November 9, 2010

The Power of Creativity

As a child, family dysfunction created such a threatening environment that I did not feel safe asking directly for what I needed. Not until I became a rebellious teenager did I speak up. In time, my rebellious teenager's fire dimmed, when I realized that no one COULD meet my needs but me. I did the best thing and left home at eighteen.

Today's CTC reading begins, "We humans are wonderfully adaptive. We find creative solutions to impossible situations."  Yes, that was me.  Give me the impossible, and I would ferret out a way to get around it. I can see that even as a kid, the way to get what I wanted was to quietly plan ahead and find a way for my golden sibling to manipulate my borderline parent.  

Well,  old habits die hard.  And new ones can make things worse.  Because manipulation had been the only technique I could use as a child, when I left home I went overboard with directness, pointing out all that had been done wrong to me.  Ah, the power in doing someone else's inventory!  In addition to confrontation, I also got creative with new tricks 
( a lot of words and stories)  to get my personality disordered parent to 'behave'.

Al-anon has a saying, "Listen and Learn." Indeed.  We do a lot more listening, and with a positive focus, in meetings, than we may do anywhere in our lives. One day at a time, by listening to 12-step patriots with dysfunctional families, I'm learning.

I am learning to listen to my mom and hear what she really is saying underneath her attacking vocabulary. Learning when to be quiet and when to take the necessary actions to create boundaries that protect me. I've learned to be less "creative" and more patient.  Today I am learning  "how to have a discussion and  make straightforward requests" from my most troubled and unhealthy family member.  Because I have fewer expectations, when she doesn't like my loving directness, it is easier to let go and let God (hang up that phone, Smitty, with love), praying that she will find her own spiritual path.  

Program has taught me to do more than survive. I am learning to thrive. Where I have the most effect in creating change  is in my own home and with the child I am raising.  

My husband and child are safe people with whom to learn healthier ways to take care of my own needs, and to communicate my needs directly.   Where I used to use guilt on others to get them to pitch in around the house, today I ask simply and politely for what I want.  I can even accept being turned down, without resentment!   

I love this quote, it helps me to smile when changes must be made, and "relational turbulence" is unavoidable. 

"We can choose to behave with personal integrity, not because it will make someone else feel better, but because it reflects a way of living that enriches and heals us."  


  1. It is a good thing to not have to manipulate in order to survive anymore. I had to tiptoe around my dad. Eventually, as a teenager, I stopped doing that. The result was volcanic. I am in a better place today.

  2. Yes, Syd, I see my teenage self as the spirit in me that had to get out of the bottle, so it could understand it had power in this world. Volcanic, it was! I like the image of a mature mountain, one that endures.


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