Welcome to the Family

Family is entirely a misnomer, but the song is too stuck in my head to type “committee,” which is more apt (maybe…family might be pretty appropriate too, now that I think about it).  I’ve had some…odd experiences of late. So, a brief detour from the relapse narrative (and, truth be told, the first relapse is a really short story. Also completely common, but I’ll get to it. Needs to be written) and into the annals of mental health.

The sum of all of the weird events is personality. I’ve had a personality assessment, an encouragement for personal branding (no, not the body mod kind), and a, well, series of insights regarding my still unfinished fifth step (we ran out of time. Fee free to insert the appropriate joke here). According to the DiSC (said personality assessment), I am a “high S, high I” (the scores are nearly equal).  I stands for “influence” and S, unbelievably, for Steady (though, in glancing at ye olde font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, S originally was short for submission.  Make of that what you will).  Also, as with Myers-Briggs, I seem to possess the traits of the “counselor” personality type (INFJ).

And you know what they suggest about the mental health of counselors, right?

As some of you in my daily existence are already aware, I dragged my butt back into therapy recently. Seemed a wise thing to do, on the whole, and certainly because I need all the help I can get with the whole sanity and sobriety thing.  Unfortunately, our current therapeutic enterprise is thusly particularly entertaining, as I currently feel decidedly less sane than before.

Why?

Clearly this post is destined to be among the “please tell me this isn’t as crazy as it feels” variety.  Simply put, we’ve begun naming the voices in my head. Seeing that in print, you might imagine, makes me a bit nervous. Probably makes some of you a bit nervous.

Hi!

If you hang around recovery long enough (and this time, thankfully, I have, so I wasn’t as put off by said therapeutic enterprise as I might have otherwise been), you’ll hear about “The Committee.” The notion is commonplace–one might imagine the committee as simply as Tom and Jerry cartoons with the angel and the devil on the shoulders. A friend of mine–last week I think–commented about her own committee that she wishes “they would use their inside voices.”  I so agree.

Let me introduce the committee members as yet identified (note: I owe the ridiculous construction that follows to one of the silliest fanfic pieces I’ve read to date.  No, I am not sharing the fic–I do wish to retain a modicum of dignity).  Here’s kind of how my brain works:  I recently remarked to someone that over the last few weeks, I’ve had a few events that might be called serendipitous with regard to my recovery.  Having said that….

Critic:  This isn’t appropriate sharing material.  Also, they won’t believe you anyway.

Skeptic:  Serendipitous seems to be a bit of a stretch.

Counselor:  There, there.

THAT is what happens in my brain.  What comes out of my mouth then, is often a follow-up a rephrase:  Well, not serendipitous exactly, but there was something….just…  Well, it is sort of what happens; I mean if they were all so well-defined, I could recognize them and be done already.  It’s more of an impulse–I constantly correct myself (I think I’ve noted in these pages before that I self-correct in my writing to a degree that is stunning for someone who is also a terrible editor.  Were I to leave every word I typed and put strikeouts through the word choice changes, it would be a much, much longer post).  The confident and constant critical narrative causes me to do such things as confusing self-flagellation with self-depricating humor and martyrdom with humility.

As it happens, the “maybe-not-exactly-serendipity-but-damn-sure-came-up-a-bunch” thing regarded self-criticism and the ways in which I silence myself and belittle my own experiences.*

Critic:  Others have had it far worse than you.  Stop being dramatic and oversensitive.

Skeptic: You may be blowing these “connections” out of proportion.

Critic: You have nothing of note to say anyway.

Skeptic:  I still reject the notion of serendipity.

The Rabble:  Yeah, what they said.  Who’s reading this?  *runs off to check stats*

Counselor:  Stop listening to them.  They aren’t helping.

Critic:  Can it, softie.

Here’s the rub, though (and What She Said warned me about this, but boy was I unprepared for the realization)–I wondered yesterday what it would be like if the Critic, who is by far the most dominant of the voices, were to be silenced, or even muffled.  The idea is, frankly, terrifying.  I realize the Critic is me, a particularly unhelpful part of me, but definitely me, so to absent this dominant part of me leaves me with…what, exactly?  From where I sit, what remains is a void.

A really fucking significant void.

As I said, terrifying.  And not just a little upsetting–who am I without the pounds of self-hatred I dump on myself without even acknowledging that I do it most of the time?  Again with the mantra of the year:  who the hell am I?**

If you made it through this drivel (Hi, Critic!), or not, for that matter, thank you.  I’m trying to get all of this clear in my head and it helps immeasurably to put it out here.  Helps, too, to know there is a level of accountability to other people knowing my crazy.


*Out of an unusual sense of self-preservation, I’m not going to cite the particulars here.  I will say that I was horrified to realize how much I had begun to belittle one particular series of events in my life and recast it as both “not that big of a deal” and my fault.  I *thought* I had worked through the issues, but, quite clearly, I had, instead, boxed them up neatly and tried to pretend they weren’t there.  When I mentioned this is therapy, my counselor observed that I was, at the time, doing the best I could to merely survive, which is an accurate assessment, but not one I’d ever really considered.

**Yeah, working on a “personal brand” has been a real blast.  Sheesh.  Although, if you look at the exterior, the bright red hair and the penchant for unusual shoes certainly comes to mind.

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