August 1, 2012

Freak - Part 1: The Insecurity Addict

Hi all,

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca O'Donnell, author of Freak: The True Story of an Insecurity Addict and a Beyond Survivor. I was immediately captured by Rebecca's story and courage and just knew I had to share her with you all! So, for the next three weeks, she will be telling us a little bit about her journey and how she healed.

For decades, all her decisions were colored by insecurity; she had put herself into a pit and had to discover a way to crawl out of it. With laughter, self-recognition, and a drop of shaky courage, Rebecca shares exactly how she did that, discovering in the process a gift that she never expected—the ability to help others build their own ladder out of hell. She offers hope to anyone who has ever heard that voice of self-hatredthe gremlin of insecurity whispering that we can't, we shouldn't, and we don't deserve.


There is no one meaner, nastier, or more heartless than an insecurity addict. We're easy to spot because we're everywhere: self-effacing jokesters, sad and silent shufflers, angry and aggressive bullies.  We're often seen as kind and generous people, willing to help others, always lending a hand to those in need. Sometimes we're seen as tough and brilliant leaders.  And all that is true. We do help others. We often are impressive leaders.  We are generous to a fault.

But there's a terrible secret behind our benevolent masks, an abusive raging monster who keeps a child chained up in darkness...a child they've been abusing for the greater part of their lives.  A child they blame for all of their own misery and stupid decisions as an adult. 

Nobody was a bigger abuser than myself.  I kept that kid locked up, shivering and bloody, raging at her every chance I got.  Every time I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw, I attacked her.  Every time I kept my mouth shut while allowing others to hurt me, I called her a coward.  Whenever I wanted to die, or scream, or escape whatever hell I was in, she felt my razor wire words and poisonous ridicule.  I had no pity, no remorse in my abuse.  There wasn't one shred of humanity in my treatment of this wounded kid.  I hated her.

I loved hating her.

Why shouldn't I?  This kid, this angel-faced little eight-year-old, was the reason my entire life had been garbage.  She's the one who invited it.  She's the one who got Daddy's "juices flowing," the one who was sexually appealing to her brother and his hoodlum friends.  She's the one who couldn't stop it, the weakling who wasn't strong enough against full grown men.  She's the one her mother called "an incestuous slut."  And she's all mine.  This kid can never, ever escape me.  She IS me, inside of me forever, like a whining little cancer, rotting me from the inside.  I will call her names, abuse her, hit her in the face, claw her skin and burn her legs.  I'll choose relationships that will help me hurt her even more.  I'll keep the cycle going that my pedophile rapist relatives began.  I'll add to it.  I'll surpass their evil.  They did it for years.  I'll do it for decades.  That little bitch will pay for my misery.  I'll make sure of it.

This, if I'm honest with myself, is the way I used to think.  Sure, on the outside, I was all "nurture the inner child" and "forgive yourself," but inside, my addiction just grinned a jagged smile at such nonsense.  Insecurity is an addiction, every bit as strong as heroin.  It won't go quietly with soft words and self-help books.  It allows you to read those but slams the gate every time you try to put any of it into practice. 

When my adolescent son was in rehab for his horrific drug addiction problem, I reluctantly decided to follow the family association program myself.  I was in a deep depression; an addict son, a lost job, in the middle of a terrible divorce, losing friends and my art business in the 911 attacks.  This on top of a past full of a tiny ruptured uterus, sexual deviancy and drunken cruelty, and I was at an all-time low.  I was the most talented person I'd ever met.  That was gone too, thrown away by my own stupidity.  Self pity was a deep ocean of thick slime, and I was drowning in it.

But as I studied the Daytop Village rehab booklets, listened at the group meetings, learned the ins and outs of addiction and mindset of the addict, it began to dawn on me that I might be an addict too.  I'd always prided myself on having never turned to drugs or alcohol.  I'd seen my entire family wallow in such horrors and had a certain smugness that I'd never gone that route.  But I had been fooling myself.  I WAS an addict.  I was addicted to insecurity.  I wasn't just addicted.  I was a hardcore, lifetime user.

So how to even begin combating such an addiction?  I'd read a lot of fluffy books; well-meaning silly sentences that were soothing but insubstantial.  I read them, loved them, but they did nothing to change my own thinking.  I'd been hard-wired since infancy to see myself as garbage, first by my parents, then friends and lovers, and most of all, myself.  I could tell my reflection that I was a good person, worth saving, but I'd never believe it.  I never had before.

But now, with my son's life at stake, I knew I had to be strong.  I had to live for him.  I had to drag him, kicking and screaming, back to life, and myself right along with him.  So I decided to fight insecurity with love.  Every day, I said, "I love you" to myself.  At first in the dark, then to a photo of me as a kid, because it was too hard to say it to a mirror.  Every night, I said, "Good night beautiful body, good night beautiful mind, good night beautiful spirit."

I didn't believe a word of it.  Sneered at myself for saying such lies.  But I kept at it.  A stone mason can hammer away at a great boulder a hundred times without a mark, but on the 101st blow, the entire stone will crack in two.  I kept that in my mind and kept hammering away with my silly, embarrassing love-talk.

Then something miraculous happened.  Six months after I began my monologue of love, I was brushing my teeth in the mirror, and froze.  Without covering any part of it, I was looking at my entire face in the mirror, something I hadn't been able to do for years.  It was a nonchalant kind of epiphany, but mighty nonetheless. 

Check in next week for Part 2!!
Connect with Rebecca on Twitter or Facebook and find her book on Amazon.

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