Going to my cousin’s cottage in Saugatuck to celebrate my 50th
birthday which is on the 5th of September!
I hope to have a lot of fun. See you when I get back!
Have a lovely, lovely weekend.
Today’s reading in Courage to Change absolutely blew me away. It was ostensibly about sponsorship and how important a sponsor was to this sponsee. But really it was about love. She learned about her worthiness as a person through her sponsor.
I was at an Al-Anon meeting (stop me if I’ve told you this story before ), where there was a double winner (a person from AA who also had Al-Anon issues). She was celebrating 26 years of AA. She told us that at the meeting, in passing, and we all asked, as we do in meetings, “How’d you do it?”
“With a whole lot of love,” she replied.
Maybe it’s a cliche that love makes the world go ’round, and maybe it’s not even true. But love sure as hell helps. Ask babies who are never touched or held. Ask the homeless person who gets brushed by on the street without a second glance or a “How d’you do?” Ask the little girl who’s mom is too depressed to get out of bed, so she has to get her own breakfast, cheerios (if she’s lucky) without milk.
Without love, without someone in our corner supporting us, helping us to come up in the world, putting a hand around our shoulder, clapping us on the back to acknowledge our presence, we will wither on the vine.
We are ALL put here for a reason. Have you discovered yours?
2. You never do anything for someone that they are quite capable of doing for themselves.
3. You aren’t loaded up with guilt and shame for things you didn’t do.
4. You detach with love, and not resentment.
5. Far from perfect, you are a work in progress, and you take your own inventory (take stock of what’s going on inside) regularly.
6. You don’t worry about what the loved one in your life might do, say…etc.
7. You take care of yourself.
So sorry I haven’t been posting a while. Haven’t been well, almost had to go into the hospital, my doctor had to change a bunch of my meds, and on top of that I’m in a senior choral production of Broadway show tunes. So I have been very busy, very sad but with that fine-fine face that I know some of you will know what I’m talking about.
However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Some kind of transformation has taken place in me through all this, you know, “stuff.” It’s made me stronger, braver, and not afraid to say the truth. Sometimes my voice shakes when I say it, but I still speak the truth.
It was never brought home to me more than Friday afternoon when a friend of mine, who was my sister’s friend first (so, you get that she knows both of us) called and asked how I was doing. Then she said, “How’s _____ doing?”
“_______’s great.” I said.
“What’s that mean?” she asked me.
“You know what?” I said. “Why don’t you call ______ and ask her what it means?”
“Oh, I will, I will, I was planning on calling her.”
Whew. I tell you, that was THE hardest conversation I’d had in a long time. This is someone who is used to pumping me for information about my sister. And in the past I’m ashamed to say I doled it out.
You know what? It’s not ME she needs to ask how my sister is doing, and it’s not my place to give out that information.
She never did call my sister. Not as brave as the average bear, eh, Booboo? It would involve apologizing for not being there for her in the past, and maybe she’s not ready to go there. I don’t know. That’s HER inventory. I’ve got enough on my own plate.
May I just say that I am boot-kickin’ proud of myself? So is my sister. I told her, in preparation for a phone call from this friend.
How have you been bold, bad, and beautiful lately? It’s show and tell time. So COME ON DOWN!!! W00t W00t!
Sometimes it can seem like a balancing act between saying “yes” and saying “no” and we feel ourselves teetering in Maybe-land. Saying no is not a bad thing. Neither is saying yes. It is YOUR recovery. It takes you as long as it takes you to get wherever you need to get. And that’s up to you and your sponsor, or your higher power, or whomever you decide to take along the journey. I have had to learn to say no for my own sanity and self-care. It has not been easy. I’ve been met with tears, and pleading, manipulation, threats . . . what has helped me the most is this simple statement. I give you the dignity to figure it out on your own. More than anything, addicts need their dignity back. It has been taken from them with this disease. Giving in to every manipulation, every desire, every pleading, everything that they are able to do for themselves, does not dignify them. Not in the least. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter. Am I too harsh from being immersed with alcoholics for nearly 50 years?
Please do tell me what you think. I’m all ears. And It’s a good day. No self-harm today.
I hope you are awake, Gentle Readers, because I need your advice this morning. There is an anniversary celebration at my “home” Al-Anon meeting, the Peace at the End of the Road meeting this morning. There will be a breakfast followed by an Al-Anon speaker, an AA speaker, and an Al-Ateen speaker. I’m psyched about it.
Except for one thing. The Al-Anon speaker will be Karen, and she’s someone who REALLY hurt my feelings at a non-al-anon function, trying to “school” me in how things were done (when there weren’t any hard and fast rules). Actually, she brought me to tears in front of a bunch of strangers.
I’ve since forgiven her, but still–my feelings are there, you know? I feel extremely uncomfortable around her and it’s hard to trust anything she says, it’s hard to trust mySELF with her for sure. I would never feel comfortable to speak at a table with her again.
I want to go SO BAD, but everything in me is screaming AVOID – be afraid, be very afraid. My ubersponsor will be there, but even that doesn’t seem safe enough.
What do you all think? PLEASE, I need some honest opinions, and I need them by at least 9:00 EST.
“Every now and again take a good look at something not made with hands—a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and, above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world.” –Sidney Lovett
When I pray the serenity prayer, I place a special emphasis on the first word, “God.” Now, don’t stop reading at this point. See, what I love about the Al-Anon program and the CoDA (Codependency Anonymous) program is they allow for each to come the “God of his own understanding.”
I had a relationship with God before I ever started the program, but I soon realized it didn’t work for me. I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father, so my very first concept of God was as a tyrant who sat up in heaven keeping score and who did not like me very much. It was exacerbated by my Catholic faith (I’m not saying Catholicism is a bad thing necessarily; it just did a weird number on me in many ways).
To keep this from being a long, drawn-out story, let me just say that it wasn’t until I came to Al-Anon that I realized I needed to rethink my concept of God. Yes, He’s sovereign, and all-knowing and all that is still true. But He’s personal, and I can speak with Him just as easily as I speak to my best friend, my ubersponsor. He wants to know the things that are important to me, the things that worry me, the things I feel bad about, and so forth.
But for me God is the most important part of the serenity prayer. Sometimes I forget that, and today I wanted to remind myself. Because . . . I’m so thankful I don’t have to do this alone.
I hope you are having a great Sunday! Peace out.
That’s part of the inside of my car. The back seat is still pristine. My point is, I think a lot of times we get wiser from making mistakes.
Progress not perfection. I’ll clean it today.
Everything was set. I had just finished straightening out the family room, the kitchen was clean, the downstairs bathroom (the one I mostly use), my bedroom . . . I was as ready as I was going to get. And I was excited. My UBERSPONSOR was coming to my HOUSE!! You have to know that I never let anyone come over. Not my friends, anyway. Mom’s friends come over frequently, and family of course.
Then, my cell rang. It was Uber, herself. Plumbing problems at the house, she couldn’t get away, was it possible for me to come to her instead?
Now, I’d been to Uber’s house a zillion times. We often meet at her house. I didn’t hesitate, just said “That sounds terrific. I’ll be there in half an hour.”
A year ago, heck, six months ago, I might have said, “Are you kidding?” I don’t care if the roof is caving in!! Do you know what I’ve been going through expecting you to come this morning? Drop everything and get your butt over here right now.”
Yeah. Not very attractive or kind, is it? Uber would not have dropped a single thing, by the way. She would have listened to me rant and rave, then very kindly have restated her problem and her position and that she was sorry she couldn’t be there today. I love her so much!!
But I’m amazed – now that I can look back – that I’ve changed that much in a year. I can be spontaneous now. It’s okay. It’s not that bigga deal. It’s not the end of the world. I can deal. I don’t have to control every single moment of my life.
At least, that’s how it goes for me.
Take this blog for instance. I don’t know how many times I changed the “theme,” the basic looks of he blog before I finally settled on this one. And it’s still hard. Every time WordPress comes out with new themes I allow myself to “window shop,” but I do NOT buy. It’s tough love on myself. Sometimes I would get triggered to change my theme just by visiting someone else’s blog, and I’d think, “Dang! That looks SO good.”
Next thing you know . . . well, yeah. My blog had that same theme.
Now I’m having trouble accepting the niche I’ve made for myself with a blog based almost entirely on Al-Anon. Except for a few book reviews, my monthly CW Blog Chain and monthly Insecure Writers Support Group post, that’s what it’s about.
I am nearly finished with a 10-week Blog Course which has been telling me a lot of the opposite of what I do here. I know I will never be popular. I’ll never earn the Versatile Blogger Award, or The Sunshine Award, or all the lovely things that other bloggers are awarded.
But I’ve accepted my choice, because if it helps even one person who deals with an alcoholic or who struggles with codependency in his/her life . . . oh MAN, it’s worth more than all the accolades in the world. You know?
Dear Readers, you are my heart and soul. Peace out.
If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.
— Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
There are two memories I’d like to share with you today, and they both concern my dad. I’ll try to be brief, so you don’t fall asleep. My dad was a difficult person to live with. He was abusive to me verbally, emotionally, and I’m told physically, though I don’t remember the physical part. I’ve always prescribed to the belief that we do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. My dad’s father was also abusive; so that’s what he knew. And he didn’t yet know Jesus Christ, the ultimate Healer and binder of wounds.
On March 5, 1997, I prayed for Jesus to come into my heart and make it His dwelling place. That was remarkable on so many levels, but it’s not even the most remarkable event. Almost exactly six months to the day after I received Christ, my father prayed with me and I gave him his own large print Bible. He was 77 years old, and had Alzheimer’s for four years already, but this was a divinely appointed lucid moment when we prayed. I know I will see my dad in heaven when I die.
The other significant memory is three days before he passed on, which was December 14, 2000. All my family (I have five brothers and one sister) was gathered home from various parts of the states to be with Dad and say their goodbyes. We were keeping him home with hospice care.
Anyway, for some reason (divine appointment?) Dad and I had a rare moment alone. He turned to me, eyes quite lucid, remarkably so, and said, “I hope you don’t hate me for the rest of your life.”
I knew as clear as day he was asking for forgiveness. I didn’t even hesitate.
“No worries, Dad,” I said, “I love you.”
Okay. Who remembers with me being a kid and setting a boundary down the middle of the room you shared with a sister or brother, perhaps with tape? “THIS is how far you can cross and NO farther!” Ha ha! I remember, because I shared a room with my sister until she left home at an early age.
Some boundaries don’t shift at all. Property lines, for one thing. That’s why you’ll see NO TRESPASSING signs, and yes, people have the right to bear arms if you trespass and don’t leave when asked.
Our bodies, if they can be considered property (just go with me here for a second), don’t shift (much, except some sagging with the aging process, or gaining and losing weight). Our skin is a boundary. It keeps all our parts together. That’s what I meant.
The ocean’s basin is a boundary. It holds all the oceans’ waters in their place. When there is a flood or a hurricane, the boundaries overflow, but for the most part, those boundaries stay intact.
Can you think of other boundaries that are non-shifting?
Shifting boundaries are the boundaries we set with others or for ourselves. We might think we have to be perfect when setting a boundary and therefore agonize and stay up til the wee hours coming up with boundaries we can live with forever.
That’s crazy-making behavior. We change. Other people change. Our behaviors change, and so do theirs. Thought patterns change. We grow, and hopefully so do they. So naturally, our boundaries need to change with the times.
An example: I decided to make a boundary for myself that I would not drive my sister places, and force her to become more responsible for finding other rides.
Then, I went and picked her up from jail during that 11-hour debacle because I was the only one with a GPS in my car.
That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in my first boundary. It means sometimes it has to shift to fit the situation at hand. And that’s okay. I lived, and I learned something about myself in the process.
I sure hope this made sense, and was somewhat useful to you. Have a fantastic Friday!
Just a couple things about this step. Some people, in their zeal to “come clean,” list every single person they think they have every harmed, including their children if their feelings got hurt when they were grounded, and things like that.
I am not responsible for other peoples’ unfulfilled desires. Simple as that. Other peoples’ expectations are not my responsibility unless I have helped to create them.
Also, willingness is key here. Some people find it helpful to divide their list into three parts: the people they are willing to make amends with, the people they might be willing to make amends with, and the people whey never will be willing to make amends with. As they work through the list, they find that some of the “mights” become “willings” and some of the “neverwills” become “maybes.”
Just something to chew on. It doesn’t have to be done perfectly. It just has to get done.
It’s the first Wednesday of the month, folks, and that means it’s time for a gathering of my friends in the Insecure Writers Support Group. Here we share our fears, our anxieties, our hopes and dreams. If you would like to join, just click here: Insecure Writers Support Group. We”d love to have you!
I did something this past month that terrified me. I submitted my short story, “Damaged,” to Glimmer Train Press. I wrote it, rewrote, cut some, rewrote it, and cut some more, until it was about 756 words (It was an entry for the Very Short Fiction Award, which tops out at 3k, but can be any length shorter).
Then I gave it to a good friend of mine, Bonnie, who will be forever in my debt, to crit for me. She told me what would work even better, and what didn’t work as well.
By the time I was finished, it was still flash fiction, and I was a little worried about submitting flash to a literary journal, you know? But here’s why I stopped being afraid. The story is the story. To add to it falsely just to make it fit into a mold you think it needs to be, cheats the story, and – that’s not right. Not right for me, and more importantly not right for the story.
I had shared the beginning of the story here with you all last month. It’s fictionalized, based on a true story. So I thought about using a pen name. Then I got braver and decided to use my real name when I submitted.
It’s been a full week and the status of my submission is “in process,” which means it hasn’t been rejected. In past experience, if Glimmer Train flat-out rejects a story, it gets done within the first few days. They’ll notify us by Oct. 1st, unless we’re one of the 1st,2nd, or 3rd place winners, in which case we’ll get an email or phone call the week before that.
Maybe I should stop checking my status every day.
This has been a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Check some of the other writers out there, too. We’re a great group of people! And join us if you like.