I have been battered physically in the past. It is a harrowing experience and one that can gain lots and lots of sympathy because the bruises and black eyes give testimony to someone trying to impose their will upon you to the point of purposefully causing you pain.
I have also been emotionally battered. First by a father who thought that it was part of parenting to reduce a child to a blubbering mass of tears every time they made a mistake. Somehow, that would make them strong. It didn't. It made me afraid, it made me angry, it made me less than myself.
When I discovered alcohol, the hole that was in my gut was filled for the first time since I was a child in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was fast, it was fierce and I was so grateful to have found it. It worked better than anything else available and I grabbed onto it like it was a lifeboat in a stormy sea.
Getting sober was the most difficult thing I have ever done - far more difficult than burying my husband and my child. I had to look solidly at my self obsession, my inability to do anything other than focus only on me. I would grab onto people and then push and push and push and push and when they finally pushed back, would point at them and tell them all the things that were wrong with them. I never once would apologize for emotionally battering them, swiping at them, making them cry or pushing their buttons until they got so angry they just walked away from me. Oh no, why would I take any responsibility for my actions? They were sober longer than me. They were never supposed to make a mistake.
I have come to the conclusion that I am a magnet for people today that mimic the manner in which I treated people my first five years in my 12 step group. I do not believe in Karma - I am a Faithful Catholic - but I do think that God is allowing me to see how shabbily I behaved by putting people in my life who act the exact same way I did.
About a month ago, I looked up three people and made a long over due amends to them for being a giant, fat, slobbering baby all over them for the first five years of my sobriety. I told them my behavior towards them had been unforgivable, but that I hoped they would forgive me anyway and then I asked them what I could do to make our relationship ok.
Two of them accepted my amends. The third one, I don't know…they have died and I had to make the amends to them at their grave site.
I am done, I said today, and I mean it. I am done doing this to people. I cannot imagine the number of times they hung up the phone with me in tears or tossed and turned all night because of nasty, mean things I said to them in order to get their attention.
I. Am. Done.
I do not believe in setting boundaries. I believe in tearing down walls so you can get to know me. What I hope you know about me is that I will no longer allow myself to be a punching bag but I will not run away. The people who helped me when I got sober did not run away. However, they did not put up with my behavior. They demanded, sometimes with their fingers poking me in the chest, that I stop being a self obsessed, cry baby. I wouldn't listen. I would tell them how bad THEY were and demand that they treat ME with a respect I did not deserve.
Because I behaved so badly, I will tolerate the bad behavior of other newcomers - but they will be treated like I was treated. I will not put up with bad behavior and if the people behaving badly decide that it is too difficult to live up to the standards of Grace and Dignity, then they will have to be the ones to walk away.
But as for me and my house?
I. Am. DONE.