I made the decision. I didn't like it. I don't like it. I knew I wouldn't be "happy" with either option. I also know that keeping things status quo is not healthy for anyone involved. I feel like I ripped out a big chunk of my heart and punted it. I told that to my therapist and also that I felt kind of numb. Also that I felt like I needed a meltdown but that it would probably wait until the most inopportune time to strike. You know, like at work, because no one wants that. By "no one" I mean me. I continually find myself wondering if I am doing the right thing. Did I make the right decision? And thus goes the rationalization process. Slogans fall flat as trite cliche. The doctrine of my youth fails from one-sidedness and does nothing but cover me in guilt and shame. There comes a point when you realize you are the only one that is even remotely providing accountability to your husband. You can see that he is avoiding everyone but the friends who enable his behavior. You can see that he is not being honest with himself let alone anyone else. You see him walking around in that same facade you yourself used to walk in while keeping your addictions securely hidden away from view of anyone who might call you out on them. You know that as long as nothing changes, nothing is going to change because that is what has been happening for years. As I have been recovering, I have been seeing that I had few boundaries, and didn't enforce the few I had. It was easy to overlook because I was numbing/escaping myself so as not to have to deal with much of anything. It has been something like coming out of unconsciousness into consciousness and seeing how things really are and realizing this is not the lifestyle I want to continue in. So I tried setting boundaries, but they were not respected. I tried pointing out what was really going on, and was dismissed and told I am the one with the issues. But I'm not the only one with issues. I'm just the only one working on mine. And I have had enough of the insanity of addiction in my life. So after the latest incident of craziness, I retained an attorney and am filing separation in a way to enforce separation. There is no violence or threat thereof, so I can't get a restraining order. But since I am the only one working consistently and have been the only one paying the mortgage and utilities, I'm not the one who is going to leave the house. And our children have dealt with the dysfunction long enough. I've been told that he's never going to hit bottom as long as I'm cushioning it. To be true, my lack of boundaries and lack of enforcing boundaries has certainly been enabling. But I finally had enough. So I took the opportunity while I had it to put up a legally enforceable boundary. And it freaking hurts. I feel like the pain is going to consume me in an implosion. As if my soul is collapsing in on itself. But I am not going to cave in. I will not continue to live with the insanity of active addiction. I will not continue to subject my children to continued dysfunction. If you liked this post, would you please share it below? Thank you!
I am really struggling right now. When stuff hits the fan, it really hits the fan. I'm not struggling in isolation, though. I've shared with several close friends what is going on. I've even shared it with my co-workers because that morning I wasn't coming to work until my daughter was home, I felt I needed to tell them why. I have been put into the position - again - where I have to step up and take charge. Only this time, I have had a little taste of sanity, and I can see how life has become unmanageable again. I've had enough of the insanity and uncertainty and dysfunction. I am now in a position where I am forced to make some big decisions, all of which are going to involve uncomfortable (at best) confrontation. I also struggle with how much is too much to share publicly. I absolutely won't put this stuff on Facebook, but technically if I put it out here on my blog, I am putting on Facebook since I auto-publish to Facebook. There's also the little matter of not having shared what happened with family except for one cousin. Above all, I don't want unsolicited advice nor do I want a big outpouring of sympathy. I've played my own role in the dysfunction that does not leave me a completely innocent victim. There has been complicity on my part in the past that enabled things to progress to the point they have. However, that does not mean that I must maintain status quo out of misguided duty whose purpose is to keep up appearances. Sooner or later you can no longer hide the effects and consequences that accompany the disease of alcoholism and addiction. Then you are left with decisions on whether to let things continue to spiral in a way that sucks your family down with it or to protect the truly innocent from further harm from a disease none of you can control. This is where I am. Facing a decision that I don't want to make. Do nothing knowing things are going to continue to get worse (as they have been) while sucking multiple people down, or I can take a stand with the knowledge that the stand itself has the potential for loss. Yet I keep hearing the voice of Spock, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or the one." If you liked this post, would you please share it below? Thank you!
"It's always best to start at the beginning." - Glinda, the Good Witch of the North I have realized something really scary. I am the most emotionally and mentally healthy person in my household, and the most mature. Right. I'm the mature one. But while perhaps I live according to the mantra that Ouiser Boudreaux calls "A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste" far too much, there is, unfortunately, a reason why I am the most emotionally and mentally healthy and mature person in my household. I realized my life was unmanageable and would remain that way unless I got help. I made the decision to do whatever I had to do to change. Sometimes I still fight it tooth and nail because I am still afraid. I spent my childhood living in fear, and it is deeply ingrained in me. What I am slowly learning, and much more slowly than I like, is that it's ok to be afraid, and push through it anyway. Just like when I run, I'm ready to quit a quarter mile into it. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other because when I finish, I won't remember how bad that first and/or second mile sucked. I will feel great because I kept going and finished. I had a sit-down, face-to-face meeting with my sponsor last week. I was in a huge funk, and I needed help getting to the root of what was going on. Plus, I find it is a lot harder to hold stuff back when she's looking at me. Through the course of processing and reprocessing what was discussed, I decided I need to get back in Al-Anon. I was going to go back to my home group Friday night, but I ended up going to an A.A. meeting instead. As I was adjusting my Friday night plans in my head, and planning out when I could hit the next Al-Anon meeting, I had a thought. I can have an Al-Anon #DoOver. I decided I could go to the same Saturday morning beginner's meeting that I started in, and this time do it right. You know, because I never really worked an Al-Anon program the first time around. I went determined to speak also, but I didn't really get a chance. However, I recognized someone whom I had met nearly 2 years ago in that room when I first started, and I went and spoke to her after the meeting. I connected. 2 years ago, I spoke to no one, and tried to quickly get out of there. I was overwhelmed. I had been crying and fighting crying the whole meeting, and I needed to get out where I could. This time, I could tell by remembering how I felt the last time that I have grown quite a bit. I teared up a little, but while it is still automatic to fight it, I didn't put all my effort into it. But I was also able to laugh and nod my head in understanding with other shares. I might be a beginner again, but I am no longer a newcomer. I'm glad to have the chance to start over. If you liked this post, would you please share it below? Thank you!
I hated that phrase. Because some people never seem to get to the "make it" point and just fake it. And they just fake it when it will benefit them in some way. They can talk the talk around the right people, but just don't seem to ever be able to personally apply it to their relationships with other people. You know, hypocrites. The other night, I was in a situation where I had to give a really brief version of my alcoholic story - what it was like, what happened, and what it's like now. I didn't really put any time into preparing for it even though I knew I would have to give it. I just let it largely flow spontaneously. As I listened to myself speaking (which one can do when one dissociates), I heard myself saying something that I had said before, but hadn't really heard.
"I knew how to pretend to live, but I didn't know how to live."And that would be why "fake it 'til you make it" pissed me off so bad. I spent most of my life "faking it," but not ever "making it." From the outside it appeared I had it all together. And to an extent I did. But I was motivated by perfectionism; always striving for an unknown and/or unrealistic expectation of what success (professional, personal, and religious) really was. Then my facade - my carefully constructed bubble of control - shattered.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. - Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 59At this point in working the steps, I was told that God might not remove all of them, and that He wouldn't necessarily do it right away. One of my character defects is impatience, so it was a given it wouldn't happen immediately. That doesn't mean He isn't capable of removing my defects. He is. But He isn't a genie that grants wishes the way we want it. He is a loving Father who knows and provides our NEEDS instead of our WANTS. I always want the easier, softer way. I have found that my greatest growth comes through "suffering" rather than being handed to me. And so, with the knowledge that that my request to have my shortcomings removed could be delayed or answered with "No," I was told to believe they would be removed regardless and until they are, "act as if they have been." Fake it 'til you make it. Finally, I realized the spirit behind it wasn't one of hypocrisy, it was one of faith and good will. Take, for instance, my insecurity. It has not been taken away yet. Left alone and allowed to "rule," my insecurity paralyzes me from making good decisions, or even any decision at all. Nothing gets done, status quo remains, and life becomes even more unmanageable. But, I can "act as if" I am not insecure, and make a decision that is at best uncomfortable or at worst downright scary. As long as I don't make a rash decision without looking at the consequences (good and bad) or take way too long to look at every thing I think might go wrong, something amazing is going to happen whether or not the decision is the correct one. I become less afraid to make a decision. I become less insecure. Sometimes the worst part of a decision is the fear of making the wrong decision. Not because you can always make the right decision, but because making a wrong decision reinforces how you think about yourself. "I'm stupid." "I can't do anything right." Those are products of false humility which is actually just an aspect of self-centered pride. And they are lies.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:5-9 ESV)Motives matter. Motive is why "fake it 'til you make it" can actually work. Motive is where you have to be totally honest when you ask yourself why you are acting on a "good" behavior. Are you trying to fool other people into thinking you have it all together, or are you simply just trying to do the next right thing because it is the right thing regardless of your feelings? If you liked this post, would you please share it below? Thank you!
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Inigo Montoya I've been having a recurring dream. It isn't exactly the same dream, but it is the same theme. I am sometimes in a prison camp, sometimes in a cult, and sometimes in some type of camp like a reservation. No matter which it is, I am trying to escape. These dreams have been going on for at least a couple of months. Granted, I am grateful that I am no longer having the gray-mud-vomiting zombie dreams, but those were only 3 or 4 dreams total. My escape dreams have been 3 or 4 a week for several weeks. Enough to wonder what the heck is going on in my subconscious. I wonder if maybe my brain is trying to work out how I am trying to escape the lies I have believed about myself since I was a child. Maybe that sense I had that I didn't belong or fit in was my way of coping with so much contradictory reality as such a young age. I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of days ago, and couldn't go back to sleep. I didn't have a deluge of racing thoughts like I used to have, but I couldn't seem to settle my brain back down enough to get back to sleep for 2 or 3 hours. I had another thing that I hadn't ever told anyone. Funny how things like that pop up when you get repeatedly triggered over something related. In the process of revisiting, praying, unpacking, praying, peeling that freaking onion, and praying some more, the thought came to me:
Nothing was normal. Everything was distorted. I don't think I have a clear objective memory because there was so much contradictory information.I didn't want to let that thought be lost once I went back to sleep, so I wrote it down. There is usually running involved in the dreams. Running away from somebody, some group, some zombie, some trap. The running never ends, except for that one time I was trapped in an empty cargo bay about to die from irradiation or poison. But at least the zombies weren't in there with me. Every race I've run has always had a clear end. There have been times I was sure I would never make it to the end, but I've always managed to keep going - even if I could just barely put one foot in front of the other. Because I knew there was a clearly defined end. And a couple of times because my friend Karyn either came back to get me or stayed with me vowing to drag me across the finish line if necessary. Sometimes I feel like I am chasing after "normal," when I have no idea what "normal" is. There is a conversation that takes place in Star Trek Generations between Dr. Soran and Geordi LaForge regarding Geordi's eyes.
Dr. Soran: Have you ever considered a prosthesis that would make you look a little more... how can I say... more normal? Geordi: What's normal? Dr. Soran: "What's normal?" Well, that's a good question. Normal is what everyone else is and you are not.Geordi was blind from birth. There was no prosthesis that was going to give him sight in the same way seeing people had. The banana clip visor he wore gave him the ability to see things that sighted people could not. Soran was trying to force him to focus on the external appearance of normal - looking normal. In later movies, Geordi has prosthetic eyes rather than the banana clip visor. His eyes still didn't look "normal." Geordi's handicap did not handicap him. He couldn't see things the way other people see, but he had a unique view of things that made his lack of normal sight valuable to those who had normal sight. His biggest physical weakness was also his biggest physical strength.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)Maybe the reason I never escape in my dreams is because escaping the past doesn't change it. I'm never going to have that "normal" childhood. I'm never going to have a "normal" loving relationship with my dad. And you know what? I might not ever "feel normal." But I am not alone. Even in those dreams, I am not always alone. Sometimes there is a small group with me who are also trying to escape, and we are working together to escape and/or overthrow oppressors (or zombies). Here in the real world, in my real life, I am not alone. I have a tight network of friends who know most (and some all) of my junk. And they are willing to drag me across the finish line - to help rescue me from the cult/nazi/zombies. I'm not the only person to not grow up in a "normal" environment. We generally try to appear "normal" because we want to be "normal" - to fit in. But we tend to find each other. And that's where our "abnormal" lives intertwine and become strength. We understand each other. We can help each other in ways "normal" people can't. And when "normal" people find themselves embroiled in the type of "abnormal" that was our "normal," we can be there for them in ways their "normal" friends and family can't. Thus, weakness becomes strength. And "normal" means nothing.
"Can I handle the seasons of my life?" - Stevie Nicks I may have mentioned this before, but do you know what happens when you peel an onion? You cry. I talked about why I was going to stop taking my antidepressant, but I really had no idea how that was going to play out. Despite weaning off over 4 weeks, I still had some significant withdrawals. But the crying. What are the odds that in your first week off your meds, you are going to be triggered. Repeatedly. About something you did NOT want to deal with so soon. (Or at all.) I definitely didn't expect to be triggered at church. I knew I was going to break down this past Sunday. I had looked at the service lineup, and texted with my friend Stacey who was singing. I had no idea I would have such an ugly cry meltdown. After the sermon, we had communion. But not just communion. We had the opportunity to be anointed with oil, and prayed over with laying on of hands. I walked up to Pastor Nate a complete wreck. "I can't even word." I could barely get out more than that because of the sobbing. But I didn't really have to because he knows my story. We stood there in front of everyone, he praying over me, and me sobbing. And I was okay with that.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16 ESV)I then took the cup (because the bread ain't gluten free), and sat back down. I sobbed uncontrollably some more. And it was okay. And it is a big breakthrough. I wasn't allowed to cry when I was a kid. My crying was categorized as either "having a fit" or "showing my ass." So I learned how to hold it in, and not cry. And then I medicated/self-medicated so I wouldn't cry. But crying isn't something to be ashamed of. I've been praying for healing. Family and friends have been praying for my healing. Crying is part of that healing. All I have to do is let it happen. And it's okay.
I've done a few things lately that I swore I'd never do. Like plucking and shaping my eyebrows. I wore my bushy, manly brows like a badge earned from railing against conforming to western feminine culture. But then I decided to get my eyebrow pierced, and one of my coworkers talked me into eyebrow maintenance. And I haven't gotten the piercing. Yet. I also said I would never get back up to 200 pounds. But I did. It's not the number on scale so much as the clothes that are no longer fitting, or at least not fitting comfortably. And the reason my spare tire got reinflated is that I stopped eating healthy and running regularly. I stopped being disciplined about my physical health. It's a discipline issue. I was reminded that I know how to eat healthy, and I know how to exercise regularly. I've done it before. I lost 40 pounds, and felt great. (Physically) I can do it again, but I have to discipline myself to do it. I made myself a schedule. That would be another thing I wasn't ever going to do. Oh, I've been all about putting appointments on the calender, but not planning out my days like I did. Because it seemed legalistic. I stood at my whiteboard and wrote down everything I have to do every day (critical tasks) and at what times. Like work and sleep. I made those non-negotiables. Although even that is within reason because of Thursday night rehearsal. I'm not getting home before 9pm from rehearsal, and therefore won't be in bed by 9pm. But that's also (normally) only twice a month. I then listed out essentials like church and meetings. I don't have to do these like I have to go to work, but I am making them non-negotiables nonetheless. My spiritual and emotional health are dependent upon those. Then I worked in "me time." These are also non-negotiable because 1) I need alone time to recharge because I am an introvert, 2) I need time for self-care (exercise, meditation, reading), and 3) I have interests that I am going to work on that I need alone time for - like writing. I even scheduled social time even though church, meetings, and the running club constitute social time also. But it's a more specific social time like coffee/dinner with friends. All because in order to do everything I want and need to do for my health, I need some serious discipline. I know me. I know what I do without structure, and it is largely unproductive. And so now I am telling myself that I should not say, "You will never be able to get your life manageable because you will never be organized." I've never really tried.
I never had a clear understanding of the Holy Spirit. I believed there is one, and I believed the doctrine of the Trinity of which the Holy Spirit is a member. But functionally, I believed in the Father, the Son, and personal effort. To be perfectly honest, I still can't grasp the concept of the Trinity. I don't understand the three in one. I choose to believe anyway. It would appear on the surface to be blind faith. But it's not, even though I can't point to anything visibly to "prove" it. In my personal experience it has all been internal. My daughter went to a birthday party a few years ago for one of her friends. I went and hung out with her friend's mom and another lady while the kids hung out together without moms hovering over them. At the time, we weren't going to church. But I saw something in Jamie's friend's mom when she talked about Jesus. There was such unabashed joy and gratitude that she got a little emotionally overwhelmed and had to sit down. I had never seen anything like that in person. I wanted that. I prayed for that. And nothing much happened -- for 6 years. It didn't seem like anything was happening. I went to church, I read my bible, I read Christian books, and I read Christian blogs. I looked at my theology and doctrine with "grown up" eyes challenging what I believed to make sure I really believed what I believed because I believed it was true according to scripture or because I was told it was true. Most of my beliefs remain intact, and what changed was all secondary and tertiary doctrine that have no bearing on the foundation of the Gospel. All those years, my faith was evolving, and growing. God would give me a little taste, and I would want more. I learned to be thankful and grateful for trials because He opened my eyes finally to the truth that we grow through trials, even though it is painful growth. The trials strip away our self-sufficiency, and teach us that we can trust God. I finally reached the point that I trust enough to stop taking my anti-depressant. Just like my childhood coping skills, it served it's purpose, but I need to let it go. I need to feel. I talked to my sponsor about it, and my therapist. I talked a lot more about it with my therapist than I cared to. I have a program now to help me deal with life on life's terms. I do not wish to continue numbing, even with a prescription. I have to feel my full range of emotions if I want to be emotional healthy. That thing I prayed for 6 years ago? About halfway through the second song this morning at church, I felt the tears start to well up as I had my hand raised and trying to belt out the song louder than Stacey as she led. The dam broke during the 3rd song and I had to get a Kleenex. The hubby looked at me and asked, "Are you crying?" I laughed and answered, "Yes. I'm off my meds." I was destroyed before the sermon even started, but as Pastor Nate ended the sermon with prayer, it hit me. God answered my prayer. For the first time today, I realized that I was responding emotionally with appropriate emotion. There was a lot of crying (a lot for me), but it was the right kind of tears each time they fell. It felt cleansing. Things like this are why I believe the Holy Spirit is the one who does the changing in us, and not our own efforts to change. The Spirit was given to us as followers of Jesus, children of God the Father to guide and comfort us. The Spirit took me on a path I never would have chosen to have my prayer answered. Left to my own, I would still be self-medicating and wondering why nothing was changing,
John 3:8 NIV The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”You can't put God in a box. You can't neatly package him up. All you can really do is say like Job,
Job 42:2-3 NIV “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."Let it flow.
Sometimes I can remember events from childhood as if I were there again. Not the bad things or even really good things. It's more like ordinary things that wouldn't be considered significant events. I can remember the brightness of the sun, or the grayness of clouds. I can almost feel the warmth or the chill. I can see the colors, and I can almost hear the sounds and smell the scents. I didn't realize that I had the ability at one time to live in the moment and appreciate the beauty around me. It seems like a precious gift today as I reflect on random memories. I still have the ability. I don't know exactly when I stopped noticing my environment. I think it was in college. I would even go so far as to guess it happened when I began regularly numbing. I'm more convinced of that since I only started noticing and appreciating here and now moments and making mental note of them in the past year. Could it be that appreciating the beauty in the world around me is related to my desire and/or ability to feel my emotions? It's ironic that in the course of self-medicating to avoid feeling pain I anesthetized myself to beauty and joy that comes from admiring dandelions blooming along the side of the road. The numbing dulled the deep and vibrant green of the spring growth in the trees and grass, the red of the clover, and the orange of those flowers that popped up "volunteer" from last year's planting.
The numbing distorted the whole picture as well as the color, like the above picture of my mom and I. The camera and the film were cheap (and probably old), and while capturing a moment in time, it lacked the vibrancy of color. It does not accurately portray the joy I felt in that moment after finally talking Daddy into taking a picture. He even let me take my first picture that day. It is just as devoid of true color. I don't remember that afternoon in Polaroid. I remember it bright and colorful - with cats. :)
This rose represents what I see now in sobriety. I took this with my iPhone at church in between services where I went to smoke. (I wasn't hiding my smoking. I was just keeping the smoke away from others.) It was a gray, misty day that makes you want to just snuggle up in bed. But yet I was shown the beauty of the tiny raindrops on the petals and leaves of the flowers and plants. God gives us emotions to enjoy the beauty even amid the pain. I'm starting to believe that feeling and living through the pain makes the beauty even more beautiful.
I have a way of knowing things intellectually and even believing them intellectually, but without it fully sinking in. I suspect it is a manifestation of a coping/survival skill I picked up as a child. I've been piecing together things through my recovery. Who am I? I've been exploring that question my whole life, and never really coming up with a satisfactory answer. My Christian friends have and do tell me that my identity is found in Christ. Yes. That's kind of the Christian no-brainer. I've been adopted into the family of God because I've been redeemed by Jesus. But... Who is God? Because of my poor relationship with my dad along with a lot of hellfire and brimstone rendering of God, I had a warped view of who God is. My distorted childhood view of God (which lasted well into adulthood) was a vengeful God lacking grace. If you're not the perfect Christian, He is going to destroy you. Sure, Jesus washes your sins away, but when he does that you're not supposed to sin any more. I had to learn who God really was. Thankfully, He didn't leave me in my ignorance, and I finally grasped the concept of sanctification that occurs between justification and glorification. I slowly understood that I can't/didn't/won't earn God's love, that it is freely given through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. I had to learn who I was I learned I was a victim. I was a co-dependent, reality-escaping victim. I was afraid of everybody. It impacted every single area of my life. I felt trapped, and in all honesty, I was trapped. I was bound in a trap of my own making. A trap that was constructed with distorted truth and outright lies. Identity crisis I was at a crossroads of sorts, torn between who I've always thought I was and the reality of whose I am. I felt trapped between a cage that was at least familiar, and between fear of the unknown. I finally met that point in co-dependency where I asked myself who I would be if I dropped my victim status. How would I manage to live without it.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)My greatest loss was that of my old distorted and arbitrary identity. It was great not because it was good, but because it was heavy. It isn't going away without a fight. It still screams for attention. But I have tasted something much better. Freedom. Freedom to be who I was made to be. Freedom to have purpose and worth. Freedom to be loved by my Creator not because of what I do (or don't do). Freedom to love, as I am loved. My greatest loss is turning out to be an amazing gift.