Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fake it till you make it

Fake it till you make it

“Fake it till you make it.” That’s what my friend told me! We were talking about something on a professional level. Fake it till you make it – Pretend you are confident, press on, act the part and soon you will be more confident.

I totally got it! Fake it till you make it.  Google ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) and you’ll find a whole laundry list of things we have in common. Two of those things are Fear of Emotions or Feelings and Fear of losing control.

On a personal level, I had been faking it (or hiding my emotions) till I made it for most of my life. I had to. Otherwise I feared I’d crumble and might never get up. I had so many feelings I had avoided and pushed down deep. I never let myself get too emotional.  I always tried to hold myself together no matter what. I was tough. Really tough or at least that’s what I had convinced myself of.

When I first went to live with my aunt, she started asking me questions about my feelings. Not “How are you feeling?” That’s easy….”I’m fine….or good.” That was always the standard reply. No, she asked much harder questions. “What emotion are you feeling right now?” Uh, what? How the heck could I answer that? All my feelings were jumbled up inside me like they had all been tossed in a blender and mixed together. Here’s a little sad, mad, happy, frustration, anger…toss in a little fear and disappointment…all mixed together. I couldn’t answer her. I literally had no idea how to differentiate one feeling from another.

I’m not talking about being frustrated when something isn’t right or is unjust. I have no problem standing up for what I believe in or standing up for others. What I have trouble with is dealing with my own sadness and disappointments. It was always too tough. I had to push it down deep and hide it. I have a hard time being around emotional people who openly display their emotions because I don’t know what to do with them. I have a hard time dealing with some of my own feelings, how can I deal with theirs? It’s like I need a shovel and want to walk behind them picking up all their emotions and give them back to them.

I had been through and felt so much because of Mother’s addiction….children’s shelter, instability, insecurity, numerous moves and changes in schools, numerous people in and out of my life, heartache and so much more. Because of her addiction, my mother pawned stuff, had multiple marriages and divorces, fought, went to jail and the penitentiary…just so much craziness. All of her life choices and consequences greatly affected me. I wasn’t immune to any of them. When she made poor choices which was often, it wasn’t just her who had to deal with the consequences – I had to as well. That’s hard on anyone but especially a child who can’t process all those things.

And to add to my already messed up feelings…just before I went to live with my aunt, my sweet Papa (Mother’s dad) died. He had been my everything…my mom, my dad, my friend, my protector. I had been living with him and my nanny when he died. I was devastated by his death. I couldn’t understand why God would take my Papa and leave my mother. It wasn’t that I wanted God to take my mother but I couldn’t understand the reason my Papa was taken. I needed him.  He truly was my everything at that time in my life.   All those feelings were too hard to deal with and they all ran together. I just had to keep pushing them down. I couldn’t allow myself to crumble. I had to be strong. Mother was weak and I had to be strong for both of us. I had to be in control. I couldn’t’ be controlled. Not by a substance, emotions or anything.

My aunt knew I had really messed up feelings so she drug me to counseling. I hated it. I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. All I would do was sit in the room with this lady I didn’t know and I’d cry. It was weird. As soon as I walked in the room, I’d just start crying. I tried to tell my aunt how dumb it was that she was paying someone to just sit and watch me cry. But she knew I needed it and every week she took me anyway, no matter how much I protested.

Secretly, my biggest fear was always that I’d end up just like my mother. I feared I’d be controlled by a substance and miss out on the sweet stuff. I was scared that history would repeat itself (it does you know) and my boys would lose their mom too. I didn’t really get a handle on that fear until I was in my mid thirty’s. Besides the craziness I participated in during high school, I really had never allowed myself to drink much after I had my first child. I was too scared. I wanted my boys to have the mom they deserved. Once, I was with my husband and a few friends at an OU/Texas football. They had had a few to many beers. I was their designated driver. It sent me into a panic. Like crazy irrational panic. I called one of my best and lifelong friends who knew me well. I was so mad, scared and crying.   She knew how irrational I was being but talking to an irrational person is almost impossible. I was so upset that I seriously considered leaving those guys at the game and driving home. I hated being around drunk people. My feelings weren’t normal. It stirred up all kinds of feelings for me and I wasn’t sure how to handle them. By the time I was in my mid thirty’s I was more rational and started allowing myself to occasionally have some wine. I still don’t enjoy being around drunk people but I don’t have an irrational fear of being around people who occasionally drink.

Several years ago a wise man let me in on a little secret. He told me I (we) really have very little control of things. Sure there are certain things we can control but there is so much more that is completely beyond our control. As crazy and as simple as it sounds…it was very freeing. I understood and was able to allow myself to relax some and let go of some of my control issues and irrational fears. Besides I knew who was really in control and I trusted him with all my heart.

Scott jokes and says counseling worked to well because I don’t quit talking about feelings and emotions now. Counseling did help me. I was able to cry and get some of that ugly junk out. Crying is cleansing for your soul. Counseling taught me how to identify which emotion I was feeling. That’s important because you need to be able to identify the emotion to work through the feelings.

I still think I’m emotionally tougher than I am. I still fake it till I make it. I still push bad feelings down deep and deal with them as I’m able. I still have a very hard time being around really emotional people when they are openly displaying deep emotions. Back in the very back of my mind I still have a slight fear of ending up like my mother but I don’t let it control me.

Life is too short to focus on the junk but you can’t ignore it. You have to deal with it. Otherwise it festers and gets infected like a dirty nasty old wound.

I am blessed beyond anything I deserve. I am loved and I am strong. You can’t enjoy the sweetness until you’ve known the bitterness.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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Mother – prisoner to drugs and alcohol

 

jail

“Hello,” he said as he answered the phone. “Collect call from…………….(it was a recording of her stating her name), will you accept?” He reluctantly accepted the call and heard Mother’s voice.  She was drunk and her speech was slurred, “Scott, can I talk to Kandy?” He was frustrated and he was tired of me being hurt. It was late at night and I was already in bed, “no, she’s asleep” he stated. “Will you wake her up? I need her to come bail me out of jail,” she replied. Scott said “I’m not waking her up. She has to work tomorrow.” Mother asked “Will you come bail me out?” Scott replied “No.” That made her mad and she turned on her mean voice, “Now you listen here Scotty.” When she was mad at him, she called him Scotty and drug out the “s” so it sounded like….sssssssccoty. It was kind of funny the way she would say it. Sometimes out of the blue, Scott would say “Now you listen here ssssssscccoty” just to make me laugh.

Scott was frustrated. This had been going on for such a long time and he knew I was emotionally at my limit. I couldn’t handle it anymore. She was completely out of control. She drank. She got mean. She fought. Someone would call the police and she would get arrested. Hospital. Jail. Phone calls. It was emotionally exhausting. It was excruciating. I could see her path and her final destination but there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it. It was like witnessing a devastating train wreck that was happening in very slow motion.

I cried myself to sleep many nights because of these scenarios. I couldn’t go get her. What would I do with her? I couldn’t bring her to my house. I wasn’t going to subject my boys to that craziness.  I couldn’t take her home. She would just be back at it. Jail was a safer place. At least she didn’t have access to the bottle or the drugs. That is such a terrible feeling and thought….jail is safer….jail is better. But it was true. At least I knew where she was and they would feed her.

Mother was a prisoner to alcohol and drugs. I know this wasn’t really my mother. My mother was buried deep down inside this crazy woman. I wanted my mother to be released. I wanted her free from the evil that controlled her and stole her from me.   She wanted that too. She really did. But for reasons I don’t understand and can’t explain she wasn’t able to break free. I never walked in her shoes. I was thankful for that and so was Mother. She used to tell me so.

When you are in the middle of crazy…

Remember, you can’t fix them. Don’t rub their noses in every little thing they have done. They probably won’t remember all the things they did while they were messed up anyway. Besides what’s the point? To make them feel bad and more miserable?  They feel worse than you could possibly ever imagine. Sometimes it’s easier for them to stay messed up and numb the pain than to get sober or clean and deal with all of the hurt….their hurt and everyone else’s too. The things they do to hurt others are usually only a symptom of the real problem…the addiction.  They will only be more drawn to the bottle or drugs. 

You can love them and help them the best you can with what you’ve got but you have to set boundaries to save yourself. When they get to the point they want help…help them. Love them unconditionally. You can love them unconditionally and still set boundaries. You can say things like…”Mother, I love you no matter what but I can’t be around you when you are drunk. It makes me sad and it makes me cry a lot. Please don’t call me when you are drunk. But when you are sober and you want to talk, call me. I love you.” To many times we make them feel worthless, unloved and judged. But the truth is…we are hurt, disappointed, scared and angry…just like them. We don’t know what to do so we lash out and try anything and everything. We start behaving in crazy ways too.

Love unconditionally. Each and every time they get clean…give them a do over. Yes they may fail and yes they may disappoint you. But what if they succeed? What if they fly? How many times have we failed or disappointed someone? Love unconditionally.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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