al-anon

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! 🙂

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)

Are YOU My Sponsor?

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” ~Rabbi Hillel

I am currently a sponsor-less (wingless, rudderless) member of Al-Anon. This year September will be three years that I’ve been in Al-Anon, but my former uber sponsor and I parted ways amicably over a year ago.

Since that time finding a new one has reminded me of the childhood book Are You My Mother? in which a baby bird is hatched while its mother is away from the nest and it goes about asking various animal species that very question, “Are you my mother?”

Seeking a sponsor has felt, not to be too melodramatic, like walking through a field of landmines. 😛 I’ve been turned down by three older women because they “don’t do ‘that’ anymore.” Whatever. I sucked it up and tried some more. I was consecutively turned down by three more younger women because they “didn’t feel up to it.” What?? Beg your pardon? Don’t feel up to it?

I’ll tell you the God’s honest truth, and that is this. I’m pissed off. If someone were to approach me today to ask me to be her sponsor, even though I don’t have one myself. I would pray, ask God for help each day, and do the very best I could by that person.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Tomorrow morning I’m going to my home group meeting “Peace at the End of the Road.” I’m not leaving without a sponsor, even if it’s just temporary. I’m tired of hearing my own voice bounce off the walls. We all need a little help sometimes.

Wish me luck, say a prayer, send good thoughts….could use it all.

Peace out, peeps. xo sober

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.

Steps To Save Your Sanity!

sharing-light1 I hope it doesn’t make me heartless to not write about the tragedy in Connecticut yesterday. I’m just as shocked and broken up as any of you, but I’m just choosing not to write about it.

Today, keeping in the holiday theme of the month, I thought we’d talk about how to hang on to our sanity during this time. It can be difficult with family obligations, financial crises, or other high stress situations.

Just fill in this blank: “The toughest part of the holidays is most definitely _____.”

Now, let’s figure out how to deal with whatever you (or me, which for me, it is family stress for sure) wrote in the blank.

1. Keep conscious contact with your Higher Power: I didn’t always believe Step Two. It took a long time for that step to work its way down from my head to my heart. I had been burned by a church and burned in my family, and I felt betrayed by God. So I prayed, because I thought it “worked” for other people, whatever “it” was. My prayers were wooden and automatic at first. When I read passages in the Bible about people crying out to God, I could never imagine myself getting that passionate. In anger, maybe. Even that, I felt more numb–like a shell-shocked victim. It’s been very gradual . . . years of tilling the soil, planting seeds, just . . . sitting with God without talking . . . times like that. But I do maintain daily contact, even if I’m so busy all I can manage to pray is Help! and Thank you! It’s a relationship. It’s different now. And when we speak, it’s as if it was just minutes ago.

2. Get support: Find a place that gets to feel like your home away from home, whether it’s a recovery group, Bible study, therapy group, prayer circle, knitting circle . . . even a book club if you all get close enough that you can share your deepest darkests. You know? I don’t know what I would do without Al-Anon. Or my knitting circle, for that matter! 😉

3. Have a sponsor: I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a sponsor, and establish boundaries and guidelines from the get-go, about how often to keep in touch, when to call, how often to meet, and so forth. I do have the best sponsor in the whole wide world, but you might could find the second best . . . 😉

4. Use a phone list: Each time you go to a new meeting, and you like it, and you start to make friends there, get phone numbers. If the meeting has a phone list, get that. Then, use it. People put their names down on phone list because they want to be called. So go ahead. Make someone’s day.

5. Read some recovery-endorsed literature daily: I have several daily meditation books, but only . . . hmm, I think four, are endorsed by Al-Anon as conference-approved literature. So I make sure every day to read from at least one of those, usually a couple, because they are each so different. I’m reading the Al-Anon Bible through for the 3rd time.

6. Help someone else: When you light someone else’s candle, your own light never goes out. Ever notice that? Even if all you feel able to do is to hold the door for someone coming in after you, or to get an extra chair for someone who came in late . . . whatever you can do to help someone during this holiday season . . . maybe you are in the parking lot and you notice someone burdened with many shopping bags. Carefully approach and ask if you can help. We just don’t do things like that anymore. Let’s start a revolution . . . a love revolution.

You’re beautiful. You know that, right?

Peace out.

Feelings Aren’t Facts: Make it a Mantra!

reality checkMaybe in your past you grew up in a chaotic or even abusive alcoholic family. Or maybe your family was dysfunctional in another way. No matter what, you learned to rely on your feelings as a barometer for what to do. If you felt scared, you ran and hid. If confronted by unwarranted anger, you might have also run and hid, or you might have fought back. We are all different. Some of us were little scrappers, which got us into further trouble. 😉 Some of us cried when we were sad, some simply withdrew. Some of us were shy, some larger than life.

Everything was black or white. There was no room for negotiation. It was either a big scary monster or it wasn’t. Simple as that. If we made choices based on our feelings, as if they were facts, then the only choice was to flee.

Now, as adults, though it is by no means easy, we can see that we have varied choices. In Al-Anon meetings, I am learning that I (yes me) am a compelling, multi-faceted individual. I can have two feelings at once, for instance, and this is perfectly valid. And guess what? I can and do survive them. Singing in a Christmas concert recently, I felt beyond nervous and excited at the same time. My feelings told me I couldn’t possibly do it! Sing in a Christmas concert! No way! But I now know that feelings aren’t facts, so I did it anyway. And the concert was a smashing success. 😉 We can love someone and be angry at them. We can even love and hate someone at the same time. Yes! It’s possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s a fact that we hate them. It’s a feeling. And we move through it.

Lots of feelings will come up this holiday season. You’ll meet old friends and maybe make new ones. You’ll see family you perhaps haven’t seen in a year. But chin up. It’s just a feeling. It’ll pass.

Peace out.

In The Moment

I think the single most difficult thing for me to learn in Al-Anon – and some days it’s something I only strive for – is to live life in the moment. It’s so much easier to fall into the pitfalls of yesterday or tomorrow.

Think about it. We can get to yesterday and tomorrow with only a daydream or two. We can get to yesterday’s mistakes and tomorrow’s worries in the time it takes to drive from work to home, something we do on autopilot. Those kind of drives leave a lot of room for daydreams about yesterdays and tomorrows.

But try this, just once. Turn off your radio and your cell phone. Really pay attention to what’s happening on the road in front of you. Drive like you’re taking the test to get your first license. Feel the steering wheel underneath your hands. Hear the sounds around you; really listen. See everything, take it all in. We are only alive for this one moment. We don’t any of us know what might happen from one moment to the next.

The members of Al-Anon I admire most are the ones who really live out the slogan: One Day At A Time. They know that they can only solve one problem at a time, and the other problems will still be there waiting. 😉 They also know that nothing lasts forever, just like each day has a beginning and an end. Sadness doesn’t last forever, nor happiness.

They make their way, in the moment, eyes wide open.

What ways are you living in the moment?

Peace out.

Grateful Thoughts

“A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude.” –Bruce Wilkinson

Sometimes it’s difficult to be grateful. When I first joined Al-Anon, I had to search for things to be grateful over. I mean, I had to search. At first, it was little, tiny things like “putting my feet on the floor” in the morning as I got out of bed, being grateful that I “had feet” to put on the floor . . .

I’m not sure why that was. Maybe I was so focused on fixing the alcoholic in my life, so angry that I was even there in the first place, that being grateful seemed like the polar opposite of where I wanted or felt like I needed to be. Listening and being allowed to grow at my own pace at the tables . . . never being rushed or nudged along, never being told “you’re doing it wrong,” I was able to come to learn gratitude in my own way.

Now there is so much I’m thankful for. From the sun and moon in the sky to the falling temperatures and changing leaves (I love Autumn and Winter) . . . sometimes I’ll be driving along at dusk and see the sun setting and just say out loud, “Look at you, God. Look at what you decided to do tonight.” Because it’s always different, you know? (Sorry. I try not to offend anyone, but I choose to call my Higher Power, God.)

I have too many people in my life to mention for whom I’m thankful. I sure hope they know who they are by now. 😉

Just feeling really good today. I hope you are too. If it’s a difficult time for you, remember nothing lasts forever. Even tough times. It’s true.

Peace out.

 

God Comes First In The Serenity Prayer

“Every now and again take a good look at something not made with hands—a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and, above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world.” –Sidney Lovett

When I pray the serenity prayer, I place a special emphasis on the first word, “God.” Now, don’t stop reading at this point. See, what I love about the Al-Anon program and the CoDA (Codependency Anonymous) program is they allow for each to come the “God of his own understanding.”

I had a relationship with God before I ever started the program, but I soon realized it didn’t work for me. I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father, so my very first concept of God was as a tyrant who sat up in heaven keeping score and who did not like me very much. It was exacerbated by my Catholic faith (I’m not saying Catholicism is a bad thing necessarily; it just did a weird number on me in many ways).

To keep this from being a long, drawn-out story, let me just say that it wasn’t until I came to Al-Anon that I realized I needed to rethink my concept of God. Yes, He’s sovereign, and all-knowing and all that is still true. But He’s personal, and I can speak with Him just as easily as I speak to my best friend, my ubersponsor. He wants to know the things that are important to me, the things that worry me, the things I feel bad about, and so forth.

But for me God is the most important part of the serenity prayer. Sometimes I forget that, and today I wanted to remind myself. Because . . . I’m so thankful I don’t have to do this alone.

I hope you are having a great Sunday! 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.

 

Accepting Change

Wednesday was a difficult day for me, and I thought I had lost all the ground I had previously gained in Al-Anon and then some. That was the day we picked up my sister from jail, and subsequently spent 11 hours in the car driving her around, back and forth from her probation officer to different places, only to have doors slammed in our faces and told to go back here or there . . .

I admit, I lost my cool a time or two. I don’t do freeway driving well, and I had to listen to Stella (my GPS), find the places, while trying not to worry about my 85-yr-old mother next to me in the passenger seat who had also been in the car the same length of time.

Then this morning I read this passage (April 5th) on acceptance from Courage To Change: “It’s all right to feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, joyous, excited, or confused about our changing circumstances.” The reading goes on to say that many of us find ourselves going back to the basics even after we have found ourselves in Al-Anon for a while after the alcoholic gets sober and THEY go through big changes. What is important is what we do with our feelings. Talking them through at the tables helps. A lot.

So today I’ll go to a meeting. I didn’t have time yesterday. I have family here from out of town. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, or blaming them in any way, because I enjoy them! 🙂 But I’ll have time today while they are visiting friends of theirs.

I want to thank my higher power, God, and all of you, for putting up with me, when I am so far from perfect.

Have a great and wonderful day, gentle readers.

Peace out.

Filling My Cup

Is this not a beautiful picture? I couldn’t resist it when I saw it. If I could get my heart started every morning on a cup full of sparkles instead of caffeine, I’d be all over it. 🙂 That is SO pretty to me.

It made me think about what I need to fill myself with every day. Like, how does what I read, watch on TV, and look at on the internet affect me? How does who I talk to on the phone or in person affect my mood? How does what I write about or not write about make me feel? If I don’t spend time in knitting do I feel that loss of my center?

What about meetings? Sometimes who I sit with at a meeting affects my ability to share more . . . not freely, necessarily, but – without stumbling over my words? I get very nervous, and if I don’t  know at least half the people at the table pretty well I get very skittish, like a cat.

But wait–let me back up a second here. My super sponsor and I were talking about books and what we read, and she said that if she reads horror, like Stephen King and stuff like that, it affects her too much in a negative way. Now, I can read Stephen King-like stuff all the livelong day and it does not put me in a negative mood. But let me read some self-help book that tells me I’m doing something wrong — and I’m in a pissy mood the rest of the day.

So the only self-help I need in my life at this point is Al-Anon related material. That’s what I can fill my cup with.

I used to be able to watch the different Law and Order spin-offs all the time. Now I can only watch the main one and Criminal Intent (okay, okay, because I have a thing for Vincent D’Onofrio, happy now? :P) He’s married. So I have to admire from afar. I still watch The Waltons on The Hallmark Channel, and I once watched a whole 24-hour marathon of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. If you remember that, I’m your friend for life. 😉 Too much violence isn’t a good thing to fill my cup up with. Humor is great. 

My mom thinks I’m too open on here, and on FB. Psh. It’s my blog. And —okay, I’ll be more careful on FB. I don’t exactly have to say where I’m going, or where I am. I still think she worries too much. I guess that’s what Moms do. It’s one of the many ways they offer their love up.

And I’m babbling. What positive ways do you have to fill your cup on a daily basis?

Peace out.

Just Do It ‘Til You BELIEVE It

The popular saying in AA and Al-Anon is “Fake it ’til you make it,” but for the purposes of today’s post, I’ve made up my own slogan. Yeah. I did that. 🙂 Well, they all have to start somewhere, right?

So one of these days I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll hear someone talking to a friend, chatting them up, saying, “No, you just do it ’til….” ooor maybe not. 😛

It’s nice to dream, though.

The point is for whatever you are dealing with, whether it’s another person’s behavior or your own behavior you are trying to change . . . I’ve always found that taking action, putting one foot in front of the other and actually taking small steps is what helps me BELIEVE. Because, look it’s either working (the action) or it’s not. And if it’s not, well that quickly I can take steps to change it.

Recently I’ve had someone try to take advantage of me. Try being the operative word. Because I’ve learned so much in Al-Anon, and because I talk regularly with my super sponsor, I know the things to say. I know how not to get walked on anymore. I didn’t “fake it,” I just did the behavior and the consequences were ten times better than they would have been had I taken the actions years earlier, putty in the hands of a master manipulator.

One can use this new “slogan” 😉 for anything. I think of it with my writing as well. As soon as I finish this blog post, I’m going to tackle an hour of writing, straight through. I’ve been thinking of myself as a writer, believing it as it forms in my mind, speaking it to my mother and people who normally don’t commend such statements from me.

What are you hesitant about? What do you need to do ’til you BELIEVE it? Do it today!! What’s stopping you?

Noticed Something Really Sad About My Readers

Okay, I admit I’m not the smartest person who ever lived, but I’m not the most stupid either. I know the ways of the world, and I’m kinda hypersensitive.

I’ve been checking my views over the last few days, and you know what’s weird?

They skyrocketed (well, went to 40 views on my busiest day, which for me is a lot) when I talked about my sister’s arrest, and continued to be fairly steady until yesterday.

Yesterday I talked about me again, and good ol’ Al-Anon, and God, and how all that’s helping me. And my views dipped all the way down to eight.

Ouch.

If you want to hear all the sad news about my sister, if you think that’s what this blog is all about, I’m really sorry. This blog is about MY recovery. I like to please just as much still, but I’m trying really hard to heed the words of my sponsor: “You have to take care of yourself first.”

God must be thoroughly upset with me (or want me to write my novel – lol) because it’s pouring rain! If it stops raining enough, I will indeed keep my pinky promise and get those pics of Tweetybird and upload them. Geeze, I don’t even know what to categorize this one. Rant, I guess. 😦

What are you doing today to take care of YOURself? 😉

Peace out.

A Whole Lot of Love

Love

At Saturday’s meeting there was another double winner, like me, a friend of mine (at least, she signed my sheet, so I count her among  my friends now 😉 ) who is in both AA and Al-Anon. She mentioned when it was her time to share that she was celebrating that very day 27 YEARS of sobriety. Whoo hoo!!!

All meetings have a different sort of “flavor,” and this meeting is much looser, and allows crosstalk. We allow questions and direct statements back and forth to each other because we are a very small and close-knit group. It’s just how we are. Most groups don’t allow that, because it tends to put people off and they then don’t feel very willing to share their story.

Anyway, what I did was, I asked her “How’d you do it?”, which is a question oft-asked of people who get a token for achievements such as this. People want to know how one made it through even a month of such an achievement, let alone 27 years.

Well, “J”, my dear friend, simply said, “It was love. A whole lot of love.” And then she couldn’t talk anymore about it because she got pretty choked up.

Love pretty nearly does make the world go ’round. God’s love, through Him, and through His people.

Peace out.

P.S. Got three more phone numbers of potential friends Monday morning. Yay me!! 🙂

De Nile: It Really Isn’t Just a River in Egypt!

It’s fairly easy to talk the talk. It’s much easier to tell people what to do, to give people advice, than to take that advice for oneself. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve been in some denial about something pretty big.

I’ve said here on my blog that I’m a “double winner,” and by that I mean I am a member of two anonymous groups: Al-Anon, and Overeaters Anonymous. Well, I’m in a rather large amount of denial about OA, and I intend to change that in this blog post.

I’ve still been attending the meetings. I just haven’t been reading any of the literature that I’ve purchased. Whenever we go around and say our names before sharing, most people say “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a compulsive overeater.” I say, “Hi, I’m Chris, I’m a sugar addict, and I’m in huge denial about it.” Then I continue my sharing.

I suppose I could just say I’m a compulsive overeater like everyone else. Why the need to be unique? Well, it’s not so much a need to be unique, as a need to be specific. I don’t struggle with other carbs. I struggle with sugar specifically. Once I eat something sweet, specifically chocolate or a cake-y thing, I’m a goner.

If I don’t buy it, or it’s not in the house, I’m okay. But I’ve been known to eat sugar just by the spoonful if I’m desperate for that “feeling.” And if you’re a sugar addict, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a euphoria, a calmness that overtakes one, followed by numbness and a quite sleepy feeling. There’s nothing like it.

When I think about it, I’ve used sugar to comfort myself since childhood days. Sugar and I go way back. It’s probably why my weight has gone up and down so much during my lifetime. When I was particularly scared, and didn’t know what to do, I would take a box of cake mix down from the cupboard and pour a bit out int a cup, mix that with some water and eat it with a spoon. Weird, eh? But it comforted me, went straight to those neurotransmitters that told my brain, “Mmm, this means something good.” I was probably all of eight or nine at the time.

But now, with something like chronic fatigue syndrome, I know I’m playing with fire. It’s a stupid, dangerous thing to keep turning to sugar when I know I’ll only crash and burn. It makes me feel worse than I would had I not gone to it in the first place. I need to take care of myself, because there’s only one me, like it or not. And I do love Lucy . She’s supposed to live to about 14 yrs. old.

It feels good to get through this. Denial is tough. It’s not easy to cut through; takes a machete. 😉

Peace out.

Accepting the things we cannot change

If I want people to accept me where I’m at, in all my mistakes and imperfections, then I’ve got to be willing to do the same for them.

The hardest lesson, the hardest thing I have had to accept is that we are who we are, we do what we do. People do not generally change. Past behavior is a strong predictor of future behavior. Addicts do what they do because they are hung up in their diseases, not because they are bad people.

When something recently happened with my nephew, an addict, I got all surprised – like DUH – what did you think would happen. And I confronted him on the behavior, which he denied. Did it make me feel any better? Did I feel vindicated? Did I feel I had helped my nephew see the error of his ways? No, no and NO. It made me feel stupid, if you want to know the truth.

All I can do is take really good care of myself. I can continue to attend my meetings, read my literature, call my sponsor, talk about what’s in my head so it doesn’t run around rent free, remember to place principles above personalities, and do the very best I can all the time. That’s about it. There’s not much more I can do.

Al-Anon not only helps in dealing with the alcoholics in my life. The thing about it is …. it spreads like a wildfire. It helps me when I’m standing in a long line at a checkout. It helps when I’m dealing with a not-very-nice person on the telephone. It helps with my volunteer work at the library. It leaks out into ALL the areas of my life, and for that I’m truly grateful beyond measure.

Peace out.

B is for Balance

I’m a freakish researcher. Seriously. I would’ve made a great legal or research assistant, because I research things to the extreme. It takes a gentle nudge from my sponsor to let my know that maybe I’ve done enough and it’s time to stop.

Two examples: When I came to Al-Anon, the qualifying alcoholic in my life was still sober. But then she relapsed.

In my helplessness, and because I was not yet ready to turn that over to God, I researched everything I could. I took books out of the library. I have nearly 50 books downloaded on my Kindle just under the category of Recovery. I read websites. I read my Al-Anon literature with new eyes.

It didn’t change anything. It didn’t change the alcoholic. It didn’t even really give me any peace. What finally gave me peace was letting it go.

The second example is when I found out that sugar suppresses the immune system, and that – since I have chronic fatigue system – I have no business eating sugar, which I secretly carry on a love life with. 😉

BOOM. You guessed it. Research-mode. Went to the library the other day. I currently have five books out about sugar addiction and two on hold, but only one downloaded to kindle and that’s ALL I’m going to download. PROMISE. My sponsor and I laughed about it this morning, because she knew as soon as I told her I found out about sugar and the immune system what would be happening.

I’m sure it’s a result of growing up in a family of such extremes. I learned to cling to the extremes and hold on for dear life.  I take full responsibility for the decisions I make now, don’t get me wrong. But it was so chaotic growing up, and abusive.

Gentleness is my go-to word with myself. Be gentle and find BALANCE. Slowly I’m learning to let go of or accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can. I’m learning it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I can do the best I can and LET IT GO. Someone – maybe just one person – may be touched by the words I have spoken. Or not. I’ve done my best.

Peace out.

A is for Acceptance

Wanting that feeling of being approved/accepted comes from deep within our hearts, and it starts when we are very young.

I remember needing nothing more than to be accepted as a child, for who I was. It seemed my well-meaning parents were always wanting to make me into something different. A better, more-polished, more-polite, more-confident, more . . .  version of Chris.

It seems like it takes so much for us to shake off those old tapes and that old wiring and reach for something better, even if that something better is so spectacular as to be a higher power, whom I choose to call God.

We DO get some DO-OVERS in life. We get second chances to get acceptance in life. I get it in Al-Anon, around the tables,with God, and with the best sponsor in the whole, wide world. 🙂

At those meetings, I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not. I don’t have to struggle for the right words, or say them in the right way. I can have an off day. No one is going to fault me for it. I can laugh, cry, get angry. I still get a hug at the end of the meeting.

Do I still work hard at changing myself, as this lovely cartoon by Cathy Thorne suggests? SOMETIMES. But it’s not so much big changes, because I think I have begun climbing this daunting mountain called Acceptance. I’m halfway there. 🙂

Until I get to the top, I can let OTHER people accept me the way I am . . . that, too, gets me there more quickly.

The thing is, I don’t think we can truly accept OTHERS unconditionally if we cannot do the same with OURSELVES. How are you doing?

Peace out.

On the Brighter Side

brighterside

looking on the brighter side

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