Intentional Peer Support – What a Journey!

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I did a five day training in IPS – This was my experience:

For me drawing the picture in pen was risky and unforgiving. I had a fear of “what will I do if I make a mistake?”. It is also really putting myself out there. This is indicative of how I felt calling out in the group. It required a level of vulnerability that I’m not used to giving.

I tried talking with the risk beating down on myself with a whip after, because that what I do and why I have such major performance anxiety. I struggled to get a word in sometimes and got angry if people said what I was going to say. Sometimes I hid behind my interest in people’s opinions.

On day 3 I learnt to let go a little and one on one I became fascinated with the investigation of how what is said effects the relationship (IPS language or not) Wrong or right went out the window and I simply was curious.

On day 4 I held my tongue in the group, too triggered to talk and overwhelmed with feelings. It’s from that place that I was shaken into a shift, which for me needed to come after a great deal of pain. It is from connecting to my humanness that suddenly I was able to connect with the humanness in others. I saw people differently. Suddenly it was not so much about me saying the right thing anymore as it was this deep desire to connect to the people I didn’t understand and enter the inquisition of why they feel the way that they do.

The picture explains my understanding of IPS and the way I experienced the training. Both pairs of eyes are mine, looking at the same person. How I look at someone determines how they look.

I came into the training grateful and pro training and totally open to the possibilities and even so I find my self on the other side pried Open, with my narrow mind exposed.

I like that there is no prescription in IPS. It’s not one size fits all or because this worked for me it will work for you. It embraces each person as an individual and caters to diversity, which aligns with who I am. After years of being put into a box by people who assumed they knew what was best for me and being outcast for my differences, it is refreshing to find something that doesn’t try to change me so much as it tries to hear me. It is an honour to learn to do the same.

Turn Around

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I was sitting in a pool hall, a couple of nights ago, watching the tennis waiting for my client to finish playing pool. My head was pounding – maybe it was caffeine withdrawal. I went tea free that day, where before I have been drinking between 1-3 cups a day. I was on google, trying to find out whether or not tea has more caffeine than coffee, I read mixed reviews, they were all relative.

I stopped drinking coffee about 3 months ago, because when I got triggered into my PTSD I found it impossible to deescalate. My heart rate used to go through the roof. On one hand I was happy that I had more umph to tackle the office job and function beautifully with a tea in me. On the other hand the moment something triggered me, I had to spend half the day trying to bring myself back down to earth again… and then add to that a dash of hormones, and voila… a disaster!!! They don’t lie when they say addicts are sensitive souls. I don’t know how I used to take crystal meth, if one cup of tea spins me out. No wonder I was afraid to leave my apartment.

So much had changed in the last 3 years, it’s absolute madness! This time 3 years ago I was sitting in an apartment in Cape Town, I had probably been awake for at least 3 days. I had just lost the second job in one month. I was about to miss my sister’s wedding, because I couldn’t guarantee that I would go to it sober, so I felt like, as her bridesmaid I would be doing her a disservice AND I had just sold my car and given all the money to my partner to pay for my flight to Melbourne. The car money got spent on one months rent and a heap load more meth. My family weren’t talking to me and the relationship I was in, was so toxic it was messy and violent and the police were getting involved.

This was the time in my life where I started to feel like things were going wrong for me. Up until that point I thought I was invincible. I used to roll off sayings like, “You are what you eat!…. That’s funny, I don’t remember eating a fucking LEGEND!!!” – The wilder the night, the bigger the ego boost. I used to supply all the gear, so naturally I felt responsible for everyone else’s level of happiness. It was like a game, where social standing was as valuable as money and in the scene I knew everybody! It didn’t occur to me that there were people outside of the scene and that the particular scene I was in, was not necessarily the scene anybody ever wants to be in – its more like where you don’t want to end up.

Before the end, I’m talking about the last 3-6 months of my using, I was floating around completely oblivious and it is because of one specific coping mechanism: Dissociation – “the action of disconnecting or separating or the state of being disconnected.” – Just like my mother, I only chose to remember the good things, so it was like the bad things never even happened. This developed in early childhood. I learnt to use a computer when I was 4 years old (which now I would imagine is quite common) – I was an avid gamer and would much rather escape into the digital world than deal with my reality. I was a day dreamer to such extremes that I would walk into pools or fall over things and I was totally unable to pay attention during conversations. My first addiction was to TV, I used to watch it every possible second when I wasn’t at school or sleeping. According to my grandparents I was an insomniac since I was 2 years-old, so I got a lot of TV time in on a daily basis.

I became sexually active around 10 years old and compulsive busyness when my Dad left the country with my sister and left me behind. Out of all the things that worked to disconnect me from my reality, compulsive busyness took the cake. While I have been clean for almost 3 years now, I still fall into the trap of overloading my day and leaving no room to feel. I have a program for that thank God and probably the reason why I haven’t been putting out many blog posts of late… I am learning to just enjoy some time off. The more time off I have, the more exhausted I feel. I think I’m addicted to sleep as well 🙂

I feel like I am taking a fine tooth comb and brushing out these addictive lice, which just keep popping up all over the place – Not easy to see them either. The periods of time in between the suffering are getting longer and longer and so much more fulfilling. Today I am feeling grateful.