boundaries

B is for Blaming

My sister’s three children, who are grown adults now — the eldest is forty, and the younger two are in their late thirties — like to blame her for the way their lives are now, drawing on countless stories of a “horrific” childhood raised by a sometimes absent practicing alcoholic. This is always heartbreaking for Carol but she has learned to say “Goodbye, I’m hanging up now,” when it gets redundant and too difficult.  I’m sure their childhoods were indeed difficult, but at what point does one say, “What’s happening in my life now is up to me. These are my choices. No one else is responsible and no one can change those choices except me.” 

It’s easier to blame, though. It hurts less, and pointing that sharp finger at ourselves takes blind courage. I know, because for years I went to Al-Anon meetings missing the point. I talked about the alcoholics in my life: my dad and my sister, and how they had wronged me; how screwed up my life was now because of them. Sound familiar? 😉 I reasoned that since Carol had started drinking when she was 16 and I was an impressionable three, my childhood was essentially taken away from me. I vacillated between the placater/pleaser and the lost child/adjuster in Claudia Black’s family roles  For those of you from alcoholic families, which role(s) did you play?

Naturally, I felt tons of victimization in these roles, and I played it to the hilt. Poor me, poor me, I cried at the meetings, and — I love them so much — no one at  those meetings ever  once stopped me, trusting the process.

It has taken years, and I mean years, for me to get to the place where I can sit down at an Al-Anon meeting and know I’m going to talk about some facet of my life that I need help with. Because that’s what it’s all about. Al-Anon is for me. AA is for the alcoholic.

Not that I still don’t play  the blame game every now and then. Who doesn’t? It’s  like something that almost rolls off my tongue and I have to consciously stop myself. Oh wait —noooo, what happened  was my own choice! 🙂

Happy Holidailies!!

christmas-tree-griswoldSo, hi! Here’s the thing; I feel like I should be apologizing, since I haven’t blogged, or written at all, since my dramatic farewell post on April 8th of this year.  What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time. I didn’t blog, even though I tried prompts to help me write, I tried freewriting, I even signed up for National Novel Writing Month, but I couldn’t get myself to write a thing. Ah, well, it’s a hard time of year for me. Sixteen years ago this moth my dad died. This year, instead of getting easier, you know, to let go, it’s weird. I think I can sense him, like, around me, and sometimes I hear whispers that I’m sure are him. It doesn’t scare me or anything, it’s just a little freakish.

Enough of that, though! If you are not familiar with Holidailies and December, it’s the month where each blogger who signs up endeavors to write one post each day of the month. Radical, right? 🙂 I’m encouraging you right now, if you want to join this crazy holiday fun, I don’t think it’s too late! But, even if you don’t want to commit, it’s great to read others’ posts.

I’m trying something new for this month. I ordered a writing game from Bas Bleu, an entertaining web store, and it’s called Writer’s Prompt Sticks: Memoirs–Life Stories. I bought for NaNo, actually, because I thought it might assist me with my temporary (?) block. I was meant to be writing a memoir, just a slice of my life, not much really. But it seems I’m super at reading books about writing, and talking with others, and listening to podcasts about writing, just not so hot at the writing itself.

Anyway, each stick has two prompts on it, and I’m meant to pick one and write for eight minutes. I already know I’m shortening the time for the sake of this challenge, because when I do write, I write like Taz, and I don’t want you to end up with 8k words you just skim or close the page on.

Here we go. Setting up my timer now. The two blog prompts to choose from are:

1) Write about a time when you had a spiritual awakening.

2) Write about a time when you were in a religious or spiritual situation and you felt nothing or it felt ludicrous. 

They just get right down to it, huh? I think I’ll combine the two because the first prompt won’t take me very long. 1) I was raised Roman Catholic and I went to church every Sunday as a kid, you know, it meant something to me when I made my confirmation at 13, my brother Jimmy being Godfather. But I was very naive, and gullible (are they the same?), expecting the Church to be everything to me, to make up for every single thing I ever felt I was lacking. Feelings are fickle things, not to be trusted most of the time, because they can change on a dime and are severely disloyal. One minute they pretend to be your best friend, and the next thing you know you’re hiding your heads under the cover because you’re too scared to let yourself think, let alone feel.

Then in the summer before I turned 19, this was 1980, an exceptionally good year–except for this one thing. I had just finished my freshman year at college and was home before my sophomore year, hanging out with my best friend, Cathy Bruske. We were in a park near home, and we started talking to some guys on motorcycles. We felt that daring rush only familiar to late teens: anything could and would happen, and we were open to it all. The guys were sweet, and semi-cute, so we ended up following them back to one’s place.

The exact details of what all happened, I don’t really remember. I know I was drinking a could beers with them and Cathy, and somebody had pot, I might have smoked. I can’t really figure out why something so traumatic is such a blur to me, but there you have it–and maybe it’s a blessing, meant to protect my psyche from something I don’t wish to revisit.

One of the guys invited me into his bedroom. I don’t want to go into what all happened because I don’t know who may or may not be reading this. I guess I was sexually assaulted. I guess it’s iffy, a few counselors tell me it wasn’t an assault, at least not sexual, because there wasn’t any actual intercourse. You know what I say to that, to them, the naysayers? BULLSHIT. Maybe you hadda be there, but this is one time I trusted my feelings.

santas-coming

Somehow in that haze I got split up from Cathy, and I don’t know how in the hell I found my way back to our home in Detroit. Just lucky, I guess. I don’t know how, I felt torn apart and lost, and ended up at our parish church. This is the church I had grown up in, went to all those masses in, recited the Apostle’s Creed. I don’t know if they still do, but back then the priests lived right next to the church, in a rectory. It must have been the wee hours of the morning and I can’t imagine what my parents were thinking, but instead of going home, I went to church, parked, and walked up to the rectory door. I knocked, and rang the door bell, and banged with my fist and yelled, but no one came. I’m sure, if you’re with me as my wiser self, you can think of many reasons why that door wasn’t answered–logical, helpful reasons. But all I could feel at the time was that my church and God had turned their backs on me, that I was ruined. I didn’t cry, and still haven’t shed a tear about what happened all those years ago. It took me a long time to tell anyone, because of shame, and–well, the believability factor. There you have it. My answer to prompt #2.

That’s about all I have to say for today. Oh, that and I’m one of The Deplorables. Except I’m educated, I’m not racist nor xenophobic, and I’m certainly not a misogynist. But you can decide now whether or not that’ll keep you from reading any of my posts.

Peace out, friends…..stay thirsty. 😉 clark-griswold

The Bystander Effect

bystander effectAccording to Wikipedia, the bystander effect, a.k.a. bystander apathy, “is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.”

The first case that caused research into this “effect” took place in 1964. At that time, 28-yr-old Kitty Genovese was raped and stabbed to death in front of her apartment.

The attack lasted over 30 minutes and was witnessed by several dozen people (at least, it was reported, but later found to be not quite accurate–only about a dozen people actually witnessed the crime.) who failed to report the incident. Some didn’t know an actual crime was happening, claiming they thought it was a “lover’s quarrel,” while others knew a crime was happening but didn’t report it because they assumed someone else already called the police. My only question is, how do you confuse someone being raped and stabbed with a “lover’s quarrel?” Right?

Remember the movie “The Accused,” with Jodie Foster? I think she might have won an Academy Award for her role as a women who was raped by a bunch of men on a pool table in front of several witnesses who did nothing.  Some even clapped and cheered. The actual incident took place in New Bedford, MA in 1983.

There are more incidents of The Bystander Effect, probably many more than are reported, but I will not cite them all here. I can tell you about something that happened to me and my mother years ago in front of our own house. My brother Greg has a penchant for Packards. One day he was over, visiting, and he couldn’t get it to start. He told my mom and I that if we gave him a push start, he was sure he’d be able to start it. So (foolishly) we started pushing, and got sort of running, not thinking we should let go of the car once it started.

We both fell in the street, my mom flat on her face. She could’ve broken her nose, but thankfully didn’t. Of course there was a lot of blood, and my brother and I helped her stop the blood while she sat on the porch. She didn’t want to go to the ER. My point is, we fell right in front of my “across-the-street” neighbor’s house. They had their screen door on, so I’m sure they heard and saw everything that happened. There was also the neighbor kitty corner from us. Not one person bothered to see if we were all right, even as my mother sat on the porch bleeding. No one checked in on her later to make sure she was okay.

Are these bad neighbors and friends? Not at all. They most likely didn’t want to get involved or assumed someone else would help. Neighbors aren’t like they used to be, after all. It’s not an easy world to live in any more. And if we could ask Kitty Genovese, she might reply, “Was it ever?”

Hope you enjoyed this late late blog post. I’m really very sorry. It’s not my intention for them to be late. I get caught up in things and forget, which is not to say you are not just as important! Please stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post, which will most certainly NOT be late. 😉

Ciao Bella.

 

Changes

David Bowie in 1969 and 1995. I got an interesting email from WordPress in which told me they “missed me.” You and I both know that’s propaganda-esque crap, but the stats show people still visit my site even when I don’t write, which hasn’t been for months.

The problem is, I’ve changed a lot in that time. I don’t want to write about the same things. I’m not the same person anymore. I don’t go to Al-Anon, I hardly whine about my sister and nephew anymore, and it’s just not on my radar. They live in Ann Arbor, and I don’t see them often enough that they are a problem for me. My boundaries are intact.

What I do struggle with, what is the “new me” if you will, is social phobia and panic and anxiety. I’m also trying to read through the list of books in 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Given that I’m already 52, I realize I have to read faster. LOL

Crocheting is still a big thing for me, but I don’t want a separate blog about it. I want to talk about it here when I’ve accomplished something especially difficult, of which I’m proud.

Also, my mother is 87 now. Sometimes we get along super, just fantastic, and other times we are at each other’s throats. I can’t explain it. I might need to blog about that here.

If this new blog approach sounds like something you might be interested in, keep on coming! If not, see you on the flip side, and thank you for reading as long as you have. You are all dears.

Have a sunny-side up day.

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

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. 😀 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

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

Recovery Never Ends (long post, sorry)

inspirational-quote-saying-no-claudia-blackSo sorry I have been quiet on here. I have another blog, another passion that has torn me away, Hooker With Yarn, Strings Attached, which is, as you may have guessed, about crochet and all things related to crochet. I have given up my first love, writing, because I’ve decided I’m not good at it, and why torture yourself to try to become something you think you should be? Fiber art is still creative art. It is simply a different medium.

But that’s not what this post is about. I just thought you should know that if you don’t see me on here, you might want to see what I’m up to over there. 😉

Lately, I’ve been struggling with my nephew, and by extension, his mother my sister. My sister is doing fine, by the way. She has been clean and sober for several months and is living in her own apartment in Ann Arbor. It just goes to show you though, that for the Al-Anon, recovery really never ends. I have to stay on my toes. Just because she’s sober (less than a year) it doesn’t mean she doesn’t still try to be manipulative, or lay guilt trips, or get selfish and narcissistic. I have to work hard at taking care of myself, and it’s a full-time job.

My nephew is a paranoid schizophrenic, and he usually comes over to our (my Mom’s and mine) house once a week to do his laundry. For two weeks in a row, each time he came, he was talking crazy. About parasites in the water, and people controlling his thoughts from on the street, etc. This hadn’t happened since before he was hospitalized over two years ago. I asked him if he was taking his meds, to which he of course answered yes he was. I asked him if he was taking them correctly (he sometimes runs out before the month is up, which means he’s taking too much of something), and again he replied in the affirmative. But he also admitted to drinking off and on.

My sister was visiting from Ann Arbor one of the weekends he happened to “go off the deep end.” She talked to him (or at least listened to him rant) for nearly a half hour in my car in the garage while he smoked. She then decided to call his psychiatrist and let him know the symptoms she had been seeing, as an FYI. I didn’t know you could do that, but my uber T. told me that was a very good thing to do.

But when my nephew saw his psychiatrist, he made his mother out to be the crazy person, saying she was “homeless” in Ann Arbor, a “drunk,’ and didn’t know what she was talking about. He had just been under stress. Since then, he has come over one time. I asked him beforehand how he was feeling, because if he wasn’t feeling well I didn’t want him to come over (I myself take anti-anxiety medication, and it really put me in a tailspin both times). He said he was fine. I asked him if he was experiencing parasites in the water. He texted me back: “Parasites? LOL No. No parasites.” So I let him come over and he was fine.

That was one week ago. Then, this past Sunday, the day before my brother and sister-in-law were due to arrive from SF for a week, he didn’t respond to calls or texts. I felt angry. I’m used to people having the common decency of at least calling if they are not coming over, especially if I’m the one who has to go and pick them up.

He didn’t call until the next day, and then it was to say he had been sick and turned the phone off. Whether he was hung over over well and truly sick doesn’t really matter. Don’t people usually call the person that’s expecting them to say they are sick? He called to ask me if I would bring him some cigarettes.

I said no. I felt a twinge of guilt when he said, “Oh, you’re concerned for my welfare, but only to a point, is that it?” He learned manipulation from a master, after all.

He texted me again yesterday to ask me to take him to the grocery store, that he had no cash on him. I know for a fact that grocery stores accept checks.

So I ignored it. I said no. 

It was a beautiful day yesterday, 65 for the high, and he lives right across the street from Meijers.

Was I wrong? What would you have done?

Peace out. xx

Holiday Peace Be With You

peace_3 Peace, both individual and world peace in general, has everything to do with the 3rd step I’ve learned in Al-Anon – made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 

Yesterday was both Humbug Day and Look at the Bright Side Day. How unusual, even ironic, to have two polar opposite views and feelings during the season occur on the exact same day.

I have had to revisit Step Three a whole lot during the last few weeks. Because of my codependency, I sometimes still have issues with boundaries. I let other peoples’ feelings leak over into me, and think that my positive feelings about the season should be enough to lift anyone’s spirits. It’s like I forget about the invisible line that separates me from other people.

It used to be for me, if you and I went to a movie and you didn’t enjoy it, it became a personal affront. I almost couldn’t stand the idea that you didn’t like it, didn’t have a good time, and felt like what you were saying was “I didn’t like you. I didn’t like being around you.”

In the past while, since Thanksgiving, I’ve come across several people I care about who are – to put it bluntly – humbugs this year. They would rather the season pass, the days go by, without acknowledging anything special. It started to bring me down. A couple times I even got angry. I was losing my own joy and inner peace. My serenity felt lost at sea.

Then I remembered that part of the Third Step is turning other people and their lives over to God. I remembered, when the alcoholic in my life was drinking, that I used to pray, “God, this is too big for me to handle. I don’t know what to do. But nothing is too big for You, so I’m turning this (person, situation) over to You.” And I would feel, if not immediate, then very soon after a peace wash over me.

That helped me this morning, when I logged onto Facebook and again saw an expression of humbug over Christmas. I turned that person over to God, and I let it go. Peace and happiness over Christmas day are both an inside job. Nobody can ruin that inner peace unless I let them.

I wish you peace and joy this holiday season. And I hope your day is lovely. I pray we can focus on the people around us, the loved ones we are with, thankfulness for what we already have as opposed to what we don’t, do only what we can, or do even less, and remember that serenity doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free existence. It does mean that we can maintain inner peace though the troubles. I pray we can look on the brighter side, and let go of what we can’t control.

Peace out.

kids

Know When To Say No

saying-no This is the perfect time of year, I’ve noticed, to practice saying “no.”  There are invitations to attend parties, little get-togethers, even old friends call at this time of year and it’s normal want to, or even feel obligated to say yes to everything.

But, there is only so much time, and only so much of us to go around. Be selective and trust that your friends will be understanding if you can’t attend each and every party this year. Or, make a decision to attend for a very limited time, say one-half hour. If you are attending with someone else, have a secret password, like “eggnog,” or “wrapping paper.” Your +1 will know that when you say that password, it’s time to go.

Practice saying no in the mirror. Try it out. All the different ways that are shown in this picture, because you’ll probably be asked more than once, especially if someone is offering you, say, a piece of pie at dessert, or seconds for dinner. “Are you sure you won’t have some more?” “No.” “Just a teeny bit?” “No thanks, not now.” Be firm. Sit up straight and look the person in the eye. 😉 We can do this!

It’s not selfish to set up limitations and boundaries. It’s self-preservation. It keeps us healthy, wealthy and wise. 😀

Are you still here? I thought you were practicing saying no! 😉

Peace out.

Being Bold, Bad, And Beautiful!

So sorry I haven’t been posting a while. Haven’t been well, almost had to go into the hospital, my doctor had to change a bunch of my meds, and on top of that I’m in a senior choral production of Broadway show tunes. So I have been very busy, very sad but with that fine-fine face that I know some of you will know what I’m talking about.

However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Some kind of transformation has taken place in me through all this, you know, “stuff.” It’s made me stronger, braver, and not afraid to say the truth. Sometimes my voice shakes when I say it, but I still speak the truth.

It was never brought home to me more than Friday afternoon when a friend of mine, who was my sister’s friend first (so, you get that she knows both of us) called and asked how I was doing. Then she said, “How’s _____ doing?”

“_______’s great.” I said.

“What’s that mean?” she asked me.

“You know what?” I said. “Why don’t you call ______ and ask her what it means?”

“Oh, I will, will, I was planning on calling her.”

Whew. I tell you, that was THE hardest conversation I’d had in a long time. This is someone who is used to pumping me for information about my sister. And in the past I’m ashamed to say I doled it out.

You know what? It’s not ME she needs to ask how my sister is doing, and it’s not my place to give out that information.

She never did call my sister. Not as brave as the average bear, eh, Booboo? 😉 It would involve apologizing for not being there for her in the past, and maybe she’s not ready to go there. I don’t know. That’s HER inventory. I’ve got enough on my own plate.

May I just say that I am boot-kickin’ proud of myself? So is my sister. I told her, in preparation for a phone call from this friend.

How have you been bold, bad, and beautiful lately? It’s show and tell time. So COME ON DOWN!!! W00t W00t!

Peace out.

When To Say Yes And When To Say No

Sometimes it can seem like a balancing act between saying “yes” and saying “no” and we feel ourselves teetering in Maybe-land. Saying no is not a bad thing. Neither is saying yes. It is YOUR recovery. It takes you as long as it takes you to get wherever you need to get. And that’s up to you and your sponsor, or your higher power, or whomever you decide to take along the journey. I have had to learn to say no for my own sanity and self-care. It has not been easy. I’ve been met with tears, and pleading, manipulation, threats . . . what has helped me the most is this simple statement. I give you the dignity to figure it out on your own. More than anything, addicts need their dignity back. It has been taken from them with this disease. Giving in to every manipulation, every desire, every pleading, everything that they are able to do for themselves, does not dignify them. Not in the least.   I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter. Am I too harsh from being immersed with alcoholics for nearly 50 years?

Please do tell me what you think. I’m all ears. And It’s a good day. No self-harm today. 🙂

Peace out.

 

Change Through Spontaneity!

I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m a planner. I don’t like surprises. And it was a huge step for me when I invited my ubersponsor over yesterday morning for tea (or coffee, whatever she wanted).

Everything was set. I had just finished straightening out the family room, the kitchen was clean, the downstairs bathroom (the one I mostly use), my bedroom . . . I was as ready as I was going to get. And I was excited. My UBERSPONSOR was coming to my HOUSE!! You have to know that I never let anyone come over. Not my friends, anyway. Mom’s friends come over frequently, and family of course.

Then, my cell rang. It was Uber, herself. Plumbing problems at the house, she couldn’t get away, was it possible for me to come to her instead?

Now, I’d been to Uber’s house a zillion times. We often meet at her house. I didn’t hesitate, just said “That sounds terrific. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

A year ago, heck, six months ago, I might have said, “Are you kidding?”  I don’t care if the roof is caving in!! Do you know what I’ve been going through expecting you to come this morning? Drop everything and get your butt over here right now.”

Yeah. Not very attractive or kind, is it? Uber would not have dropped a single thing, by the way. She would have listened to me rant and rave, then very kindly have restated her problem and her position and that she was sorry she couldn’t be there today. 😀 I love her so much!!

But I’m amazed – now that I can look back – that I’ve changed that much in a year. I can be spontaneous now. It’s okay. It’s not that bigga deal. It’s not the end of the world. I can deal. I don’t have to control every single moment of my life.

Wow. 

Peace out.

Non-Shifting And Shifting Boundaries – What’s The Difference?

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!

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.

 

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.

Boundaries – longish post, sorry

You cannot set boundaries and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time. –The Forum, September 2000 p. 28

He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that no one can pierce. –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Sometimes my recovery is two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes, like last night, it’s one step forward, three steps back. But I learn. I always learn something from the experience, whether positive or not so positive. So I share what I’m going to share with you today in the hopes it will help you. As always, take what you need and leave the rest.

Last night, I picked up my sister for a meeting. She lives on my way there, and it’s at a treatment center that has both AA/Al-Anon meetings. When she came out of her apartment she was weaving slightly while she walked, and had to lean on my car before she got in. My drunk radar went up, but I decided instead of assuming, to ask her about it.

I asked her if she had anything to drink that day. She emphatically denied it, slightly slurring her words, and would not meet my eyes. This should have been a major clue. If my sister is being honest, she looks me in the eye. I asked if she’d taken any anti-anxiety meds. She said she took ONE, early in the morning, so she could sleep because she didn’t want to think about her life, plus she was out of cigarettes.

“That is still affecting you right now? That one pill?” I asked, not really believing her, but wanting to.

“Yes. And well, I just woke up when you called to pick me up.” It was 7:00 in the evening.

So I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. It couldn’t hurt for her to go to a meeting, anyhow. I let her bum a cigarette off me, knowing that I would have to stop for gas on the way home and she could get her own then.

Half-way there, as she was exhaling smoke and mumbling about something I couldn’t hear, I smelled it. I smelled the fumes of alcohol coming off her. The old me would have ignored it. But not now. I was tired. Tired of messing around, tip-toeing around, and mixing up my role of caretaker.

“When did you drink?” I asked her.

She looked straight out the windsheild. “Yesterday. I drank yesterday.”

“I can smell it on you right now. You must have had something to drink today.” It felt terrible to do this, but I was DRIVING her to an AA meeting! It felt ironic to say the least and too late at worst.

“I had two glasses of wine today. Just two.”

Liar. I knew it as well as I knew I could never give up smoking cigarettes on my own.

I should have just turned around. But I knew of other AA meetings where members would rather welcome people drunk to their tables than not at all. So we continued on. She went to her meeting. I went to mine.

On our way out the door, one of the staff members said to me, out of my sister’s earshot “Next time bring her sober.” Yeah. Thanks. I’ll be sure to do that. This is all my fault. Of course it is.

So this morning when I spoke to my sister, she was all cheery, said she felt fine, she’d slept great (I didn’t). I told her my new boundary.

“I won’t take you to meetings drunk anymore. If you had told me you were high immediately when you got in the car instead of f***ing around about it, I wouldn’t have been halfway there before I knew. Just be honest about it. Why would I get mad if you’re honest? We would’ve just gone to the meeting another time. Relapse is a part of recovery. Remember that.”

She was just quiet. Apologized. Said thank you.

Geez. Why does it all have to be so hard? I just want to sleep now. 😦

Peace out.

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