Final thoughts on disappointment
I’ve observed amongst people in recovery how little time they have to focus on the way other people are disappointing because self-evaluation is extremely time consuming. Self-evaluation is NOT the same thing as self-focus. My friend was self-focused for years without much self-awareness.
Self-evaluation is a spiritual discipline born out of a spirit of humility (not humiliation) and hope (belief in the possibility of renewal and restoration). No one filled with shame can bear but so much effective self-evaluation because they are looking through a lens of self-hatred and shame.
When we move past this shame place to one of self-acceptance, the work of self-evaluation is not only safer, it is downright interesting. After I received the email from my dad, I was fortunate enough to have several avenues to explore myself and my response to the email. Of course, I also indulged in much needless rumination and recrimination of self and others as well. But without the work of recovery I could have been stuck in an endless loop of these self-defeating patterns of blaming and shaming. Trust me, I could show you that email and win your heart to my side of things. But what is the value in that? Isn’t that just more scapegoating? Isn’t that buying into the dysfunctional family system model where there has to be rigid roles and large amounts of blame, shame, recrimination and scapegoating? The answer here is – yes.
In addition, it plays into the thriving of the family system – which you will recall is the whole purpose of the system to begin with. The system itself fights to stay alive. Not the individual family members, most of whom don’t know that they are in a system much less how it has wounded them and others. It’s like a sci-fi movie, really, with the monster picking off unsuspecting family members one at a time while the tribe stays in denial. “We’re just a normal, run-of-the-mill family – everyone has these feuds and fights in a family, don’t they? We’re just passionate people!”
The answer to that is NO. Healthy families do not gain energy from fighting and feuding. They draw their strength from love. What energizes your family? Is it favoritism and fighting? Feuds and picking sides? Or is it love? It’s ok if we don’t know the difference – how can we be expected to if we grew up identifying love with constant upheaval and a resistance to outside voices?