codependency

A is for Acceptance

Acceptance is a difficult concept to deal with, even if we’re not talking about alcoholism. None of us wants to be unacceptable, or excluded from a group, whether we’re small children, adolescents, or older adults. The synonyms for acceptance are many, among them approval and recognition.

I know a young woman who is gay. She has found a woman she loves, is very happy, and engaged to be married. Most people she knows are very happy for her happiness, but not all are as accepting. Some are even judgmental, saying she and her partner would always be welcome in their home, but they would never attend her wedding. This makes no sense to me, and seems more than a little hypocritical. If you accept the fact that someone is gay, you recognize it, you approve of the lifestyle she/he has chosen.

With my sister, it’s different, but somewhat the same. She’s been sober for a while now, and attended several family gatherings as a sober alcoholic. I don’t drink often, mostly at major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, my mom laughs at me, because I will see a drink recipe shown on The Chew or something, get all excited about it, buy all the ingredients, bring them home, and then the liquor sits in our cupboards, because I’ve immediately lost interest. :P)

Back to my sister. I never used to drink around her. I thought it was a sign of solidarity if I joined her in not drinking. Recently, I’ve realized it was actually codependency, and I was not allowing her a sense of self-esteem, and achievement all her own. She’s very capable, and strong in her own right. But I’m sure she feels that exclusion, that non-acceptance among non-alcoholics, even though she’s accepted by her recovering alcoholic friends. I still laugh when I remember going with her to an open talk AA meeting at Sacred Heart in downtown Detroit. I was so nervous I wouldn’t even smoke, even though I badly wanted a cigarette. One of her friends finally leaned over to me and said, “So, do you have any vices?”

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417)

Feeling Helpless? Try This!

helpEver feel helpless? When I feel that way, it’s usually because I’m feeling overwhelmed. Then I will remember one of these three things:

1. Breathe. Mmmm. There. Feel better? When I’m helpless, or when I get the thought in my head that says, “I’m helpless,” weirdness descends. Shortness of breath. My chest is tight. Constricted. It sort of feels a little like drowning. So I take a deep belly breath That’s what I call breathing through the diaphragm, because you have to push your tummy out–it seems confusing but it’s not. Do it as many times as you need until the world starts to make a little sense again. You’re not helpless, love. You have everything you’re supposed to, right now this minute.

2. Be in the moment. We are too much forward-thinking and backward-thinking and not enough right-now-thinking. Stay in the now as much as you can. If you’re reading this post, really pay attention. Read it out loud. If you’re reading it on a tablet, turn it upside down and read it that way. LOL When I was a kid and I was bored but couldn’t go to the library because I was grounded or whatever (who, me?), I would take a book I’d already read and read it upside down. 

3. Be your best self. Do the best you can and let it go. We all do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. When you know better, you can do better. But this is now.

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

The Problem and The Answer

Speechless_Bubble_by_applesauce_x3 I’m not often speechless. It’s not usually hard for me to know what to say, but writing in this blog has been so hard for me lately, and that’s not like me. It’s like I feel like I’m supposed to have the “answers,” as if 1) there are certain answers one has to follow as a member of Al-Anon and 2) I know them.

Let’s get a couple things squared away. The only “answers” I really know in Al-Anon are told to me (either through the other members, the big book of Al-Anon, my sponsor, whatever) by my higher power. And what I don’t know will be revealed in time. I trust that. I trust it as easily as I trust the sun to rise every morning and to set every night. There is a God, and it’s not me.

Which brings me to the second part of what I’ve been feeling and why it’s been so hard to write lately. Not only are there certain answers, but I have them. Alcoholic boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/parent/sibling/friend? Just come to me. I’ll cure what ails you. NOT. So not. What I say on here, what I share on here, on this pithy little blog, is just my own experience, strength and hope. I don’t have the answers anymore than the next guy.

What scares me is when I write posts like “Five Ways to Tell if You’re Codependent,” because it makes it sound like I’m an expert, which – we’ve just just established – I’m really not.

So if you’re here for answers, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re here because you just want to hang with another struggling, trying-to-get-her-act-together codependent, you are so in the right place. And man, can we have some fun. Because my life is anything but boring. I’m worried about two people right now, my mom (who is not an alcoholic) and my sister (who is). More on that tomorrow.

Peace out.

Have Faith, Dear Reader

a-new-beginning Happy New Year! It feels so weird to be saying “Twenty Thirteen” instead of “Two Thousand and Twelve,” but also a lot easier. Although I suppose some people already were saying “Twenty Twelve.” Still, for me it’s something new and amazing.

New years often bring new beginnings, new adaptations, and changes. This blog is going to undergo some radical (as in fun, creative, and revolutionary) changes, and I’m hoping you are able to adapt with me. But I have been unhappy for a while and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I realized I was writing mostly to make you the reader happy. And since I’m codependent – like, to the max – I have to check those sorts of behaviors and head them off at the pass.

The definition of a blog is, first and foremost, an expression of self. To that end, I would like to ask you to suspend all your past notions of what this blog has been about. Just try to clear your mind. Please take on an attitude of curiosity and adaptability.

There will be some changes here. It might take some time to adjust, for both you and me. When I post it will be a post maybe about something I’ve learned at a meeting or from my sponsor, or something that’s happened to me that has caused me to question something in my life, or whatever. Hopefully, what I learn and what I question will also help you. But I can’t be responsible for you. Only you can do that.

Also, Fridays will be for Flash Fiction. That is, every Friday I will post a very short story (1,000 words or less) about anything I want. It’s Flash Fiction Friday! Yay! I hope you will enjoy that as much as I certainly will.

As we have closed out an old year and are embarking on a new year, I have asked myself these six questions, and maybe they will help you as well:

1. What have I done right this past year (in 2012)?

2. What tricky situations did I navigate well?

3. What were my accomplishments—big or small—last year? What worked well for me last year?

4. What attitudes have helped me last year?

5. How did I meet challenges and frustrations in ways that worked?

6. How did I nurture myself?

The answers to these questions may help you see your strengths and give you the courage, motivation, and commitment to reach higher and dig deeper in the upcoming year.

Peace out.

 

The Wisdom To Know The Difference

detach I went to a meeting this morning. I was so grateful there was an Al-Anon meeting on Christmas Eve morning that I could attend. The topic around the meeting was taking care of ourselves, but I heard a smattering of frustration and fear on the topic of holidays in general, my own included. I talked about how I was trying to remember the Three C’s: I didn’t cause it, can’t control it, and can’t cure it . . . and the Three M’s to avoid for myself: manipulation, martyrdom, and mothering.

It all comes down to the wisdom of knowing the difference between things I can change and things I can’t. It should be such a simple thing. All I can change is myself or things about myself. Period. Can’t change circumstances or other people.

Circumstances will be different for me this Christmas Eve with my family. I can’t control the outcome. I can’t control whether or not people have a good time, or are upset about something. I can control my own responses and reactions. That’s about it. There’s not a lot I can do otherwise.

When I think of the word detachment it helps. If I’m too enmeshed with someone or something, I can’t possibly back off enough to even BREATHE, let alone know the difference.

Have a great day today. Whatever you do, take care of yourself. Even if you just need to go to a quiet corner and meditate, do that.

Peace out.

Seven Sure Signs You Are NOT Codependent

1. NO is your favorite word, so it’s never a problem for you to say it when someone makes a request.

2. You never do anything for someone that they are quite capable of doing for themselves.

3. You aren’t loaded up with guilt and shame for things you didn’t do.

4. You detach with love, and not resentment.

5. Far from perfect, you are a work in progress, and you take your own inventory (take stock of what’s going on inside) regularly.

6. You don’t worry about what the loved one in your life might do, say…etc.

7. You take care of yourself.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Seriously, Sometimes You Gotta Laugh

When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other. ~Alan Alda

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. ~Woody Allen

Here’s the thing. I’m a perfectionist. I never would have thought of myself that way before yesterday. But when I came home from the Saturday meeting, and Mom wanted to watch a movie on Lifetime with me while I really needed to post to this blog, I almost cried. About a post to a blog! What would I do if I got sick? Post from my sickbed?

Seriously. Sometimes you gotta laugh.

At the meeting yesterday, we talked more about detachment, because two of the women at the meeting know my sister and love her too. They understand all about detachment from the perspective not only of Al-Anoners but as alcoholics. As they shared, these beautiful women, they laughed. They shared memories from their own drinking days, and looking back on it, they laughed at the insanity of it. Everyone else laughed with them.

Finally, through my tears after just sharing my own worries, I laughed too.

Because sometimes you gotta laugh.

Seriously.

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.

Are You Codependent? Find out Here!

This looks like a test for male codependents, but when I took it, I didn’t see any difference. I scored pretty high, which scared me, because I thought I was doing better. Let me know how you do in the comments!

Codependence Test

by: www.malecodependence.com

 This is pretty eye opening and truth telling.  Although I am new to even admitting that I am a codependent man, I never would have guessed this to be true.

Take your own test and drop me a comment and let’s discuss our findings.  Take care!

  1. I am in a significant relationship with someone who is addicted to a substance or a behavior, or someone who is depressed. YES
  2. I feel responsible for almost everybody and everything, but I felt guilty much of the time. YES
  3. I can’t say “no” without feeling guilty. YES
  4. I can accurately “read” other people by analyzing their facial expressions and tone of voice. YES
  5. I try very hard to please people, but I seldom feel that I measure up. YES
  6. I feel that I have to protect people, especially the addicted or depressed person in my life. YES
  7. I live in such a way that no…

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