to keep it under wraps so no one else would be affected or worry…which is BULLSHIT because people are affected and they worry and it’s harmful and dangerous and all around a horrible way to live. So I would get caught, have to admit I’d been lying, and START ALL OVER AGAIN. I honestly don’t know why Kristen hasn’t left me yet, since she is the primary person involved in this cycle with me. She has been a miracle though, truly. Because she doesn’t enable me (maybe more in a future post about all of that).
So anyway, this pattern didn’t work, or I wasn’t ready…something was still holding me back…because it would KEEP HAPPENING. It’s far too easy for me to ‘get away with it’ when only one person or group of people (sponsor, anonymous fellowship) knows everything. This is an additional safeguard for me. Because I don’t trust myself. I am grasping at whatever I can to hold myself accountable. So I know it probably isn’t the smartest move to tell EVERYONE (or at least everyone who reads my blog entries) EVERYTHING…but I don’t want to live this way anymore and I don’t want to die and the ‘other forms of treatment’ – medication, therapy, meetings, etc. that I’ve been partaking in over the years help, but haven’t been enough. I want to do whatever I can to keep people informed because I need as much support as I can get with this. And radical honesty…it’s so far from what I’ve ever known that it might just be what’s been missing.
(Note: in a previous post I mentioned I’m not going to divulge all the nitty gritty details here because I don’t think publicly listing whose medicine cabinets I visited over the years is productive for anyone…I still hold that to be true).
I have a lot of amends to make and I will make them directly when the time is right. When I get THERE. For now, I’m still HERE. What I do know is that I have been carrying around a tremendous amount of guilt and shame for having worked in the mental health and substance abuse fields while still being any version of sick (eating disordered, addicted, etc.) I had periods of abstinence from substances or food binging/purging, but I never fully committed to being 100% honest about where I was at, so for me, I can’t say that I was ever really ‘in recovery’ before. So if this means I can never again work in direct care, so be it. I can’t be focusing on a future I’m not even certain to have. All I can do is what feels right and seems to be helping me now, in this moment, because that’s all I’m guaranteed anyway.
And…no matter what happens, it’s still better than committing actual suicide…by which I mean, both the traditional sense and continuing to engage in substance use/eating disordered behaviors…Neither of which I want for myself today.