Thoughts on power
This week, we build on our lessons in stability and dignity and move into power. We start to look at boundaries and the role healthy anger can play in our healing. Most of us in recovery had or still have very poor boundaries. We take responsibility and accountability for what's not ours and/or place what we are responsible for in the hands of others. For many of us, this started very young and was only further exacerbated by the natural consequences of the results of addiction: we begin with a "lost self" and only lose it further.
But the good news is, we can start to reclaim it the moment we decide to put forth the honest effort and commit to honesty. In my own recovery, learning about boundaries and the gifts of anger have been the most critical and impactful in my healing process. Not only learning, but practicing (always the hardest part) being angry and communicating my boundaries. This has been a years-long process and I will never stop learning, so please know that this is not something that is perfected overnight. Be patient. Go slow. Have more compassion with yourself than ever.
This may be the week you get sick of Morning Pages and mediation. Right around the three-week mark is where we usually give up and ironically, it's where new behaviors actually start to solidify as habits in our brain. So... stay with it.
I hope you feel good about the work you've done so far. This is BIG stuff and you are IN it, doing it, changing your life one moment at a time. Thank you again for being here with me. I am learning as much as you are.
Watch or Listen to The Class
Note: there were two live classes this week. The content of each class is a bit different this week, so I encourage you to watch both classes.
Continue from Week 1. WATCH: Julia Cameron on Morning Pages.
The Golden Om by Steve Gold (7:00) - Note: actually do the oms with him in this meditation.
The mantra for week one is: I stand in my own center. I am safe. I am strong.
- Write it down in your journal each morning before you begin morning pages.
- Put it as a reminder into your phone to show up at noon each day.
- When fear comes up, repeat it out loud or in your mind.
1. SHAME INVENTORY, PART 2
Based on the applied shame vs. authentic shame discussion in the Week 2: Dignity class, do the following exercise.
Read your applied shame inquiry questions from Week 2.
Answer these questions in your journal.
- After reviewing the messages from Shame Inventory, Part 1, which of these do you believe yourself? Do you like these messages? Do you want to keep them?
- Title a new piece of paper "MY VALUES" and rewrite ONLY the messages from Part 1 that you want to keep.
- Now, add your own messages. These are value statements, your own standards of behavior; your judgment of what is important in life. E.g. "I value physical sobriety. I value the integrity of my word. I value a beautiful home." Be sure not to write what you *should* value, but what you actually do.
2. Draw your boundaries (then and now, or PRESENT AND FUTURE).
Using any medium (crayons, pencil, pen, paints) in your journal: draw a picture of your boundaries. I chose to draw my boundaries pre-sobriety and what they are now, but alternatively you could choose to draw what they are now and what you aspire to have them look like in the future. Note: my visual interpretation is one of many ways to do this--you can choose what works for you.
- Note the ACTUAL distance you would like people to have from your power center (not where you think they should be). For example, perhaps one of your parents doesn't even belong on the page.
- Note the relative space you would like people to occupy in your life.
- Following each drawing, make comments that note your feelings, shifts in energy/relationships, and any other thoughts you have related to the drawings (my examples are below).
- I have VERY weak/non-existent boundaries around everything, anyone can come in or out. Leaks everywhere. No capacity/right to feel anger--everything turns into shame.
- Ryan's (ex-husband) opinion is paramount, I am constantly trying to make sure I am "okay" with him which means hiding things, not speaking my truth, assuming all the blame if anything goes wrong.
- My dad's influence is very heavy in my psyche. I still worship his opinion but have a ton of unexpressed rage. Still getting financial support from him which means I feel beholden to his opinion and influence.
- Work has zero boundaries--I am never NOT working, it gets all my available time and energy, and although it doesn't always feel unhealthy, it gets a disproportionate amount of my energy power.
- "Men" can come in, out, no personal integrity, no sense of actual worth.
- Alma is both too close and too far away; I am constantly either craving her or wishing she was with her dad. I don't know how to be with her without it consuming me.
- Mom is kept very far away, she drives me crazy, I am angry, spiteful, can't stand to be around her.
- Friends: no one really knows me. I am either enmeshed or dismissive.
- A much stronger center overall, in general, but:
- Work can still be an issue, sometimes it bleeds too far in, but overall, the space it occupies is more proportional/reflects my priorities. I lean less on this to provide a total sense of self-esteem.
- Alma: I am comfortable with our boundaries. I can really see her.
- Ryan: following years of "living amends" and my personal amends toward him, his opinion is right-sized and I am not apologizing/trying to prove I am not a horrible person/hiding parts of myself and my life from him. No more sneaking around. There is equality in power.
- Dad moved waaaaaay out. Ended all financial support from him. Limited time with him during visits to what feels good and right. Do still feel a tremendous amount of worry about his mental health and well-being but it doesn't consume me.
- Unhealthy friends are gone. No more. Cut ties with 1-2 key people and that shifted everything for me.
- Core work was honesty, realizing MY pattern was not being honest about what I wanted and how I felt within certain relationships and then blaming them for being "bullies" or whatever. Dropping fear of what they could do/what would happen to me if I stood up for myself.
- Current relationship: difficulty in boundaries still, assuming responsibility for what's not mine.
3. primal screaming and pillow exercise
Part 1: The Scream
Primal screaming is one of the best anger releases there are. It's as uncomplicated as it sounds... you simply scream, from your belly, with your whole body, at the top of your lungs, until you have nothing left.
If you can do this outdoors without holding back at all, PERFECT. If you are going to be worried about scaring people or will be too self-conscious, scream into a pillow.
While you're screaming, call to mind anyone or anything that makes you feel helpless, angry, frustrated, confused, or hopeless. It can be a person, a situation, a behavior (like drinking), anything. Scream AT it.
Part 2: The Pillow
Find a pillow that you don't mind breaking (if you get to that point, like I did!). Feather pillows are better than foam ones, but anything will work.
Set up your phone so you can video yourself and quite simply, beat the crap out of the pillow until you have nothing left in you. It can take a while to really allow yourself to let it rip. Again, call to mind anyone or anything that makes you feel helpless, angry, frustrated, confused, or hopeless. It can be a person, a situation, a behavior (like drinking), anything. Hit the pillow AT it.
Post a picture of yourself to the forum afterwards.
- Did you find it easy or difficult to do this?
- How did it feel physically, emotionally?
- Did any unexpected people, images, or scenarios come to mind?
Rob Bell's Podcast:
Spiritualish Podcast series on boundaries:
- Why Bother With Boundaries?
- You're Living All Over Me
- Gossip, Triangulation, and Wearing Other People's Underwear
- The Cost of Being Likeable
- The Space Between Us
Getting Drunk on Judgement by Laura McKowen