Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is (White) Knuckling: A-Z Challenge

I admit it.  I’m kinda cheating with this word.  I rolled around topics in my head and white knuckling stuck.

It’s a term heard in the addiction world - trying to stay sober without a good recovery in place.  Like gripping the seat on a roller coaster with all your strength so you don’t fall off instead of trusting the safety harness to do its job.  Your knuckles turn white from the strain of trusting only yourself.  The belt is there to keep you safe, much like the tools of sobriety are there to keep you sober.

Addicts tend to hold onto a ton of anger, insecurities, resentments, and other unresolved emotions.  If these issues are not addressed, then the potential for relapse increases.  When relapse occurs, the addict can enter into that vicious cycle of addiction again: 

 

When I met my husband he was white knuckling it.  He knew he had a problem but wasn’t ready to admit it.  It didn’t help that neither one of us heard of sex addiction yet.  Although he stopped all of his acting out behaviors, he was an emotional mess inside.  It didn’t take long for the addiction cycle to set in motion again.

After I found out about his addiction, I white knuckled my own recovery.  I thought since I wasn’t the addict, (at least in his addiction) I didn’t need a support system of my own.  I felt reaching out for help made me a weak person.  I didn’t realize it takes a strong individual to extend their hand to someone else for help up off the floor.

In the midst of my recovery, I discovered my own need for emotional sobriety.  I had no clue just because I was 20 years sober from cocaine, I needed help dealing with unresolved emotions that led me to the addiction in the first place.  Once I learned healthy coping mechanisms, my life became calm. 

Serene.

And, that rocks!


Have you ever been afraid to ask for help?

~~~@

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge.  Wanna see more?




40 comments:

  1. I have had that gripping feeling when trying to hold on. It's when life takes you on that rollercoaster, Elsie, and very scary it is, too, because you feel out of control. It is all to do with emotion, and sometimes it can cloud all reasoning. I always find myself there when it involves someone close to me. The time when this was at its worst was before my son died. It was almost like a premonition. The only way out is faith and prayer - for me, anyway.
    You mentioned that you were stopping one of your blogs. I didn't want to miss you, so I've joined this one.
    Best wishes.

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    1. Fanny,

      My heart goes out to you. I didn't know your son died. I'm sorry for your loss. That out of control feeling is so hard to overcome. Just when you think you have your emotions in check, your mind spins in another direction. That happened to me after the discovery of my hubby's addiction. The rug kept get pulled out from beneath me. I have learned to turn to prayer too. That and mediation. It helps keep me even-keeled when I don't think it's possible.

      Thank you for following me here. I appreciate that more than you could possibly know.

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  2. Gripping that tight means that's ALL your doing, as it takes all your energy. Glad you both found a way to channel some positive energy and get support.

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    1. Your exactly right, Alex. When you're expending all your effort on one thing, all else just falls apart. Thanks!

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  3. I've had some white knuckle drives on mountains before. I have been afraid to ask for help before b/c I feel like I'm being judged as a failure, so I try to muddle through on my own. And that is why I have a bad anxiety/panic attack problem.

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    1. haha, me too, JoJo. Especially on Pikes Peak in CO. Wow, what a ride that was. I don't know what it is that keeps me from asking for help time and time again. I'm getting better but it's such a conscious effort to ask for that assistance.

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  4. What? Gripping the seat doesn't help?/ What if you fly off the rails? Hmm yeah nothing will help then, kind of a smudge. I hope the floor was clean when you were down there.

    Sometimes we do need help indeed, but other times if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Depends on the situation I guess.

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    1. Wait. What? Pat, you didn't mention my mistake in my post? I had a big glaring G at the top of the page instead of a K. I'm shocked the cat didn't make a smart ass comment. Of course the floor was clean, it was in my house! haha

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  5. I'm always amazed by how many people think asking for help shows weakness. I understand that thinking on a logical level, needing help means you are weak in some way, but the strength required to overcome the fear of being perceived as weak is extraordinary. A moment of weakness, where you need to ask for help, doesn't make you weak. I wish more people understood that.

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    1. I do too, Frank. I wish people would understand it's not weakness but courage that allows us to ask for help from someone else. It was a hard lesson learned. Who am I kidding? I'm still learning - a work in progress.

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  6. I remember when my sister was first getting off the booze. It was like a rollercoaster for sure. She was edgy, tense, angry, sad, crying a complete mess. This went on for about the first year of her getting help. I had her kids almost as much as I did when she was drinking.

    My family is silly. We were raised to believe that we must bull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and asking for help was forbidden. To ask my dad for help was a dangerous thing too. He'd either belittle you or hit you, or both. I know that's wrong but it's hard to overcome that kind of conditioning. I just try to go silent and struggle along on my own.

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    1. I'm glad you were there for your sister's kids, Anne. That you could be their rock while she was getting the help she needed. Recovery is hard to do alone - I'd dare say it's impossible - without family support. I don't think your family was silly so much as common. It's not many people who can remove the pride from asking for help. I'm sorry you weren't able to turn to dad when you needed him. The good thing is that your kids know they can turn to you. You stopped the cycle.

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  7. " I just try to go silent and struggle along on my own." This last quote of Anne, is like I feel.
    Sometimes when I ask help hubby is terrible, she make a mess and is terrible.
    When sometimes I said my mom she is worry and I dont want she feel that to her age.
    So understand?
    I learned like Anne and is not easy, I pray so much (I try) and this help me!
    hugs

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    1. I was afraid to ask for help from my hubby of all people. The one man (aside from my dad) that I should have been able to lean on but I was scared. Now, I'm learning he really is there for me. All I have to do is ask. I'm sorry your hubby isn't able to be there for you too, Gloria. You deserve only the best my friend. I understand about your mom but remember, she's still your mom. Always there for her little girl. Many hugs!!

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  8. I admire you for being so frank and open about the emotional challenges you faced, Elsie. It cannot be easy, either to share it or to have gone through it. Hats off to you for making the effort and helping numerous others confront their demons.

    ~Shailaja's latest A~Z post

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    1. Thank you, Shailaja. I appreciate the compliments. I don't want people to feel like they are the only ones going through emotional crap. That was the hardest part - feeling alone. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. what a good use for white-knuckling your addiction and fear ~ i like how you are responding to each letter with your own personal journey ~ i think you are one brave woman ~ have a good weekend elsie ~

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    1. Thanks, Grace. It has been a bit challenging (get it?) to keep writing about sex addiction but by golly, I'm gonna do it!

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  10. I think we all experience the addiction cycle and go through white knuckling, whether we realize it or not -- and if only to an extent so invisible, it has no obvious impact on our daily functioning. Thanks for bringing the cycle and terminology into our awareness, Elsie.

    xoRobyn

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    1. Thank you for relating to the post, Robyn. I think you're right. I feel many people go through this kind of behavior even if they don't have an addiction, just to a different degree.

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  11. Knuckling... I didn't know the term. Yes, I'm always afraid to ask for help. Don't quite know why that is, Elsie. Maybe because I've always been a loner trying to solve his own problems.

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    1. That makes you very much like me, Blue. I was not so much a loner but had to learn to take care of myself when I was young. I moved out of my house when I was 17 then my first hubby died ten years later so, I depended on me and only me. That made it hard to learn how to ask for help.

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    2. I understand, Elsie. I hear you, alright. :)

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  12. I am fortunate to not suffer from some of those awful conditions. I have always gone my own way, which did not always work out, but not following the crowd kept me out of trouble. One thing that has worked in my life, which accounts for some pretty good experiences, is my ability to ask for help if I need it. The secret, however, is to ask someone who knows more than you. People tend to ask their peers simply because they feel they can get an honest answer. Most of the time, their peers know less than they do, or they are afraid to be honest for fear of hurting the person in need..

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    1. Not following the crowd is a blessing. I followed my peers in my late teens/early twenties and it didn't go so well for me. You're right, you have to know who to ask for that help. Asking someone with less knowledge that you posses can get you in a real pickle. I'm pretty lucky, I asked for help with my writing but was smart enough to ask someone with a ton of experience. It was a great choice.

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  13. Not an area of the picture we often look at. Thank you for this insight.

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    1. I never heard of any of these things until I entered into this recovery world of mine. Fun times, fun times! haha

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  14. I'm so glad you found serenity. The source of addiction may be out of our life but our propensity for addict behavior and thought patterns always remain, hence the term addict. People either have addictive personalities or they don't. I went from being a food addict to being a spendaholic. I'm glad you realized that you needed to reach out so you could reach out to help another. Thanks for a very open and honest post.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing this part of you with me. I appreciate it very much. I find I have to make a conscious effort not to "go all in" with projects I pick up - that means anything from a real household project to a person. That addictive nature sneaks up on me sometimes.

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  15. I've been clean since 1984 with the ups & downs of life, it's essential to ask for help to stay sober & sane in a crazy world. So happy we're on the road together. The world needs more serenity.

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    1. Many kudos to you, Kate. A long timer is great to hear from on my blog. I remember going to a meeting and being told to get phone numbers. I was too afraid. I just couldn't do it. I was so scared. The next meeting, I knew I'd never move forward without help from those who had led the path before me. I got the numbers. Glad to meet you!

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  16. Sigh. This is so true. We all want to just be healed without HEALING, don't we? The desire comes from a good place,but getting there is HARD.

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    1. You remind me of a coffee mug I got from a fellow anon. It says, "What is this work you expect me to do?" And a big fat cat is falling out of a chair. So true!

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  17. White knuckling...I know it. I sincerely hope I'm out of that phase now...I took things into my own hands when I quit my therapist and now I just see my psychiatrist every 4 months or so. He just says 'uh huh' and 'uh huh' and 'don't you want to go back to therapy?' and writes a lot of stuff down, LOL; he never tells me if I'm on the right track.

    Sometimes I just wanna grab that notebook and see if I'm doing good? Bad? What?!

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    1. Yikes! I'm sorry you're only seeing your counselor every four months. And, I'm even more sorry he, well, sucks ass. I was blessed to find my rockin' counselor. She writes away on her pad, but boy oh boy, she knows how to get my mind thinking. I hope you find someone just like her one day!

      (Wonder what would happen if you grabbed that notebook?) haha

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  18. I've white knuckled it for a while. That is no fun. It is all about barely getting by. Just holding on. It takes every last drop of your energy. It leaves you depleted all of the time. And life isn't hopeful. That might be the worst part. It just looks long. Long and hard.

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    1. I think part of it is denial. Not willing to admit there is something more powerful than us. Whether it's our addiction, emotions, whatever - not being in control is hard.

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  19. That does indeed ROCK and so do YOU. Really enjoying your A/Z. Taking a break from online and headed back to the movie room to watch Lucy and rest but I will for sure be back.

    Keep up the great writing. Go you. Rah.

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    1. Ah, yes, it's Monday. Rest up my friend and enjoy Lucy!!!

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    2. Thanks. I am up moving about a wee bit now. Then when Tim games tonight I'll go back and clip more coupons and prep for tomorrow's shop. Feel pretty darn good. Excited to get out and coupon tomorrow.

      You have any rain today? Overcast but still nice here.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.