The first time most of us hear about Blind Spot is while learning how to drive. There is an area that is obscured from our vision even though everything appears absolutely clear when you look in the mirror. It’s almost like one of those magic tricks, because it seems to make no sense – how can you not see something with all those controls (mirrors) around you that are specifically designed to enable you to see?
The other day, I listened to a podcast today called “Blind Spots: Exploring What We Cannot See. The description of the series is “Exploring blind spots that exist in the cultural, relational, and therapeutic process with host Dr. Chantelle Thomas, who will have candid discussions that delve into the more challenging aspects of self-discovery.” It was a riveting show that made me aware of my own blind spots – past and possibly present.
According to another definition, a blind spot is “an area in which one fails to exercise judgment or discrimination.” Synonyms include “misperceptions” and “enigmas.” To me, this describes the very state of someone who is in active addiction. It’s the inability to see how alcohol is used to medicate, numb, and/or soothe the very blind spot that impedes reality. Or, if you’d like to look at it another way, using substances to deal with my shame and other negative emotions made me blind. And it made me crash – mentally, physically, emotionally. Suddenly there I was, having to confront my past and my story of relinquishment, my struggles with bonding with my adoptive family, and how I just didn’t seem to fit in with the world. In therapy and through literature, I learned that I developed all those unhealthy coping mechanisms, ignoring blind spot after blind spot, and grew more dependent on my addiction and more distrustful of others. The good news was that in sobriety, I understood how to drive that specific vehicle model: trauma. And I learned better coping skills.
But am I completely immune to blind spots now? Probably not. We all have them. Knowing that I’ve had a pattern of blind spots throughout my life helps me recognize that in myself, and it helps me help my clients recognize how to navigate the dangerous terrains better and see with more clarity.
Still, we cannot rest on our laurels just because we’re in recovery and better equipped. I want to be vulnerable with you here. Lately, my biggest blind spot is that I like to organize my thinking and perceptions and thoroughly define a problem before I bounce it off of anyone else. This means I don’t tell my wife that “something doesn’t feel right in my life” and ask her for her observations and wisdom. Instead, I self-isolate with the issue for days or weeks, sometimes acting in ways that don’t support my values. As a result, my solutions aren’t always the best because I didn’t allow myself to process them with others who can support me and hold me accountable.
Those of us with addictions know how this works: our attitude and/or mood deteriorates to the point where our brains take over and resort to that learned/wired coping mechanism of turning to chemicals for relief. Those of us who were relinquished know how this works, too—we feel unsafe and unvalidated, so we isolate from others, thus deepening our sense of shame, deepening our feelings of aloneness.
But there is a way to work around all those blind spots, an antidote that will trump the feelings of hopelessness and being stuck inside your own head. Stay connected. Tell people when something hurts. Let them help you process and support whatever you’re dealing with. Not easy in a COVID world, yet ESSENTIAL! We all need to work on this every day—staying connected, if only virtually. We need to know our blind spots and let others know them too.
#newreality #mentalhealth #sober #soberlife #sobriety #health #addictionrecovery #addiction #alcoholism #substanceusedisorders #recovery #adoptee #adoption #trauma #traumainformed