Friday night friends

Thank God for my Friday night friends. Our topic last night was “fear,” and several people shared what their fears are and were, how they have overcome them and worked through fear, and saddest, where those fears came from. Several of our group have sad childhood stories of sexual abuse or sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. I cried to hear one of our group talk about being taken advantage of as a young hitchhiker and another to talk about his alcoholic, abusive father. These people are older than me some of them, yet the hurt child inside of them is so easy to identify. It makes me feel close to them and grateful they have the strength in vulnerability to share, and empathetic, because we all came to our addictions for similar reasons, to block the pain of reality. Now we are working together to take responsibility for our adult lives and to support each other.

I heard a disparaging news item on NPR last month about AA, which is not my home 12-step or particular addiction, but the news item talked about AA not being very effective. One of the guys last night said he’d heard 12-step called “a cult.” I don’t care. I feel most like myself and accepted by this group of people, and I am so, so grateful to have this and want to share this acceptance with others. I think it’s hard for friends to understand why people, why I, get stuck. From the outside looking in, I imagine it looks like, “well just get out of your situation already.” And I feel that too and internalize shame for being in the same situation, but I think it’s hard for people without addictions or compulsions to relate. That’s ok. I am grateful to have my friends and to have found this group.

I am also grateful for my therapist in Durham; she helped me through my separation and divorce by helping me to reach a conclusion on my own. And she gives me hope right now, that I can get out of this addiction and duplicity by understanding where my fears come from, fear of abandonment and of being alone and fear of intimacy. No, I don’t want to be digging into this stuff when I am 50 whining about my mother and father. I understand someone else reading this might say, “get over it.” But I feel tremendous hope and support when Ginger says to me, “you didn’t get a model for relationships.” She says I took on a lot of my  father’s sexual shame, which I don’t understand yet.

All I know is sometimes I don’t know what my feelings are or where they come from. I cried in our session this week but couldn’t quite place why. The feelings are just below the surface, and when we begin talking, they come out in tears. I told Ginger about the endorsement letter Pamela wrote for me for the Fulbright program three years ago and how I could not read it. I filed it in my email and read it a year later, and it made me cry. Why? Ginger called this “joy-pain”–joy that someone would care for you followed by pain because this is an unknown feeling and knowing this is not something you got when you were younger. That makes some sense. I tend to get very emotional when someone does something for me or shows up or sees me, and it makes me cry, like in a way that seems overly emotional for the situation.

We talked last evening about feeling young. I shared that often I feel like people are older than me, and this occurred to me in NYC this past weekend after I talked with a woman, who described her life with her two-year-old. It occurred to me that I always think people are older than me, even though I know I am 44 and can look in the mirror to see that, but key milestones, like marriage and children, have not taken place in my life, and when I see others with these milestones, it feels to me that they are older. I feel often child-like in my approach to life, and I want very much to be a stronger adult and to be happy. Other friends in the group commiserated, referencing not having children too as life markers, and I was glad to have brought it up to hear their experiences.

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