The Reality About Anxiety

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fine

Take a long look at this sort of Justine Bateman Look-alike (or maybe it really is her). Do you think she has sand in her eye, or do think maybe she’s crying? Yet the message she’s sending out “to the world” is “I’m fine.” Have you ever been there, done that? I know I have, in the middle of tears, great big sobbing-blubbering-get-that-girl-a-hanky tears . . . I’m like “It’s o-o-okay. I’m fine.”

Then we have this fellow, some sort of coach, but I don’t follow sports all that chewing lipmuch, so… But unless you’re also someone who gets anxious, you might not notice this when you look at him. He chews the inside of his mouth. It’s something I do when I get stressed, too, because it’s the least obvious of picking on my fingernails or pacing. He really looks worried, though. I say, if it helps him in this moment (until he can find something that doesn’t hurt the inside of his cheek), there are worse things he could be doing.

mailboxShe’s being funny, of course, and referring to getting enough exercise walking back and forth to pick up the mail. But I’ve mentioned how difficult it is for me to pick up the mail, right? Sometimes my mom and I have to wait a few days for me to get up the courage, like I’ll pick up three days worth of mail at the same time. Ugh. Such an idiot, not being able to do such a supposedly simple thing. Well, agoraphobia can be like that.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about pretty much everything. So the cartoon dreadof the hammer about to come down on the nail actually did make me chuckle a little because it’s how I so often feel and I was like, “Yes! That’s it!” Especially the fact he’s so self-absorbed he doesn’t think enough to look down and see what happened to the other nail. That happens, we get so caught up in our own anxiety it can affect our relationships.deep breathingI hope this ecard doesn’t offend anyone. The fact is, anxiety–all forms of it–is a serious matter that deserves care and needs to be understood. In fact, during April’s Blogging from A-Z I plan to do a whole series on anxiety, which I hope will be both educational and fun(funny?). If you’ve read this far, God bless you, Gesundheit, and thank you for not smoking.

G is for: Glassy-eyed, Gone, and Drooling—Oh My!

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spockSometimes, I think, if the disease doesn’t kill me, the cure will. Here you see a cartoon with Captain Kirk complaining to Spock about his mind-melding techniques; that he would have expected a little more than “the lights are on but nobody is home.”

The reason I share this is not to poke fun of people ratcheting up the electricity bill in their homes. Not by far. I’m showing you this cartoon because it helps me to talk about something near and dear to my heart; psychiatrists in the U.S. (and perhaps other countries) over-prescribe to their patients. Especially benzodiazepines. Feeling anxious? Here: Klonopin, Ativan, or Xanax should have you feeling comfortably numb in no time. I get it, okay? And this is not a complete and total indictment of psychiatrists all across the country. They are pressed for time. They have insurance issues to deal with, plus pharmacy reps coming in trying to sell them the latest and greatest drug out there.

deadhamsterSo no, this is not a slam post. That was just an observation. The title of the post is much more personal. I’m on pretty high doses of medication right now, trying to get me off a manic phase. (Yes, please God, now.) I’m thinking better, not in so many different directions at once, but I still have flights of fancy (Of course I can do the A-Z Blog month, despite not making all the flash cards for my Maybury Farms volunteer post! I can do everything). Never mind that I had no business signing up for the blog post competition. My mind, which knows me and loves me, also sees shiny things and wants to kill me. So we have this total love/hate thing going on.

When I first wake up in the morning, or even just before I go to bed at night, it’s best to not talk to me. I make absolutely no sense, even when I try my utmost. I imagine myself sounding like the teacher on the Peanuts cartoon show. So why do my closest loved ones stay by my side? Can’t they see that I’m so not worth it?

closedYesterday morning I actually turned to my mom and said, “What did you just say about pickles?”

“What?” she asked, not in a judgmental or an oh-you’ve-really-lost-it-this-time tone of voice.

I cleared my throat, tried to speak more slowly and articulate every word.

“What did you just say about pickles?” I asked again. It seemed really important to me, but—don’t ask me why.

“I didn’t say anything about pickles,” Mom responded, then she went back to her crossword puzzle, and I returned to looking at FaceBook and trying not to drool because—even though I’m constantly parched and thirsty from my meds, one of them gives me excess saliva. Oh, and it’s hard to swallow, so lots of times whatever I’m swallowing (sometimes just saliva ) will go “down the wrong pipe,” causing coughing and choking fits until I can drink enough water to get past it. I look drugged. For the better part of the day my eyes are at half mast, and it drives me crazy. I have to really work to make myself understood, and if I’m excited about a topic? Fuhgeddaboutit. 

I can count on a window of 2-2 1/2 hours in which to get any intelligible work done. That’s it. So it’s no wonder that, around 10:00, when it’s time to take my meds and my second wind starts to kick in, there’s a huge part of me that wants to scream, “I don’t want to take them and you can’t make me. Everyone is asleep, even the dog. No one is pulling at me for my attention. I could get so much done.” Which is why I stayed up past my bedtime last night, and sacrificed sleep for making more flash cards.

But—I see my shrink today, in a couple hours. I’ll go over all this with him. I don’t want to wander around in a drug-induced haze.

Hope it’s spring-like where you are. Feels wonderful here. I’ve made a commitment to go to the gym today, but I might change that up to taking Lucy for a walk.

Peace out. Take care o’ you. xx

Gambling on Goals

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goalsGoals are so crazy popular, aren’t they? I mean, I went looking for one quote on goals for this post, just one, and they were all so contradictory. Some said set your goals high and don’t stop ’til you achieve them. Others said it starts with the spirit, and if that wasn’t true, forget about it. Then there’s the one who says to set small goals and build upon them. So even the meaning of the word goal is somewhat sketchy.

I know of a famous, at least famous on my terms, writing website, which has a whole board (forum) dedicated to the topic of goals and the achievement (or not) thereof. I belonged to it at one time. I did find it somewhat useful, but mostly I felt bad about myself for not achieving the goals I’d set out for the week. I might or might not have been the only person who felt that way, but it’s interesting to note, don’t you think? dont-worry-about-goals

Now, I know I could be feeling this way because I’m still coming off a manic phase and it’s hard for me to focus on any one thing. At Goodreads I’m reading five books at a time still, one of which is a book I’m reviewing for Netgalley. If you haven’t checked out Netgalley, you really should. And then there is Optimism, and the six month’s study I voluntarily upped for. Don’t forget the origami cranes. 😀 My brain also recently lit on zentangle, because it’s supposed to be so good for stress. I bought books and everything. I’ve only made one so far, but my mind is studying and learning (which I think is the opposite of what it’s supposed to do). How is a brain like that supposed to do anything except make it through the day? LOL strongest

With the above thought in mind, I took myself to the gym yesterday morning at 4:00 a.m. I just did it. My goal was to get in there, to buy a pair of headphones, sit on a cycle, and ride for at least fifteen minutes. My biggest worry about achieving the goal was, of course, the stares I might get. But–surprisingly–people didn’t even look at  me; even when the gentleman behind the counter had a hard time getting the cash register to work and it took what seemed like an eternity. No one stared at me while I fumbled with the outer packaging of the headphones, or while I figured out how exactly the cycle worked. In fact no one seemed quite otherwise occupied. Such a monumental surprise for the fat girl who expected finger points and taunts.

I had planned on going later that day (6-7 was a great time, because people were eating dinner) and every day after that. Then I got sick. Really suddenly, like wham, you had enough fun, no more fun for you. I know my thinking is distorted because I’m sick, so I’ll try not to take that too seriously.

Here’s my point. In between setting goals, life happens. So we need to become as flexible as a Gumby toy. Things can change in an instant. So, what am I saying, that I’m not going to the gym anymore? Heck no! But I couldn’t go today, and my body feels like I got hit by a Mack truck (Say, did you know there’s a r/l thing as a Mack truck? I saw one when I was driving a while back!). I’m saying sometimes it may be two steps forward one step back, but there’s always that one step forward.

Don’t forget to loveyourself intensely during this process. It’s hard. You’ll want to rail against everything. But don’t. You’ll be okay. Hang in there, and trust God. Trust your friends.

Peace out. xxlifer

Putting On That Other Pair Of Shoes

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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

Learning

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standing

Distraction, distraction everywhere and not a point to land on.

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bipolar-bear-meme-6014The good news is I’m sleeping better. Five and a half hours of sleep last night.

Bad news is I’m still flitting from thing to thing to thing like a bird in a cage who can’t decide on a perch to settle. As I’m writing this post, I am surrounded on the table by origami papers (for the 1,001 paper cranes, of which I have yet to make one), a jigsaw puzzle, and a book on anxiety. I’m reading all at the same time (picking whichever book fits my fancy at the moment): The Husband’s SecretWhen Panic AttacksThe Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, and The Most Beautiful Girl (for Netgalley). What are you reading?

I have another appt with my psychiatrist at 3:15 tomorrow afternoon. I made an appointment with a therapist (it’s been soooo long since I really got to talk to someone professional) for Wednesday at 12:45. Oh. Oh look, shiny! (I’m joking because otherwise I’d be crying.)

That’s all she wrote. Wish me luck.m

Have a safe and happy Monday. Peace out. xo

A Rose by Any Other Name

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pink roseI’m so incredibly nervous writing this, and at the same time . . . feels like home. I have been completely overwhelmed by the positive responses to my last blog post. Just–flabbergasted, truly. Those lovely comments came on the heels of a little over seven months of severe depression and severe anxiety, which brings me to why it’s been so long since I’ve posted.

So many times, when one grows up in an alcoholic family, or any sort of dysfunctional family, it becomes all about the alcoholic for so long, or about the person or sickness that draws the most attention from the family–not that they don’t each have difficulties, but the alcoholic or whatever stands out like a fresh pimple. You see? It has been true for me.

It is time now for my recovery to be about me. There is plenty to talk about just in my case, trust me. I have blemishes beyond blemishes. I even am an imperfectly flawed person, which I hope makes sense to some metaphorically-inclined soul out there.

Recently, as recent as last Friday, I was finally dx’d with bipolar depression and told I was in a manic episode (not hypomanic). I had only been sleeping maybe 2 1/2 hours a night, and I was unable to focus on anything; not TV, not reading (I had five books going at once, but had not finished a book through since Doctor Sleep at Christmastime, very frustrating for me, a book lover); extremely irritable; and easily startled awake from a catnap during the day.

My dazzling doctor gave me samples of a new bipolar med which is not supposed to cause weight gain (a big problem–get it? I crack myself up, truly). It’s called Latuda, and since it’s only about six months old, there’s not a chance my insurance would pay for it, and it would cost about a thousand bucks to get filled. Yeah.  *respectful pause for that number to sink in*

I’ve been on it two days, and last night I slept 4 1/2 hours straight through. w00t!

There’s a lot more I have to say, about the last seven months, and a lot I want to say about the mental health care system in the U.S.A. and Michigan in particular, but I’ll stop here. I don’t want to bog you all down too much on my first day back in forever.

My gratitude bucket overflows. Peace out. xoxochange

 

Reblog: 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed, by Rosalind Robertson

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I was directed to this on the internet by a friend, and felt it was worth reblogging. It’s a wonderful blog post, and I couldn’t have written it better myself. Please read it, it’s well worth the read. SO well written and expressive, and I don’t even need to mention the important content, do I? 😉 Peace out and be well, my friends. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A while ago, I penned a fairly angry response to something circulating on the internet – the 21 Habits of Happy People. It pissed me off beyond belief, that there was an inference that if you weren’t Happy, you simply weren’t doing the right things.

I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember. It’s manifested in different ways. I did therapy. I did prozac. I did more therapy. My baseline is melancholic. I’d just made peace with it when I moved, unintentionally, to a place that had markedly less sunshine in the winter. I got seasonal depression. I got that under control. Then I got really, really sick. Turns out it’s a permanent, painful genetic disorder. My last pain-free day was four years ago.

So, this Cult of Happy article just set me off. Just… anger. Rage. Depression is serious – debilitating, often dangerous, and it’s got an enormous stigma. It leaves people to fend for themselves.

It’s bad enough without people ramming Happy Tips at you through facebook. There is no miracle behaviour change that will flip that switch for you. I know, I’ve tried.

A friend of mine suggested that I write something from my point of view because, surprisingly, I manage to give an outwards impression of having my shit together. I was shocked to hear this. And I find this comical, but I see her point. I’m functioning. I’ve adapted. I’m surprisingly okay. I think the medical term is “resilient”.

So, here it is.

My 21 Tips on Keeping Your Shit Together During Depression

1) Know that you’re not alone. Know that we are a silent legion, who, every day face the solipsism and judgement of Happy People Who Think We Just Aren’t Trying. There are people who are depressed, people who have been depressed, and people who just haven’t been hit with it yet.

2) Understand that the Happy People are usually acting out of some genuine (albeit misguided) concern for you, that it’s coming from a good place, even if the advice feels like you’re being blamed for your disease. Telling you these things makes them feel better, even if it makes you feel like shit. (If they insist on keeping it up, see #12.)

3) Enlist the help of a professional. See your doctor. You need to talk about the ugly shit, and there are people paid to listen and help you find your way to the light at the end of the tunnel.

4) Understand that antidepressants will only do so much. They’re useful, they’ll level you out and give you the time you need to figure out your own path to getting well. They can be helpful. There are lots to choose from. They may not be for you, and even if they are, they take some time to kick in. Conversely, they may not be for you. Work with your doctor.

5) Pick up a paintbrush, a pencil, an activity you got joy from in the past and re-explore that. Or, sign up for the thing you always wanted to try. There is a long history and link between depression and creativity. It’s a bright light of this condition, so utilize it to your best advantage.

6) Eat nutritionally sound, regular small meals. If you’re having trouble eating, try to focus on what you’d like to eat. I went through a whole six week episode of tomatoes and cream cheese on a bagel twice a day. Not great, but it was something – helpful context, I’m a recovered anorexic. Conversely, if all you want to do is scarf down crap, try to off-ramp it by downing a V-8 and doing #9 for 15 minutes, and see how you feel. Chucking your blood sugar all over hell’s half acre is going to make you feel worse.

7) While you’re doing #3, get some bloodwork done. If you’re low on iron or vitamin D, or if your hormone levels are doing the Macarena… these can all contribute to zapping your energy or switching your mood to Bleak As Hell.

8) If you’re in bed and the “insomnia hamsters”, as I like to call them, are on the wheel of your head, watch Nightly Business News on PBS. This has the effect of Nyquil. Swap out your coffee for herbal tea. If you just cannot sleep, try the next tip….

9) Learn how to meditate. Start by focusing on your breathing. Not sleep, not thoughts. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Meditation is focusing on being present in your body, not careening around in your brain. It may not be as good as sleep but it will give you some rest and recharge you.

10) Face a window as often as you can – at work, at home. Look out into the world. Watch. Observe. Try to find something you find pretty or interesting to focus on. And, handily remember that one in five of those people out there feel the way you do.

11) Cry. Better out than in. Sometimes it’s not convenient or career-enhancing to cry, so find a private place as best you can and let the tears go. Carry Kleenex and face wipes and extra concealer if you wear makeup. You can always claim allergies.

12) Any “friend” who resolutely believes that your depression is because you’re lazy, because you’re not trying hard enough, who blames you for not bootstrapping out of it- that friend needs to be cut off. Polite (#2) is one thing, but there is a limit. You don’t have to explain, you can just not respond. You feel badly enough, you don’t need their “assistance”.

13) Limit your time with people who drain you. You know who they are. Often you don’t have a choice- but you can put the meter on. And, subsequently, be aware of what you’re asking of those close to you.

14) Everyone has shit they’ve got to deal with. What you have been saddled with is your shit. Recognize, just as you’re not alone, you’re also not unique. The grass may look greener, you may be jealous or envious of others who don’t have to deal with depression, but you likely do not know everything that’s going on with them.

15) Let go or be dragged. This is an old Buddhist saying. It’s a very useful way to frame aspects of depression. Betrayal, anger, fear… letting go is a process – often a painful and difficult process – but it’s ultimately going to show you the path out of this terrible place. Repeating the mantra can help when you’re feeling gripped by these feelings.

16) Wear clothes that make you feel confident. It takes as much time to put on nice clothes as it does to put on sweatpants. You will want to wear the sweatpants. Fight the urge. The whole “look good/feel better” campaign isn’t limited to cancer and chemotherapy. Or women.

17) Avoid fictional drama and tragedy like the plague. No Grey’s Anatomy, no to The Notebook, or anything that won a Pulitzer prize. You’ve got enough going on In Real Life. Comedy only. Or trashy stuff. Old episodes of WonderWoman? I’ve got the box set. Mindless drivel, like the latest CGI blockbuster. Or clever, funny books. David Sedaris. Jenny Lawson. Fiction exists to elicit emotion, and the emotion you need to express most right now is laughter.

18) Simple exercise, if you can. It can be something as simple as taking the stairs up a flight, or walking around the block. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t have to involve climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Baby steps.

19) Depression will lie to you. Depression will try to tell you what others are thinking. That you are unloved and unworthy, that others think little of you or don’t care – or even wish you harm. You are not a psychic. Keep repeating that. “I am not a psychic”. Repeat. The only way to know what another person is thinking is to up and ask them.

20) If you are well and truly losing this battle, reach out to someone. I’ve been the random friendly-but-not-close person who has fielded the occasional outreach. I like to think I’m not judgemental and generally resourceful, and others have thought the same, so they called and asked. You know someone like me. And they will help you.

21) Forgive yourself. I’m writing out all these tips, and I can’t always muster the strength to even stick my nose outside, or walk up the stairs, or eat my vegetables. Today, I got outside for ten minutes. I will try again tomorrow. And I will try again the day after that.

This list will not cure you. This list will not flip on the happy switch. God, I wish it were that easy. The theme here is to not to unknowingly sabotage yourself. All these little things? Like your blood sugar, or watching nonstop episodes of House, or endless Try Harder lectures from your Perpetually Perky sister?

They all make dealing with depression just a tiny bit harder than it needs to be. And it’s hard enough, all on its own.

UPDATE: Wow, guys. Thank you. The feedback has been wonderful – all I wanted to set out to do was something helpful.

For those of you who want to see the original rant, Here it is.. http://www.diycouturier.com/post/41923259437/to-the-person-who-wrote-21-habits-…
And here’s the response to my response (?) – basically, after posting my retort, the happy people came at me with torches all over the interwebs.
http://www.diycouturier.com/post/42465364887/trollin-trollin-trollin#_=_

Also, a few people have mentioned that having a critter is a great thing to keep you on track, that taking care of something and having something rely on you keeps you going. I went back and forth on including that, but for some, it’s just not feasible to have a cat or a dog… but my cat is my Prozac.

And, I wrote this in Canada, where we have universal health care. It breaks my heart that people don’t have access to professional support. You can sometimes find a community health centre, or sometimes your work benefits will have an employee support or assistance plan as part of your insurance. If you’re without benefits and hitting desperation, phone someone. Friend, family – even your local distress centre.

Stay well, my melancholic interweb friends…xoRR

The Problem and The Answer

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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

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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

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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.

It’s October – Tenth Step Time

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From the Big Book of AA, p. 84, the 10th step prayer: “I pray God that you remove my selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear.”

I love the simplicity of the AA and Al-Anon programs. Since AA works so well, Al-Anon has adapted much of what it uses almost word for word for its own purposes, like this prayer. I take that at face value, meaning that those are the four things I need to truly concern myself with when I come before God each night with my daily inventory.

Where have I been selfish, dishonest, resentful and fearful today? Who do I need to talk to/make amends with? An apology alone is not “making amends.” To make amends means to provide just compensation for a loss, injury, or insult. It’s an action. If I apologize and rake someone’s leaves because, say, I caused an injury that made him unable to rake his own leaves … that’s making amends.

The tenth step is freeing for me because it keeps my inventory list low. Instead of full tank, I want an empty one, when it comes to the tenth step, you know? If I go to bed every night, and I hit my pillow … I want to drift off to sleep as easily as possible.

To that end, sometimes I have tenth step friends I call on for help. Just yesterday I called a friend in Al-Anon because I was on my way to a NaNoWriMo kickoff party and I got scared and panicky.

How does this step look for you?

Peace out.

To Avoid or Not To Avoid – Need Help!

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

I hope you are awake, Gentle Readers, because I need your advice this morning. There is an anniversary celebration at my “home” Al-Anon meeting, the Peace at the End of the Road meeting this morning. There will be a breakfast followed by an Al-Anon speaker, an AA speaker, and an Al-Ateen speaker. I’m psyched about it.

Except for one thing. The Al-Anon speaker will be Karen, and she’s someone who REALLY hurt my feelings at a non-al-anon function, trying to “school” me in how things were done (when there weren’t any hard and fast rules). Actually, she brought me to tears in front of a bunch of strangers.

I’ve since forgiven her, but still–my feelings are there, you know? I feel extremely uncomfortable around her and it’s hard to trust anything she says, it’s hard to trust mySELF with her for sure. I would never feel comfortable to speak at a table with her again.

I want to go SO BAD, but everything in me is screaming AVOID – be afraid, be very afraid. My ubersponsor will be there, but even that doesn’t seem safe enough.

What do you all think? PLEASE, I need some honest opinions, and I need them by at least 9:00 EST.

Peace out.

Feeling Terrified But Doing It Anyway

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month, folks, and that means it’s time for a gathering of my friends in the Insecure Writers Support Group. Here we share our fears, our anxieties, our hopes and dreams. If you would like to join, just click here: Insecure Writers Support Group. We”d love to have you!

I did something this past month that terrified me. I submitted my short story, “Damaged,” to Glimmer Train Press. I wrote it, rewrote, cut some, rewrote it, and cut some more, until it was about 756 words (It was an entry for the Very Short Fiction Award, which tops out at 3k, but can be any length shorter).

Then I gave it to a good friend of mine, Bonnie, who will be forever in my debt, to crit for me. She told me what would work even better, and what didn’t work as well.

By the time I was finished, it was still flash fiction, and I was a little worried about submitting flash to a literary journal, you know? But here’s why I stopped being afraid. The story is the story. To add to it falsely just to make it fit into a mold you think it needs to be, cheats the story, and – that’s not right. Not right for me, and more importantly not right for the story.

I had shared the beginning of the story here with you all last month. It’s fictionalized, based on a true story. So I thought about using a pen name. Then I got braver and decided to use my real name when I submitted.

It’s been a full week and the status of my submission is “in process,” which means it hasn’t been rejected. In past experience, if Glimmer Train flat-out rejects a story, it gets done within the first few days. They’ll notify us by Oct. 1st, unless we’re one of the 1st,2nd, or 3rd place winners, in which case we’ll get an email or phone call the week before that.

Maybe I should stop checking my status every day. 😉

This has been a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Check some of the other writers out there, too. We’re a great group of people! And join us if you like. 🙂

Peace out.

Withdrawal

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Withdrawal sucks. No two . . . okay, well maybe two words about it.

It’s been over 24 hours since I checked my blog stats. Now, before you start snorting Pepsi out your nose and all over your computer screen, please realize this is a very big deal for me. In the not-too-distant past, I’ve been known to check my stats anywhere from 1-8 times a day, to see how many likes I’ve been getting, what posts are most read, etc.

Even now, my fingers ache oh-so-bad to just click over and see how things are going.

Knowing where this comes from doesn’t make it any easier. Who do you know that had a fairy tale childhood, with a happily ever after ending? KNOWING is useless. I deal with it, I’ve forgiven it, let it go, “over with, done with, gone” . . .

Then stuff like this crops up, like a weed among the flowers, or . . . better yet, a flower that suddenly sprouts up through a crack in the sidewalk. Ever see one of those? I have. They are little miracles. They remind me that I’m not quite finished, and maybe I never will be.

But you know what? It’s okay. I’ve got plenty of time. Acceptance will carry me through for now.

It’s just okay.

Peace out.

Falling

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NB: This blog used to be called K2together: Yarns and Words. If you came here looking for that, you are in the right place. 😉

Welcome to my first ever post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Ahem. My name is Chris, and I’m an insecure writer. And, may I just say, I’m insecure about this post? I thought and thought and prayed and prayed about what I wanted to say this morning. Then I realized it was almost like Bonnie Friedman swatting flies in Writing Past DarkI was distracting myself from just writing the dang post by thinking about it so much and what your reactions to it might or might not be.

I keep a Where Is Taylor word count meter on my blog (you can see it you scroll down a little), even though it’s so totally embarrassing. Out of 63,000 words I’ve only written 2,154. And that’s after I dropped out of Camp NaNoWriMo for June.

Dropping out was actually a good decision for me, though. I thought I wrote well under pressure, you know? Like usually I do well with the November NaNo (unless I fall catastrophically behind), but this past November I wrote crap. I went back to read it recently, and I just cried. It was that bad.

So when I noticed that I’d fallen way behind on Camp NanoWriMo because of some family issues, I panicked. I knew I’d be pumping out that same kind of drivel again.

Instead, I just put my head down, went onto Write or Die for half an hour and wrote a little over 1k. This time, because I wasn’t under any pressure, not even of my own, it felt just like Bonnie describes it in her book, like I was falling into a dream state. I was descriptive, which is usually my prickly pear. I could feel Taylor developing in 3d while my fingertips touched the keys. It’s almost like . . . you know how you can feel the rest of the world just kind of “go away” when you get to that place in really good writing?

Yeah. I was there for a little over 1k. And I don’t think I can fall again. It rarely happens for me.

Usually I’m afraid to touch my writing because I want it to be something it can never be. I’d rather read and hide behind others’ words.

Peace out.

~~This has been a post for the Insecure Writers Support Groupwhich happens the first Wednesday of each month. 

Conscious Contact and the Novi Senior Choral

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The 11th step from Al-Anon states: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

According to Dictionary.com, the word ‘conscious‘ means: 1. aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts,surroundings, etc., and 2. fully aware of or sensitive to something (among others that you may peruse if you wish 🙂 ). Some synonyms of conscious are understanding, sure, vigilant, watchful. Contact can be seen a few different ways: touch, actual touch; meeting between two people; a nifty friend or acquaintance who can garner you influence.

I’ve been trying to improve my conscious contact with God, and yesterday I wanted so badly to be in His will, but I struggled with my own anxiety and it felt like a huge risk I would be taking. It seems like such a silly thing to say now.

Since I’m going to be 50 years old in September, I qualify for the senior choral in my city. It’s a very big deal. It’s not just singing they do, but dancing, skits and small group duets and singing. There’s a big production once a year, and this year it’s about Broadway show tunes. I had been looking forward to it, but as my mom and I (she’s been in the group for years, approaching her 85th birthday this year) sat on the porch, just about ready to go, anxiety sank in my stomach like a serrated knife. It was that quick.

Mom suggested I go anyway, just to see what it was like. I wouldn’t have to commit, or pay the $50 fee until the next week. She was already sure I would love it, because everyone was going to love on me and not want to let me go. I was so anxious I ended up taking an anti-anxiety med before I left. 😦 All the way there I asked my mom questions. And I was so glad Tweetybird  was clean, because we drove my car so I could smoke on the way. Yeah, now you know why I sing Tenor. 😛

Well, I prayed and prayed as we walked in the door. I already knew God wanted me to take more chances and to get out into the world. I needed more friends, and these were good people, friends I could count on to stick with me through thick and thin. They had been there for my mother for several years already. Hadn’t He stuck with me through my anxiety with work at the Book Nook? What other proof did I need?

So I went in, and every hand I shook, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “I was so NERVOUS! I don’t know why I was so nervous, because everyone’s been so nice to me!” …even though I had pointedly expressed to my mother NOT to mention to anyone how anxious I’d been, on pain of death. ::eyeroll::

It’s amazing what can happen when we keep up that conscious contact, and we stay in at least what we hope is God’s will . . . He always gives us the power to carry it out. Whew! Slept 9 1/2 hours last night after that. Was pretty tired. But it was such a good experience.

AND . . . I ended up paying the $50 that very day. I didn’t need to wait. I also signed up for skits and small group singing. It’s going to be a bang-up production. Wish you were here!

Peace out.

What’s Goin’ On…

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Have you ever just felt like you were going to explode inside? Like you had all these pent up feelings you didn’t know what to do with?  I feel like Mt. Vesuvius ready to blow, and I worry for whomever might be in my path in the next few days.

I really want to just get in my car and drive. I mean for a distance, and for a long time, until I’m somewhere I’ve never been where no one knows me and there aren’t any expectations, no one hanging on me for this or that, or rides here or there… I’m just . . . grrrr. So – EDGY. I feel like I want to throw things and jump up and down like a two-year-old, and I’ve never felt like that in my entire life.

So glad I’m going to a meeting this morning, because even though I can’t “dump” all this at the meeting, I can talk about the edginess, and the newness of these feelings. I can dump the wanting to run away with my sponsor and talk about what to do with that. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS RUN AWAY??? When everything within you is screaming, “Go away! Very fast! Now, while you still have a chance and before you get sucked into the mire and can’t get out at all!!”

Dear God, I don’t even know where these feelings are coming from. Dear Reader, I don’t expect you to have the answers. This is just my safe place. My go to place, where I can come and lay it out. It WILL work out. I’m scared because these are quite unexpected feelings for me, that’s all. It’s normal and perfectly all right to be scared.

It’s already okay, right? 😉

Peace out.

Turning People Over To The Care Of A Higher Power

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Okay, so I can totally relate to this picture here. When it comes to the Third Step, Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him, I’m a total control freak with the big things.

And what exactly ARE the big things? I mean, I can turn over parking spaces, book ideas, my dog’s ear infection and different things like that.

But when it comes to people I love it’s an entirely different story. I have a pretty big deal coming up on the 29th, next Tuesday, and I’ve been talking around it, and in vague terms. Today I’m just going to come right out and say it, because I could use your prayers or comments of support, whatever you can offer me. Even just your “likes” on this post will send my heart soaring. Honestly.

My sister was arrested for her 4th drunk driving and I’m driving her to court on Tuesday. She faces from 1-5 YEARS in prison. There is a possibility of treatment instead, so we’re praying about that. Fortunately, she didn’t hurt anyone else while she was driving (or herself), so she’s not dealing with manslaughter charges.

I’ve been doubling up on my Al-Anon meetings, and talking to my sponsor a lot, because my sister calls me often to speak to me, looking for reassurance, or just to talk. She speculates much about the future, and I try to help her take it one day at a time, and one hour at a time if she needs to. We just DON’T KNOW what will happen. Only God knows.

That’s where I get hung up. I get all twisted up inside when I think about Tuesday. As much as I’m reassuring her, I think of how much I will miss my sister. No matter what happens, she will go away for quite a while. If it’s treatment, it will be long term somewhere. I talk to her every day without fail except for when she is drinking. Then I miss her the most.

The only time I have peace with this is when I’m sleeping. I try so hard to turn her over. I pray to my higher power, which is God, and I say, “I know she belongs to You. She was Yours way before I ever even knew her. You can take such good care of her if I just let go. Help me to let go. Please.”  *laughing* Praying a prayer for help to turn someone over doesn’t even seem to make a lick of sense, does it?

But it’s the best I can do for now.

Peace out.

Overwhelmed

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Okay, so I spoke with Mary, my temporary OA (Overeaters Anonymous) sponsor yesterday evening, and she told me she would like me do several things that she did for her sponsor and that had worked for her.

1. To call her every day, and tell her what I’ve eaten the day before, if I’m on track with my meal plan for that day.

2. To read three pages in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, find something on each page that means something or touches me in some way, and write about each thing in a notebook . . . every day.

3. Go to more OA meetings. I only go to one OA meeting a week so far.

I guess that’s all she said for now. But it feels totally overwhelming, and I’ll tell you why. These are all my reasons:

1 I’ve put Undertow on the back burner and have started a novel, the beginning of a series, called Where is Faith? , to be followed by Faith in Prison, and finally Faith Forever. 

2. I’m working on putting together a book proposal for Where is Faith? which is not exactly an easy process. They are generally quite a bit longer than synopses, and more involved.

3. I love to write, but I’d rather be journaling my feelings regarding my cravings when it comes to food. Like, when I get hungry, is it emotional or physical hunger, and if emotional then what the hell is going on?

4. The reason I only go to one OA meeting a week is because I usually attend four Al-Anon meetings a week, and I told her that, but it didn’t put her off mentioning other OA meetings I might like.

Well, Mary did say at the end that we could try this for two weeks and see how it goes. We might be incompatible, and that’s okay. But when I talk to her today I’m going to ask her about the journaling thing. What is the point of the pages? Why that particular assignment? Is it just to make sure I read the big book? Because I’m reading it.

I don’t know. I’m just so overwhelmed. It’s making me tired and pissed off. 😦

Peace out.