Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So I Struggle With Umm...

I have this thing that I'd like to talk about.

I've been wanting to talk about it for a while but I've been stuck behind the 'how' of it, or more specifically, the 'how much do I tell' of it.

But, no more shall I remain stagnant in my fear.  I am bursting the walls and exposing my vulnerability to something I still feel levels of shame for.

Dude.

Here goes.

:::: flex ::::

So, I struggle with umm...

How you say?

Having feelings for authority figures?
Wanting older men to be proud of me?
Crushes?
Falling for Bishops?

So, ya.  There it is.

I used to be crazy ashamed of it.  Well, as you can see I still am on some level.  It's embarrassing.  I've talked about it plenty among my recovery circles and feel pretty comfortable there, but it's not something I've exposed to the world.

But really, I can't be the only one who struggles with this, right?  I feel like I can't be because I keep hearing whispers in my head telling me that I am the only one, and surely that must be the adversary.

JERK!

OK so I guess the level of shame I feel stems from who the authority figures actually are.  I've struggled with having feelings for male therapists, which, after learning about transference I came to find is pretty common, so I don't feel too bad about that.

But it's more so the feelings that I seem to develop for my Bishops that makes me feel the worst about myself.  I mean what kind of person develops feelings for their Bishop?  I must be horrible, right?  That's what I've been told for so long... things such as:

You are....
Awful
A total Jezebel
Dirty
Shameful
Unworthy
Alone
Sick
Defective

Terrible terrible shame has surrounded me for so long.

But what I have come to find is that the same transference mentioned above applies to Bishops as well.  I am vulnerable with them and they love me anyway which creates a sanctuary for feelings to grow.

Don't get me wrong.  I am in no way advocating such feelings.  I have done much in my power to combat the issue:

I've told my husband (who is a total rockstar by the way!).
I've told and continue to talk about it openly with my Stake President.
I work on all my transference issues with my therapist.
Heck, I even told my Bishop in hopes to kill the entire fantasy of it.
I've told my sponsor(s) and I've spoken about it openly with others in my recovery circles.
I recognize the cycle when it happens and strive to identify the underlying issues.
I reach out for help.

I also have come to recognize that these feelings are just part of my addictive cycle.  I don't have the option of picking and choosing what my temptations, triggers and trials are so I am left striving to do the best I can with the ones I have been given.

Shameful or not, it is what it is.

But the biggest thing I do is I admit.  I acknowledge the problem and I talk about it.  And now, I'm stretching my comfort zone boundary and am talking about it here.  I am opening up to allow more healing.  I must be vulnerable in order to let rich Celestial light wash over me and heal me.

So here I am.

(OK I'm going to go nurse my vulnerability hangover with some chocolate now)

18 comments:

  1. Love so much about this post. I love your vulnerability. Your honesty. You can feel it. It continues to encourage me to be just as vulnerable. To stretch. To continue to put off that cloud of shame. It's such a continue process, huh? Layer by layer. It doesn't happen just once and then be done. It's so continual. And with every layer, we come closer to God. We trust in Him more... we have to.
    I love the 'celestial air'. :) I swear I can feel and smell that.
    I love that you mention that we cannot choose our trials or temptations or triggers. I feel comfort in those words. I did not choose my triggers, so why should I feel shame for them? I need to be aware of them and then strive to work through and overcome them. But I should not be ashamed that they are there.
    Thanks Sid. Love you! And I'll be right over to share your chocolate :)

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    1. Thank you my friend! I try! Love you back:-)

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  2. Thanks for sharing...I actually have the opposite problem. My relationship with my dad was very tumultuous. I have a really hard time with Male Authority figures because I don't trust them. The pattern that was set for me was to believe that most men say one thing and do another. It takes me a really long time to warm up to men and begin to trust them. I struggled for a really long time with priesthood authority or even the concept of a male taking care of me. Derek was very patient in the beginning of our marriage with my hangups. I feel ok for the most part but I don't really seek out relationships with my male leaders. I also have a hard time understanding that father daughter aspect of Gods love.

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    1. That makes total sense. Seriously. I also attribute my struggle to my relationships with my father(s). My biological father left when I was young and signed adoption papers for my step dad to adopt me. My bio dad has mostly been absent since then. My step dad has been physically present but totally emotionally checked out. No physical or emotional support there. So in the end I was left with this intense craving for father figure love. And I seek that out in authority figures that I feel safe with. I'll end up blogging about this more... I just needed to get past the initial hump first haha. Thanks for sharing a piece of you!

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  3. You put onto words that I could not! You are amazing!

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  4. Oh. my. heck.

    Did you just reach into my brain and decide that you needed to address this with me? Because, I think you did. I'm a little freaked out right now.

    And I don't know what transference means, but I do know that I had a helufabreakdown when I moved away from my former bishop, and I recognized that later, when the bishopric mantel was no longer on him, I continued to want to seek him out for advice and all of the sudden my feelings ballooned into emotional affair material. *Danger! Danger!* So I've cut it off, because it's necessary.

    And wanting older men to be proud of me?!? What is that? Is it because we've grown up in a culture where the older men look after us and are our stewards? I really, really , really relate to this. Hard core. To a debilitating point -- but then I found "Recovery" and I feel like I'm doing a lot better. It's hard to measure, but I believe I am.

    What's the reaction been from your Bishops if you've ever been open about that with them? Do they understand this kind of thing is likely to happen? Do they get training on how-to-combat-the-crushing-women?

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    1. I hyperlinked a website on transference over the word "transference." You can learn more about it there. It is VERY helpful to learn about it. It was for me. It helped normalize my feelings and I didn't feel like such a ginormous freak.

      For me the older man/proud thing stems from absentee fathers. My biological father gave me up for adoption and my step father was physically and emotionally absent.

      I told my recent Bishop to kill it and his reaction was just as it should be... absolutely nothing. He just said "ok" pretty much. LOL I believe he understand why it happens and it probably makes him feel better that it's happened in the past as well. It's not something I talk about with him anymore. If i struggle I go in and see my Stake President. And no, there is no training. You make me laugh.

      But there are things put in place to HELP combat it... like, they aren't suppose to hug women in the ward. If they meet with women they are to have a Priesthood holder outside the office etc... and just general boundaries.

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  5. I have an opposite problem, too. Married men terrify me. I freeze when a married man talks to me. Married men in spiritual authority? Fahgettaboudit. It's so hard for me to be comfortable enough with myself to talk to such men. I'm not afraid I'll end up crushing on them, but I'm extremely fearful that I'll behave in such a way that their wives will think I'm after their husbands. The odd exception to this is bishops. I feel that they should be able to discern my heart. To bishops, I feel like a total CHILD. Even if he's close to my age. I feel like it is more a father/daughter relationship and I'm quite open with bishops. Even so, lurking in the back of my mind is the fear that they will think I'm trying to hit on them. But, I figure God will correct them if they think that. :)

    So, even while I don't relate, I understand where you're coming from. And it's okay. I mean, it's not GOOD I guess, but you have done everything you can to make sure you never even almost remotely act on it-- and that's great. :) You're awesome for sharing this. I have a billion horrid idiosyncrasies that I dare not share. I guess it'll have to come out in my Step 4. :/

    I am grateful for your example of continued self-improvement.

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    1. I just can't resist addin a comment to this too. I'm on my third ward, third bishop, and with each bishop I too, felt like it was a father/daughter relationship. That's what I found so challenging when I would move wards because all of the sudden that father/daughter boundary was gone, too and now I was left with me and this guy who I had emotional investment in and that was dangerous for me. *sigh* this is complex stuff. Pass the chocolate.

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    2. Yep I cycle through those emotions too. My feelings started out that way with my current Bishop. I even TOLD him "I want you to be my dad" and partly expected him to agree to it.

      Wha'? Ya, I was early in recovery hahahhahha

      But ya, I totally relate to and get the whole dad thing. The Bishop is our protector in a sense and that's how our dads should be. An innocent protector. That only has our good in mind. Unfortunately when our dads don't fill that role we seek it elswhere, or at least I have.

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    3. I have been thinking about this. I feel just about NOTHING for previous bishops. One bishop I feel tremendous gratitude for, and love, but, all my others (and there have been MANY others), I feel nothing. After they're not my bishop anymore, I scarcely regard them. I don't know if that's healthy either. I don't attach to people very well. I mean, I straight up refuse to attach to people. Somehow that folds into my addiction. . .

      Sigh.

      At least you guys still feel SOMETHING for your former bishops... I couldn't care less if I never saw mine again.

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  6. Wow, thank you so much for your openness and honesty! I've been having people tell me lately to keep quiet about things and keep everything to myself, but that's exactly what has been so destructive for me for so long! It's so nice to actually hear someone reccomend and appreciate this kind of honesty! I've been slowly trying to be more and more outwardly honest in ways that can help me and those around me. Thank you so much for your example and honesty, you really help me

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    1. Dude. Whoever is telling you to keep stuff quiet are dead wrong. Quiet equals isolation. Satan attacks us in isolation. DOn't do it!! You keep talking about it my friend. You be open and honest. And you find that so so so many people will love you anyway, and even love you more for your openness and honesty. The Spirit thrives on honesty, even hard honesty. Go you!

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  7. Well you pretty much said it perfectly in the whole 'safe place' thing. We just want to be loved and to be loved unconditionally right? Mine stems from always feeling inadequate for my father's approval because I felt I had to be perfect for him to approve. Clearly that's never going to happen. What I've learned is to transfer that to God. Is HE not the ultimate authority figure who loves me unconditionally? I had a unique experience before doing my Step 4 & 5(the first time around, I need to do it again) where I was overwhelmed by His love as I visited the temple beforehand. I thought "He wants me to know just HOW much HE loves me even though HE already knows everything about me. I may not have yet owned up to it all or confessed it all, but HE doesn't need that. He loves me anyway." We do that for ourselves. WE need that because we need to see and experience in a real way that we are loved and accepted in spite of ourselves.

    Tangent: Also, one time I told my bishop that I was struggling with picturing these scenarios- like the bishop and his wife having sex. Totally out of the blue when seeing people and completely without provocation. It was because I was exposed to hard core pornography films at the impressionable age of 6. My brain was wired funky at that point and I didn't even know what was going on for years. This was in college when I could no longer handle the weight of the guilt. He said to me "You didn't put those images there. They are buried in the recesses of your mind. They've been there so long you can't recall any different, but if you utilize the power of the Atonement and ASK to have those thoughts and images removed they WILL be." So he challenged me just to sincerely pray for it, believing that it could happen. And it did.

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  8. Thank you for sharing! Amazing:-) You're right about transfering to God. That's pretty much what has helped me cope/survive my father abandonment issues... knowing that He truly is my Father and I'll return to Him one day.

    That's awesome that you felt comfortable enough to share that with your Bishop and that He took it in stride and didn't take it personally. I've struggled with the same, but I haven't been quite as gutsy to tell him such detail.

    Either way, your Bishop is right. It's just another symptom of what we struggle with and we just have to work the best we can with it:-)

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  9. As a WoPA can I comment on this post? (Don't get nervous ;)

    I've never heard of transference before but I think it is fascinating (thanks for the link) and psychologically speaking I think it makes complete sense. I think it is natural tendency for us to seek what we are missing or have missed in life and I don't think you are crazy at all for having experienced/fought against it (continue to fight against it?) I'm not condoning it, but I think it makes complete sense.

    As I read this post, i thought of a story my husband told me a couple of weeks ago. He was in a business meeting with a group of people and there was a decently attractive woman who gave a presentation. She wasn't a super model, but she had it together and she gave an impressive presentation. He struggled to keep his thoughts clean and pure. He analyzed it and thought about it all day; trying to figure out WHAT he was feeling and WHY he was feeling it. He kept getting that temptation to pull to the sexual thoughts, but he wasn't enticed by her. Finally, he determined that what he WAS feeling was admiration. He ADMIRED her resume and the accomplishments she'd made, he ADMIRED the presentation she made. He thought she was IMPRESSIVE, but he wasn't ATTRACTED to her. But, since he his wiring has been off for his whole life, he didn't know how to feel a good healthy emotion towards a woman (the same emotion in a man would have illicited shame- like my hubs didn't measure up to this impressive person). Any positive emotion towards a woman was automatically accompanied by lust and sexual thoughts because that is how he knew to feel positive feelings and emotions.

    It was an eye opening experience for him to realize that he could feel admiration (or love/support/encouragement/validation in your case) and that that was GOOD, it was OKAY, it didn't have to be accompanied by ATTRACTION.

    I may be way off base here, because I'm not sure that his story is transference, I'll have to read more on it, but I did wonder, while reading yours if possibly, feeling love and support from an admirable male figure gets caught up in relational love and attraction.

    Anyway- that was a long way of saying that I love it that you were so open about it and even though I DON'T have this issue, I do have others and so we all have things we have to fight and figure out.

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    1. Haha, yes you are free to reply and your thoughts are welcome.

      Transference IS fascinating isn't it? :-)

      Yes it's a continuous fight.

      I'm not sure what your husband experienced was necessarily transference but it does make sense. In the past he has probably linked admiration with his addiction so anything he comes to admire something, his brain remembers that addictive behavior is part of that and the flame is lit. Just like you said though, it's the wiring.

      As far as I know, transference usually means misplaced feelings for one person (father/mother) being projected onto someone else(therapist/Bishop)...

      Thanks for your thoughts! I think I'm going to read up more on transference too. Oh and there is also counter-transference too, which is basically the recipient of transference being codependent (reacting based on the original action). Haha.

      FUN STUFF!

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"