Saturday, October 31, 2009

Denial-The path of least resistance.

I am chairing a meeting tomorrow and I am hoping to get insight from others on the topic of denial. I have had a lot of experience with denial and have realized that it can be useful at times and also lethal at times.

My first experience with denial was when I was a child. It was second hand through my father. When I was nine my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and my father refused to accept a fatal diagnosis and as a family we couldn’t talk about the possibility of cancer taking her life. At my age I believed that if my father said she would live, she would live. For 2 ½ years we spent our free time between the hospital and faith healing services. When my mother died I was in shock and so was my father. I realize now, as an adult, he was coping with the loss of the love of his life and he could not accept this reality. The denial protected him but ultimately we all suffered the loss.

The story above shaped the way I have used denial in my own life. If we could have faced the possibility of losing my mother before she died we could have been there together for support. But instead we all went along as though nothing was happening. After she died, my father pulled away from us and kept as busy as possible. We never talked about my mom and for many years it was as if she never existed.

My father has since passed and I don’t blame him for my problems now I just realized that this denial issue goes way back for me. I have time and time again denied my feelings and obvious problems in my life until something awful happens and then I feel like a victim.

I want to stay in touch with my feelings and the reality of my life good or bad. Staying so busy that I don’t have to think has ultimately let me ignore my feelings and avoid facing reality.

Relating the way I have used denial and how it was part of my childhood helps me to understand why it comes so naturally to me. I am looking forward to the meeting tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Working towards Gratitude

Yesterday I spent the day pulling carpet from my basement. This was no easy task given that it was glued down with industrial glue. This is when my character defect of stubbornness comes in handy. I dug in and now have a carpet free basement.

This was quite an accomplishment I realize now that I have been depressed and grieving for a long time. Before even the idea of emptying the dishwasher seemed like a monumental task.

While I was working I had my IPOD on with all my favorite songs past and present. Music has always been a part of my recovery and every song took me back to certain time in my life. Over the past year there have been times that I could not even listen to music. I had a chanting CD but even that would put me on edge.

Yesterday I was able to listen to a think about my past without emotion. I am grateful and feel like I have turned an emotional corner. In the past I always relied on chores to push down my emotions. This period of grief was different and there was no escaping the pain and I had to wait until it passed. Having the emotional and physical energy to accomplish yesterday’s task made me realize that God is restoring me to sanity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pain and Shame

I was reading a home grown news letter last week. It was your typical events letter with time and place of local meetings and events. When I got to the end the author had put a personal note about someone in the group. Evidently they had left a long term relationship for someone else and had now been dumped. I guess the author thought that being publicly ridiculed was somehow justified.

I have thought about this all week. I am sure the author thought she was being loyal and protecting her friend by lashing out and everyone probably felt better for about a minute. I have personally suffered the loss of two long term relationships in just this way and while reading this I remember the pain and betrayal that I felt at the time.

The first time I didn’t have the support of the program or really anyone. In my mind I was a victim in every sense of the word and would have gladly publicly humiliated him. This time it was different I had support and the program to work through the pain. I wasn’t a victim and even though I felt sorry for myself I couldn’t really produce the venom of the past.

We all change through the years and sometimes we grow together and sometimes apart. The level of shame the other person feels does not affect us one way or the other. With the program I can accept that we all doing the best we can with what we have. The other person’s pain does not help our recovery. In my heart I knew that something was missing and ultimately God did for me what I could not do for myself.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Letting Go-Just Sleep On It

The other day I saw a pickup truck transporting a mattress folded in half. I had to laugh because it reminded me of once in my 20's my husband and I were given a mattress and we folded it and put it in the hatch back of my car. We were excited about having something new, we were so broke at the time and sleeping on a mattress furnished by the landlord. What we didn't realize is that the fold was permanent. We were miserable we tried both sides one way we rolled towards each other and the other we had to hold on for dear life. We slept like a burrito for about a year when we finally bought a water bed (this was the 80's). We were young and didn't realize the importance of a good nights sleep. It was free and we were determined to make it work. I thought about how long we suffered before we decided we were ready to let it go.

Today's meeting at the beach was about letting go, this seems to be an on going theme for me right now. How long am I willing to suffer now before I let go? That depends on how bad I want things to go my way. Someone said at lunch today that they get trapped in the question of whether they have done all the necessary foot work before letting go. I could relate to that and how many times I think maybe I should do just one more thing before I give it to God. Does he really need my help? Today I am choosing to let it go and not to sleep on it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Step Two-Came to Believe

Step Two- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

What this means to me is that it is possible, it doesn't mean that it has happened yet. In my case this process is long and painful. I have to wallow in the mess admit that I have a problem and then believe that I can't fix it. As long as I think I can find a solution on my own I don't need help. When I am exhausted and I have come to a place of acceptance of my powerlessness I am ready to accept help. I just have to be ready and believe that I will some day be restored to sanity. What to do while I am waiting is the hardest part. I am an action person and I can quickly start thinking of possible solutions and I then have to go back to Step One. This is the insanity and why I have to believe that only a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. All I have to do is believe this is possible.

I have been waiting to be restore to sanity for almost two years and it has been the most painful period of my life. Until recently I didn't believe that I would ever be restored to sanity. I have had more difficult times in the past but I would escape by burying the pain in my work and the rest of the time I would sleep. This time those solutions didn't work for me. I was left to face the pain wide awake. Most of the time I felt like I was an alien visiting from another planet. In the past month I have seen glimpses of sanity and that has helped me to believe that it is possible.

Today's reading in Courage to Change talks about growing at your own pace and this growth cannot be forced no matter how bad we want to move ahead. I have accepted this time of my life as part of God's plan for me. The pain will pass and with the help of the steps and my friends in the program I will emerge stronger than ever. I am only ask to believe.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Home alone today. I gave myself the day off today. This isn't an easy decision for me. Being alone with my thoughts can work against me but I am feeling stronger today. After last weeks dip it has taken me this long to have to courage to write. I haven't shared my blog with anyone I know yet. This is my own insecurity that I might not measure up so I have stayed anonymous. There is nothing that my friends from the program do not know about me. But somehow this seem different. Feeling safe to share my inner most thoughts and feeling with people I trust is part of my recovery. After being shut down emotionally for so many years having the courage to put myself out there is still an on going challenge. When I go to meetings and hear other people being so honest about where they are in their recovery it makes me realize that I am not alone. There is comfort in knowing that we are all on the same journey and looking for acceptance and comfort along the way.

Last night during a meeting someone said that they realized that however they were feeling wouldn't last forever. Good or bad this too shall pass. My life has radically changed over the past two years and I have had to face a lot of uncertainty and the fear that goes along with that. These feelings have overwhelmed sometimes to a point that I felt paralyzed with depression. In the past few months I have felt like I have just awakened from a coma. I am still trying to figure what happened in my absence and accepting that this is my new life. I wouldn't go back if I could but a clean slate can be daunting. Hearing that this too shall pass gave me the comfort I needed to face another day. Life is always changing and we never stay in the same place for long.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dumpster Diving

I seems no matter how much time has passed that the mind can always bring up old feelings of loss. After yesterdays posting I was feeling down and couldn’t really figure out why. After talking it over with a friend and telling him about my blog entry I started to get a little overwhelmed. It was a painful time in my life giving up that marriage and the dream of happily ever after. I have moved on in many ways since that time but I can look back and have compassion for the person I was then. I can look at how far I have come and accept that I did the best I could. Just like today I am doing the best that I can. I have to admit even now sometimes I think that it would easier to be emotionally shut down. But today I have support of my friends in the program and deal with my emotions as they surface. I know shutting down isn't option for me anymore. Back then it helped me cope with the pain of my life. Now I can put up with an occasional dumpster dive it is better than living in one.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Step One-The first time

Step One- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable.

I came to my first Al-Anon meeting through the recommendation of my counselor I didn’t really even know that I was fighting the disease of alcoholism. All I knew was my husband had left me after 9 years of marriage and I had to do something about it. When she brought up the possibility that alcohol played a part in my situation I didn’t really believe her. The alcoholics of my childhood didn’t have jobs. Sure he drank but so did all his friends and they were happily married. At this point I thought I was not powerless and if I could figure out what it was that he needed I could fix it. So I started scheming I tried everything you can imagine and to my surprise nothing worked. He would reach out to me sometimes and this would give me hope but when I reached out to him he wasn’t interested. This made me crazy and I would like to say I gave up and ran to Al-Anon and embraced the 12 steps, but I wasn’t powerless yet. Alcoholism was so final and I wanted proof so I tested the theory. I would have him meet me at restaurants that didn’t serve alcohol and study him. He was noticeably agitated and would say this place would be great if they served beer. The last of these meetings he said I know you’re mad, why don’t you just punch me. You heard right. I have never punched anyone before or since but took him up on it. I knocked the wind out of him and I am a small women and he was a big man. My life had become unmanageable and I knew it.

I did eventually attend that first meeting. As you can tell from the story above it is clear that by the time I got there I couldn’t deny that I was powerless and that my life had become unmanageable. I was spiritually bankrupt and the ups and downs of dealing with the effects of alcoholism had taken its toll on me. I don’t really know if whether my ex-husband was or is an alcoholic but, I do know he was an adult child of an alcoholic and that alcohol had affected our lives. This was my first experience with the Step One but not my last.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting Started

Waiting for perfection, that is what I have always done. This does nothing but give me time to let doubt seep in and then the inevitable critical voice in my head starts talking. This is a blog about letting go and I am starting with letting go of this blog and whether I have anything to share worth reading. I am willing and I am letting go of the outcome.

Since I came to Al-Anon I have had to let go of a lot of thoughts, behaviors and people that weren’t good for me anymore. Some were by choice and some with HP prying my fingers away one by. In this blog I will share parts of my story of how the steps of Al-Anon have transformed me and my life forever. Some of what I share will be from conference approved (sanctioned officially by Al-Anon) literature and some will be from other literature sanctioned by me. Take what you like and leave the rest. I will of course share my own experience, strength and hope. It is my intention that this blog will keep me focused on the program and let others know that through the steps there is hope for those living with the effects of alcoholism.