As an adult at the age of 23, I landed in a 12 step program with a pretty big drinking and drug problem. I was already sick of my life, sick of running and sick of feeling sick. I really was sick and tired of everything including myself and my life.
The first two years was really hard but I made it. I learned some really great stuff in the program. I did all the steps, not just the first three. I wanted to live. I wanted to recover and not just from addiction, but from everything. I wanted life. I was a model student and I did what I was told, but there were some not so good things that happened within that structure too.
For starters, I got the accountability part mixed up in the forth step when I did my personal inventory. This is dangerous ground for a victim of any kind. And since there were a whole lot of other victims of abuse in that program, I wasn’t the only one getting it mixed up. We were all a bunch of messed up people helping each other but most of us had the same messed up belief system that we had since childhood so we could only get so far out of the muck. My life got better, my outsides got better, my job got better, and I stopped picking really terrible boyfriends, but the root of the problem still lived deep within me. I still had dark depression. I still thought about dying. I still struggled with eating disorder issues. I still knew that there must be a lot more to life then what I was living. So what the heck was wrong with me?
I am a firm supporter of accountability, but it is a tricky subject. My mother’s answer to her boyfriend sneaking into my room at night when I was 13, was “well Darlene, you did have a crush on him”. And since I did have a crush on him, I believed that it WAS my fault. I believed that my innocent crush on her very handsome Italian and very YOUNG boyfriend caused that terrible thing to happen to me. Since I didn’t know where the hell to go from there, I didn’t know how to get through it. I couldn’t get through it. I didn’t really understand how I could have prevented it, so I lived in fear of my own feelings, my own thoughts, convinced that they would all cause me so much horror AND I hadn’t been validated or protected from the abuse, so I was afraid of men, unidentified noises, the dark, afraid of sleeping, and many other things.
When I was raped at the age of 17, I didn’t realize it was rape… I thought it must have been my fault. It was just another incident in a long line of incidents that I had somehow caused.
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P.S. The first step to wholeness for me, was to comprehend and believe that I had done nothing to cause any of the abuse that had happened to me. Not even the abuse I suffered as an adult.