Putting On That Other Pair Of Shoes

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forgivingGentle readers,

I’ve been trying and trying to write this blog, wanting it to be gentle and light, to bring you good vibes so you’ll come back and keep reading. But my mind and heart are heavy with all the colossal blunders I’m making that I keep wanting to slough off onto my illness. A mixed episode of bipolar disorder is nothing to laugh about. It’s like a modern version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My loved ones never know who they’re going to be speaking to from one minute to the next.

Until I got into Al-Anon, I used to get so mad at my sister when she wold blame her absurd or borderline abusive drunken behavior on her disease. Even after becoming a regular around the tables, it took me a long time to get that being a drunk is a disease and not a choice. I know, ridiculous right? Who in their right mind would choose the humiliation and shame attached with being an alcoholic? She is responsible for any fallout, and she has to try to amend as much as she truly can, but she has to love herself first and foremost. That’s why it’s called a selfish program.

I wish there was such a thing as a teleporter, so I could teleport myself to a tiny, solitary island far, far away from any living people until I Get Better. Until then, I keep apologizing, then praying and trying again. I’ve started taking my Flexeril (20mg per pill, a muscle relaxant), which I had a WHOLE bunch left over from when I initially hurt my back years ago along with 3x daily dose of Xanax. It makes me sleepy, and a little loopy, which is a weird trip to be on with all the racing thoughts and flighty ideas in my brain. But it makes me a little less prone to blurt out the first thing I’m thinking—I would do anything to not hurt my mom or my sister. Go ahead. Let me have it. Tell me I’m using, that I’ll become a drug addict. I’m already addicted to prescribed Xanax, what’s a little Flexeril thrown in?

I better stop now, because I’m very tired, and I know I’m not making sense. I guess the take-away from this is: be very careful when we go to judge or feel resentful of someone else. We never know when we’re going to be the one struggling with a problem which can easily be judged and resented. But only when we accept ourselves and love ourselves where we are can true change begin to happen.

When I talk to my sister now, and I hear her go into “beat up on Carol” mode, I try to jump in and get real logical with her. She did the best she could at that time with the information that she had. Now she knows better, she can do better.

This is my first ever dysphoric mania episode. I feel so lost at sea. And it’s super hard to take that same advice and apply it to myself. All I keep thinking is “Idiot. Stupid. Mean. Jerk. Way to go, jackass.” It is probably the reason that I still have suicidal ideation and that many with this type of mania attempt suicide.

Argh. I’m blabbing and I’m getting totally incoherent. Please be gentle with yourselves today, no matter where you are on your journeys.

Peace out. xx better

Love Yourself Through the Process

exercise-cartoon1When I saw this cartoon it made me laugh so hard, and I was drinking coffee at the time. :D Then I realized it’s all about expectations and how what we think about things make them difficult. I hope that makes some sense. We dive into recovery and expect so damn much from ourselves from day one. God forbid we don’t meet those expectations. So when we can learn to laugh at ourselves it’s f***ing fantastic!!

When I told the brilliant Dr. Walker this morning (therapist) that it wasn’t fun making paper cranes anymore, and I told him the whole story about how everyone on Facebook (yes I have that much power) knows about my promise to make 1,001 paper cranes in the memory of an old cherished professor. So now it felt like a crushing burden, and it wasn’t a joy any longer. I kept putting it off each day until I was too sleepy. So he said “Why does it have to be 1,001? Why can’t you just make as many paper cranes as you want, keeping the fun in it, thinking of your old prof while you’re making them? The gift is not in the quantity of the cranes, it’s in the gifting of them, it’s in the meaning of them.”

forgiveHow’s your mood lately? Me, I’m ever working on irritability. :( I’m a work in progress. Mania is still at an all-time high, so it would be better if I could be in a rubber room right now, but it’s not an option. LOL  

Not so happily, I got in an argument with my sister again on the telephone this morning. Two bipolar people trying to both be right at the same time is so not good. We made up a safe word for when either of us feels things are getting out of hand: orange. Yes, orange. As in: “Orange you glad I asked you to stop talking?” ;)

After that conversation I got off the phone and just wept. But post-therapy, I decided the conversation belonged right here, along with my bad feelings, because I was being way too hard on myself: crapThen I walked away from the crap, literally turned my body away, wiped the stupid tears from my face, walked outside and looked into this:

beauty (That’s me ecstatic about the sunshine and higher temps of an impending spring day.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: no matter what you are recovering or healing from, it’s a tough process. To borrow a phrase, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We didn’t get damaged in a day, and we’re not going to get stronger, healthier, more empowered in a day either.

The biggest take-away I want for you to keep in your head with this post that took me forever because I kept nodding off (It’s so not you or the subject matter! Lack of sleep and problems adjusting meds is all. It’ll pass.) is this:

beautiful1

Be careful who you give your power to. Peace out. xx

There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

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Sister-Quotes11

My sister and I are more alike than we are different, and sometimes this makes us competitive, even—I have recently learned, in our respective illnesses.

We each grew up with an abusive, hard-working, hard-drinking father. My shostra (sister, in Polish) is 13 years my senior, and she grew up in the 60’s, a turbulent, changing, experimental decade. The way we each dealt with our abuse was different. Carol turned to drugs and alcohol. Me, the ever helpful codependent, did my best to help her stay sick and keep the rest of the family intact until I was in my late 20’s and got help for  myself (by way of a major depression and 1st hospitalization). Not to say that I didn’t do my own share of rebelling. When I was in grade school I was famous for getting into actual physical tumbles (a.k.a. fist fights) with other girls (girls can be so mean to each other), and once, because I had short hair, when a boy called out to me (as a safety girl) whether I was a boy or a girl, I shouted back, “That’s for me to know and you to find out!”…and he promptly chased me all the way home.

But I was always the writer. Writing was my way of coping with the chaos around me. Starting at around age eight, I kept “chapter stories” of the perfect family, in my eyes. Yes, the kids in the chapter stories misbehaved, and yes, they got in trouble, but they weren’t called names and they weren’t given the silent treatment, and so forth. Everything was always talked about, so very “Brady” like. LOL

My shostra was always the other type of artist, the kind that would make you so jealous if you could see her work. Clay and steel sculptor, mixed media, painter, you name it, she’s done it. She has taught at Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, which, if you don’t know, is a major, major feather. Part of me has always been so proud of her, and part of me has watched her, casually draw up a sketch of something or other and had to fight back this evil, jealous side that couldn’t make a straight line to save her life.

When my dear shostra was dx’d with bipolar I disorder, her doctor told her that she probably had it from a very young age and if she’d been diagnosed earlier, she may not have become an alcoholic. I have been dx’d with everything from major depression to borderline personality disorder to now finally, two years ago, bipolar II disorder. Though I may have been borderline, I very possibly “aged out” of it, which sometimes happens.

I never experienced true mania until during these–what is it, three now—past hellish weeks. I must have had something like hypomania during a hospital stay for a doctor to diagnose me with bipolar II. And I’m pretty sure this episode started out hypomanic. If it had been caught properly by the first doctor who saw me before I went back to my previous shrink who diagnosed me correctly last Friday (I think. I’m losing all sense of time), it would most likely NOT have turned into full blown mania. Mania, for me, is not fun. My sister enjoys when she has an episode. She gets tons of stuff done, loves not sleeping and on and on.

But–the whole point of this post is to say, when I told her Dr. Sack said I’m in a manic episode, she was all like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. What—are you trying to be manic now? Do you want to be like me or something?” I was floored. It was like all the air got sucked out of the room, or gravity ceased to exist. Who would want to be manic? Oh. Good. Lord. I pray, even though all that I can manage ceaselessly is “Help please God,” all the time, for this to just go away.

So. Yeah. LOL Competitive even in sickness. And now guess what? She’s writing. So not only is my perfectly creative shostra a talented mixed media et al artist, now she’s writing a memoir of her alcoholism. Oh, but I’m not supposed to say, “Hey, that’s my territory.” But I feel like the shadow. Always the shadow.

Still, although she can make me cry, she makes me laugh in my belly. I love her…..all of her, not just the easy parts. I hope she feels the same about me, prickly and all.

Just for fun:

Peace out. xx

The Fine Art of Letting Go

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holding_on_and_letting_go_by_klcarr-d4mh2l9 In my last post I said I was going to write about the worry over my mom and my sister. I also said I was going to write it the next day. Now you know not to trust anything I say. ;)

But seriously, I went to an amazing meeting this morning. And it wasn’t just because it was called the Sunday morning Amazing Grace Al-Anon meeting, either. We read from today’s reading in Hope for Today, and what I heard most of all was about letting go.

Boy, do I need to let go. I’ve been ashamed to talk about this here, but since I talked with my sponsor and with my friend Sherrie, who guest posted here and writes here, at Sherrie Theriault’s Blog, I feel better. My uber sponsor bolstered my spirits by speaking of a few small resentments she had rattling around in her head.

But what was most important was what Sherrie did. First, she made me laugh. Laughter is very important for the soul. 2. She let me know that I have a double standard, one for myself and one for everybody else, and I’m much harder an myself. 3. That resentments sometimes have layers, and if my sister just stopped drinking seven months ago, it’s not surprising I still have resentment left; and 4. That it’s okay, even good to let readers know other seasons of your soul. You need to know that there was a whole season I did not go to meetings. More importantly, you needed to hear from me during that time, that I was still here, what I was doing, how I was doing, so that you too could read and perhaps say, “Oh yes, that’s me.” or “Gosh, I don’t ever want to go there.”

It was great to see my sponsor. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, what with one thing and another, and we just held each other for the longest time. “Look at you!” she said. “Look at you!” said I. We made a time to get together on Wednesday.

Peace out.

C is for Comparison

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. –Dr. Seuss

Taking care of ourselves also involves just trying to BE ourselves. That’s easier said than done. We see billboards and commercials for thinner, better versions of the people we’d like to be. For the record, I count our own mirrored images as distorted comparisons as well.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 13.8 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures (both surgical and minimally-invasive) were performed in the U.S. in 2011, up 5% since 2010. Also 5.5 million reconstructive plastic surgery procedures were performed last year, up 5%.

My sister and I couldn’t be any more different if we tried. She’s small-boned, very petite, and weighs probably 115 lbs soaking wet. When she’s stressed, the last thing she thinks about is food. I’m tall, bigger-boned, not at all petite, and – well, we don’t need to go there. :P I’m a stress eater, unless I’m very anxious. Then I don’t eat.

As artists and craftsmen, how often do we compare ourselves to others? Whether you are a writer, knitter, painter, sculptor, mixed media artist, scrapbooker, playwright, actor, or carpenter . . . how many times have you looked at someone else’s work and said, “Why couldn’t I have done that?” OR conversely “I could have done that blindfolded with both hands tied behind my back!”

It takes a very secure person to be happy for another’s success, without reservation. In a book I’m reading, The Sister Knot, the author states it’s almost normal for sisters – or anyone, really –  to feel jealous of each other at certain times throughout their lives.

At my meetings, it’s still, after over 1 1/2 years of attendance, difficult for me to share. I worry that I will sound funny. I think my share will seem thrown-together, not cohesive, and not nearly as fluid and confident-sounding as the OTHERS in the group. At a group I went to last Friday, a man shared. He stuttered, stammered, and it was very hard for him to share just a few words. After he spoke, I felt ashamed of myself.

Why do we do that? Why do we bother to compare? There is only one me. There is only one you. As far as writing or projects go (even if they have nothing to do with writing, if you are an artist this applies to you) I’m reminded of a sticker I often turned to during National Novel Writing Month last November. When I got discouraged I would look at it to boost me.

It said, simply, “Your story matters.”

Whatever you do, be it welding, gardening, crocheting, quilting, dog-training, remember that. YOUR STORY MATTERS.

Whatever your size, your eye/hair color, nose/lip shape . . . YOU. MATTER. SO. MUCH. Just the way you are.

Peace out.

You did NOT just say that!

I object to your objection!

Okay. I know for a fact that how we say things is just as important if not more important than what we say. I’ve been attending these lectures on alcoholism and have been learning better ways of communicating, how to express “I Statements.”

(Stay with me for a minute, here, I know this is technical but it’s important for later on.) There are three steps to an I Statement:
1. State very specifically what behavior led to your feeling.
2. State what you are feeling.
3. Explain the consequences of the behavior for you.

In correct usage, it might look something like this:
1. I feel “I feel scared . . .

2. When when you stay out all night

3. Because because I don’t know where you are.”

Simple, right? Well, Saturday afternoon, I forgot all about these I statements when my sister called and said she had just gotten through a therapy session and her therapist told her she needed to work on anger. Mind you, I knew she had already been through one crisis that day. She’s an alcoholic, and I try to be careful about putting too much on her at once. I save my verbal “vomit” for my sponsor because I figure it does no good for my sister to know all the irritations and frustrations that go through my mind regarding her.

But when she said that, all my good intentions flew out the window. Everything I had learned just kind of took a back seat and my mind went on autopilot. Verbal vomit flew out before I could stop it.

“Well, you do have problems with anger,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“Do you know that every time you get drunk – or even when you’re sober – you complain to Mom that I got sent away to college to live in a dorm and you had to go to a local college?”

“Yeah, I do know that,” she replied.

And the verbal diarrhea continued, unchecked.

“Do you know why Mom sent me two hours away to college?” I asked, and I knew there was some sarcasm in my voice.

“No, why?”

“Because I had become a permanent babysitter for your three kids who were all living with us at the time. She wanted me to get away.”

There you go, coming up first again. Mom always thought of you first.”

“Oh, and taking you and your whole family into her house to support didn’t count.”

“You babysat my kids? Well guess what? I babysat all you kids from the time I could walk.”

I laughed at that point. I couldn’t help it.

Eventually we talked it out. We can never stay mad at each other very long. In a family of seven siblings, we are the only two sisters. But – she’s the reason I’m writing a book about alcoholism, because I truly believe her drinking changed my whole life and a lot of the choices that might have been available to me. I wish I could say I’m better, but I’m still such a sick codependent. I don’t ask her anymore if she’s going to meetings, or if she’s working her program.

I have a smaller hoola hoop now, and I’m only concerned with my own program. It’s enough for me. It’s enough for a lifetime.

intro to me

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I’m a writer, but that’s a separate journal. This journal is a place for me to vent, to talk about what the heck is going on in my life, and to figure things out. I’ve been told by some that I’m the most functional in a very dysfunctional family, which is saying a helluva lot, since I struggle with borderline personality, bipolar, and obsessive compulsive disorders. Lots of times I’ll just be ranting, and if it helps you, I’m happy. I certainly don’t want to add to anyone else’s angst.

 Carol (my sister) drank yesterday. She’s an alcoholic. She turned 58 this year, and she’s been drinking since I was three years old. I’ll be 45 this year. I can’t figure it out. She finally got her driver’s license back after ten years of not having one (three dui’s in Michigan and that’s it). It’s restricted for a year, where she has to blow into one of those things every 15 minutes, but she has a car, and she was really excited.

I’ve joined al-anon, and went to my second meeting this past Monday. When this all happened yesterday, I called two people from my phone list to ask what to do, because everything our family has tried in the past hasn’t worked. If we’d taken her to a hospital, she would have just signed herself out the next day (or hours later) AMA.

What I learned is that I have to take care of myself first. And that by rescuing Carol all the time, it sends her a message that she’s worthless, that she’s not worthwhile, and cannot take care of herself – which of course she’s perfectly capable of. She has tons of friends in AA, all of which she could have called (BEFORE she picked up a drink). She has a schizophrenic adult son. She’s in a relationship that’s about to breakup. Problems with her two daughters. There are lots of reasons to drink.

 Oh hell. I’m done for now. Anyone else out there have alcoholism in their families that has some experience, strength and hope to share with me?d