These days, more and more of the quirks that I used to have before AA and that were looked down upon in AA are coming back. The truth is that before AA, my friends and family (not all though) really loved these quirks and I saw them as parts and aspects of my character, even though I didn’t like all of my “quirks”. But when I got to AA, sponsors and other people told me that these quirks were “alcoholic behavior” and “character defects”, and encouraged me to pray them away or to work to get rid of them. This meant that I dissociated with these parts of myself and no longer saw them as me, even more so than I did pre-AA.
But a lot of these quirks come from the fact that I have autism, ADHD, and am highly creative, and see and experience the world in a different way than a lot of people. And, I need some of these quirks to survive, as some are actually forms of stimming, which are repetitive actions (or behaviors) that someone with a developmental disability does in order to self-soothe.
So because of AA, I didn’t do what I needed to do to self-soothe because it wasn’t accepted in AA and I knew that people would get on me if I did them. Before I went to AA, for example, when I got upset, even as an adult, I would rock and hold myself in certain positions in order to soothe myself. And, I would feel and display emotions while I did it. Yet in AA, if I ever did this in front of people, or told someone that I did this, the patronizing shaming was intense.
Before AA, I was sort of a comedian too. I wrote funny blogs, told embellished and funny stories, pulled practical jokes on people, said inappropriate things, made dramatic impressions of people, and was always creating this or that. I also did other weird things like talk non-stop when I was tired, and at times my lack of filter cracked everyone up. I also was awkward and tended to have weirdly bad luck. An Aunt of mine always said that she thought that we should write a book called “Meryl’s Perils” because of all of this.
But I did have some family members who gaslighted me and acted like I was crazy. Enough people, though appreciated my weirdness that this didn’t completely bring me down. I know now, though, that this abuse from my family did have a long-term impact on my self-esteem, and even before I went to AA I tended to blame and shame myself for behaviors that I was told were bad behavior. I don’t think that I had a very stable sense of self until recently. When it came to AA, then, I was a prime candidate for manipulation and abuse because my understanding of myself was so easily manipulated and I already carried guilt and shame from previous abuse.
I know that I’ve always had a dissociative disorder, and I know that it worsened and changed when I got to AA and really started dissociating even more severely from so many parts. When I look back, I can see, for example, that although I saw my child parts as their own people before AA, that I also saw them as part of me. Likely, this means that I did not have had full-blown Dissociative Identity Disorder, but maybe had a less severe form of DDNOS. But, when those parts started surfacing after a decade in AA, they did not feel like me in any way. Therefore, I know that my participation in AA definitely led to the worsening of my dissociative disorder and likely pushed me further up the Dissociative spectrum, even to the point of developing a more severe Dissociative Disorder than I previously had.
So, today, I’m trying to put myself back together. This is not an easy task at all. But, I think that it is necessary for me to do in order to live a comfortable and enjoyable life. I am glad that I am beginning to accept all parts of me, even the parts of me that others have scorned my whole life. It feels good to be myself again.
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