A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Twelve Step Telephone Meetings

Twelve Step telephone meetings are a lifeline for me, an opportunity to listen and learn and sometimes to share and do service work.  Lately I have been struggling to get myself to share my story and/or current situation.  My social and emotional anorexia block me.  Last week I did get up the courage to share for about three minutes on a women's meeting for Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous.  I shared that I had been in a domestic violence/love addicted relationship.  I shared that I suffered from schizoaffective disorder.  I had a desire to be transparent and direct and so I was, but then I have not shared again yet.

My next challenge is to take one or more of the numbers I've written down of women willing to connect and be recovery partners and text or call.  When I turn away from that challenge, I am thinking to myself that I'm not good enough to offer friendship to someone new.  I self stigmatize myself as mentally ill.  I am mentally ill but I need to be proud of how far I've come and how sincerely I want to recover my sanity.  I do have a lot of faith that sanity/health is possible for me and those who seek it.  But faith needs the footwork and too often I find myself lying down, too much in my head and not enough in my heart.

Right from the beginning of entering into acute psychosis in the spring of 1998 there was a desire in me to connect with others, to make friendships, to take on more responsibility.  But desire led to delusions.  Delusions led to reaching out in sickness and desperation.  There was the threat of Hell if I didn't, but only after I had visited a Hell on the kitchen floor of my ex-boyfriend's apartment.  I had had an idealistic vision of joining some kind of artistic group filled with possibly higher purposes.  My delusions showed me a sick group, a group I did not want to join.  But reality did come through when I went to see a therapist and committed to Al-Anon and a domestic violence support group.  These were real people with real struggles trying to get and give help.  For a time, I joined them.

The people I'm listening to on the telephone lines are also real people with real struggles and also real successes.  It is hard to be vulnerable, open and direct, but over and over that's what I hear in these telemeetings.  A lot of the meetings have been getting hacked with people breaking into the calls and often saying or implying obscene things, or just making noise, or even adding reverb to whomever is speaking making it very hard to concentrate.  One morning I was on an open Sex Addicts Anonymous telephone meeting for the study of AA's Big Book and it was being hacked.  We happened to be reading this paragraph:  "We realized the the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick.  Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick, too.  We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.  When a person offended we said to ourselves, 'This is a sick man.  How can I be helpful to him?  God save me from being angry.  Thy will be done.'" (pp 66-67 - The AA Study Edition)

By the end of that meeting it was clear that everyone on the line was practicing faith and tolerance and it felt good.  I felt respect for those who read and shared on that phone call, but I feel respect just generally for anyone trying to seek help for themselves.  Still, it's not enough to feel respect, I need to show respect for others by taking my seat and sharing, too.