PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Confusion (#3d)
QUOTE: “One who asks a question is a fool for 5 minutes. One who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” ~ Chinese proverb
The opposite of confusion is clear thinking.
For ACoAs, this requires a certain amount of S & I, which allows us to develop a stable sense of who we are as an individual, what our rights are, & a decent amount of self-esteem.
At the same time, it’s appropriate to be confused in certain circumstances. Healthy adults use those situations to notice when something is incomplete or incorrect. It’s a cue to get more information, & ask for help or get verification. “Leaving home” (S & I) is scary & perplexing. From time to time it’s even depressing.
But the reasons for Recovery Confusion are not the same as those we’ve been drowning in much of our life.
CONFUSION is NORMAL :
a. during any transition, such as with personal growth.
In Recovery we’re moving thru completely new territory & don’t know what’s ahead, even tho many others have gone before & paved the way. We’re used to predicting all future events based on past experience – but the past we’ve been using is mainly based on childhood trauma.
So even if we’ve had some positive adult experiences, we still rely on what’s familiar, no matter how distorted or harmful – because that feels ‘safe’. But of course it’s NOT. The well-known ‘definition’ of Insanity is: “Doing the same (stupid/wrong/sick) thing over & over, & expecting a different (better) outcome”!
• At first we don’t know what to expect, or even if it’s possible for us to heal. We may not even believe we can achieve our goals of having internal peace & external success.
Yet many of us are compelled to keep searching for assurance. We want/demand a blueprint, & want to know how long it’s going to take, meaning – how fast we’ll be ‘well’. We hate uncertainty – it feels chaotic & unsafe. Transitions are always uncomfortable. That’s normal!
• BUT – by definition – growth means we can’t possibly know what’s ahead – not completely. We have to be willing to risk finding out what’s possible by changing our thinking & actions, to get that illusive ‘different outcome’. As we gather new information & courage, we’re encouraged to take more steps along the path. Otherwise there’d be no reason for the effort.
• Transitions include periods of time when we have to just sit with not knowing – we can’t use the old ways but don’t yet know ourselves well enough to figure out how to be. We don’t like it, but with persistence, we become more sure of ourselves. “I know what I know” applies even in transitional stages, which can help us feel a little more grounded.
b. when learning anything new – which includes reworking the original developmental stages. (See book “Cycles of Power” + comments ~ Pamela Levin). We get confused not only for the obvious reason that it’s all new to us, but also because most of us never learned process.
We’re impatient & want our progress to be faster than is humanly possible:
• we think we should already know things we never learned & which our brain needs time to grow into, because repetition is what makes the change – & that takes time
• we’ve been miserable for so long we want a miracle cure, & right now!
• ACoAs rarely have a realistic sense of time – how long things actually take – we think something takes much, much longer OR no time at all
• Always remember the analogy to having physical injuries. The greater the damage to our body (& our age) – from an accident, illness or surgery – the longer it takes to heal. And if we try to use / over-use a recovering part of the body too soon – before it’s had enough time to heal – it’ll be re-traumatized.
It’s the same for emotional wounding.
Recovery work needs to be done consistently – every day – in order to see progress, AND it cannot be rushed. 12-Step Programs remind us “Progress, not perfection”.
NEXT: Confusion (Part 4b)