The Facts About Self Sabotage

Heather Durling

Every week, I co-facilitate a support group for Adult Survivors of child abuse. During my last group meeting, we worked on identifying all of the ways we are self-sabotaging ourselves. We have a 3 stage / 21 step program that we move through, and each week focuses on one step. We read through the step, do some journal work on it, and then we have the option to open share with the group. This week’s step was a difficult one for all of us. It is tough to see the almost invisible stop signs we’ve been creating.

I was initially very excited to move to this stage in the program, which covers issues that we are now dealing with in our adult life. The first stage deals with coming to terms with our abuse, and how it affected us as a child. I’ve done a lot of healing in regards to that, so I tend to share what I’ve done, and where I’ve been with everyone. My hope is that they can see they aren’t alone in what they are experiencing.

The second stage feels like the meat and potatoes of the healing work to me. This relates to the here and now, and I always seem to jive with that place the best. We did the reading, we covered some identifying questions to ask ourselves, and then it was time to start writing.

It gets really personal when it’s between you, your pen, and that piece of paper. You can hide as much as you want from others, and sometimes you can become a master at it. However, when it comes to the ink drying on the paper – what is the point of fooling yourself? G.I.Joe’s famous quote applies to this – “Knowing is half the battle.” 

I’ve learned first hand, and witnessed people take control over issues and emotional knee-jerk reactions by giving them a name. Much like Sebastian, in “The NeverEnding Story”, when you give it a name – you identify it, you see it, and you can start taking your power back to change it.

I began writing down all of the things that I’ve been doing to myself.  All of the procrastination, the negative scripts rolling through my head, the avoidance techniques, and then the big one came up front and center. Self-medicating to shut down the emotional pain over the years. This is a difficult one to admit. It’s been a real battle for me, since I discovered that I could indeed turn down the noise by taking a pill, smoking something, or taking a drink.

I’ve been very lucky in the sense that I don’t like feeling out of control. I would like to think that I was also blessed with the fact that I’m a “lightweight” when it comes to drinking – my line between tipsy and passed out is dental floss thin. However, after getting a wisdom tooth pulled, I discovered the quick and effective device called prescription pain killers. Then I found myself quickly falling into the place called addiction. Even though I didn’t like feeling out of control, I loved the peaceful place of not caring about anything. I also discovered that marijuana could take me to that same place.

Here was my raw truth written on paper – if it hadn’t been for my children, and my need to be a good mother to them, I wouldn’t have beat the addiction.  I wouldn’t have worked to find other ways to shut it all down. I am thankful every day of my life that I was able to walk away from the addiction place, but I have to admit that it is still the first thing that comes to my mind when things get tough.  I don’t follow through with it, while immediately silencing the thought – however the fight is real.

Now it was time to share all of this embarrassing, humbling, down-right scary truth with the group.  I could have chosen to say the magic word of “pass”, and kept it to myself.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t seriously consider it.  However, I was a G.I.Joe girl growing up.

To speak it out loud, give it a name, own it, and be real about it – I found that I healed even more.

Yes, it was terrifying to start talking, and I had to use my own super hero power of my voice.  With each word, each sentence, my voice got stronger, and my soul got a little lighter.  In the end, it was worth the few minutes of feeling like hell, to get to that place of, “Hell yes!  Another one bites the dust!”

What self-sabotage habits do you have that you haven’t given a name to yet?  Can you find your “Hell yes!” within yourself, and be your own Sebastian?  Are you ready to see your stop signs, and start changing them to 70 mph instead?

As always, remember – you are not alone.  We are all on this healing journey together.