Just a thought… Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others. [Brené Brown]
Now, where were we on Tuesday? (Yes, I’m writing journals now twice a week – ordinarily Mondays and Thursdays, but this week, Labour Day meant an adjustment. See Tuesday’s journal for why I’ve made the change…and today’s quote for my strength to do so.)
Rob was about to drop me off at a treatment centre about an hour from our BC home, so I could start to try to make sense of what it was that was wrong with me and hindering my efforts to live the fullest and most joyful life I possibly could.
Of course, you don’t have to have a medical degree to know the main cause of my troubles: having lost Lauren just 4 years ago (during a 10-year period of self-administered sobriety) and dealing with the reeling changes that came in the aftermath of that tragedy.
I left the job and city I loved, sold a house that was built with dreams in mind of family happiness for years to come, and moved to a place where I really knew only four people, all of them relatives.
But what went wrong between that time at the end of 2016 and summer of 2019?
It’s hard to pinpoint any one thing, but I can look back and know that I should have continued the counselling and therapy that I so cherished in our Toronto life. Instead, I isolated, hunkered down, wrote a book, did some freelance radio work and tried to build a new life without the solid foundation of a support network.
Yes, we would make two new friends, join Rotary to help serve the community – as we did last weekend calling Bingo at the fair all three days – and continue our efforts to maintain as much of a public profile as would ease the ache that I found accompanied leaving radio and Toronto.
And in many ways I was able to do that: the journal continues here – albeit with changes to its frequency – I had an exciting book launch and continued to be regularly interviewed about Mourning Has Broken, as well as being contracted to do keynote speeches and book signings.
It all looked so good on the outside.
But on the inside, I sought comfort. Comfort, I realized as I delved back, that disappeared early: when I was but three years old, a woman I loved second only to my mom decided that since I was about to start senior kindergarten (yep, at age three) I was too old to keep my beloved blanket. So she burned it in the trash can outside.
Wounded but undeterred, I found a replacement. That blankie was burned by my grandmother, too. I know that my trauma doesn’t begin to compare with that suffered by so many who’ve turned to addiction and whose stories had me in tears while we were in treatment together.
There’s no comparing trauma, just as there’s no comparing grief. I wanted you to know that I recognize that.
The blanket incident (times two), I have learned, was when I first discovered that things – and later people – you love, can disappear without notice at any time. “Don’t make connections or close friends; they’ll either be gone without a trace or you’ll have to leave them. Nothing that gives you comfort will stay.” Those were the warnings I decided to live by to protect my heart from being hurt.
My marriage has proven that wrong, but losing Lauren just branded it into my heart more deeply than ever.
The fear of it happening again to Rob (and thus to me) kept at me, nagging, scraping open wounds again and again until the only comfort I could find came, not in the form of a blanket, but of a tall, misty-coloured bottle. It never judged me, nor disappointed or left me. But it was promising to do me a world of harm.
I came to the decision that I needed to stop before it did harm me. Losing boundaries (like alarm clocks and people to answer to) meant losing perspective, losing caution and losing sight of what I was risking.
And so that scared woman walked with her husband, suitcase rumbling behind us, and committed to sobriety and recovery (and seeking reasons for what I had fallen into) like it was my job. And it was. It is.
My work continues with weekly meetings and counselling, both group and one-on-one, taking care to set new boundaries, saying “no” when I have to and being brutally honest with those who love me. Losing fear that people would judge me (which, of course, some have and will) and dropping the illusion that I have anything to prove to anyone anymore.
These are tall orders to fill and I’ll just do it – one day at a time. On Monday: life on the inside. What an experience!