Today's Courage to Change got me thinking today about hope, and all the ways I have chosen to claim it for myself... after I left my family of origin.
Growing up with a personality-disordered parent, I learned not to count too much on anything happening as planned. Especially I learned not to make myself too vulnerable by hoping. I knew my hopes could be too easily dashed I think that is how I learned not to get too excited about anything. It hurt, when anticipated joys went awry.
Did I only keep hold of hope, because I needed it in order to leave my family when I was old enough? Later, when I went to visit my family after I left home, I saw my brother had become very passive. Today I see that he had shut down his feelings, biding his time until he turned 18.
We each found ourselves in relationship with people who turned out to be similar to our problem parent. Then each of us in turn, by our late twenties, found lifetime partners who were healthy equals.
Fast forward to my early thirties, when I had to face the damage done by bad thinking I had internalized and brought with me into my adult life. It was the 12 steps that gave me back my hope, when I suffered the setback of a emotional breakdown.
At the time I began my sojourn in Emotions Anonymous, I felt I had nothing to lose. I was even mad at my Higher Power for my illness! Fortunately my group did not censor me when I shared that at a meeting. They helped me discover a whole new spirituality that was sturdier and more reliable than the one I had learned growing up. I eventually learned there was every reason to hope for and believe in full recovery from emotional illness.
As it says in September 14th's reading in Courage to Change, "With my Higher Power's help, regardless of my circumstances, I can feel fully alive in the moment.... The painful lessons of a lifetime are not unlearned overnight, but [Al-anon] is helping me to learn that it is safe to feel, to hope, even to dream."
A little over a year ago, my HP led me to Al-anon's room. At last I understood that I could heal my trauma from childhood, by listening to people healing from alcoholic family malaise. I saw that I could stop trying to fix the adults who had taught me the wrong lessons about hope when I was a child.
Today, I know that, I cannot heal the dis-ease of a personality disordered parent. I can be glad that I survived and that I continue to help myself and my brother to heal and actively maintain hope for our children.
Let me remember today, to live fully. Let me remember to take the risk of caring, even though disappointment is always possible. When I stay open to reasonable risks and don't try to protect myself from pain, I experience so many of the delights of life!
"Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." Samuel Ullman