Last night, at family night, I was lucky enough to not only have Dave with me, but one of my very best friends. If I went into detail here of our lives together, it would turn into a novel, and though I assure you it would kick ass, I’ll keep it simple and say, she and I are forever bound by the love we have for one another. I am grateful for her every day. The getting to know everyone questions were fun. We all had to say our name, why we were there, who or what we have felt a connection with recently, and to something we have done that nobody else in the room had probably done. The stories where hilarious, shocking and exciting. Dave shared the story of being charged by a black bear at Jenny Lake, mine was the incredible story of being in a Neil Diamond cover band, and my friends story was that of being chased by a rhino while she was in Nepal. This last one made me cry laughing because the image of her little legs frantically attempting an escape from such a huge beast was pure comedy.
The other part of the introductions regarding connection was heartfelt and touching. So many tender words of gratitude for connections that people were either just making, or re-forming, soberly. I shared how incredibly connected I have felt with the group of people I have been able to go through this program with, including the family members that have been coming on Tuesdays. Those connections are some that have made this road a bit easier. I am also one that has felt such strong connections and re-connections with people in my life in the last couple of months. Connections, that for years had been clouded by liquor. I have not been capable of true connection for years. The guilt from this realization is palpable. With each sober day, I am realizing more and more how disconnected I have been from the people that mean the most to me. It has taken a lot of DBT flicking to not get trapped in that shame noose. It is so easy to let those shame thoughts take over, but I know that is a waste of my energy. I have been really trying to allow myself to recognize the feeling of guilt and shame, let it in and confront it. Once I have acknowledged the feelings, I have started flicking the hell out of myself any time it seemed I was allowing them to take me.
We also talked about the difference of shame and guilt, empathy and sympathy. She talked about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and also talked about blame. I will put in here some animated shorts from the woman we watched in group because if I tried to portray it, I would surely butcher it. There were a couple moments of clarity while watching these for me. One was the practice of trying to silver line everyones clouds for them. I do that so much, with good intention, but I am realizing what a terrible practice that is. I say the words ‘at least’ a lot, either to myself or to others, to try and help see the silver lining. I would never go as far as the goat in this little short, but I definitely do it too much and need to stop. I feel like, for the most part, I am an empathetic person but there are traits in me that still tend to lean to the sympathetic trait. My goal is to eliminate some of my sympathetic traits so I can make way for more true empathy. The people close to me, as well as the people in my group, have proven to be truly empathetic. I am beyond grateful for this.
The speaker talked about shame and guilt as well, how to handle it and how to recognize which is which. Shame is something you feel about yourself, guilt is an action. It was interesting listening to her. It was also a bonus for me last night as my therapist had ‘suggested’ I watch the very one they showed at group. I say ‘suggested’ like that because she’s a therapist and I assume everything is more of an assignment. I mean, she is a grown up, that knows things.
I hope that these are helpful, they were for me. Good night, dear friends.