Birth Order

birth orderLast year, on one of his visits home from San Francisco, my brother Paul brought a t-shirt he’d bought which bore the saying “Mom loves me best.” He wore it to an outdoor picnic at which most of the family was in attendance; it was very funny and caused quite a lot of discussion. Even more funny, he left it with me when he went back! 😛

Paul is the second to youngest of seven siblings. I’m the youngest. My sister Carol is the oldest, then there’s Greg, Steve, Jerry, Jimmy, Paul, and me.

My sister said she prayed and prayed for another little sister and when I came it was like a miracle. We’re 13 years apart, and so I was like a little doll for her, and she loved to dress me up. I sure never suffered from lying in the crib too long, with five brothers, a sister, a mom, and a dad all eager to hold or cuddle me.

Carol did get that part of being the eldest where the parents made all their “mistakes” on her, and learned on her, and on each child to come really, so that by the time Paul and I came around they had this parenting thing down pat. Carol also still has a huge sense of responsibility, borne out of being the oldest child. She felt more was expected of her.

I thought my brother Greg would have that as well, being the oldest boy, but he has a very laid-back personality, and is never in a hurry. A story is told of Greg when he was quite little and the lady was waiting outside to take the boys to school. Everyone else is ready, and Greg is looking out the window, one shoe off, and one shoe on, marveling “Hey look! That lady is here!” He couldn’t understand why his mom was so excited. Ha ha ha

Every one of my sibs seemed so much older to me. The closest in age was, of course, Paul, and he was still five years older. So even when they tried to play with me, it felt odd, like I was playing with much older boys. When I was in grade school, they were in high school, after all. When I was in high school, they were in college, and beyond. I played by myself a lot, and with invisible friends, until I made friends in the neighborhood. After that I was rarely home before the streetlights came on.

Anyway, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to support the theory that birth order affects your personality. Ultimately environmental conditions, such as socioeconomic conditions, shape who we are and what we become.

(N.B.: We’re skipping neuroplasticity. Sorry for any grief this has caused.)

Have a wonderful evening!

Ciao Bella.

Zany

Z (1)I don’t like the word zany as it applies to mentally ill or anxious people. It’s the same as saying “crazy,” and it’s placing a stigma on a population that has enough to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’m not even sure I like “mentally ill.”

Sure, I have three separate anxiety problems, and bipolar disorder, but does that make me mentally ill? Does someone with diabetes say that she is physically ill? Of course not. She has a problem with her sugar, and she’s hopefully taking care of it.

We all of us exhibit crazy behaviors now and then. None of us are immune. Shouting at someone who cuts us off in traffic is not exactly normal. Talking to the driver in front of you (come on, I know you’ve done it, so have I) when you know s/he can’t hear you, is pretty crazy behavior. Once, when I still had borderline personality disorder (I have since aged out of it, thank God) I laid down in front of my niece’s car because we were in the middle of an argument, she was trying to leave, and I didn’t want her to. I’m still that way, needing to resolve things, but I don’t lie down in front of peoples’ cars any longer. lol That’s crazy.

Today, let’s remember to use the words “zany” and “crazy” judiciously, when talking about events and things, rather than people. It will go a long way toward reducing stigma in the world at large.

Well, everyone, that’s the end of the alphabet. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you, and hope you have the same. Stay tuned for Mental Health Month in May, where anything can happen and we aren’t constrained by the letters of the alphabet!

Ciao, Bella.

Are YOU My Sponsor?

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” ~Rabbi Hillel

I am currently a sponsor-less (wingless, rudderless) member of Al-Anon. This year September will be three years that I’ve been in Al-Anon, but my former uber sponsor and I parted ways amicably over a year ago.

Since that time finding a new one has reminded me of the childhood book Are You My Mother? in which a baby bird is hatched while its mother is away from the nest and it goes about asking various animal species that very question, “Are you my mother?”

Seeking a sponsor has felt, not to be too melodramatic, like walking through a field of landmines. 😛 I’ve been turned down by three older women because they “don’t do ‘that’ anymore.” Whatever. I sucked it up and tried some more. I was consecutively turned down by three more younger women because they “didn’t feel up to it.” What?? Beg your pardon? Don’t feel up to it?

I’ll tell you the God’s honest truth, and that is this. I’m pissed off. If someone were to approach me today to ask me to be her sponsor, even though I don’t have one myself. I would pray, ask God for help each day, and do the very best I could by that person.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Tomorrow morning I’m going to my home group meeting “Peace at the End of the Road.” I’m not leaving without a sponsor, even if it’s just temporary. I’m tired of hearing my own voice bounce off the walls. We all need a little help sometimes.

Wish me luck, say a prayer, send good thoughts….could use it all.

Peace out, peeps. xo sober

The Blogosphere Status-Checking Neurosis

i-forgot-to-post-on-facebook-i-was-going-to-the-gymCome on. Admit it. You check your FB status more than a couple times a day, and get a little charge every time somebody “likes” it, or the more the comments pile up. Want some help?

Okay. My name is Chris, and I’m a status-checking junkie. In fact, I’m thinking I might close my FB account for good. Have to think some on that.

Here, read this quote from Finding God in the Dark: “The blogosphere is reality television for people (conservative Christians) who consider themselves too good for reality television . . . Status updates about perfect playdates or craft projects, or magazine-quality photographs of picture-perfect birthday parties induce lots of fawning compliments (and private eye rolls) from other moms. Moms are the most underrated competitive people-group on earth. If I had to go to a rumble in a dark alley, I’d be sure to take a few stay-at-home moms with me.

“Facebook can let your friends know what you’re reading, what you’re watching, what you’re buying, what you’re thinking, when your birthday is, who you voted for, and what you’re doing this weekend. And it had all better be awesome.” (emphasis mine)

Chew on that for a bit. It’s sort of controversial, and I’d love to know your thoughts about it. ❤

Peace out. xx

You Are Enough!

be you Accept everything about yourself—I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end—no apologies, no regrets.
— HENRY KISSINGER

Here’s something not everyone knows about me. As much as I love the holidays, it’s still hard for me to be around other people for too long, even family. I never know what to talk about. I’m on disability, so I can’t talk about work. I do read the news, so I can talk about that to some degree, but I don’t argue well. 😉 So when it comes to arguing a point, I always lose. I don’t mean argument as in a fight or something; just differing views, I’m not good at defending my own. Never have been.

So I get a little nervous as Christmas Eve and Day approach. When I see family, what can we talk about? I’ve heard advice in the past: “news, weather, and sports.” Well, okay, that can work to a certain extent.

What I find most helpful, when I’m stuck, is to ask about the other person. What’s been happening with them? People love to talk about themselves (well, most people 😛  ). One question can lead to other questions and before you know it, you’re having a whole dialogue and it’s all okay.

But here’s something I need to remember this year, and maybe you do, too. I’m enough, just the way I am. In fact, I’m wonderful. There are unique qualities about me: my sense of humor, compassion, ability to empathize, that make me a good listener and a fine companion for the holidays.

What about you? What are your unique qualities that make you wonderful and fun to be around? I’m sure you can think of just one. Here’s a trick. Do like I just did. Write it out. Then say it out loud. Even if you don’t believe it yet. Because it’s true.

And hey, it’s all you. 😀

Peace out.

Volunteering As A Way Of Belonging

Ever hear of the 80/20 rule? I used to be a member of a Southern Baptist church, and this rule definitely applied there. 80% of the work is done by the same 20% of the people. So, when a new project or something would come up, and volunteers were asked for, a few minutes of strained silence would ensue before the same people would inevitably volunteer; which, of course can lead to burnout and disillusionment.

It’s no different with any other organization, whether it be a 12-step meeting or a community choir. Someone has to volunteer. Someone has to step up, take a risk, do something outside of his/her comfort zone (difficult for codependents because they tend to counter-balance, thinking they shouldn’t volunteer for anything, to take care of themselves).

This happened to me recently in my Choralaires group. One of the tenors, a gentleman, had been making the coffee for our break for . . . I think at least a year. It involves bringing the coffee supplies home with you every week, including the large coffee pot thingy.

The first week I was there he wanted to pass this mantle of responsibility and everyone was very quiet. I thought about it but didn’t say anything. Then at break I mentioned I might try and the next week it became my responsibility. I don’t know how long I will do it, but it gives me a stronger feeling of belonging, like I’m doing something to contribute.

Lots of people – often the newbies – make coffee at AA and Al-Anon meetings. It’s easy enough and gives one a reason to show up and help out. At least you know you have to be there because without you there’s gonna be coffee-less angry people. 😉 Not a pleasant thought.

Other people help put the chairs back the way they were before, or throw away paper cups, or meet and greet people at the doors. The possibilities are endless.

What will YOU do this week as a way to push out of your comfort zone?

To Avoid or Not To Avoid – Need Help!

“Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.” –Aldous Huxley

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.

Peace out.