I wish I knew then, what I can feel and understand with more clarity now.
“Only when I am given permission to look behind the mask of denial of another who has walked my path, can I see deep into their eyes and recognize the mirrored reflections of hard lives lived, alone; kept painfully deep within ... until now.” ~ finding my TRUE\NORTH
For me, I felt alone, even amongst family and friends; not lonely, just alone, safely distanced. I was in the midst of a spiritual battle deep within myself; a battle learned early on to keep to myself - “no, I’m fine, I’m ok.” A fight for control, between my heart and my mind; between wholehearted authenticity and who I thought others wanted me to be; between the fading glow of my integrity and the darkness of my denial.
“I used denial to protect myself. I protected myself from seeing things too painful to see and feelings too overwhelming to feel. Denial got me safely through many situations, when no other resources for survival were available. The negative aspect of using denial was that I lost touch with myself and my feelings. I became able to participate in harmful situations without even knowing I was hurting. I was able to tolerate a great deal of pain and abuse without the foggiest notion it was abnormal ... Denial protected me from pain but it also rendered me blind to my feelings, my needs, my self.” ~ Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie
My personal maelstrom was safely hidden behind my mask of denial, unwittingly created when I was young, formed ever so slowly through observation, interpretation, and expectation. I idolized and emulated my father, leaders in business, government, and social circles.
“Our culture believes that the better-than, invulnerable, perfectionistic, anti-dependent, and controlling person is healthy.” ~ Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody
In conspiracy with my false sense of pride, ego, and self-sufficiency, my mask grew into a heavy, rigid full suit of armor. I learned to separate my inner self from that which I let you see. An almost perfectly devised facade; a reflection of the professional and social character attributes I thought you wanted to see in me, of who I believed I needed to be, to fit in, and to win your favor, approval, and validation. Yet, my inner critic translated your innocent comments into criticism, thus creating fear and shame; penetrating my facade and wounding my soul deep within.
My coping mechanisms to keep my inner critic at bay were to numb, deny, blame, avoid, lie, and procrastinate, in any way that seemed to be self-protective and inconsequential. Even as the dosage and frequency of my antidotes increased, they slowly lost effect; I was stuck. Stuck in my maelstrom;
my battle for me.
In my darkness, when I looked in the mirror, I whispered, “is this me, is this what matters most to me, is this how I want to live my life, is this the way I want to live my life?” What followed was uncomfortable silence, and waiting. Nothing. No response. No answers. No changes. My facade was still intact; my secrets were still hidden. Soon I found myself at my familiar crossroads again; the battle wasn’t over, it keeps coming. The insanity repeats itself. It’s relentless.
Although the details of our stories are different, our challenges and our solutions are similar. To cope with life on life’s terms, there existed for me unacknowledged, or hidden thoughts and feelings of fear, shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, stress, self-worth, validation, judgement, etc. To hide from, or deal with these feelings and emotions I didn’t want to face, I availed myself to “medicines” to escape my inner critic. I would numb or avoid discomfort by leaning into the comfort of medicines that I would return to over and over, only to find that my medicines failed to provide a permanent escape from my self. My uncomfortable thoughts and feelings still existed - so I would try again, this time with greater resolve. This is addiction.
Addiction is insidious; a disease affecting the mind, body, and spirit. Addiction is progressive, with unhealthy behaviors and its consequences becoming more severe over time. We experience addiction as compulsion, — the urge that is stronger than our will to resist, and as obsession, — the insane, uncontrollable mental and physical preoccupation
to re-engage in the unhealthy habits or behaviors, regardless of the certain, and destructive consequences.
I wish I knew then, what I can feel and understand with more clarity now; I wish I would have shared my battle, my story, with a trusted friend, with someone safe.
"Sharing story is the ultimate paradox; the ultimate act of courage and the ultimate act of surrender. My story kept secret, keeps me alone and has destructive powers over me; my story shared, connects me and empowers me. Nothing changes until I change". ~ finding my TRUE\NORTH
One of the most rewarding aspects of finding my TRUE\NORTH, is the lived experience, strength, and hope I can share, through my own stories, with someone else who is trending away from, fighting to get back to, or has lost touch with, their own TRUE\NORTH. If you, a colleague, or someone you care about, is experiencing the feelings I felt - adrift from my inner compass; struggling to maintain a work/life balance; looking to others for self-esteem, using substances or processes to cope or avoid feelings; or both anxious and hopeful starting a new chapter in recovery, I would be honored to help you as you rediscover and aspire from your TRUE\NORTH. My name is Scott; what I am is a successful, now-retired business executive; who I am is a recovering addict and professional recovery coach:
“Inspiring the brave-hearted on a journey of courage deep within, to restore what matters most, to aspire from TRUE\NORTH."