Why is it difficult to admit my powerlessness?
Giving up power means admitting that I am imperfect, have made mistakes, and need help. Power over even the inconsequential was a way of wresting control of my chaotic life. I needed power; I needed control to show that my whole life wasn't chaos, just most of it, but this part right here wasn't because I controlled it. Admitting I am powerless means that I can not control or manipulate others into a happier version of life, and that I hafta look at life as it is, chaos and all.
How do the effects of alcoholism and mental illness make my life unmanageable?
See "Step 1, Part 2."
What keeps me hanging on to the illusion that I have the power to change someone else?
A happy, serene, calm life, the flipside of my childhood. If I could get Dad to stop drinking, we could be a happy family. If I could get Mom sane, we would be a happy family. If people would just do as they're told, life would be good. If I controlled it all, things would be happy, peaceful, and calm. Except me. I'd be a stressed mess and always waiting for a control to fail. (Oh wait, that's what's going on right now.)
In what ways does denial hamper my ability to let go of people, places, and situations?
I have deep trouble trusting others. Superficial trust, yeah, sure, you can have that. Trust you to help me, be there, or love me? Yeah fucking right. I am in denial over many things. I cannot allow myself to be truly loved. To open myself up to love is to open myself up to abandonment. Everyone leaves, in time. I can't let go of people because I can't be sure they won't hurt me further. So, when they do leave me, or vice versa, I self flagellate emotionally. They can't hurt me, so I hurt myself. I can't let go of them, because that would mean I hafta feel the pain of letting go. Part of me would rather take the emotional whip than that raw pain.
Certain places evoke memories, memories that until recently I was perfectly happy to leave buried, for fear of actually feeling the emotions of the time. That's the corner I took the beating when I spilled the milk. That's the door I cowered against when I shielded my sisters from a beating for not cleaning our room. That's the bridge where I had to calmly talk Mom down in my teens, ignoring my own emotions. That's the corner where I almost committed suicide. I'd almost rather deny having emotions, deny that any of that happened, than feel those emotions. Feeling those emotions means I didn't do it right the first time around and fucked up. I can't fuck up. Everything must be perfect so I don't provoke Mom and Dad.
There are situations where I deny my true emotions, out of propriety and a learned fear of negative emotions. You don't cry, even in grief. You show no anger. Too much happiness brings down wrath from above. So I bottle it up, stow it away. Certain situations cause fear, but fear is bad, so you stand there with gritted teeth and take it. Certain others mean a guaranteed fight, but if you aren't there, the fight doesn't happen, right? Yet others are too close to painful childhood memories, and could bring up those emotions. Rather than handle those emotions, I ran away from it in my mind, and denied those memories, those feelings.
Denial means I can't trust or love without suspicion, I can't walk into a room without searching out exits and weapons, I can't witness a fight without emotionally cowering. Denial means I act tough and like a total bitch when I'm confused. Maybe if I deny that there's anything wrong, we can all act normal and the pain will go away.
I always joke that my mother lives in Egypt, but I failed to realize I had/ have my own little summer home there.
I want to see. Denial is a set of blinders. I want to take them off. If that means temporary pain, I can handle it. One step at a time. Kinda like the old Claymation Christmas song, "Just put one foot in front of the other, and soon you'll be walking out the door."