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Red flags everywhere, ugh

Old 07-17-2014, 09:27 PM
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Red flags everywhere, ugh

So, in working my program and in paying attention to the people around me; family, acquaintances, friends, program friends, etc I am finding that I am hypersensitive to my interactions with people. I over analyze, I think too much, and I pick our interactions apart trying to figure out where the conversation went wrong, if I was working my program, if I was to blame for them snubbing me or whatever.

Here's an example. I had told a friend of mine via FB messaging that we had a death in the family and that I was having a hard time being supportive to my mother. This person responded that they figured my mom really was grateful for my support and that they were sorry for my loss. I met with this person last week for coffee and they asked how my mom was doing so I told them that she was back home after my grandfather's death and that we're all worried about my grandmother. Their response was, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear about his death." To which I said, "Umm, we discussed this last week on FB messenger, you don't remember?" Nope, didn't remember. So, I took that a bit personally and tried to pick it apart wondering if this person has a serious memory issue or something. It's not like it was something from months ago, this was just the week prior.

Here's another: I was at a birthday party for a program friend. I made a silly joke about the size of my present and they laughed but another guest made a snarky comment and glared at me. So, I took that personally even though they very well may have just been playing into my joke or something else. I started it and I still had trouble with someone's reaction. UGH!!!

What the heck is wrong with me? I don't see people as safe, I can't handle jokes and I take things way too seriously. I already know that I am not in a place to engage with RAH because he WILL put me on defense and our conversations never go well, but handling other people is now becoming difficult too. I used to be so easy going with people and now I'm hyped up and sensitive and it's driving me crazy. It's making me want to never bother with people again, and that includes people from program because, quite frankly, I see a lot of non-program behavior coming from these folks and I don't think I want to participate in outside activities with them and that makes me sad. I was trying to reach out, do things with program people other than meetings, and I don't even feel that is safe.

So freaking frustrated with myself right now. I know I should accept people for where they are, I know I shouldn't take things personally, I just wish it was that easy for me. Sigh.....I really wanted to make a few new friends and connect better with others. Just not seeing it right now. All I see is loneliness. I've never had really close friends and maybe I now know why? Really sad today.
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:52 PM
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So freaking frustrated with myself right now. I know I should accept people for where they are, I know I shouldn't take things personally, I just wish it was that easy for me. Sigh.....I really wanted to make a few new friends and connect better with others. Just not seeing it right now. All I see is loneliness. I've never had really close friends and maybe I now know why? Really sad today.
Hi liztola, so sorry you're feeling down. I think you know the issues well. You expressed them perfectly. You are finding offense where in all likelihood none was intended and taking things too personally. I think just the fact that you typed this out will help it to lessen. You are self-aware and that's great!

With your friend and the FB messages - Okay, forgetting about a death is hurtful, no doubt about it. But honestly it does not sound like your friend does not care about you. Messaging isn't the best way to communicate something serious. IMO neither is email or anything online. It's so very easy to take things wrong. I've gotten into some text arguments that would *never* happen if I was talking to the person face to face.

I do not believe you are destined for loneliness or not having close friends, as now you are trying to reach out and you WILL succeed. It may take a bit more time to make a connection or maybe another group. Don't give up. You sound like a very nice person and there are others out there who will be very happy to have you as a friend.

It's hard for me to reach out, too, I am not good in groups and need to spend time one on one in order to get to know someone. In a group I'll just shut up.

I know it sounds trite but hang in there. And it's okay to be sad. Let yourself be sad but KNOW that you will not always feel that way. You really won't. ::Hugs:: to you.
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:20 AM
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You are an ACoA, correct? Or an adult child of abuse? Maybe both. I'm fuzzy on your background. Anyway, this is a classic trait of adult children. There's actually a fairly recent thread on it in the Adult Children of Addicted/Alcoholic Parents forum. I found doing my 4th Step inventory was HUGE in helping me to not totally over analyze every single interaction I have throughout my day. I future-trip like nobody's business sometimes, and I can turn any mole hill into Everest. It's also apparently one of my traits for Aspergers. That's a new diagnosis that I am still navigating. Anyway, I understand where you're coming from, and all I can say is work the program. Really. If there were an easy button for this, I'd totally share it with you. Unfortunately, there's not. So working the program, it is. (((Hugs)))
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Old 07-18-2014, 03:59 AM
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Lizatola-

This was a huge part of my recovery too. The over-analyzing, the scrutiny, the overthinking.

For me personally this is where my therapist really helped (though I did occasionally bring it up at Al-anon as a topic).

It took time (and I think I had to go through it, there were no short cuts for me), but it has gotten so much better for me with help.

One day I woke up and realized that I was anxious. I knew I was because my head was going 18 directions, a million of miles a minute, and that was not the "norm" for me any longer.

I did have to be internal for some time. In part because outside stimulation just triggered my behavior. That has also shifted for me in the last year. I found that I did many similar things in my relationships with friends that I did with my exAH that got me into recovery....and it just took me some time to unravel that and stop doing those pieces.
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Old 07-18-2014, 04:29 AM
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Your home is a dangerous place emotionally and has been a long time for you.
Of course you are hypervigilant.

When you're in the jungle you worry about being eaten
that's how you survive.

I could see how this has been "exported" into ordinary life with "regular" people
beyond your qualifier.

I have done the same thing for most of my life as well growing up in an alcoholic home.
I've never felt safe emotionally. This is the collateral damage ACOAs often must deal with in their own relationships.
At 50 (in August) I have made progress, but still pretty
deep analysis of every situation and interaction in terms of emotion / affect.

This is very helpful to think about lizatola--between this and Stung's post today on controlling others I have much to ponder
in the next few days about the long-term way I have "been
doing" my interactions with people and why I am this way.

With my spouse drinking increasingly more and sliding down the slippery slope I know too well from my own travels,
I realize the jungle is growing up around me again and if anything,
I have begun to retreat into my emotional buffer zone as his anger bursts happen and unpredicable drinking / depression occurs.

Is it possible to live in an alcoholic home without fear of being harmed at some level?
I'm not sure it is, or may not be for me as I'm so triggered by it.

Thanks for the insight
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Old 07-18-2014, 05:37 AM
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To be honest, it sounds as though the hypervigilance may be part of your healing process - though I'm SURE it doesn't feel like that right now! Assuming that it's true you're an ACoA (as am I)... I'd make the following observations...

I used to be very easy-going. For that, read "I used to let people walk all over me"; I used to stay in harmful situations for too long, tolerate abusive behaviour because I didn't want to hurt the other person's feelings, all that. I'd deny how badly I was being treated, because that was a way of coping in a situation which couldn't be changed i.e. living at home as a child, and I carried on with these traits into the adult world.

I found, when I entered therapy, that it wasn't long before the protective shell came off and I experienced my repressed emotions in all their rawness - with all the over-analysis you describe. I also found myself over-reacting to many situations. Then, also as part of the therapeutic process, my boundaries became healthier... which meant I wasn't taking things personally, not taking on board other people's assessments of me ("What other people think of me is none of my business") and became easy-going again.

I see it as needing to experience the 'unsafe' world, embracing it in all its shakiness, and letting myself feel safe again - only this time with an adult's perspective rather than that of a child.

If you want a close relationship with other program members, a sponsor may be a good option for you if you haven't got one already. All of us in 12 Step programs will be meeting other people in varying stages of recovery, and all of us may have slips at any time. I have to say I've met people in Alanon who I'd run a mile from if I met them in the outside world, though I can easily empathise with them and support them in meetings.

(((HUGS)))
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:30 AM
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Thanks everyone! I talked to my sponsor about the issue I was having with some program folks and we discussed that it was the exact reason why she stopped going to my Friday night meeting. But, we did talk about the people who are there who have good recovery programs and she suggested a better meeting for me, if I could find the time in my week.

Oh, and to answer everyone's questions: yes, I grew up in an ACOA home AND when I was 13 my younger sister was diagnosed with leukemia and our home life really got turned upside down from that. Not her fault, not anybody's fault, just that it left me unsupported in so many ways for 3-4 years of my teen life and I didn't 'see' it as a problem until I was an adult. Too much to talk about here, but let's just say that it sucks when a young child is critically ill. Everyone hurts.


A few days ago, I came home from grocery shopping to hear my RAH yelling at my son. I started shaking and my legs got like jello and then I stood in the doorway listening. He wasn't yelling AT my son, he was yelling at my son ABOUT what was on TV and about the government. What threw me off was my own physical reaction to his yelling. That one incident made me realize that what Hawkeye said was true. I live in a place that is emotionally dangerous and I have no idea how long it will be before I can hear RAH yelling and not have a physical reaction. I don't think my body has a shut off valve or a button that says disengage.

I am just, once again, frustrated with myself for being so hyped up and touchy and sensitive. The good news is: I have had a friend come back into my life, after I made my 9th step amends to her and she asked to be friends again(after 5 years of not speaking to each other via my own choice), and I have realized that she is not a safe person for me. I have kept her at a distance and limit my communication with her and I've been very honest with her and telling her that things will be different this time around. She doesn't seem to like the new me as much because I call her out on her attitude and her complaining. Anyway, my interactions with her have shown me that I have grown and that I am learning to set boundaries, in certain situations and with other difficult people. I just can't seem to do it with my RAH, probably because I'm too close to the situation at hand.
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:17 PM
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Oh my dear, dear friend...I am so sorry you are hurting. ((HUGS))

I am reminded of something I read once about life with an addict/abuse, and how it really truly is like fighting a war. And we come out of it damaged and scarred. To me, it makes absolute sense that one way you have coped with everything is to become one big giant exposed nerve, but to turn all of that emotional turmoil inward. I completely understand the hypersensitivity, and the tendency to deconstruct every single detail in your own mind (but not talk about it with anyone else).

You know what I'm going to say...be gentle with yourself. You may have trouble setting boundaries with your RAH, because you spend so much time in his presence. Celebrate how far you have come, and give yourself some much-deserved credit for that. Perhaps try to focus on one friendship at a time. Think of the friend you are most comfortable with, and make a concerted effort to re-frame your oversensitivity in that relationship.

Love you!

Edited to add: I think sometimes we expect so much of ourselves in our own recoveries, because we (a) see ourselves as better able to handle things and get well than our qualifiers, and (b) want to "show" our qualifiers that this is how recovery is done. You are your own best friend in everything, especially your recovery. You have come so far, my friend! You will continue to make progress and grow. The fact that you are aware of these things is amazing. How many years did you live before you identified this particular issue? For me, it was about 35.
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Old 07-18-2014, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Wisconsin View Post
Oh my dear, dear friend...I am so sorry you are hurting. ((HUGS))

I am reminded of something I read once about life with an addict/abuse, and how it really truly is like fighting a war. And we come out of it damaged and scarred. To me, it makes absolute sense that one way you have coped with everything is to become one big giant exposed nerve, but to turn all of that emotional turmoil inward. I completely understand the hypersensitivity, and the tendency to deconstruct every single detail in your own mind (but not talk about it with anyone else).

You know what I'm going to say...be gentle with yourself. You may have trouble setting boundaries with your RAH, because you spend so much time in his presence. Celebrate how far you have come, and give yourself some much-deserved credit for that. Perhaps try to focus on one friendship at a time. Think of the friend you are most comfortable with, and make a concerted effort to re-frame your oversensitivity in that relationship.

Love you!

Edited to add: I think sometimes we expect so much of ourselves in our own recoveries, because we (a) see ourselves as better able to handle things and get well than our qualifiers, and (b) want to "show" our qualifiers that this is how recovery is done. You are your own best friend in everything, especially your recovery. You have come so far, my friend! You will continue to make progress and grow. The fact that you are aware of these things is amazing. How many years did you live before you identified this particular issue? For me, it was about 35.
LOL, how many years? I think it was 43! Thank you for the encouragement and love. RAH is being nice again today and I have a raging headache.

I have been doing a good job of taking care of myself. I made dinner plans with a friend I haven't seen in 2 months. I got a pedicure earlier in the week. I went to a pilates barre class with a friend earlier in the week, I did some cardio, I went to restorative yoga yesterday, and I am reading one of my son's books for his literature class that I have to teach him in the fall. I am planning on painting the trim in the house and I scheduled a plumber to come and finally fix our broken sink faucet(and I bought a new faucet this week, too).

Basically, I've just been getting things done and I wonder why I'm exhausted today, LOL! As for the friendships: I decided to make a list of people whom I see as safe people for me and I was actually impressed as to how many of my friends really are genuinely kind and caring people who I like to spend time with. Some days I just wish my RAH was one of them and many times I am jealous of people who have healthy well balanced marriages and lives. That's just not me right now, and I have to find acceptance for that in my own time. Love you too, and I hope that your summer is going well!!
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:38 PM
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many times I am jealous of people who have healthy well balanced marriages and lives.
You're preaching to the choir. I wish the same thing at least once a day but I don't have balance because I wasn't raised in a balanced environment. In fact, I bet if I was dropped into a situation with a bunch of balanced people I would probably try to relate to them in a dysfunctional way because that's what I know. You're trying to become a healthier version of yourself and that's enough for today. Be kind to yourself, Liz. I think you're doing a fantastic job!
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Old 07-19-2014, 05:00 AM
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When I am under stress I lose my sense of humor. Its a simple as that. Really stressed and I find jokes annoying rather than funny. Can be hyper critical of behaviors that really aren't that big of a deal. I suppose when I feel like my string is strung to its max that anything else on top of it can result in me snapping and acting inappropriately in response.

I just try to find a way to release the tension rather than unload on some poor bystander lol. For me its something physical. Was feeling this way this week so I just left work early and came home and cleaned my house.

I think cleaning the friend house is a good thing to do. I have done that this year. Even when I was going through Al Anon is didn't dawn on me that as a co-dependent I had relationships outside of RAH that were unhealthy all give (me) and all take (them).I stopped giving and they disappeared like a fart in the wind. Good riddance. Trying to fix their multitude of problems exhausting. Think they wanted to help with my own? Hell no.
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Stung View Post
You're preaching to the choir. I wish the same thing at least once a day but I don't have balance because I wasn't raised in a balanced environment. In fact, I bet if I was dropped into a situation with a bunch of balanced people I would probably try to relate to them in a dysfunctional way because that's what I know. You're trying to become a healthier version of yourself and that's enough for today. Be kind to yourself, Liz. I think you're doing a fantastic job!
LOL! Exactly! I am working hard at letting go of my dysfunction. It's funny because I was talking to my therapist the other day and complaining about how I read a lot of books, I write a lot about my issues, I pray, etc and she said that my problem is that I let it all stew up in my head and that I ruminate on it and process it and that I never let it get to my emotions or to my heart. I am an over thinker by nature, so how do you let those emotions in when you don't know how, really? I spent so much of my life shutting up, quieting down, not allowed to speak my peace, etc because of my father and his intolerance of other people and then my AH, that I sometimes don't even know what I feel. I just know that's it's uncomfortable and then I try to affix some sort of label to that uncomfortableness: I'm sad, I'm lonely, I'm scared, etc when really it might just be that I'm ticked off and angry. Getting to the root of my feelings is going to be key for me and it's an exhausting process, I have a life to live, too, LOL.

I do find that the busier I am, the better I feel, even if it exhausts me physically. I'm heading to the gym soon and then I have to come home and do some housework and laundry. And, as I go through my day, I pray that God will guide me to safe people and that he will put friends in my life who can lift me up and support me, instead of dragging me down. People whom I can do the same thing for, as well.
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