Six Steps To Break The Cycle Of Codependency!

Ever feel like you are handcuffed to the person next to you, or stuck in a situation you can’t get out of? That’s codependency. Here are some steps that help me, and I hope they might help you as well:

1. Breathe.  I’m a notorious shallow breather, which doesn’t help my anxiety. Remember to breathe deeply, from the diaphragm. It makes everything a little easier.  And it can’t hurt to say the Serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

2. Say no. It’s a complete sentence. It needs no explanation, no excuse. If you can’t do something, just say no. Practice it in front of the mirror if you need to. It’s SO empowering once you get it down pat.

3. Detach. Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. It does not imply judgement or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. Separating ourselves from the adverse effects of another person’s alcoholism can be a means of detaching: this does not necessarily require physical separation. Detachment can help us look at our situations realistically and objectively. Alcoholism is a family disease. Living with the effects of someone else’s drinking is too devastating for most people to bear without help. In Al-Anon we learn nothing we say or do can cause or stop someone else’s drinking. We are not responsible for another person’s disease or recovery from it. Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another’s behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, lives with dignity and rights, lives guided by a Power greater than ourselves. We can still love the person without liking the behavior. –From Al-Anon Family Groups

4.  Set clear boundaries. A boundary is an invisible line that tells someone where not to cross over. It could be a property line, a privacy line in your mind, whatever you wish. If you have trouble defining boundaries for yourself, an excellent book that helped me is: Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, by Anne Katherine. She’s quite readable and defines all this in simple, easy to understand terms.

5. Hula Hoop strategy. Can never talk too much about the hula hoop. Buy a hula hoop to KEEP in your house. Heck, they’re cheap, buy two. 😉 Slip one over your head and let it drop to the ground. Now look at the space within the circle of the hula hoop around your feet, your body. Whatever is in that space is what concerns you, your business. Anything outside the hula hoop is none of your business.

6. Support group. Find a support group, whether it’s Al-Anon, CoDA, or another 12 step group. Get involved with others who are experiencing the same issues you are. There’s strength in numbers, no doubt about that. Two heads are always better than one, and you will find companionship and friendship at the tables.

Hope this helped. Have a wonderful day!

Peace out.

 

Gratitude – Because There’s Always Something

image

I am grateful for so many things today.
we got three days in a row of much needed rain, including a flash flood
it’s sunny and beautiful today
–I got to enjoy some out of town family for about a week, which was awesome
–I see my therapist today, and I’m truly grateful for her in my life
–I emailed the Samaritans in the wee hours, and they actually replied back this morning. Who would have thunk?
–my doc is going to see me once a week when my T is on vacation at the end of August
–there are, right now, many people who love me, even tho I cannot feel it, God especially
–my submission to Glimmer Train Press has not been rejected yet

For this and so much more, I’m grateful today.

How about you?

Peace out.

Standing In My Own Space – And Loving It!

“Standing with my arms extended and turning in a full circle gives me a visual marker of my responsibility. If it doesn’t come into my space, I leave it alone.”–Hope For Today, p. 209.

I love this quote. It reminds me of the “hula hoop” metaphor I’ve heard talked about at tables. Place a hula hoop around yourself, then drop it. Okay, so you’re standing in the center of the hula hoop. Whatever falls within the hula hoop is your business; whatever happens outside the hula hoop doesn’t concern you. LOVE that. It has helped me so much!

This past Wednesday my sister got an alcohol tether placed on her ankle. She informed us, as she got back in the car, that she has to have it read by her probation officer every week, once a week, for six months. After that, it will be once a month, for the rest of her probation.

I turned around from my position in the front seat, and said, “I hope you’ll get other drivers lined up to do that, because I’m not one of them. I won’t be bringing you to your probation officer.”

This morning at my Al-Anon meeting, I asked my friends if they thought that was selfish. They said no – it was self-caring. There’s a difference.

I’m still learning, but I’m loving the journey.

Happy Saturday, my friends. Peace out.

 

Accepting Change

Wednesday was a difficult day for me, and I thought I had lost all the ground I had previously gained in Al-Anon and then some. That was the day we picked up my sister from jail, and subsequently spent 11 hours in the car driving her around, back and forth from her probation officer to different places, only to have doors slammed in our faces and told to go back here or there . . .

I admit, I lost my cool a time or two. I don’t do freeway driving well, and I had to listen to Stella (my GPS), find the places, while trying not to worry about my 85-yr-old mother next to me in the passenger seat who had also been in the car the same length of time.

Then this morning I read this passage (April 5th) on acceptance from Courage To Change: “It’s all right to feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, joyous, excited, or confused about our changing circumstances.” The reading goes on to say that many of us find ourselves going back to the basics even after we have found ourselves in Al-Anon for a while after the alcoholic gets sober and THEY go through big changes. What is important is what we do with our feelings. Talking them through at the tables helps. A lot.

So today I’ll go to a meeting. I didn’t have time yesterday. I have family here from out of town. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, or blaming them in any way, because I enjoy them! 🙂 But I’ll have time today while they are visiting friends of theirs.

I want to thank my higher power, God, and all of you, for putting up with me, when I am so far from perfect.

Have a great and wonderful day, gentle readers.

Peace out.

Happy – One Day At A Time

Through working the steps of Al-Anon, I’m learning that I am lovable, regardless of what anyone else thinks, and that happiness is a daily choice.

Happiness is risky. But as I begin to recover from the effects of alcoholism in my life, it’s worth it. It’s not enough just to avoid being let down. I want a life filled with joy and happiness as well as the inevitable sadness.

I crave excitement; I’m an excitement junkie. But this time on MY terms, not on the roller coaster hump of the alcoholic. You know?

I won’t let my fear of being let down prevent me from enjoying this day. I have a HUGE capacity for joy.

What about you?

Hope you are having a fabulous Tuesday, my friends!

Peace out.

How do you react?

Sat at an “envelope” meeting this morning, which is where people pass around an envelope at the table and each person picks out a little piece of paper, and whatever is on the paper is what you talk about.

It may be a step, a slogan, or what have you. It was absolutely one of the best tables I’ve sat at in a long time. Not necessarily because of what my piece of paper read, or because of what I talked about, but because of what the woman, Marty, said next to me.

“Our first reaction is our disease, and our second reaction is our recovery.”  

That is SO cool. Which tells me I usually need to let myself sit and think before I say anything. 😉

Hope you are having a lovely Sunday. Peace out.

 

More Will Be Revealed

I’ve heard “more will be revealed” at meetings, and have read it in the Big Book, but it has never been as meaningful until right now.

My need to control can show itself as a need to know exactly what’s going on, all the time. We cannot always know. Sometimes, I need to let things be and trust that clarity will come later, in looking back.

Just like in this painting, I see exactly what I need to see . . . for now. It’s okay. It’s already okay. If it doesn’t make perfect sense now, it’s not supposed to.

More will be revealed. Peace out.

Feeling Blue? Some Things To Do!

One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why. –unknown

Ever have one of those days where you just feel down and blue for no real reason you can pinpoint? Or maybe you know the reasons but you don’t want to talk about it. Guess what? I’ve been there. I think we all have.

These are some things I do when I’m feeling blue, and maybe they will help you:

1. Play with the irrepressible Lucy. Lucy is my dog, as most of you know. Just cuddling for ten minutes, just PETTING an animal, can raise serotonin levels in our bodies. It’s a fact.

2. Aromatherapy. Lighting candles, especially lavender, jasmine, or vanilla scented, are calming and naturally help the senses go to a better place. I always turn to candles when I’m not well.

3. Puzzles! It doesn’t necessarily have to be a jigsaw, but it can be, if it’s something you enjoy. I enjoy them, but I can never find enough room for them. 😉 Something puzzling can take your mind off your own problems even if for ten minutes and it’s fun to boot! Rubik’s Cube, Sudoku, Crosswords, Origami . . . anything which strikes your fancy. Go for it!

4. Help someone else. Compliments work wonders. Open the door for someone else today, or help an elderly woman load groceries into her car. You don’t know this, but you help people in so many ways that you don’t even know about. 🙂 You’d be surprised at how many people you help. If you ever get to feeling blue again, why don’t you ask someone, just for kicks, “What do I do that matters to you?” (Or whatever way you want to word it)

I do hope you are having a lovely day and aren’t feeling a bit blue. Peace out.

Steps to Success; How Sweet It Is!

How sweet it is, indeed!!

Sunday afternoon I went to something called The Irregular Writing Meetup of the Mid-Michigan Prose and Writing Group. It was called Irregular because it normally meets on Tuesday nights in Ann Arbor.

A factoid about me: I have a touch of social phobia. So lots of times, I desperately want to do things, but I find myself unable. So far, there had been three times I keyed in yes I would be to the Tuesday night meetup, and hadn’t showed, out of nightmarish fear.

What changed this time?

1. I asked for help. I told my friends on FaceBook and my therapist and my super sponsor, and other friends about the meetup. I TOLD them I was scared, and what I was scared of. They wrote back encouraging words, told me things they know to be true about me and other writers, and made it seem a lot less scary.

2. I prayed. If you pray, of course, pray. I used to think it was silly to do this, because God already knows everything about me, so He would already know I’m terrified. But – it keeps me humble, and it also brings me closer to God at the same time. It helps me feel that conscious contact with something greater than myself. And I know He’ll be right there with me.

3. I saw it going well. I pictured it in my mind. I saw myself walking in the Cafe Ambrosia door, NOT tripping and falling flat on my face, sitting with the other writers, having intelligent discussion, laughing, supporting each other in the loneliness that can sometimes grip us . . . Try that the next time you want to succeed.

4. I left early enough to feel calm when I got there. Or – I tried to. It was my intention. But I left the house at 1:10 without checking my laptop for the address to input Stella, the GPS. So then I thought, “Well, I’ll just check at the 7-11 when I stop and get an iced tea for the road.” DUH. Last time I looked, 7-11 does not have Wi-Fi. So I had to hop back to my house and check it in the drive way. By the time I REALLY left, and was on the highway, it was 1:25. Stella informed me it would be 1:58 by the time I got there. It was 1:57. 😛 So there, Stella. But really, try to leave early enough so you don’t feel rushed – so that you even have time to settle in, by a coffee, set yourself up, the usual.

5. I relaxed and had fun. I really did. I don’t know how that happened, but – I thought the writing group was scheduled from 2-4 pm, but then when the group’s founder told me they all actually stay until 5:00, I ended up staying too! Usually, I’m the first one out the door.

Those are my steps to success. They worked for me, and I hope they will work for you. I truly had a blast, and I would be going tonight, but they are setting up for the Ann Arbor Art Fair tonight, and I would have to be crazy to go. The several people that ARE going maybe should be checked out. 😉

Have a great day everyone. Peace out.

 

 

The Curious Paradox

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
(Carl Rogers).

At this morning’s Al-Anon meeting, the topic of the table was about being powerless.

I knew all about the powerlessness over the alcoholic, over other people, places, and things. This I had come face-to-face with many times.

But then someone at the table mentioned being powerless over her own self, and it felt like all the air been sucked right out of me. That’s it! That’s what I’ve been feeling over the last couple of weeks.

Powerless over myself.

But how can that be? Aren’t I supposed to be in control of myself? Then again, nothing I do is of my own willpower. My higher power, who you all know by now I choose to call God, takes care of all that for me. I can’t even save myself!

The curious paradox is when I saw this connection, when I began to accept that I am powerless over myself, then I could believe that a power greater than me could restore myself  to sanity. Only THEN could change begin. Because – between you and me – I’m pretty messed up.

Have a great Sunday. Peace out.

Calm In The Middle Of The Storm

“Serenity isn’t freedom from the storms of  life. It’s the calm in the middle of the storm that gets me through. It’s up to me to try to keep this calm, even when the storm gets worse.” -Alateen–a day at a time, p. 30

This picture, and this quote, are so perfect for the topic of the day, which is of course, serenity.

Serenity manifests itself in several ways for me. When I need that calm in the middle of the storm, these are the places I go/things I do/people I seek:

1. Pray. I often think it’s not always the first thing I remember, but it always is, when I look back on the storm. When I have time to think my prayers are long and detailed, but when I don’t, my prayers are like this, “Oh dear God . . . please God . . . please please please . . .” So I don’t always think I’m praying. But God hears me, and He always begins calming His child.

2. Talk it out. I usually call my super sponsor.  She’s always honest with me and tells me if she’s not available or if she’s just walking out the door, in which case I would call someone in one of several of my meeting lists to talk with. Unless of course, I call my super sponsor in tears, in which case she has told me she would drop everything to talk to me. This also brings on serenity in the midst of the storm.

3. Go to a meeting. Even though it’s hard, because in the midst of a storm, I’m afraid I’ll fall apart and cry, the best place for me to be at that time is at a meeting. It centers me, it reminds me I’m SO not alone, and I’m SO not the only one who has storms. Plus I usually get hugs, and there is a tissue box at meetings. 😉 Yes, other people have cried too. I’m SO not unique. Dang.

4. Read Al-Anon Approved literature. Anything, whether it’s from a meditation book or from the Big Book of Al-Anon itself, will help to bring me serenity and calm me in the middle of a storm. One definition of serenity I found for serenity is tranquility, and I would guess that’s tranquilizer-free. 😉 Whenever I read something, even a paragraph conference-approved literature, I find a gem that helps me feel stable and grounded, free from floating anxiety.

5. Help someone else. Have you ever called someone for help, asked them politely how they are and found that they are in a worse state than you? Helping someone else can put things in perspective for me, adding to that calm center, and remind me how blessed I truly am.

6. Make a gratitude list. Yes. Right in the middle of the chaos. Find a quiet corner or go outside if the weather is nice. Find one thing to be thankful for, even if it’s just “I woke up this morning,” or “I have all four of my limbs and they’re in perfect working condition.” I’m always so surprised that once I write one down I’m able to write one  more and then before I know it I have five.

What are some ways that serenity manifests itself for you? How do you get to that calm place in the middle of a storm?

Peace out.

Book Review: Though The Bud Be Bruised

What would you do if you found a note written by your daughter saying she had been sexually molested by a member of your church, a friend of the family? This is the terrible truth and problem that Issy and her parents, Zara and Sam Heymer must face as Christians.

Though The Bud Be Bruised, by Jo Wanmer: 2012, Even Before Publishing, a Division of Wombat Books. ISBN: 978-1-922074-07-2. Amazon link: Though The Bud Be Bruised.

This book is based on a true story, and it is not an easy read. What I mean to say is, it is about a young teen who is sexually abused for several years by a church member/close family friend and it takes place in Australia where apparently they do not have mandatory reporting laws. Issy’s Mom, Zara, struggles so much in her faith, wondering how God could allow such a thing to happen, and she feels a total failure as a mother. Sam, Issy’s father, is helpless himself’, as Issy will not allow him to touch her. Issy herself goes on total self-destruct for a while, and, although this reader determined to remember the promise of God: “Though the bud be bruised, there will be a flower…” at times it was very hard.

Because of the topic I would recommend this book only for adults and mature young adults who perhaps have been through the same thing.

I don’t mean to seem impartial, but I loved, loved, loved this book. I know, I know, tell you how I really think, huh? 😉 It’s just, in spite of the subject matter, in spite of the fact that I cried (a lot) at times . . . I could not put it down. I read the book in two days. You know, I’d want to skip out on being a mom if I was faced with all that had happened to my daughter as well. It’s so human. Wanmer doesn’t present her characters as super-Christians; you know the type? They never get mad at God, never doubt Him, wouldn’t even dare. Zara is breakable, and she breaks, yet God is the One who puts her AND Issy back together. God is the thread that binds the whole book together.

I was very challenged in my faith reading the book. I got mad at the church members with Zara. I didn’t understand. I don’t like change very much, either. 😉 So yes, I had to trust God a lot while I read the book, knowing it was based on true happenings.

I would highly recommend this book. In case it’s not obvious, I mean! 😀

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through theBookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Happy Friday! Peace out.

The Easy Way Or The True-To-Yourself Way?

Sometimes the limited choices we have can make us feel as if we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

Try and imagine the following situations, and think of how you would honestly respond:

The telephone rings. You answer it before checking the caller I.D. It’s your alcoholic loved one. 

“I need a ride to get cigarettes/to get to a meeting/to get groceries/to get to my doctor appointment. I wouldn’t bother you, except I’ve tried everyone I know.” You know she’s had her car taken away due to four DUI’s but also know she lies and manipulates.

“Will you drop me off some cigarettes/take me to a meeting/to the grocery story/my doctor appointment?”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND? THE EASY WAY OR THE TRUE-TO-YOURSELF WAY?

The easy way would be to drop whatever you are doing and take care of what she needs. Even though it’s inconvenient, and it might cut into your day, and you grumble about it to whomever is within earshot, it’s still the easy way. The true-to-yourself way, and the harder way, is – simply – to politely say “no,” without even having to explain (that invites argument and more manipulation) and then say, “if there’s nothing else, I’m hanging up now. Good bye.”

Yeah. It sounds harsh, I know, because I’ve had to do it. And my heart aches afterwards. But it’s SO much better for the alcoholic, and that’s what I remind myself. We BOTH have to grow up, and the easy way doesn’t allow for growth.

How about one more example? It happened this morning.

The telephone rings. You check the caller I.D. but don’t recognize who it is, so you answer. It’s a collect call from jail. Your daughter is trying to reach you, and in order to talk to her you will have to set up an account on your credit card for fifty dollars, after which it will cost you another twenty-five dollars just to talk to her. You know she’s fine, and have everything she needs. If she’s sick physically, they have doctors there. All she might need are cigarettes, and you’re not willing to take a collect call for cigarettes. 

This happened to my mother early this morning. She was unsure what to do, and I happened to be sitting right there. I told her to say no, and she did, and then felt worried and guilty for an hour afterward. I called my super sponsor and asked if we had done the right thing. She said absolutely, because for one thing – jail is like discipline and getting to make a collect call would be like having an ice cream cone. You don’t get an ice cream cone when you’re in jail. Also, we’re staying out of God’s way when we don’t take the call. She has to lean on the resources she has there in the jail right now, and we are not them.

Is it normal to feel like crap when you don’t take the easy way? Absolutely. Expect it. Pray through it. It will ease up.

Sorry this was so long. It felt important.

As always, love you bunches. Peace out.

Making Change

Making change is hard. It takes determination, focus, and trust in a Higher Power.

This morning, as I was sitting outside talking to my Super Sponsor on the phone, we made a date for tomorrow to have lunch, I hung and started to dial my sister to tell her about it. It took me almost a full minute to remember she’s in jail and I can’t call her.

MAKING CHANGE IS HARD. IT TAKES DETERMINATION, FOCUS, AND TRUST IN A HIGHER POWER. 

As I was sitting there, waiting for my heart to stop aching, an illustration came to me about making change: literally and metaphorically. See, I work at the Book Nook at my local library, and there are a few things we have to always do when we are on shift.

1. Get the envelope and keys for the drawers and cabinets from the front desk. That’s if you are the one to open the Nook. But it still applies for the purposes of this metaphor. When we’re making changes, we have to make sure we have all the necessary resources. If It’s a big change, like moving, have we done all our research ahead of time? Have we prayed about it, talked with all our support people? This is crucial, because no matter how hard we try, a key with “teeth” on both sides won’t open a lock that only accepts a key with teeth on one side and a smooth top edge.

2. Always make sure there’s fifty dollars in the till. If you don’t have enough reserve within you, enough energy, have been getting enough sleep and so forth, you won’t be able to make the change needed in your life. It will slip through your fingers like so much sand on the beach. These things I know. When I’m hungry, angry, lonely, or tired – which means I haven’t been keeping my own till full – I don’t have what I need to make enough change. I better make good on the till before I go about doing anything else.

3. Even if it seems simple, count it out. We charge a dollar for cloth-covered books and standard-sized paperbacks, fifty-cents for regular sized paper backs, twenty-five cents for children’s books, and anything in the special cabinets is marked. So it’s all pretty simple. STILL. I make it a point to count out the books in front of the patrons, stating the price out loud so no mistakes are made. Since making change in life is hard, all the more reason to state your goal out loud, even if it seems like a simple one. I will speak about myself positively today. If I catch myself thinking negative thoughts, I’ll stop myself and say something positive out loud. There. Like that.

4. Always say thank you. Thank your Higher Power, your sponsor, your friends, family, strangers, and anyone else who helps you on your journey. It makes them feel good, and helps keep you humble. We can’t do this alone.

Those are four small things that reminded me about making change, and I hope it helps you a little. It isn’t easy, but we can be gentle with ourselves through the process. Remember to laugh a lot along the way. It helps. 🙂

Love you lots. Peace out.

Freedom Is Accepting Yourself Right Where You’re At

A few posts ago I declared myself a fraud and think I also said something about being worthless, perhaps. I would like takesies-backsies on both of those.

Since then, I have spoken with both my Al-Anon super sponsor, and my therapist, Heather, and they have helped me learn something valuable.

I thought I was a fraud because the nearly year-long time I had spent going to Al-Anon had only gone into my head-sense, but had not traveled the 12 or so inches to my heart.

Both my super sponsor and my T. heartily disagreed, and I have to say I finally understand. I’ll explain why. It takes everyone WHATEVER IT TAKES and AS LONG AS IT TAKES to get to the next level in the program.

Just like it might have taken my sister getting arrested to get straight finally, it might have taken MY SISTER GETTING ARRESTED for me to take the focus totally off her and put it completely on me where it belongs. I gotta tell you it feels weird, but freeing, because I get to learn about my needs, and get to learn a lot about myself for the first time in a long time.

I don’t jump every time the phone rings anymore. In fact, the phone is eerily quiet. I’m journaling, and I’m eight days self-injury free.

The freedom that comes with accepting yourself right where you are means you don’t need to pretend. You don’t need to say you’re fine when you’re not. You don’t have to paste on a fake smile until your face hurts at a party. If you need to you can slip out and take a break. Or *gasp* not go at all. You don’t have to put yourself in situations that threaten the core of what you value, if you know those values. If you don’t – there’s freedom in working that all out.

The best part is we are not alone wherever we are on our journey. Our Higher Power (mine is God) is with us, talking us through it, holding our hand at the scary parts, walking ahead of us, lighting the way. He’s been there before. He’s done that. He knows exactly what it feels like. More importantly, He knows us way better than we even know ourselves.

This has been a post for the Christian Writers Blog Chain. The theme for July is FREEDOM!

As always, love you big. Peace out.

Five Steps To Knowing Yourself Better

Yesterday we talked about how there can be a disconnect when dealing with codependency. A disconnect within ourselves, with who we are, what our own needs, emotions, and feelings are.

Today, I would like to present five ways to get to know ourselves better. There are, of course, many ways. These are just five to get you started:

1 Make collages: Any magazines will do. Family Circle, Redbook, Vogue, Cosmo, to name a few. Sit down on the floor or at a table with several magazines spread around and a pair of scissors. Then flip through the pages and cut out anything that speaks to you. Faces, places, objects, famous people, nobody in particular, babies, adults, old people, trees, whatever that resonates to you at the moment. Put the cut out pictures in a pile separately. Later, glue them on a large blank paper or perhaps begin a sketchbook of collages and date them, keeping track of how you have changed.

2. Journal. I suggest a blank, unlined journal, for several reasons, but this must be purely your choice. The reason I suggest an unlined journal is because sometimes you might like to draw or sketch out what you’re feeling. Sometimes there just aren’t words to describe what’s going on. There’s no better way to describe a black hole, for instance, then to draw a black hole. And sometimes I like to paste in special things I’ve found that have meaning. A goose feather that fell next to me while I was writing one day, for instance. With journaling, you can be exactly whatever. No one is grading it. No one checks your grammar, spelling erors  errors, or whether or not you mention them. It is YOURS and YOURS alone. Keep it in a lock box if you wish. 🙂 Get to know yourself.

3. Create. Paint. Knit. Crochet. Make something out of clay. Write a short story or go big and write a novel. Getting creative can help you know yourself because the left side of our brains, which taps into creativity, also deals a lot with emotion. So GO, DO! Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes don’t count when you are using this creativity to know yourself. They don’t even figure into the equation. You might even consider paint-by-numbers if blank canvases freak you out. Yes!

4. Join a support group. Whether it’s Al-Anon or another support group, it’s important to find a place you’re comfortable to dig deep and TALK about yourself. When you talk in general about whatever the support group topic is, you will find yourself learning more and more about yourself.

5. Do the unusual thing. If you usually don’t walk during the day, WALK. If you usually don’t speak up for yourself, be bold for one day. Think about what you do, then do the opposite for one day, just to see how it feels.

As always, love you guys to pieces. Peace out. 🙂

Who Do You Think You Are?

When we spend our lives, or the majority of them, obsessing about another person – namely a relative or friend who is alcoholic – we lose pieces of ourselves until we no longer no who we are. We become so enmeshed with the other person we forget where they end and we begin. This is also called codependency, and it affects millions of people around the globe.

We become numb to our feelings, oblivious to our own needs, unable to name our emotions.

When I watched my sister sentenced, handcuffed, and taken away to jail on Tuesday, I didn’t cry. Nor did I cry when I spoke about it with my sponsor the next day or mechanically field call after call from “well wishers” wanting to know what had happened.

I didn’t cry when my doctor spoke softly with me about my depression, and changed my medication, told me I was severely dehydrated and needed to drink more water. I didn’t cry as he poked open my burn blister to drain it and gave me silvadene cream to treat it.  I didn’t cry as I explained my worthlessness to him. He asked how long I had felt like this, how often did I see my therapist? I told him as long as I can remember, and – once a week.

That evening I went to an Al-Anon meeting. It occurred to me on the way there that I’d been taking “Fake it ’til you make it” to an extreme. I had been saying all the right things at the meetings, wanting so hard to believe them. I read the Al-Anon literature, underlined the important parts, and it got into my head . . . but hadn’t traveled to my heart.

So – at the meeting, I shared my worthlessness, and I burst into tears. I apologized for them, of course. But people told me not to be ridiculous, don’t apologize for feelings. I’ve been teary ever since.

Gentle reader, I’m a big fat fake. I’m just now finding out who I am. I didn’t even know, when I bought CK 1 the other day, whether or not it was meant for women. That’s the measure of my clueless nature. I just knew I loved the smell, and I wanted it.

If I bore you, that is that. If I am clumsy, that may indicate partly the difficulty of my subject, and the seriousness with which I am trying to take what hold I can of it; more certainly, more certainly it will indicate my youth, my lack of mastery of my so-called art or craft, my lack perhaps of talent . . .

A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point. –James Agee

I dearly love you all. I DO know that much. Peace out.

Seven Signs You Aren’t Taking Care of YOU

When we live with or love an alcoholic, when we are a parent, or a wife, a co-worker, a small business owner, and on and on, it can become very easy to put others first in our lives.

Sometimes it becomes so easy the lines get blurred and we lose ourselves in the process.

Here, for your light-hearted Friday before Friday the 13th, are seven signs you aren’t taking care of yourself:

1. When your feet hit the floor after you get out of bed, your first thought is of someone else. Yes, maybe you have children to feed, a husband to get off to work. Maybe you are concerned whether or not your hungover son/daughter/sister/husband/wife will make it into work and how you will handle it. We all have responsibilities. But if you don’t take care of YOU FIRST, in some small way, you’re no good to anyone else. 

2. You read another loved one’s horoscope before your own. Enough said. 😉

3. You’re the first to volunteer for committees, bake sales, and block parties – LONG after you’re overburdened. Hey – volunteerism is wonderful. I do it myself. But have you ever noticed, especially in a church home, there is a small percentage of people who can ALWAYS be counted on to do anything? Don’t be one of those. Burn-out city. Trust me. 🙂

4. Friends call you a whirling dervish, because they hardly see you anymore. Worse yet, they stop calling at all. Staying connected is important. I read a study that serotonin levels in people who are shut-ins goes up just by spending time on Face Book. So imagine how much happier face-to-face contact makes us! We need touch, we need hugs, laughter, all these things to remind us we are not alone in life.

5. Your dentist no longer recognizes your name, and says they have no information about you on file.  

6. You stop speaking up for yourself, and all the boundaries you’ve worked so hard to build start to wobble and weave.

And the last sign you aren’t taking care of you?

7. When you are in a car crash, your car sliding around on ice, before it comes to a stop, the lives that flash before your eyes are everyone else’s except your own. 

Dear Reader, please take care of yourself. You are the only YOU there is.

Peace out.

Seven Steps to Change When That’s The Last Thing You Want

It’s the truth. Change isn’t easy. Ask the caterpillar who morphs into a beautiful butterfly. He spends all the time in a cocoon. No one asked him if he wanted to become a beautiful butterfly. Did they? He just became one, over time.

We don’t really have a choice, either. We change, or stagnate. Things that stagnate become stale, foul, sluggish, and dull.

If you really hate change, like some of us do, here are seven steps to help you get through in roughly one piece 😉 :

1. Put your worries in a God Box. Or a cookie jar, or whatever works for you. Just writing the worries about upcoming changes can release anxieties within is. That helps defuse them. It helps distance the worry so you can move on and plan for change instead of dwelling on it.

2. Rehearse in your car. Little changes can help you build up your resilience to bigger changes. So next time you are stuck behind someone slow, or a person swerves in front of you in traffic, PRACTICE. Breathe deep, remember other people around you have the same problems, they get inconvenienced too. It’ll help you respond to the bigger changes later.

3. Return to an old favorite. When we’re going through changes, it can help to revisit something that turned us on in the past, that we haven’t done in a while. It strengthens our confidence and makes getting used to the changes around us easier by half.

4. Read up on your role models. Pick up anything that inspires you, even if it’s a novel. A character from The Devil Wears Prada can help us realize change is possible and keep us focused on our goals.

5. Make a checklist. Just write three things on the list: Situation, Support, and Self (not necessarily in that order). Always be asking ourselves: What is one good thing about my situation?, Am I letting others support me? and third, What can I do to ease my transition? Personally I LOVE checklists. Making little checks and saying “done,” gives me a thrill. 🙂

6. Coping strategies. This could be as simple as taking up a new hobby like gardening to getting into therapy, getting a massage, asking friends for advice, going for meditative walks . . . use your imagination. The possibilities are endless.

7. Develop a 3-step plan. If, for example, you’ve decided you want to attend Al-Anon: Find a local meeting, Get a temporary sponsor, Begin to read the Big Book of Al-Anon

This has been modified and changed from the article: “Help! I hate change!” in Woman’s World magazine, July 16, 2012

Peace out.

Insecure Writers Unite!

Often I wish I were already famous, like Hemingway, or Fitzgerald. I wonder how they would have dealt with family problems. Would they let it stop their writing cold, or would they just plow full steam ahead, as if nothing had happened?

Last month was a difficult month for me. I got zero done on my WIP. I did start a new story. It’s based on truth, fictionalized of course. I’m including the very beginning of it here for your perusal and, of course, critique and comments.

Barter for a glass of vodka is like a highly-skilled hostage negotiation. I have nothing tangible to offer, no currency. There is nothing more valuable than what she clutches in her hands.

She looks up at me from hooded lids, slumps against the back of the couch, sits on a carpet stained with wine spills and holes where cigarettes have missed their ashtray. 

“Here’s the thing,” I venture. “How about I hold your glass for you just until we can get you on the couch and off the floor, then give it back to you?”

She mumbles something unintelligible but I think I hear the word “okay” somewhere which I mistake for compliance.

As I reach for the glass, she bends forward with it awkwardly, like a puppet on a string, careful not spill a drop.

“Julia, I promise to give it back to you. I promise.”

She still holds on. I know EMS will be here soon. I sit down next to her on the floor. 

That’s it. That’s all I have so far. Tear it up. Be as critical as you can. I am subbing this to Glimmer Train hopefully. It won’t have a happy ending, but I don’t think they always expect that.

I hope you are all doing well. Peace out.

~~~~~

This has been a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, which meets the first Wednesday of every month.

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