12 Steps

I want to write about 12 Steps, 12 Step Recovery, Dysfunctional families, Toxic Shame, and mental health issues such as depression.

Lets start with the first step of the 12 Steps.

Step One. We admitted we are powerless over our dependencies. That our lives had become unmanageable.

Have I hit bottom? What does bottom look like?

Here is what I am reading:

Hitting bottom physically: High blood pressure, sleeplessness, chronic headaches may be symptoms you are not doing well physically. In my case I had high liver enzymes, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and many other symptoms. Is it unmanageable?

Emotional bottom: Anxiety, depression, anger, rage, hopelessness, bitterness, self mutilation, panic attacks. Is it unmanageable?

Relational bottom: Fights with spouse. Fights with friends. Loss of friends. Failing social life. Hatred of family. Hatred of church. Broken relationships with children. Is it unmanageable?

Spiritual bottom: Recurring questions such as “Is this all there is? “What’s the purpose of it all?” “Who am I? Where am I going?” “Do I have any value?” “Why don’t I care about anything?” “Can’t I just die and have it over with?” Thoughts like: “God hates me!” “I am cursed.” Is it unmanageable?

Circumstantial bottom: Job loss, shuffled aside at work, dissatisfaction with career, feeling stuck. Don’t have any of that – doing ok with money.

I’d say circumstances are A-OK, I am not at a bottom. But in my case retirement leaves me dry, listless, and useless. I don’t enjoy anything. Everything I want to do – somebody else doesn’t want me to. Being retired really sucks. It is unmanageable. There is no such thing as fun. Retirement is like a death curse.

I come from a family of multi-generational chemical and alcohol dependence. What are the chances that I am going to have addiction problems? When addicted is it out of control and unmanageable? I’m not even sure I can identify addictions. I dont smoke, drink, gamble and I don’t want to be around people who do.

Still ….

Before I get to Step 2 I want to talk about shame and what toxic shame is.

Toxic Shame.

Shame is an emotion that occurs when you are something or do something you want to hide because you are afraid of what others will think of you.