Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Little Miss Mary Sunshine - You gotta get up

I had an early appointment this morning with a client and had to get up at 6 am this morning. I have been a night owl since birth and have never been able to go to sleep early or get up early. My parents added to this by keeping us out late for church revivals. In the day they called us holy rollers and the quality of the service was gauged by the hours at the alter.

So getting me up in the morning as a child was a quite a task. I was what you would call strong willed, but my mother was also strong willed and had a particularly annoying routine to get me up. First it started with a loving kiss and a gentle shake and then she would starting singing. You gotta get up, you gotta get up, you gotta get up in the morning. This would have been accompanied by a bugle but luckily we only had a piano in the house. Then things got ugly the covers would be pulled off the bed and the final straw a cold wet wash clothe on the face.

I remember always being tired as a kid and for most of my adult life going against the tide. Some of first jobs I had to be at work by 6 am. The career I have now is the first that actually coincides with my natural sleep patterns and I am never tired.

I don't know why thoughts of my mom came up this morning. I guess I was thinking some things never change. Some things do they don't call us holy rollers any more we have been elevated to charismatics. I use to feel guilty about being so head strong and giving my mother such a hard time but, the truth is, I would have never survived her death and the things that happened after that without that particular character defect.

I need a nap now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Men on the Roof - Pay now or pay later

It is noisy today I am getting a new chimney because I have a leak. I hate spending money, I don't have, on something I will never see. I could ignore the a problem but it will catch up with me in the end.

I have done a lot of that in the past and this very thing came up in my writing yesterday. I was home doing chores and decided to do a little writing while having lunch on the porch. I am analytical to the bone and my writing strayed to why my relationships ended after so many years together, more 4th step work.

I was thinking that when a relationship last long enough that eventually something significant will happen that shakes the foundation of the relationship. The assigned roles change and it is whether both partners are committed enough and can adapt to the change that the relationship can survive.

In the case the first relationship it did not survive me losing my job. It was before the program and my identity was tied up in my job first and then my relationship. I went in to deep depression and ended up losing both. We were young and my husband couldn't cope without me not controlling every part of our lives. He retreated to alcohol and ultimately to another woman. I was too wrapped up in my own pain to see what was happening.

By the time I got into the next relationship I had 3 years of Al-Anon under my belt and felt more balanced and then I lost my job (I now work for myself). I decided to change careers and went back to school. We had worked together and this was a big part of our relationship with my career change I was no longer a part of the corporate world. We drifted and when my in-laws moved to town we spent less and less time alone together. In the end we were strangers on my worse days I blame myself sometimes for not seeing this until it was too late.

I say all this because it helped me to see what was missing in those relationships and why not facing a situation head on is a pattern for me. I realize first that you can't be both sides of a relationship and you can't know what will happen to change the course of a relationship. So I am looking for a communicator that is committed to at least talking about problems. It is easier to just pretend it is not happening but in the end it is no less painful.

So just like the leaky chimney I could have waited and had it patched, but sooner or later I would have to address the problem and it would only get worse. So I opted to take care of it now so I can stay dry.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moon Shot - Finding Peace

I was sitting in my car last night at the beach eating a hot fudge sundae. It was windy but peaceful. I always feel compelled to take a picture of the full moon and it always looks like a black piece of paper with a hole in it.

I spent the evening expanding my spiritual horizons and it seemed appropriate to go down to the water and commune with nature. I was not alone in that thought a lot and it was pretty busy for a late night at the beach.

After the sundae I got out of my car and stood in the wind. Something significant has changed inside of me and I feel a new kind of peace. The struggle to understand the journey I am on and to what I should do next has been replaced by acceptance. I have done everything in my power to get here quicker but nothing worked, so giving up and letting go was all I had left. Suddenly it has all come together and I found exactly what I have been longing for, peace.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Unfinished Business

Yesterday a group of friends from the program gathered at a nursery that is closing to clear out the remaining plants. The daughter of someone in the program started the nursery 6 months ago and basically her and her boyfriend spent weekends partying instead of tending to the business.

Most of us that have been in the program have experienced a similar situation at one time or another. I can remember the grandiose ideas my husband had when we were first married it would always involve money we didn't have and hard work. I couldn't resist his enthusiasm and I wanted him to be happy and successful, so I went along. This happened over and over again and eventually the resentment, among other things, destroyed us. I used shame and guilt and anything I could to force him to be a good husband because this would prove he loved me.

When he left the house was full of unfinished projects. I know now this is part of the disease of alcoholism and the lure of the drink is too great. When things got boring or too hard the drinking would take priority and I think a way to drown out the guilt.

He was not alone in this disease, I also had unfinished business I felt like I was not enough and if I was a better wife I could make this marriage work. I spent my time finishing his projects and not taking care of my own. I was so focused on him that I was no longer me and ultimately became the walking dead. I was depressed and catatonic and a joy to live with. After he left I spent a year just working and sleeping.

Luckily he encouraged me to get counseling, he said I had a real problem and he was right. The counselor sent me to Al-Anon for support between visits. I just showed up that was all I could do in the beginning. I followed the rules and got myself a sponsor who saved my life, quite literally. I didn't want to be alive with the kind of pain and loss I was feeling. She was patient with me and my never ending sadness and would tell me I was enough and that no one worked harder than I did to get better.

I am grateful today for the pain back then and even now (now that it is over). Pain is a great motivator and helps to keep growing and learning about myself. I am a long ways from being perfect but I am enough for me now and I never thought I could feel that way. The journey continues.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Seeing the past without emotion

So I went to dinner with my former boss and her husband and it was really was really good to see her. She admitted that she had been hurt when our friendship didn't continue after she was forced to change jobs. I made the choice to explain what was happening from my point of view but with no excuses and no apologies.

It was a time in my life that I was coming into my own and really discovering who I was personally and professionally and I didn't think she was in a place to accept that. She had been my mentor and I her subordinate. I made that judgement and truthfully it was easier on me to avoid dealing with her. In the program I learned JADE I don't have to justify, argue, defend or explain if I don't want to, so I didn't back then.

I did say that it wasn't about her at the time and I said I didn't mean to hurt her. I was wrapped up in my own life and did what I had to do. It goes back to it is not personal just like when she was constantly angry with me at work I learned that it wasn't really about me.

When I got home the reviewing of my life and everything that has taken place since then did actually bring up some tears. Everything that I thought I would last at that time has ended. The career, the relationship even where I live. It is hard accepting that nothing stays the same. It all turns out for the best in the end and I am starting to feel that again in my life. The past three years has kicked my butt and left me with nothing but faith that the future will be brighter.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Forest For The Trees

I a taking a break from my day here at work to do a little writing. Writing calms my nerves and I have felt really scattered today with everyone in the office. We work independently but when we are all here somehow decisions we would make on our own are brought up for discussion.

It is good to get feed back but it is a real time sucker and it breaks my concentration. My job requires a lot of focus in the beginning and if I make a mistake I won't know until the project starts months from now. So I usually wait until I am focused to tackle the big stuff but lately it seem that that time never comes and the days are slipping by and this makes me anxious.

What I have learned over the years is to is to trust myself I wouldn't put something off if somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I could. Even when I was at my lowest the customer never suffered and I never missed a deadline. So I have to trust the process and my higher power that the pieces will fall together and even if they don't it will be OK.

Tonight is the dinner with my ex-boss, I am feeling calm and I am looking forward to seeing her an her husband. So even if my day is full of trees I can sit back and imagine the forest and start again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flash From The Past

I have recently re-connected with my first boss. I found her husbands email address while looking looking at our cities website. We have set up lunch twice and we both had to reschedule. When she canceled the first time she sent me an email and I didn't respond quickly enough and she called my cell and said "you did not answer my email". The tone really sent me back and I felt like I still worked for her.

She was not easy to work for, she is one of us, and grew up in an environment that made her have serious trust issues and she was possibly the most controlling person I ever met. When I first got in the program, I used what I learned, to face her every day. I learned that her anger and mistrust had nothing to do with me and that I should not take it personally. Sometimes that was very difficult. Working for her also taught me that you can easily lose sight of how others perceive you and when your caught up in your own sickness to use caution when dealing with others.

My first year on the job, she picked me out of a department of 30 to start and new department. I was promoted by her twice that same year and later when she left I became the manager over that same department. It had grown to 70 employees over a ten year period. So she was pivotal to my career and I give her credit for seeing the possibilities in me.

I also give myself credit for the hard work and long hours I put in to become a good manager. It was really Al-Anon that gave me the tools to work with her and to also be a firm but compassionate manager. Before the program I managed more with an iron fist than with understanding.

I left the industry and I am doing what I love. I still manage, but now it is projects and customers. She has retired and we are scheduled for dinner tomorrow night. I will keep you posted.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just Being There

I spent the day at the movies yesterday with a friend who is experiencing a lot of emotional pain and is not sure where to go from here. I wanted to do something and felt helpless standing on the sidelines but we all have to do whatever it takes to move through the pain.

I think it is part of the recovery process. You realize you are not the person you thought you were and then you start to question everything. The question, who am I and what do I really want from my life starts an inner dialogue that can't be easily silenced. At first it felt like freedom to know that I could do what I needed to do for myself and then fear crept in because I didn't know who I was without those limited views.

So it takes time and we just want it to pass quickly but there is no way to get away from ourselves and nobody can help us through it and that is uncomfortable for everyone. We want to do something, we are doers in this program and fixers but we can't fix anyone except ourselves and sometimes we can't even do that.

Step Two says Came to believe a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanitiy. So all we can do is be there for those making the journey, wait with them comfort them just be there.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Seeing Clearly

I went to visit a friend last night who hasn't seen me since my timeout started over a month ago. We are not extremely close so she can be a little more objective in her feedback. She is very spiritual and has a lot of insights on the emotional states of others.

She took one look at me and said I was changed. I knew this but the validation was good knowing that it showed. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled starts off the book with "Life is difficult". I don't know if it is true for everyone, but for me I apparently have to take the hard road. I can only surmise that it is because in order to survive what life has dished out I learned to dig in deep. I resist the truth about myself and whatever situation that I don't want face. My subconscious continually reveals the truth in subtle ways and sometimes not so subtle ways until I am at such odds with myself I can't function. When the pain becomes so great, I stop resisting and relief and freedom follow.

This has happened to me over and over again. It is how I learn. I can now step back and start making plans for my life. Everything is changed now. What do they say in the program, it works if you work it and even sometimes if you don't.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Finding Peace

These are strange times, some say worse than ever. I am not sure I believe that it is worse than it has ever been. I think that with the media we get minute by minute details that past generations weren't bombarded with.

I try to stay away from the negative spewing provided by the media and don't really believe that listening to it provides a path to peace. Sometimes it can unearth the truth about us and our prejudices as in the case of Katrina. It also can bring us together as in the case of 9/11.

Today makes me think about the sacrifices made by a few to support the many. I have experienced loss and know the effects can be far reaching. I can't imagine how those affected personally by 9/11 must feel today or the families of the soldiers lost in the war it started. I can only relate it to my own experience with loss and grief and the pain that I thought would never end.

The pain does eventually end but you never get over the loss completely, everyone around you goes on with their lives and you are left with the emptiness a one wish to feel normal again.

I am finding peace in my own life today and pray that those struggling will find peace for themselves.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wanting More-Acceptance

I have been in a place of doing some thinking about character defects and wondering whether wanting more is a character defect. A friend of mine would say I think too much and there is nothing to figure out. I would say that dismissing all contemplation is a way of not dealing with what is really going on. Pretending to be happy has never worked for me it.

Act as if, isn't that what we say in the program. I have a problem with that because that is what brought me here in the first place, pretending that everything is fine and going about my business and not paying attention to the reality of my life.

So I am looking for balance, somewhere between that deep hunger for a real purpose in my life and feeling like, what is the point? My search for the holy grail is always just below the surface, it is only when I pile on the distractions that I feel relief from my quest. This is who I am, the wanting more part, being fully engaged and working towards the greater good. My character defect is that I am never satisfied with what is, I always can see what could be.

I watched a special on happiness last night and they said that humans have a capacity to adapt to anything unless they feel they have some control over the situation. If they accepted the situation as out of their control they could move on and be happy but as long as they felt something could or should be done about it they were stuck.

So to me peace is in acceptance of what is and this goes against my natural approach to life. I think this is why I stay stuck is my lack of acceptance and my inability to lean into life when things aren't going my way. I think it is my responsibility to do something which makes me feel pressure.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Words said and un-said

I had dinner with a friend in the program yesterday and a lot of heavy things came up for us both. I don't feel like I am really in a place to help any one right now, because I have taken a time out from my personal life including the program, but the emotions that surfaced yesterday made me realize that experience of others is a great teacher.

She was talking about some of the mistakes she made with her oldest daughter and how she openly favored her youngest daughter because she was easier to manage. This bought up my own experience of not being important to my family and how clueless we can be about the effects we have on others.

We all have experienced pain and have inflicted pain either with our words or lack of words and sometimes in our actions or lack of action. So what can be done to rectify the situation sometimes when decades have passed? How can we find a way to make amends and to forgive ourselves for things that we did knowingly or unknowingly?

Acknowledging what we have done is part of the 4th step inventory and part of the process of forgiving ourselves and realizing we were humans and as humans we weren't just victims but victimized others. This is why making amends has its on step and the key to healing our own wounds and the wounds of others. It was hard for me to accept that I wasn't just a victim but that my controlling angry sharp tongue had hurt the one person in my life I was trying to bring closer, at that time my husband.

Having empathy for others was something I didn't really know existed when I arrived in the program. I thought everyone should just suck it up because that was my experience. No one cut me any slack and I managed. My thinking was brutal towards myself and towards others. They needed to just get their act together. I really needed that first inventory to see how I also had done harm to others and start the healing process for myself.

About the unsaid, I waited my entire life for my father to acknowledge that he hurt me or worse ignored my existence and those words never came. He told my sister that he wished he had done things differently. Hearing those word would have made a huge difference to me without the words I spent my life speculating and not knowing and believing that I didn't really mean that much to him.

Before he died I did meet with him briefly to try to understand where he was coming from and what I got from that meeting was that he did love me. I also realized he wasn't capable of putting that emotion out on the table. So the words were left unsaid but I got what I needed in the realization he was also a victim and human.

I still have problems and realize that this is a journey without a real destination. I can only be who I am today and hope with the help of Step 10 that I don't get too far behind.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Step Four

Step Four- Made a searching an fearless inventory of ourselves.

I have done a couple of 4 th steps and someone ask me recently to do a 4 th step with them and I had to think about what that really means. In the meetings it sounds so scary, some dreaded leap into the unknown, who knows what will happen after that.

I was lucky my first sponsor was more like I am now, no rigid rules or leaps in the dark. Just the fact that we say work the 4 th step tells you something. It is my opinion that our number one character defect is that we think anything worthwhile must be difficult. It is why we envy those in the other program that want to just make everything fun. Life is not fun we only feel validated when we have done the work.

So the 4Th step is just one more thing to beat ourselves up over. I have to do my 4th step, I have to do it perfectly and it has to be scary. This why it is scary. For me the first time I didn't have the energy to add one more difficult thing to my to do list. So my sponsor told me to write my story.

So I wrote all the details of all the wrongs that had been done to me and then we talked about. What my part in the story was and whether I had any control over what happened. Some things I did and some things I didn't. I read it years later and realized it was from a child's point of view. The 4th step for me is about uncovering our limiting thoughts and beliefs, especially the emotional immaturity (I am still working on that). I am always responsible but not always mature.

The second time I used the Blue Print for Progress and re-wrote my story. The book is not inspiring to me and feels very clinical. I think the 4 th step is about taking the mystery out of our defects and seeing that we needed them to get through the painful times in our past. It is also about realizing we aren't just defects we have many assets. I didn't believe that I had any assets in the beginning. The alcoholic would have never left me if there wasn't something wrong with me.

So 4th step work can be like anything else you can make it hard or you can try it a different way. There is no right or wrong way to do it, take what you like and leave the rest.