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!
Well, today turned out to be the pre-sentencing hearing. My sister pleaded guilty, and between the judge, the prosecuter and her attorney I guess they worked out that she could get from o-60 days in jail (it’s not 30 days anymore).
Between now and then she will see her probation officer. She has to put her best foot forward with him, because he will influence the sentencing.
That’s about all I have to say, except she’s feeling pretty sorry for herself. The attorney strongly suggested she attend as many AA meetings as she could between now and July 3rd, which is when she’ll be sentenced, and all she could do was say she didn’t have transportation.
I had already told her AA people would love to pick her up and take her to meetings. Her attorney told her she’d have to start dealing with that because that wasn’t likely to change.
I don’t know what else to say. I’m tired and slightly … I don’t know.
It’s fairly easy to talk the talk. It’s much easier to tell people what to do, to give people advice, than to take that advice for oneself. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve been in some denial about something pretty big.
I’ve said here on my blog that I’m a “double winner,” and by that I mean I am a member of two anonymous groups: Al-Anon, and Overeaters Anonymous. Well, I’m in a rather large amount of denial about OA, and I intend to change that in this blog post.
I’ve still been attending the meetings. I just haven’t been reading any of the literature that I’ve purchased. Whenever we go around and say our names before sharing, most people say “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a compulsive overeater.” I say, “Hi, I’m Chris, I’m a sugar addict, and I’m in huge denial about it.” Then I continue my sharing.
I suppose I could just say I’m a compulsive overeater like everyone else. Why the need to be unique? Well, it’s not so much a need to be unique, as a need to be specific. I don’t struggle with other carbs. I struggle with sugar specifically. Once I eat something sweet, specifically chocolate or a cake-y thing, I’m a goner.
If I don’t buy it, or it’s not in the house, I’m okay. But I’ve been known to eat sugar just by the spoonful if I’m desperate for that “feeling.” And if you’re a sugar addict, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a euphoria, a calmness that overtakes one, followed by numbness and a quite sleepy feeling. There’s nothing like it.
When I think about it, I’ve used sugar to comfort myself since childhood days. Sugar and I go way back. It’s probably why my weight has gone up and down so much during my lifetime. When I was particularly scared, and didn’t know what to do, I would take a box of cake mix down from the cupboard and pour a bit out int a cup, mix that with some water and eat it with a spoon. Weird, eh? But it comforted me, went straight to those neurotransmitters that told my brain, “Mmm, this means something good.” I was probably all of eight or nine at the time.
But now, with something like chronic fatigue syndrome, I know I’m playing with fire. It’s a stupid, dangerous thing to keep turning to sugar when I know I’ll only crash and burn. It makes me feel worse than I would had I not gone to it in the first place. I need to take care of myself, because there’s only one me, like it or not. And I do love Lucy . She’s supposed to live to about 14 yrs. old.
It feels good to get through this. Denial is tough. It’s not easy to cut through; takes a machete.
Well, folks, it’s all over except for the shouting! This is it. I don’t know if I would have made it without the strong encouragement of my friends, especially my online friends.
I do have passion, I have that in spades. It’s just been a really difficult last couple of weeks. I’ve been going through a depression, and it’s been affecting my work, my friendships, everything I’m about. It’s forced me to dig deep on some reserve I never knew I had in order to finish this commitment.
It’s not just about the shiny, shiny blog badge, either (although I’m always up for shiny, shiny things ). It’s about completion. It’s about finishing what I start. Last year I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time in a long time and that felt great. This feels a lot like that.
What’s your passion? What are you committed to and what’s import to finish today? Don’t wait another moment. The feeling’s indescribable.
While it’s important to understand that “No” is a full sentence, and we need to be able to use that in our lives when we need to, it’s just as important to shout “Yes!” to life’s many opportunities. We only get one chance at this great thing, we might as well give it our all, eh?
I don’t figure that when I’m taking my last breath I will be thinking of all the rotten things I did, or even all the good things I did. I reckon I’ll be thinking of the chances I missed because I was too scared or too hesitant when I thought maybe I couldn’t do it. Or wasn’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, on and on and on.
Today I shout a giant “YES!” to life. I’m ready. I’m so there.
Ahem. Maybe one day at a time.
How about you? What have you said yes to lately? What are you willing to say yes to?
Xylitol is a naturally occurring carbohydrate. It is widely found in nature, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is also extracted from birch bark. It is important to remember, however, that Xylitol is a specific molecule. The Xylitol extracted from one source is exactly the same as Xylitol from any other source – just as the sugar (sucrose) extracted from beets is exactly the same as the sugar we get from sugar cane.
I never knew, or cared, about any of these things until I understood that I was also a sugar addict and needed to attend Overeaters Anonymous meetings. Now it’s important to me to read labels, to know how many grams of sugar are in the things I’m eating, etc.
“If taken in moderation, xylitol is unlikely to pose a problem. However, refined carbohydrates, such as pasta, white bread, pastries, and cakes are quickly broken down into glucose and act just as refined sugar does. (Note: complex carbohydrates as found in whole grains and washed white Basmati rice are fine, but avoid most other types of polished white rice due their depleted nutritional value.) Obviously, sugar-rich foods and beverages, such as chocolate, ice cream, and soda should be avoided.”
- Andreas Moritz Cancer Is Not A Disease – It’s A Survival Mechanism
The wisdom of knowing the difference between accepting the things we cannot change and the courage to change the things we can is a delicate balance. For me it’s like walking a tightrope sometimes.
And it probably doesn’t help that I’m a slow learner. Even when I read something, it takes me a while to absorb it, and even longer to put it into practice. So when I ran into difficulty these past couple of weeks with depression, it never occurred to me to ask for help.
Even though I write about it here on these pages, even though I practically PREACH about how important it is to stay in touch with the meetings and with a sponsor, I isolated myself and took a serious nosedive.
Why? Because I was afraid. I was afraid to tell my sponsor something about myself. I was afraid of how she might react when she knew this information, because I thought maybe she wouldn’t like me anymore. It wasn’t even 5th step material, it was just about WHO I AM, what I do, how I operate on a day-to-day basis. And I was scared shitless.
I was so clueless about what was going on that it took my therapist to point it out to me on Tuesday. It was part of an innocent conversation I had had with my sponsor a week ago Saturday, and I had left something out. Something small, but important to who I am. This morning I met with her (my sponsor) and we talked it through.
All those fears were unfounded. Just as she promised before, she loves me unconditionally. She takes me as I am.
How about that? Sometimes wisdom is hard fought, and comes from falling flat on my face before I reach out for a hand up.
Where is your wisdom “meter” at? From a 1-10, how wise are you today . . . 1 being “Oh man, I need serious help!” to 10 being “Call up the Dalai Lama, we may have a replacement!”?
When I was a child my value was tied up in what my parents thought of me, whether my family thought well of me. My father was sick, an alcoholic, so his thinking was affected. He did the best he could at the time.
I’m not terminally unique. Most of us come with some sort of baggage from our childhood. Maybe it’s an alcoholic home, maybe it’s something else, or maybe we grew up in a Leave it to Beaver home and our problem is trying to be too perfect.
The point is we all start with our beginning value from somewhere. It changes and morphs from there, depending on our life experiences, who we know, the people we choose to spend time with and love, and the messages we take into our hearts.
I have been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for many years in my adult life, from the time I was about 27 until just about two years ago, when we bought Lucy, and when I started on Neurontin for my bipolar disorder.
What keeps me steady now? I’m not sure it’s any one thing. I believe it’s a combination of things. Lucy needs me, that’s sure and steady. The Neurontin has been a life-saver in more ways than one, taking care of three symptoms besides balancing my emotions. At Al-Anon I learn that what I have to say matters, that I have a voice . . . and, of course, the best sponsor in the whole wide world.
Do you know that you’re valued in this world? Do you know that someone thinks you are special, just because you are you? I hope so, because it’s true!
NOTE: I’m so sorry that I’m behind. Please forgive me. I really want to finish the contest. I’ll catch up later tonight and tomorrow morning. I’m not used to writing every day and it has SO stretched and made me grow! ~~
The last line of the Al-Anon suggested closing goes like this: “…let the understanding, love, and peace of the program grow in you one day at a time.” Then we usually stand as a group and recite the Our Father, or some choose to say the Serenity prayer.
Yesterday, at the noon meeting, we had two newcomers. When that happens, I forget all about my fear in sharing. I forget about not knowing what I’m going to say when it’s my turn. I stop comparing myself to other people.
Something just takes over. I like to think of it as God speaking for me. I truly understand what it’s like to be new, to just walk into Al-Anon because you don’t know where else to turn. I understand feeling like someone has gotten on your very last nerve and you are truly going to lose it at any moment, or HAVE lost it too many times to count. I understand feeling like your prayers aren’t even being heard any longer.
I understand not wanting to get out of bed in the morning because it takes just too much energy to put your feet on the ground or even to lift your head from the pillow. I understand counting bottles and checking a loved one’s breath to see if she’s been drinking. I understand waiting up and worrying, checking hospitals and police stations. I’ve been there. I truly have, and I’ve done all that.
I understand RESENTING having to be at an Al-Anon meeting because “Why should I have to be here if I don’t have a problem?? It’s the alcoholic that has a problem!! Not me!” YES, I understand that too. You are not alone.
In Al-Anon it’s hard to shock people because each and everyone has a story similar to tell.
The slogan “think” used to puzzle me. I mean, isn’t it my “stinking thinking” that gets me into trouble more times than not? So how could “think” be a good thing? Then I broke it down. Is it:
T – true?
H – helpful?
I – inspirational?
N – necessary?
K – kind?
Whatever I’m about to say, or do, I need to stop and ask myself if it is ALL of those things.
Am I always successful? Not hardly. But with that as my guide, I’m getting there. And I’m more successful today than I was in the past. I’m able to catch myself at negativity more quickly. I’m able to do a 10th step and make amends more quickly as a result of the “think” principle in my life.
In both AA and Al-Anon, we are only as sick as our secrets. And yet, as a kid growing up in a family of alcoholism, I was taught to KEEP secrets. I learned to be sick.
Alcoholism is like a tornado. It’s like a tidal wave. You can feel it coming, but there’s not much you can do to prepare for it, and it brings lots of things in its wake. It can bring verbal, physical, sexual abuse, actual physical illness, financial debt, jail, infidelity, and even death.
Some of these problems can be so embarrassing, so intimidating, that we don’t dare talk about them. But until we bring them into the light, until we share the secrets, we can’t truly heal and they keep us trapped.
We find it is best to share our secrets with someone we can trust, someone who understands the disease of alcoholism. No matter how hopeless, different, or ashamed we may feel, there are usually Al-Anon members who have been through similar problems and are willing to listen and help.
Usually when I most want to hide out with my secrets, that’s probably the time I most need to get out and share them with others. Just like when I need to get my butt to a meeting. When I’m facing a tough situation, help me to remember that God speaks through other people. I don’t have to face it alone.
Prayer is important to me, but I don’t do it as much as I should. I pray for people who need prayer, and I pray prayers of thanksgiving when prayers are answered, but I don’t just meditate on God’s goodness, or spend time with Him. That’s uncomfortable for me. It’s something I need to work on.
The two most crucial “formal” prayers for me, are the Serenity prayer and the Our Father. Yesterday I mentioned the importance of the Serenity prayer in my life, and how often I pray it. I use it for simple things, like trying to accept the fact that my Kindle hangs up when I underlines something and doesn’t go back to the page directly, so I have to wait until it “unfreezes” and goes on to the next page.
There I sit, with my Kindle, praying that first line, and it all starts with God. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change… because I know I can’t change Amazon’s Kindle. It’s the second Kindle I’ve owned, the first being the one I sent back because of the same problem. So I know it’s something I have to just accept. But I pray for serenity, because it’s not an easy thing.
I use it with more difficult things, as I try to accept that the alcoholic in my life might have brain damage as she recovers from this last bout of drinking. She’s going to be 63 years old, has been drinking more on than off, since the age of 16, and life is catching up. Her body is tired. I pray, on my knees, sometimes just the first three words. Because this is harder. God, grant me.
Courage to change the things I can. I have come to understand that I have a sugar addiction, so I have started attending Overeaters Anonymous, trying to get a handle on that. Well, it’s a very recent understanding, mind you, so I have only attended one meeting. Sugar is in almost everything we eat, and it will be really tough, but it’s doable. Stevia is natural and a good substitute. It also doesn’t trigger a sugar binge; at least that’s what I’ve read and heard. Giving up my Peace Tea (Imported Ceylon flavor) is going to be most difficult, as it has (count ‘em) 12 GRAMS of sugar per serving and 3 servings per 1 can. I drink about 3 cans a day. Yep, that’s a lot of sugar, and that’s only from tea. *shaking my head* God grant me courage…
Wisdom, I’ve heard tell from around the tables, comes at the expense of falling flat on your face and learning otherwise. LOL Yes, wisdom comes from making mistakes. That’s how we learn the difference between knowing the things we have to accept and the things we can change. It’s experience, an old teacher. Yes, I’ve had some wisdom. And I’m sure I’ll get more along the way.
It never fails. Nervousness crushes me, threatens to overtake me, even in my own home, in the privacy of my OWN BLOG.
I try to talk myself out of the nerves, like – what’s the worst that could happen? If I say something stupid, write something utterly ridiculous, so what? I sound stupid, I look ridiculous . . . would I be the first person to ever sound or look that way? I doubt it.
We’re only human. But we forget that when stuck in the grip of some overpowering emotion, don’t we?
What makes you nervous or anxious, or are you a cool cucumber? If so, let me know what makes you tick!!
A measure is a gauge or a standard which we can use to take stock, sometimes, of our lives.
I found this AL-ANON SELF TEST at Sober Recovery. It hits all the high marks, and is very good. I hope you’ll find it helpful:
2.Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking?
3.Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else’s drinking?
4.Do you feel that if the drinker loved you, he or she would stop drinking, to please you?
5.Do you blame the drinker’s behavior on his or her companions?
6.Are plans frequently upset, or cancelled, or meals delayed because of the drinker?
7.Do you make threats, such as, “If you don’t stop drinking, I’ll leave you”?
8.Do you secretly try to smell the drinker’s breath?
9.Are you afraid to upset someone for fear it will set off a drinking bout?
10.Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker’s behavior?
11.Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?
12.Have you considered calling the police for help in fear of abuse?
13.Do you search for hidden alcohol?
14.Do you often ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking?
15.Have you refused social invitations out of fear or anxiety?
16.Do you sometimes feel like a failure when you think of the lengths you have gone to control the drinker?
17.Do you think that, if the drinker stopped drinking, your other problems would be solved?
18.Do you ever threaten to hurt yourself to scare the drinker?
19.Do you feel angry, confused or depressed most of the time?
20.Do you feel there is no one who understands your problems?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, Al-Anon (with Al-Ateen) may help.
It still surprises me, and I’ve discussed this with my sponsor. How can people in so much distress on one hand be LAUGHING and joyous? It didn’t make sense to me! I couldn’t find anything to laugh about. There was nothing funny about my situation, thankyouverymuch.
And I was, of course, supremely unique.
When I listen to AA open talks there is much laughter, and at those points I’M thinking, “That wasn’t funny at all. What was so funny about that?”
It’s about perspective of course, and having some distance from the situation you are in. Laughter is also closely related to crying, which is why sometimes we can “laugh until we cry.” There is the thought that, given the choice, it’s better to laugh than cry, which could be why I hear so much of it around the meetings.
Recently, when sharing at a Sunday meeting, I guess I forgot myself and made a joke while talking. Everyone started to laugh. WITH me, not at me. Which loosened me up more, and made me see the humor in my situation. It was a very good thing.
Generally, laughter is my great friend. I love to laugh. Just lately, it’s been tough to see humor in everything. You know?
Things that make me laugh: Lucy, puppies, babies, myself, a well-delivered joke . . .
What makes you laugh?
Kindred is both a noun and an adjective. As a noun it means “a group of persons related to another; a family.” As an adjective . . . well, let me tell you what it means to me, in terms of some very specific relationships.
I don’t talk to a lot of people. What I mean is, I don’t have a lot of online messenger friends. There is one person I chat with on an almost daily basis, and feel my life would be missing a little beat if I didn’t. She seems to get me, and I hope I give enough back that she understands how much it means.
She’s kindred to me. She’s a writer, I pretend to be one. She loves to read, so do I. We both own dogs with human names. We have VERY similar tastes in things funny or ironic. We’re also very caring people by nature, and it shows in the things we do in our own separate lives. YES, I realize I called myself caring, and if you know me at all you know I’m not being arrogant, that it was probably a Freudian slip or something I’ll take back again in about five minutes.
Another kindred spirit in my life is, of course, my sponsor. When we met yesterday for our weekly Panera chat we both confessed that each of us knows more about the other than our own sisters! We also have dogs, oddly enough, hers is named for a human as well. What’s up with that, anyway? Do we all secretly wish our animals could talk? I know I do. Anyway, there are too many things to say about my sponsor here, and I talk enough about her. You all must be bored to tears already.
Do you have a kindred spirit? How did you meet? What’s the best thing you have in common?
While I still drink my daily java without fail, I used to be a coffee connoisseur. I belonged to two different clubs, Gevalia and Boca Java, and still managed to squeeze in daily trips to my favorite joints, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.
Coffee has had an interesting history in the world, as well as in my own life. I started drinking it in high school as a way to get closer to my dad. I don’t remember what kind of coffee we drank then, I just know I drank it with lots of cream and sugar. That’s also when I started smoking (although he didn’t know THAT), but – it’s all making sense to me now.
I like the whole ritual of coffee. I like making it, although I don’t like grinding my own beans, probably because I don’t like the mess of having to clean up the coffee grinder afterwards. I love the sound it makes as it’s percolating in the coffee maker, so I wouldn’t like those one-cup pod-makers, or whatever they’re called. Oooh, and the smell, it’s enough to drive me over the edge. I like it hot, hot – I don’t like to wait for it to cool even just a little before I take a sip. And I absolutely LOVE the jolt I get to my senses as it first hits my blood stream, travels up to my brain, and goes down to my stomach.
Plus, I love to share my love of coffee. Whether it’s at a meeting, where there are bound to be other caffeine addicts, at home with my mother, or visiting with a sibling or friend, coffee is not something to be savored in isolation, not for me. It is a thing to be relished in the warm company of another.
My dear mother, who will be turning 85 this year, has lost her ability to smell and discern coffee tastes. So we made a team decision that it would be best to cancel our memberships in Gevalia and Boca Java. If Mom can’t taste those expensive coffees anymore, and I don’t want to enjoy them without her, why pay for them? What she DOES like, and can taste, is simple Maxwell House. I like it too.
So, to all the coffee snobs out there (oh no, not you! ), sometimes the company we keep is more important than the type of coffee we drink.
Enjoy your cup o’ joe today!
As you may have noticed when you happened onto my page this lovely morning, things have changed around here. When I first began blogging, I thought my blog was going to be about knitting and writing, with some posts thrown in here and there to reflect my Al-Anon journey.
Since I’m going through the Blueprint for Progress with a small group of women, which involves the 4th step adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, I have to get real about this blog.
It’s an Al-Anon blog, with some posts here and there about knitting and reading, writing, stuff like that. As I made this decision, I understood the fearless aspect of getting honest for the first time. Well, not really. I’m still afraid I’ll lose readership. You see how I have to beat off the comments as it is now.
But I like the new feel, the new look. It’ll have pages added to it, as I get off my lazy butt and put them in. But for now, what you see is what you get. By the way, Route 66 no longer exists, except in a historical preservation sense. It’s in one state (can’t remember the name now) and it leads nowhere, just a nice scenic drive.
That is a bit of a metaphor for what I want for you, gentle reader, and me. I want to take the scenic way home. I want this to be a long trip, and – will you stay with me?
Oh. Time for a meeting.
It’s no secret that I grew up in an alcoholic home. I lived my childhood and most of my adult years and sometimes still today thinking I
had to be perfect and that I was responsible for everyone around me. When I became a born-again believer on March 5, 1997 I clearly understood God’s grace for my life, and that there was nothing I COULD do that would ever make me perfect or even NEAR perfect compared to Christ and what He had done for me.
The amazing thing about grace is it’s there for me to call on whenever I need it.
According to Dictionary Online, grace means, among other things: mercy, clemency, and pardon. It also means LOVE, favor, goodwill, and kindness. How cool is that?
My sponsor and I have talked about this many times, as she is also a Christian. We have talked about the idea of speaking the truth with grace to others, and how difficult that is, both growing up in alcoholic homes. When you haven’t been raised with grace, it’s hard to know what that looks like, feels like.
So the best we can do, we decided, is to speak the truth with kindness, gentleness. Even being polite, respectful.
When I’ve tripped and stumbled in my walk, when I’ve made a mistake, it still takes me a bit to get back up and approach God. I’m not quite at the point where I can run to Him and agree freely that I’ve blown it.
I’ll get there. It’s a journey, and I’m not going anywhere.
Happy Easter, friends. Grace to you!
Many people think forgiveness is an emotion, that they have to FEEL their way to letting go of something.
But think about it. When someone has made you mad, or hurt your feelings, how long has it taken you to WANT to forgive him, if ever? I personally have avoided a meeting I love for weeks now because someone at a NON Al-Anon function tried to teach me what is, and not in a very cool way. lol
The fact remains, who am I hurting by avoiding the home meeting I love so much? Myself, again. The person I felt slighted by (and whom I called the next day to let know, little good that it did ) probably is moving on with her life, as should I, with forgiveness even just in the depths of my own soul.
Forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s a CHOICE. I have to act my way to it. Like the “fake it ’til you make it” slogan, forgiveness is an ACT of faith. So, yesterday, I made a choice to forgive this person who hurt me, knowing deep down it really wasn’t about her. It couldn’t be, not to affect me that much. I won’t forgive her to her face, because she won’t get it, but in my heart. And . . . maybe in a month or so I can go back to that meeting . . . just kidding!
What are your thoughts about “forgive and FORGET?” Let’s get a discussion going. I love a good discussion!