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! 🙂

The Anxiety-Exhaustion Tango

lie downSometimes, I’m surprisingly tired in the evenings before I go to sleep and I have to stop and figure out why. With generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (just being the anxiety issues), it’s a lot to sort through.

Usually, if it’s not a physical reason, if it’s not because I’ve helped someone move their apartment that day or something else equally taxing, I know it has to do with anxiety and emotions. So then I sift through my day.

When I was in high school my sister moved back home with her three young children for a time and we used to play a game around the dinner table. Everyone would say what they did that day, and the children took it very literally 🙂 “I woke up, I brushed my teeth, I got dressed, I had breakfast….” Like so. That’s the way I tried to relive my day to see what the culprit might be.

Usually, of course, it was people. I am still not very good with people. So it might have been a lunch with an old school mate, or a visit with a brother who came over, maybe a family gathering.

People don’t often understand how something like anxiety, something so high-keyed, can be linked to exhaustion. But–just think about what happens to all that balled up energy when it finally lets go. Sort of like a balloon deflating, you know? All around the room it goes, bouncing against the walls, until it comes to a very final end.

If you’ve read this far, God bless you, Gesundheit, please return your trays to their upright position, and thank you for not smoking.

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.

Putting On That Other Pair Of Shoes

forgivingGentle readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace out. xx better

Love Yourself Through the Process

exercise-cartoon1When I saw this cartoon it made me laugh so hard, and I was drinking coffee at the time. 😀 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

The Fine Art of Letting Go

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

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

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

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

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

Peace out.