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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Old 05-14-2015, 04:36 AM
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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Th.

I just wanted to start this post by explaining my points of discussion here are not an attempt to minimize or trivialize peoples real experiences of trauma, I recognize there are life events for many people that can be very painful and hard to get past, there are things that happen to people that I cannot even begin to comprehend. This post is more about a Curious Observation of my own experience and how my addiction/recovery narrative developed, changed and broke apart.

When I talk about narratives I am talking about the story of our addiction and the characters in that story. I personally believe we are as humans pre disposed to create these stories to make sense of the world. Sometimes (especially in my case) we can create a story with such definite detail and cartoonish descriptions that we separate ourselves from reality into a world of make believe.

I will start this discussion with an experience I had at rehab.
About 2 weeks into my rehab, I was doing well (in my mind) there was nothing about the processes I didn't understand, I pretty much had a 'just do it' approach to all the activities and learned early on that the therapists liked my courage a lot and again in my own mind I already had my own plans of being a therapist myself, I am fairly confident that this process was more about ego than courage. The downside was that certain people in the patient/peer community seemed to really get irritated at being anywhere near me, I imagined and put this down to those people "just not getting it" and one day they would come around and understand it is all part of the process, Blah Blah Bah

Anyway we a had a special kind of heavy duty program to attend within the rehab called "changes". 4 days of "psycho theatre" and self examining guided visualization. Lots of shouting and crying ( with a unbridled catharsis).
In our small group I listened to the stories of childhood traumas, and digging deep back into my past (and driven by a need to have some kind of "inner child suffering" story) i mentioned a strange sexual experience I had with a 14 year old girl when I was 11. I had never considered this traumatic and when I mentioned it to the therapist and the group that it felt like a kind of seduction, everyone immediately pounced on the idea that "No it wasn't seduction, it was child sexual abuse"
My therapist insisted that I was a victim of abuse, and this was part of my "wounded self" that needed healing.
I went with it hook, line and sinker. I distinctly remember feeling a weird kind of Pride when I learned I was a victim of this, (again no disrespect to those with real and harmful trauma) I walked into that Room that day a Compulsive Gambler with anxiety and depression and walked out with an identity that I was a victim of child abuse. My whole demeanor changed, my mind began to create a story of victimhood and my ego began to create a story of "a survivor", my whole recovery narrative changed.

The human brain is amazing at creating stories (even memories) to explain why things are the way they are. I spent a lot of time and money living a recovery life under this story, and for the most part it was false. I don't deny for one moment that I felt disconnected and fearful as a child, (many of us did) but I had no major events to glean onto.
I could and still cant really explain my gambling addiction and perhaps some things in my past contributed to how my life ended up with out of control behavior but I don't know for sure, what I do know however is how easy it can be to latch onto things, to turn correlation into causation, to enhance and exaggerate the hits and forget the misses, to (with great sincerity) make up a script that made me feel like I had a purpose and provided me with belief and comfort Ohh yes some stroking of the EGO as well. All of these things happened to me, and at the first sign of reality that kind of recovery would break down, into pieces.

What grew out of the ashes of all that stuff is me, a person who has not gambled in 10 years, me a person who became an atheist, a skeptic and a humanist. A person who can face most realities that life throws at me.
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Old 05-14-2015, 06:25 AM
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Sounds like a really interesting program of rehabilitation you were on.

Ha, made me laugh too when you said about attending therapy with idea's of becoming a therapist at the same time.

That reminds me of when I was in rehab (a different type of rehab seemingly) and seeing a psychiatrist about my substance misuse.

I had soon after notions that I would like to be that! Yeah, a psychiatrist. Delusions of grandeur perhaps? Not really, they might say that.


It's just the impression that the guy had on me, I wanted to be like him. And I wanted to commit myself to some, purpose or something in life.

I thought I would have the aptitude for the study as that was always my strong point. And I was in my early 20's still. Anyway, I digress.


I can specifically relate to this bit;

Originally Posted by samseb5351 View Post
i mentioned a strange sexual experience I had with a 14 year old girl when I was 11. I had never considered this traumatic and when I mentioned it to the therapist and the group that it felt like a kind of seduction, everyone immediately pounced on the idea that "No it wasn't seduction, it was child sexual abuse"
Yeah I shared a thread here about some similar experiences I had to you above except that I was considerably younger than you were at the time.

I didn't overly enjoy them, and I didn't not enjoy them either. So I'm confused about that, but I'm more confused as to how it related to my parents if I am honest.

I got punished as a result. (my parents noticed a porno video had been moved so I copped a beating for that). I was under 10, I'm guessing 8 and the girl must have been 14 or 15 if she was a hired babysitter, which she was.


Those experiences stand out for me but there were others that I don't recall as vividly including even a strange sexual encounter when I was much younger then that. No idea what the significance is, like I said I don't make a big deal of it.

Except that I am a parent myself, and I just cannot reconcile how this stuff relates to my parents as I see my own kids growing up and realize that - wow- I had a much different childhood to theirs and I'm assuming most people that I've know also.

Every year that they got older it made me quietly and subconsciously re-examine my own childhood which raises so many F'n questions, and no answers. What kind of people are my parents is the obvious big one for me. And still I don't know.


I did try and raise it with them both in the past couple of years, I had thought about it often before (I'm not the type to talk about or show my inner self) but figured well, it's now or never.

It was brief. I got met with total denial on one side and a retaliatory accusation (I didn't make no accusations wtf). That was on one side. And gas lighting even on the other…

My mother heard out what I said, but immediately her response was 'Well, if you are thinking about getting counselling for that you should pay a private one for that'.

In other words, 'I think you should see state funded counsellors for all the drinking, anger and acting out to have it on record- but anything that may paint me in a negative light, you should keep separate and secret' ….

Thats what I heard, and that was her immediate response. Not exactly anything that I could take any positive or grow from wtf. I am still confused no less.


Thanks for sharing your experience of recovery. It's whatever it means to yourself I guess.
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Old 05-14-2015, 12:53 PM
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Interesting thread. Yes, I do suppose that it is a human need to create scenarios to explain things. I'm sure your therapist meant no harm , but it's definitely important to differentiate between child hood sexual abuse, and consensual sex play between minors. As a survivor myself, I felt like your story was very survivor friendly , and actually point Ted out something that's become a problem with my journey of healing. When I told my sister that I was a survivor she started talking about her experience with consensual sex play with our brother and how it relates to my story of very non consensual sex with an adult . I think it's important to note that I do know several young boys who had very similar experience to yours and it was abuse bc it was not consensual. with such a taboo subject I think ppl are apt to jump to conclusions and try to label everything the same which isn't what survisors need
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Old 05-14-2015, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by greens View Post
Interesting thread. Yes, I do suppose that it is a human need to create scenarios to explain things. I'm sure your therapist meant no harm ,
I am fairly confident my therapist meant no harm, at the end of the day I do take some responsibility i(not blame) in running with the story. At the time it seemed very genuine and still with a lack of knowledge of my relationship with addiction, the whole thing seemed to make sense. Thats one of the things in early recovery especially when you are hurting, lonely or confused, I am fairly confident that during those times you are more vulnerable to credulity. Because I had this kind of "just do it" attitude in the rehab, I picked up on many dubious claims and believed most things without much (if any) investigation. I just didn't know stuff especially, skills of critical thinking and investigation, if you had "therapist" written on your name plate then I probably assumed you knew what you talking about.
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Old 05-15-2015, 02:15 AM
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I really do think that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we deal with that stuff. While you can't totally evade reality, on a personal level reality is dependent on how we view it. Just as an example I'll get really angry at someone thinking they're doing everything they can think of to annoy me only to find out they're clueless of the fact that I'm mad. It's easy to feel like the word is out to get you (which is kind of how I'm feeling lately).
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Old 05-20-2015, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by MythOfSisyphus View Post
I really do think that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we deal with that stuff. While you can't totally evade reality, on a personal level reality is dependent on how we view it. Just as an example I'll get really angry at someone thinking they're doing everything they can think of to annoy me only to find out they're clueless of the fact that I'm mad. It's easy to feel like the word is out to get you (which is kind of how I'm feeling lately).
I would suggest that reality is independent from how I view it. This however is one of those philosophical conundrums, so in context of our discussion I am expressing the idea that I live my life with an attitude to align what I believe to be true to what is real (independent reality). The best method I know of to do this is really the Scientific method, involving, investigation, evidence, critical thinking, falsification. Even when I am talking about my own action/reaction to things, emotions and thoughts (as in your example) this method works, not always to discover new reality based facts but especially in recovery to get Crap out of the way.
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Old 05-21-2015, 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by samseb5351 View Post
I would suggest that reality is independent from how I view it. This however is one of those philosophical conundrums, so in context of our discussion I am expressing the idea that I live my life with an attitude to align what I believe to be true to what is real (independent reality). The best method I know of to do this is really the Scientific method, involving, investigation, evidence, critical thinking, falsification. Even when I am talking about my own action/reaction to things, emotions and thoughts (as in your example) this method works, not always to discover new reality based facts but especially in recovery to get Crap out of the way.
I agree, but I wasn't talking about objective facts but rather attitudes. For instance, say you get fired from a job you disliked. Objectively you are no longer employed. That isn't necessarily good or bad, it's just a statement of fact.

In dealing with being fired we get to the 90/10 idea. You can view it as a negative, looking at the fact that you now need to look for a job, you have bills you worry about paying, etc. Or you can remember that you hated the job and just needed a push. Maybe you'll take a month to start writing a book, or go back to school. You move on from an objective look at the facts to deciding how to proceed with your life. Inasmuch as one's life it in one's own control, how you perceive the situation is more important than objective facts.

So we all have our own opinions but not our own facts!
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Old 05-21-2015, 01:37 PM
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Thanks MOS yes I think we agree mostly on this. Perception of reality and objective reality maybe are two separate things, mostly my point is attitudinal, an attitude to on regular basis with curious intention try and see past the moment to moment perception and explore life in that vain. Your examples are good ones because they touch on re-active approaches to situations mostly emotional and can become what we make them to be, we can choose to look at things with bitterness, resentment or we can choose more positive outlooks, Ahh but there are other options and we can look at situations more neutrally or curiously without any real need to do much at all, this is what I mean by attitudinal reality checking. If I have an emotional reaction to things I am able to cope better, knowing the universe functions with or without me,
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