“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions”
Claude Levi-Strauss so eloquently reminds us.
One of the pivotal skills required in building our Emotional Fitness as we mature is being able to ask and answer tough QUESTIONS. Without bullshitting ourselves or denying our truth.
Living an emotionally transparent life has saved my life. However it does not mean we win external friends in the process for some will find our truth just way too confronting or confusing. I have become unpopular and unwelcome in some circles because of the questions I ask of myself and answer in the public domain. However I have learned to mind my own business when it comes to others opinion of me.
As long as we maintain our integrity with ourselves ensuring we are unafraid to call ourselves on our own fears, we become better versions of ourselves as the years pass.
Whenever we make changes, big changes – there will be big QUESTIONS asked. People around us will be curious. It is understandable. If you have made big changes for the better as your work on your Emotional Fitness, and begin to really achieve you will have the supporters and the knockers. So refining our ability to assert ourselves and speak our truth about the life changes we have chosen without shame can be challenging, to say the least.
My two sons Big and Little Chicken did not ask to live an emotionally transparent public life. However with a mother who writes about non-mainstream, confronting subject matters like trauma and addiction, they have encountered intrusive QUESTIONS over the years.
I recall when some of the biological tribe that wanted me silenced gave me an ultimatum. I was told myself and my sons would not be welcomed in their home if the boys ever answered any QUESTIONS about the issues I write about if they were asked, by anyone at anytime.
My response was that my sons would not be silenced either. My past is something they would not offer as a topic of conversation. However if QUESTIONED I have encouraged them to speak their truth. Without shame or fear. There is a recovery mantra that is a timeless wisdom, it’s a reminder that …
“We are only as sick as the secrets we keep”.
So being unafraid to stand up and speak up is what I have tried to model for them as their Mum. Even during the days when I sold old wedding rings to pay the rent as a single Mum on a pension serving up fish fingers and baked beans as a fortnightly splurge meal. We would call them gourmet dinners. The three of us would light a candle join hands and give thanks for what we had on our plates to eat. Speaking my truth cost not just me, but those little boys a whole lifestyle. My marriage to their Dad ended, they lost relatives who did not want us around if we were not going to conform. So in those days, when I was in my early stages of coming out of dark despair, those little boys went without a great deal that they had once been accustomed to.
I’ve watched them both grow into impressive young men unafraid to assert themselves and answer QUESTIONS in their own unapologetic ways.
Because my two boys are woven through almost every decision I made as a woman on my journey out of an emotionally unfit way of life with one of them perched firmly on each of my generous hips, many often ask me how they are doing these days.
I’d like to share with you (with his consent) when it comes to the clean cut art of no bullshit answering QUESTIONS, is the work of my oldest son, Big Chicken. And no is he is anything but a big chicken for those wondering about his childhood nickname. He was always such a brave child leading his younger brother with great big brother pride. Often I would see a four-year-old Big Chicken piggybacking a two-year-old Little Chicken, because there were prickles and his little brother did not have shoes. He would always pretend immunization injections never hurt him, so his younger brother would be less afraid. A gorgeous generous hearted child fearless yet gentle. Any mother with more than one child might identify with sometimes feeling like a mother hen when we look around and our chicklets (our toddlers) are waddling along behind us. That’s where I came up with their names. They used to remind me of sweet little chickens as toddlers.
I mentioned in some previous Word Vitamin that Big Chicken like me has inherited the chronic addictive gene. At 24 years of age an ambulance was called as he passed out in an alcoholic blackout. Unconscious, his then girlfriend phoned the ambulance, and then me.
He is giant young man. So the amount of booze he had been steadily drinking was immense he later confessed. He stands at about 203cm (in the old system is around six foot, eight inches). He’s a mountain.
It was May 4th, 2011 when I got the hysterical phone call from his girlfriend. He has not picked up a drink from that day to this. Yep, just one day at a time he has reclaimed his self-respect and total abstinence.
He is still only a young man really only in his late twenties to be living clean and sober. So when he is out socializing he gets asked shitloads of QUESTIONS about why he does not drink. On his Facebook Page on the anniversary of his third sober birthday, May the 4th he posted what I thought was a simple and assertive way to put to rest all the damned QUESTIONS once and for all, he wrote …
May the 4th, 2014
Today, apart from being international Star Wars day, also marks 3 years sober for me. To celebrate, I thought I would collate the questions people have asked me into an ultra-handy FAQ.
*So you don’t drink at all any more?
*You can’t even have one?
– I could probably have one, sure. I’d probably have two later in the week. Then I’d have 5 on the weekend. You see where I’m going with this.
*How bad did it get?
-Let’s just say that I hit rock bottom hard enough that it finally cracked the shell of denial about what I was doing to myself and others.
*Was quitting hard?
-The first year sucked, a lot. Then it got better. It gets easier but it never really goes away.
*Do you care if I drink in front if you?
-Nope, go nuts.
*I drink x amount every day/week/month, do I have a problem?
-Applying a specific set of criteria is dangerous, because if any one of them isn’t true you can just say to yourself, “Hah, I’m not chugging Listerine, I’m fine!” If it’s affecting your life negatively and you don’t feel like you can stop without help, I’d say that’s a pretty big red flag.
*Have you found God or something?
-No. Was I meant to be looking for him?
*Do you go to AA?
-No, because I’m stubborn and I hated people for the first year. It helps a lot of people and might have made it easier for me, who knows.
*Don’t you think that by quitting alcohol you’re letting it beat you? You just need to learn to moderate, man.
-So by taking control of my life I’ve somehow lost? Fuck you buddy.
*Where/How can I get help? I don’t want to/can’t go to AA.
-Having a support network is important, regardless of where it comes from. www.reddit.com/r/stopdrinking is a great resource if you want to know more, or if you’re simply curious.
*Why are you clogging up my news feed with this shit?
-A lot of people don’t seem to know/get what I’m doing and why, particularly since I’m not even 30. I thought I’d take the opportunity to set the record straight, or at least permanently crooked.
Have a nice Sunday *drops mic
Thank you Big Chicken, you left no grey areas there at all. The art of answering QUESTIONS with clarity, bloody wonderful!
Lotsa love Cynthia xxx
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