Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 22 DonInLondon Step 9 "Amends Into Action"
September 22, 2013: "shame and guilt about the past, usually so many reasons why we feel shame and guilt, what happened and the cause can be lost when we prefer to cover up the truth and not let it out." And chatting with a friend yesterday things which happened in childhood and those growing years around shame and guilt, can hardly be talked about by anyone anywhere at any time. Letting out the truth and expressing the truth can be very healing, can be very destructive and something most people avoid at all costs? Seems that way a lot of the time.
Writing my life story, the real life story rather than the one I felt compelled to write when under supervision in a mental health unit was more meaningful. Compelled to write a life story as part of treatment and then to be shared with counsellors who either had gone through their own trials and tribulations, or had a casual acquaintance with psychotherapy offered me the opportunity to highlight what bad people did to me, and exaggerate some elements of me because I was still covering up the fear with pride and ego.
My childhood experiences at home tended to be very happy and good. Outside the home as a child, the nature of children and growing up can be like an inquisition into all aspects of human experience. Some of us experienced the abusive behaviour of older children, emotional and physical and sexual. Where these older children learned and how they shared with younger children leads the imagination to run riot. Abuse, as a child, the word abuse is not understood, and sometimes what seemed a very enjoyable experience and very interesting, was actually abuse. Laced into this is the guilt and shame of finding out what we enjoyed in childhood, was in fact abuse by others. Breaking free and saying it happened, and realising that what seemed okay and good when it happened only to find it was as wrong as it gets when we are growing into our teenage years can really undermine and close down any person as they mature into adult life.
It is very difficult to open the door to what happened in the past and those experiences of childhood. Unless we understand that children learn from each other and what children do has a lot to do with how they are exposed to different experiences of life. A child really does not have much say when innocent playing becomes abusive and corrupting. When we look at our own story, we always need to look at where the power and control resided in those childhood times and who was educating us. And when we look at what happened with due care and attention, rather than labelling ourselves in some way, we can start to understand what happened, let go of shame and guilt and start realising that there is a way out and away to share and express and get past the cover up and find some way into recovery from those experiences. Even though we could be scarred and harmed and have completely misunderstood and therefore covered up, with the right help in a timely way we learn how to live the way we wish to live in a natural way today. Some may feel that is impossible. And it may be.
The illicit secrets and what seemed like play as a child, learning how to keep secrets did me no good. And then as we grow up and find out the right and wrong of those experiences, the guilt and shame is overwhelming and a strong determination never to talk about what happened fuels a rage inside and an extreme desire never to be found out. And a strong desire to feel normal meant it took years to unravel and the emotional pain would have broken me had I not had the benefit and honesty of others around me who loved me. What hurts most looking back is the corruption of love. And yesterday in the meeting I was sharing about how each day I keep on learning to love unconditionally, still feel it difficult to be loved back unconditionally and find purpose? We all have purpose even though we don't know it today.
All the things I'm sharing about today were not discussed in the meeting of Fellowship, but arose in conversation with a friend afterwards. It came out of their needs to share something about what I said about childhood. Children learn from each other about everything which is quite natural, and then adults with good intent can misinterpret, can be corrupting and can be quite dangerous. And we don't know the difference as children. We both agreed that we were lucky to find recovery and restore our outlook and rid ourselves of the shame and guilt we had felt. When we look back as adults, we can condemn ourselves without realising that we had no power over some experiences we had. Both of us have had the benefit of professional help, real professional help and the benefit of many different sponsors for many different reasons. In my case one or two sponsors to take me through the initial stages of the steps, and then other sponsors connected to other experiences back in the day and the dark past, and often sponsors who help us for different reasons as matters arise one day at a time. Getting to the truth, and also getting to the mythology I created around all that stuff in the past, I realised just how powerless I was in many respects. All based on fear of being found out and guilty that I could not get myself out of harms way. Today I can.
When there seems to be no safe place in one's life, where we hold secrets from our very early days in living, the nagging doubts often create deep emotional turmoil. Finding out what is natural in our instincts is really important. And of course there are so many different value judgements about right and wrong, I feel lucky to have had opportunity all through my life because it was necessary to have counselling as part of my professional work which help me understand the difference and find a moral compass within. At the same time, society experienced decades of liberation which offered everything to those who worked hard and played hard. I will never be a puritan dressed in black with a white collar and black hat judging the world, I simply prefer to be me, learning what it is to live and really experience the truth of now as it unfolds and with freedom to choose what I do today.
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