the therapeutic value of compiling an inventory #alcoholism #aa #na #slaa #recovery

June 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Over the years I have periodically reached a breaking point in my capacity to endure the culture of my family and individual relationships with family members. The worst offenders are my mother and father. I give my mother a conditional pass because she is mentally ill and has suffered extreme emotional and physical deprivation. I know that her sexual boundary crossing is a distorted expression of loneliness, even though it creeps me out. My father, however, is another case. He is a highly functional alcoholic and unreachable.

Recently a suggestion was made to me that I can compartmentalize periods of my life, and work to simply accept and forgive those events from the long distant past that no one in my family will address with me. If there are events from the recent past, I might want to make an effort to address these encounters with relevant family members, if only for the exercise of self-care in sticking up for myself, even if the family member in question is not capable of engaging in a meaningful dialogue about the incident.

I think I have come up with a useful exercise to this end. I will write up an inventory of troubling encounters from the last 10 years. These would be encounters that still haunt me, and so, need some form of processing to lay to rest.

It has been purely crazy-making to come from such a dysfunctional family and to have the family culture insist, “This is normal. We aren’t going to talk about it.” “What’s the matter with you anyway?”

The only reason I was able to identify the problems in my family was through intensive work with a therapist who pointed out, “That is abandonment.” “That is betrayal.” “That is neglect.” “That is abuse.” “That is hypocrisy.” “That is hurtful.” “That is undermining.” “That is controlling.” when I would recount experiences I was having with different family members. Without her help I would have continued to believe it was all my fault and if only I could change enough I could feel a sense of belonging to this family.

For my own self-care I have come to accept that I really cannot attend anymore family gatherings. I do not feel safe at them. I can have one to one meetings where it is easier for me to track the quality and characteristics of the communication. Also, in one to one meetings there is no possibility of a mob mentality taking over, turning me into a target for negative family attention.

I like the idea of putting that list together.


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