They are powerful.
They have the power to help the healing process and they can hold enough power to destroy someone.
In the past using words as weapons to cut people down and stomp all over them was how I would react when I was angry or frustrated. It was my defense and it was how I coped.
I was good at being mean, and I knew it.
Although this particular issue is one that I still struggle with from time to time when I feel like I am being pushed, I can’t tell you the last time I verbally destroyed someone. However, I can recall the last time I wanted to.
Progress people; progress.
To be on the other side of this is interesting.
In my experience, no matter how much sober time you accumulate, there will always be at least one
asshole person who will dig up your past and use it against you in some way like it is going to propel them in a forward motion in their lives or something.
That one person who just can’t wait to remind you of what a piece of sh*t you ‘really’ are or who you used to be.
In my case, I have given these personality types a lot of options to choose from.
All of my cards are out on the table, via my personal choice to live a transparent, authentic, loud, recovery life and this makes me susceptible to open critique, and vulnerable to judgement.
Pulling the shame card is a cheap tactic and I can always tell when it’s coming.
Being the target of this kind of ‘communication’ triggers feelings inside of me that beg for instant reaction.
If you find yourself being shamed and you feel like someone is attacking you with your past, remember:
1.) You really don’t need to react.
I understand being angry, and wanting to defend your new self and your new lifestyle.
We want so badly to remind this person that they are wrong.
That is not who you are anymore, so there is no reason to talk about it…..again.
The problem is our past is not being thrown in our face because that shamer is under the impression that we are still those people. This age-old cheapo tactic is used to hurt.
This isn’t about being factual, reasonable, logical, or accurate.
It is about using words deliberately to hurt you.
No defense on our part changes their desire to hurt us.
This usually happens for one of two reasons. They felt threatened, didn’t have a solid counter argument or couldn’t handle the heated discussion for whatever reason, so they resorted to being shit mean.
We have hurt this person in the past (chances are pretty high) and they still haven’t processed it, or forgiven or healed.
So at the end of the day, it’s not a you thing, it’s a them thing.
2.) Recovery is all about progress and not perfection.
So the mud being slung around is true.
It’s all real life stuff that actually happened.
It’s not pretty stuff, not admirable, and certainly not our best life stuff.
It is really hard to walk away from a heated argument or a crappy phone call
without second guessing your self-worth or your ability to keep living sober, especially after hearing a long list of reasons why you are a worthless person.
Remind yourself that it is okay to own your past, and to accept all of it.
None of it means that is who you are, those are things that you did.
Nothing that was said diminishes who you are right now.
It doesn’t decrease your value to God, who loved you then, and who loves you now.
It doesn’t take away the power that your recovery story can have to other people in the recovery community or others who are still struggling.
You have worked hard and every day you are one day further away from that old life and that is all that you can do.
If there are people who cannot see that,
At the end of the day that’s a them thing, not a you thing.
3. Boundaries are a great alternative to consider.
Boundaries are our friend.
In some really intense cases, they are our bestest friend.
The most encouraging part about this shaming issue is learning that we have options.
It is okay to create distance for as long or as little time that we need or want from a person or persons who refuse to even consider that we have turned the page.
Take these reminders with you and please don’t allow anyone to push you back down. We are busy working on rebuilding our lives, and loving people, and we will have a much harder time doing so if we are constantly cut down and reminded of just how far down we have gone.
It is normal for people in our lives to ask for and get some much-needed time to heal from all of the ways we may have hurt or betrayed them in the past.
They will also probably need some solid blocks of time to observe us, and to see the life changes that we are making.
It is normal for them to feel like they need ‘proof’ because we have probably ruined any weight that our promises to change had once held.
They want some consistency and it will take time to earn our trust back with each individual person in our lives.
And we understand that.
We totally get it.
But it is not healthy to allow this to go on for years, and years.
It is not okay to feel like you have to put up with hateful rhetoric.
It is okay to draw some lines, and create some healthy boundaries for ourselves.
and if people aren’t on board to at least consider giving us a second (or 34th) chance,
it’s just a them thing, and not a you thing.