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.