“Home”

Image result for finding home

I am at the airport again and thank God for that! I am so grateful that had two visits with my mom’s ex husband before I left. He is the closest thing I have had to a father figure. I feel like I retrieved a portion of sanity in those visits. I went ‘home’ for Christmas, back to South Africa after almost 3 years in Melbourne. I felt like I swam into a different world, where I was was in a completely different book to everyone in my family, let alone a different page. It was a place where understanding was a mere myth – something that you might’ve heard about in a  fairytale, but never experienced.

My heart broke in the same place it has broken so many times before. When I realised my sister – my supposed ‘team mate’ – will bat against me even against non-blood related relatives. I felt defeated and completely thrown under the bus. My innocent heart made the mistake of hoping I would go ‘home’ to find my sister there, the one I have been searching to connect with for my whole life. Instead I found a lonely truth, which triggered an overwhelming loss and sadness, that the connection I craved is impossible and the ‘home’ I was looking for, wasn’t there.

I read a saying in a meeting, “An expectation is just a premeditated resentment.” – Boy, is that the truth! All wasn’t lost though. There were a few times last year where things got really tough in recovery and the wound I dug into for the purpose of self discovery, started to hurt so badly that I just wanted to go home – I had this fictitious idea that I would get some kind of love and nurture in South Africa and that sense of family that I couldn’t get in Australia. This ideal only exists in story books – I realised the cold hard truth, that I am not part of the family, but nor did I want to be. That the place where I felt safest, was the very place I left, in the pursuit of safety – ironically. My ‘Home’ resides in me and the love that I want is never going to come from the family that never gave it, because the only person who has changed is me.

Flying back to Australia, I felt empty, but relieved and strangely enough I felt quite a lot of hope, I felt like letting go of my expectations was a hugely freeing process. I was left with an empty space, which felt to me more like a blank canvas – It was something quite spectacular, because all of a sudden I could let go of the “should be’s” and what I thought life “should” look like, because it was the first time ever that I wasn’t desperately trying to fit into a box – where wearing a dress, being a racist and drinking 3 bottles of wine a night is absolutely normal – I can now paint my own picture and be surrounded by people who share my values – For me this is a beautiful place to be.

One good thing that came from the whole trip, is that I got into that desperate place, where I’ll take on any suggestion to help me recover, The result: I read a book by Mara Gleason – “One Thought Changes Everything”. All I can say is – PROFOUND! Initially the book got recommended, I ‘thought’, “I’m an addict, my thinking is the problem, why would I read a book about thinking?” – The first two parts I was judgemental of the writing style and actually resenting every second of it… Now that I have finished it, I am thanking God for giving me the perseverance. I now know my thoughts, just like my feelings, have a lifespan and just like a flame, they will eventually burn out. I had the HALT’s on board when I got home with jet lag and my head was racing (catastrophe thinking) and somehow I was able to detach and not become all consumed… It wasn’t a perfect experience, nor was it a tidy one… It was different and the changes have just kept on coming. I feel more present than I have ever been.

Today I am grateful.

 

Two Young!!!

Image result for frightened 2 year old crying

The last time I blogged, I wrote about putting my program down. Now I am a strong believer in if you put your program down, you will be in a heap load of pain. This is true for me in the sense that I relapsed (on the sex stuff). The interesting paradox, is that the lessons come after the pain and I guess it was a risk worth taking. I learnt so much in the last month! Whereas before I was too afraid to stop doing the work, because I thought I was going to die.

I learnt to sit with a feeling. I learnt that I am not going to die when life gets unmanageable and I learnt that when life gets really bad, all I need to do is pick up my program. I have my ex girlfriend to thank for that – or my qualifier as they call it in this 12 step fellowship. We came into recovery together. We broke up after a year and in a desperate attempt to not relapse on drugs I started working a program like my life depended on it. The result was entering into a group, which made top lines a priority (my top lines were going for walks on the beach, doing comedy classes, socialising, talking to people… the list goes on!). For any normy, this would sound like day to day activities. If you are an addict like me, writing out these things as a good behaviour goal, stops me from either compulsively over working or spending the entire day in bed without showering.

It’s interesting, because I started this blog post before I lapsed and now I am finishing it after and the shift is fascinating. I had so much hope and strength in my bones before and now I feel slightly defeated. I am only on day 1 (well tomorrow will technically be day 1) – When I first entered this program, I relapsed that many times, that I was well aware of how each day felt leading up to day 30. Day 1,2 & 3 are all ok, because the high of acting out hasn’t quite worn off yet. Day 4 & 5 whatever pain you were trying to mask with acting out hits like a ton of bricks, compounded with guilt, shame and remorse. In my opinion, if you survive day 4 & 5, you can survive anything. By day 10, some normality starts to enter your life again and you feel like life is actually possible. And by day 20, you start to feel really good. – Well this is my experience anyway. It is by day 20 that I start to feel so good that I forget the pain and 20-23 I forget the pain to such an extent that I become cocky with my recovery – I think I start to glow when I feel that good and all of a sudden people just start coming out of the woodworks (temptations!) – If somehow you can sustain abstinence through this period, the drive to get 30 days outweighs the temptation and, somehow I tend to be able to white knuckle it there. Once I hit day 45 I feel absolute relief. So that is my goal – 90 days, but I will begin by aiming for 45 and doing it one day at a time. I have done 9 months of sustained sobriety, so I am happy to do it again, plus I have therapy in 21 days… pointless doing therapy while acting out.

So why the relapse? One could say it’s from sober dating someone without a secure attachment style. I wish that was the reason, but that was the slip, not the relapse. Last Monday, I unlocked some major childhood trauma in a brain spotting session with my therapist. My dad used to punish me by locking me in the cupboard, until I stopped crying. This happened when I was only 5 years old and cripples me in every area of my life today! The fear of getting things wrong, being punished and abandoned, causes me so much anxiety in work, relationship and even food, I had to sit with this feeling this week. I slipped with this girl, by going too far into physical intimacy. After the slip, I simply recommitted to my program and it was a great solution. I did a meeting every night, started working through the “Facing the Shadows” workbook – Patrick Carnes and picked up my 10th and 11th step.

What got revealed was my pattern of preoccupation – ritualisation – sexual acting out – despair, then the cycle repeats itself. I thought I did a sterling job of arresting it in it’s first cycle, but I spoke to my mom on the phone last night and we spoke about the abuse. She brought up that my dad did it to me when I was going through my terrible two’s… My heart sank, it still sinks and I well up (and I’m still in the fogginess of acting out – so I don’t even want to imagine the pain that is on its way) – I can’t help but picture a two year old girl being thrown into the cupboard and left there. My heart hurts!

I don’t really have that much more to say about that, because it’s still really raw and painful. My life makes sense though, why I am so full of fear and have such high expectations of myself. Why I always want to hide and any expression needs suppression… I was 2 years old, how the hell was I supposed to know what was right and wrong!?!

I relapsed on masturbation and even after I tried to numb out, I am still in tears writing this. I know acting out is not the solution. I also know I am going to be in even more pain soon. I know I wont die though and I know I have the tools to get me through. God has got me, as always! Just needed to get honest. This is my road to recovery. It’s not always going to be strength and hope. I am still going regardless… not sure how, but I am still here.

I went back into the Closet

NarniaWardrobe

Technically speaking, I have been out of the closet for 12 years, but the more that I think about it, the more I realise that I haven’t really been out at all. It’s like I came out and announced my sexuality. Played on the outside for a bit and then went straight back in again and stayed there until yesterday.

The way I dress and wear my hair is so far from the lesbian stereotype as I could get it. I shaved off half of my hair in April, with so much fear about it taking away my femininity. I wanted my hair shaved since I was 10 years old, but didn’t have the confidence to do it.  Deep down at my core, my inner child is a tom boy, who wants to wear baggy boys clothes and climb trees and get dirty – so why do I resist it so much?

Society has an expectation – or let me be more specific – I have an expectation, built on old, unaltered, outdated ideas of society’s expectations, based on what I have grown up with. That a woman should look a certain way and marry a man, have a home with a white picket fence and 2.5 children hahaha – bloody hell. I could think of nothing worse, so why am I trying to conform to such an old fashioned norm? Fear of being excluded and like I found out in therapy the other day, my driving reason – fear of being rejected for who I am and then fear of being abandoned. My father and my sister left me and then the only family I had left rejected me or rather the part of me that I have no control over.

Instead of staying out of the closet and facing the rejection of my family. I went back in and though I dated women, they were generally heterosexual and unavailable and bound to leave me anyway. I was not openly gay. The people who knew I was gay, were the people who had gotten to know me over a period of time long enough to see one of these affairs play out. If I spoke about my partner and the person just assumed it was a “him”, I did absolutely nothing to correct them. I was desperate for your love and your approval and petrified of you leaving me, so I hid away behind a facade of whatever I thought, you thought, was palatable.

It’s pretty sad when I think about it and a really lonely existence of never letting people in. Never showing anyone the real me. Rejecting myself first and tucking her away into a dark closet, so that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to reject me. I always thought of myself as very brave, but this behaviour has been far from courageous and has kept my isolated in my hider ego state for too long.

Yesterday marks the turning point for me, although the build up to it has been happening for a number of weeks now. I have been actively taking steps to integrate myself into the LGBTIQ community, little by little, to put an end to the rejection of it and inevitably putting an end to the rejection of myself. I have been to a few LGBTIQ meetings and I did the MQFF (Melbourne Queer Film Festival) – I attempted to go to 2 gay/lesbian nights out, but the gang cancelled. I showed willingness, which sometimes is all that you need. I have been asked to guest speak at a 12 step convention at the LGBTIQ meeting and for another 12 step fellowship, I was program coordinated for their convention, so I helped facilitate the creation of an LGBTIQ specific meeting, which I am quite happy about.

It feels like I am finding my voice. I am beginning to comprehend pride and feel passionately about advocating for the community, even if it is on a small scale. It means so much to me. At university we were assigned the task of creating a group presentation – Excited to learn more I suggested we look into marriage equality as it has not be passed in Australia yet. Making gays second class citizens and denying us our human right. “The right of adults to enter into consensual marriage is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 16).”

The presentation went down like a house on fire and I watched my fellow students get involved on a level that I had never seen before. It was a group of 7 of us and the girl who normally used to only show up 5 minutes before the final presentation, with her contribution, was present from the beginning and though she could not relate to being ostracised for her sexual preference, she could relate to being excluded for her Christian faith in a Muslim community and was answering class questions, trying to give our classmates perspective. The girl who is normally too shy to do anything but read her information off of a piece of paper, was bringing real life experience to the table and sharing about her cousin’s sexuality and how beautiful the experience was of getting the acceptance of the family. It brought out her sense of humour, “Being gay is not an illness! You can’t just call in sick to school one day and say, sorry I have come down with gay” hahaha – I loved it!

The topic had ears pricked and the whole class got involved in quite a heated debate, where I was given the opportunity to answer a question, using my own experience. With my heart thumping hard in my chest, in front of the whole class, I answered, “Well, I am gay…” and I shared my experience. I came out of hiding and I feel like it was an even bigger moment for me, than my first closet exit. I got vulnerable standing up in front of the whole class. The lecturer gave me a hug, another girl opened up about being pansexual and an authenticity was born and flowed freely through the conversations thereafter. It was beautiful and a day I will probably remember for the rest of my life. The truth will set me free.