Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Self Awareness - I can save myself from myself

I have written several new post since my last entry apparently they were just for me because I decided to pitch them. I remember and old comedian that would tell a bad joke and say I just threw that one in for myself.

I wanted to share about something I discovered that I read from a book on personality types. But when I started writing it became too wordy, imagine me too wordy, so I decided to give it a rest.

I have always been passionate about self-discovery and started my search at 13 with Linda Goodmans Sun Signs. In my pentecostal family this might as well have been a how to book on devil worship. I hid my book, purchased in secret with my own money, under the mattress of my bed. Of course I was caught and punished immediately. This just fueled my desire for another one, what a surprise.

My most recent discovery, about a 1,000 self help books later is on Enneagrams. As I read about myself The Artist introverted, self absorbed (my words) and constantly looking for reasons why I am the way I am I had an awakening. It gave versions of healthy, average and unhealthy. Unhealthy was when a person turns inward and retreats to find answers and becomes lost and isolated. Despair sets in and they feel there is no turning back. They start beating themselves up when they realize they created the mess they are in.

It also said this personality developed in this way because as a child they did not relate to either parent. Because of this they created their own world and had to discover who they were on their own using their imagination. Basically they live there, this sounded familiar to me. This ultimately set up a pattern of going inward for resolution instead of seeking outside sources for feedback.

You might think, what is the big deal? Lately I have been headed down a darker road and I couldn't understand why. I just can't function. Nothing has really changed. My life isn't fun but so what it has been worse. The phrase that made something click was, once they start to turn away from others they are going the wrong way.

It is a habit created by necessity as a kid living with dysfunction compounded by the death of my mother. I can see it now and choose something different even if it feels completely counter intuitive. I can save myself from myself.

So I am getting back out there. I will have to see what I can find to occupy my mind in more healthy ways. I am not a puzzle to be solved. I don't regret my nine months away but it has served its purpose and I am ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.

I went with a friend yesterday to the movies and then for a walk on the beach. We finished the day at Cracker Barrel. I went home and worked on some long over due paperwork.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Catching up

I watched three tiny birds at the shoreline yesterday running along together. One would get distracted by a quick bite and fall behind. The others would speed along until they got distracted and then the first would catch up.

It made me think about how sometimes we are on the journey with others and sometimes we fall behind and our friends move ahead without us. We might catch up we might not. At the moment I have fallen behind.

I made a decision to put some distance between myself and the office and took an extra couple of days off. Yesterday I decided to just get in my car and go. I ended up at a small fishing town near the beach. I went to a couple of antique shops and then had lunch at an open air restaurant. On my way home I stopped and sat on the beach for a couple of hours.

My head is clearing I am getting some perspective where I have been. Just how far down I have gone and just how self destructive my thoughts have been. My emotions were so strong that I couldn't override them with logic, the way I use to. I thought what I was feeling was fact.

Logically I knew this was triggered by losing my place in life. Losing a relationship that I thought would last a lifetime. Having to move from a home I thought I would live in for the rest of my life and then the economy tanking and putting my own earning power in jeopardy. It was all too much. I couldn't adapt and my body panicked and responded with instant early menopause.

So it is understandable that I have fallen behind. I still can't imagine that I will ever feel safe or happy again. This is why I know I am not out of the woods yet. They say fake it until you make it and for today that is what I intend on doing.

It feels like I have been in this place forever. My friends have moved on at my request. I have worn them out and I have worn myself out being stuck for what seems like an eternity.

I will catch up at some point. One day this all will be a distant memory. The thought of being like this forever is too much.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can I love myself? Character defects

I get a chance to face my character defects over and over again until I can really see them the way other people see them. It is possible to get rid of character defects but not until I can actually see them for myself.

In my sick thinking in order for me to justify my existence I must feel that I am working towards improvement. To do this I must compare myself to others and point out their shortcomings in order to feel better about myself. It isn't as a simple as your bad and I am good it is more, see how hard I am working and how far I have come compared to you.

My best days, which are not as often as I would like, I can say no matter what my best for today is good enough and so is yours. Seems simple, but it is not. I am hardly ever good enough for myself. The ultimate critic the one that thinks I should be further along is always saying I should be more understanding more patient with others or even myself.

Is it not enough to just be a living human being a child of God to warrant being on this earth? You got to contribute there are standards but mostly the ones set by the voice in my head. Sure society expects certain things but really it is my own standards that make me the most crazy.

I can be hear myself right now saying you should be working not writing a blog entry. When the truth is I haven't had more than three days off in a row for almost two years and maybe I would be more productive if I could step back and take a big sigh.

That is not going to happen so I bribe myself by taking these moments to write so I can face what needs to be done the rest of the time.

My best for today has got to be enough for me. In my mind my existence can't be based solely on production. I know this belief comes from my childhood and it has served me well in many ways but I need balance and I need to occasionally let myself off the hook.

I have to love myself despite what I see as my flaws. I have to be compassionate for the child within that needs the compassion. This for me is how all the steps work together. They help us discover our true selves with all the flaws and then we learn to accept and love ourselves just as we are.

When we can do this we can love others just as they are because we are humbled by discovering our own shortcomings. If we can love our own shortcomings we don't need to judge others for theirs. We can open our hearts and understand how we are all the same just trying to make through every day.

I guess I should go back to work now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stuck - Delta Dawn

I woke up this morning singing that old song Delta Dawn...what's that flower you have on could it be a faded rose from days gone by. Where did that come from? Does it mean anything or is it just a short in my brain.

It is a sad song about a woman stuck in the past wishing and waiting for an old love to come back. ... Did I hear you say he was meeting you here today to take you to his mansion in the sky... Is he dead? This could be a long wait.

I have been that woman many times and I can go there pretty quickly when I look too closely at where I am now. Right now I am at work sitting in a pile of endless details. Alone no customers and nothing the least bit interesting to work on.

It is life. It is being an adult and it is what I am not getting paid to do right now. The not getting paid, doesn't help with the motivation factor. Today life seems like an endless series of monotonous tasks. I am a child today wanted to be entertained.

Let's get back to Delta Dawn. The belief that only one person or one thing will make you happy is a tragedy if the possibility of getting that thing is slim to none. It is a self made prison the longing for what was or could have been. Do you really know it would be happily ever after or maybe worse than you could ever imagine.

I knew a Dawn once she was in recovery. When we met she and I had an instant connection. She was a part my life for awhile and then she slipped away without a word. Sometimes life is like that. Those of us in recovery are the healthiest of the sick people. But it doesn't mean there isn't still plenty of work to do.

I still miss her an hope she is happy where ever she is today. I feel better with a little writing under my belt and maybe I can now tackle a few mundane chores.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Life can be really squirrely

There is a lot you can learn from nature. While waiting for my coffee to brew this morning I watched a squirrel doing crazy loops in the highest of the trees in my backyard. It was from a different angle than usual because I was inside instead of outside.

The tree is about three storeys high and from my perspective it looked like he had lost his mind. Then I noticed something huge in his mouth. I surmised that he was building a nest. I didn't know squirrels have nest but I guess that makes since. The first loop he pulled the branch off the limb. Second loop stripped off the foliage and the third picked another branch.

This all took place in the time it took for my coffee to brew. Before I got my coffee he had wrapped it up and headed down the tree. I thought about how when you are on the outside looking in it may appear that what your watching makes no sense at all. If you are not involved then it is easy to accept that is is none of your business.

What if you are involved? Then what? In the program they say what you think about me is none of my business. This always ticked me off because I thought if you are hurting me then it becomes my business. I had this saying regularly used against me when I was standing up for myself with a recovering alcoholic. It seemed it was used to avoid acknowledging what they were doing was hurting me. The relationship didn't survive.

What I learned was that I may not know the whole story but I do know the part that affects me. All I can do is have the courage to ask for what I need and accept the result. The other person can either address my concerns or not. It may seem at this point I am powerless but I can decide to stay in the relationship and accept things as they are or move on.

I am experiencing this now with my possible business partner. I am deciding what I need to feel secure and happy working together and I am addressing that with her. Lets face it it is a marriage and a long term commitment for us both. Today things are looking better as my mind starts to clear and I know what I want.

I know you are thinking all this from watching a squirrel. What can I say it is just how my squirrely mind works.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Storms - forgivness - choosing my thoughts

I watched another baby squirrel fall a few minutes ago. He scrambled away. I guess that is the perils of being a squirrel just like being human. Taking your falls and deciding to get over yourself and move on.

I have fallen a lot in my life and by the time I reached the program I was pretty battered by what life had dished out to me. I was desperate and wanted answers. This was the first time I was willing to shut up and listen.

I was still looking for someone to blame for my situation. At first I felt relief because when I got to the program I identified the alcoholic as the source of my excruciating pain. But that didn't help me feel better. In the program I learned that my thoughts and my own actions were the real source of my pain.

We make decisions and with any decision there is consequences. I remember early in the program when no one was giving me much sympathy for the situation I had put myself in. I thought they don't understand me or my suffering. When I realized I had to be accountable for my own life my own feelings I was shocked. It felt awkward to see my life as choices and to see my thought and feelings as choices.

Until then I thought I was hurdling through life and being showered by meteors. I was helpless and powerless. I had to brace myself for the next unknown storm. I always got exactly what I expected to get, more storms.

I am not saying bad things don't happen or that everything is my fault but I do have the ability to at least look at it from a less personal perspective or change the way I think about things. If I just lay down in the middle of the road it increases the odds that I will get run over. Especially if it has happened before.

Once I realized that was not a victim that I was the key player in my life I was overwhelmed with sadness. I did this. I picked this. This is my fault. This is not helpful and only leads to more feelings powerlessness. I can still get there when I am resisting where I am.

The steps gently clear a path to acceptance and forgiveness. Acceptance being important because if I don't acknowledge and accept my own power I feel helpless. I can spend a lifetime waiting for someone to say they are sorry or rescue me from my pain. If I accept my own power to screw things up I can accept the power to make better choices for myself the next time. I can choose to not let the past control my future.

The forgiveness is tricky. Somebody should pay because what happened was wrong and I should be compensated or at least acknowledged for the pain I have suffered. It takes a pretty evolved person to acknowledge their own mistakes and the odds of that coming from a sick or addicted person is slim.

If I stop focusing on getting that ever elusive apology I can move on to what is wrong with me. Which is nothing really. If I step down from my throne of judgement, I can look at myself and everyone else as human. Back to acceptance. I can see I made mistakes and choices that altered the course of my life. On a good day I can just accept that this was the course I was suppose to take because I took it. There are no mistakes just more learning. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.

I can admit my emotional limitations and even admit I have hurt others on my own path an evolved moment. If everyone is just trying to make it using the skills and information they have been given, how can I not just let it go.

Keeping that fire going by living in the past takes a lot of energy and for me those people are not even in my life anymore. The steps don't speak of forgiveness just acceptance. I think that it is because it take the focus off the one thing we can control, ourselves. When we stay in acceptance it slips into forgiveness without us even realizing it.

Every day I have a chance to make a better choice for myself.

I have to say a word about my mother. She wasn't perfect even if over the years I made her into perfection and blamed all that was bad about my life on my father. I could do that because I was eleven when she died. She didn't have as much time to make as many mistakes as my dad did.

She was strict and believed in spare the rod and spoil the child (he didn't). Being ADD this was hard on me. She did her best she loved me and taught me how to be independent. She also taught me to not let other people put limitations on me. I could do anything I really wanted to do.

My life changed the day she died. I have coped by living most of my life in my head. I can see that for the first time today, maybe a gift from mom. I had to entertain myself as a kid and I just continued this as an adult. The constant searching for truth or God and trying to understand myself is like chasing a moving target, but it keeps my mind entertained.

I have been the only person putting limits on me and mainly because I spend so much time in my head. I am starting to just live and let go. There is nothing more to figure out and the past can't define me unless I let it. I can see I am gonna have a lot of free time.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Serenity - Down the toilet

If you want to test your serenity just take on a household repair project.

I decided to take on the repairing the tiles beneath my toilet in my master bath. It is a brand new remodeled bath and I had a leak two years ago after my contractor rigged the connection between the new bathroom plumbing and the original plumbing.

I called a slab leak specialist and they just jack hammered the floor around the toilet without moving it. They fixed the leak filled in the hole and left. I have been looking at it for almost two years.

My ability to fix things was passed down to me by my father. Really what he passed down was patience and not necessarily skill. I have found that repairs are 90% patience, 5% skill and 5% the right tools. So I am at 95% you will have to figure out what 5% is missing.

I said a prayer before I started, I find this sets the tone for any home improvement project. The first test came pretty quickly I couldn't get one on the nuts off the bolt that holds the toilet to the floor. Thoughts of profanity washed over me (maybe thoughts out loud), not a great start. The nut had a burr that was keeping it from coming off. While trying to get it off I cut my finger and started bleeding all over the place.

Once the bleeding stopped I pulled myself together and thought "what would a contractor do?" in my experiece that means brut force which I do not have. I decided to try a socket wrench, it gave me the extra grip I needed. I then rolled the one piece toliet out of the way. This is where the fun really starts, removing the broken tiles. With goggles and a heavy hammer I start wacking the tile and the pieces were flying everywhere. It was exhausting but I was ready to cut the new tiles.

I set up a tiny wet saw I purchased a number of years ago in hopes it would keep me from going somewhere that might have a real wet saw. But the tiles are huge and too much for the little saw and I burned up the motor, after the first cut. Off to Lowes I go.

I am already running out of steam and after loading up the four heavy tiles I was ready to lay down. I called ahead (as only an Alanoner would do) to make sure someone was there to cut them. The guy said he wasn't suppose to cut tiles not purchased there but he didn't mind helping. I seemed that this might actually be the highlight of his day. I thought so until the manager came by and pointed out to him that my tiles weren't Lowes tiles. Niether of us said a thing.

I headed home with my free cut tiles and a new wax ring for the toilet. Feeling pretty happy about the free part I stopped and got a Cheeseburger Happy Meal and some cookies for later. I deserved it for making it this far without a total meltdown. It is not over until it is over.

I dry fitted the tiles. Everything looked good so I mixed up the thin set and troweled it out, I can see the finish line. I am leveling them out when I notice one is way higher than the others. I tried everything before doing what I knew had to be done.

I pulled the tile up and chiseled more of the leveler (not so level) left by the leak guy. Of course I had wet thin set all over me by this time. But it worked the tile was pretty level with the others. I just sat there exhausted feeling sorry that I had no one to share this awful moment with. Oh well maybe next time.

I cleaned up the mess and intended on grouting and putting the toilet back yesterday but when I got up, I couldn't face it. I had to get out of the house. So everything is just sitting there waiting for me to get up enough courage to complete the job. I know the toilet won't be completely level and that will further test my serenity so I decided to wait.

Lately I have been taking care of my house. Cleaning and doing repairs. It is a part of accepting my life as it is. Not thinking about the past. Yesterday was my ex's birthday, so maybe I was thinking a little bit about the past.

Just for today I am far enough along that I can trust the process and know I will be happy again sooner or later. I am hoping sooner. I use to fill time with the next task but I have changed. I do get things done eventually and even if it takes two years, like the tiles, I will get it done. Who cares anyway? Just me, when the untreated Alanon in my head decides to speak up, this happens when I am too tire to fight back.

I didn't finish the job. I lost my motivation yesterday I was physically tired and needed to rest. The voice of loneliness crept into my head for a few hours. I thought about what I have lost and wondered if I will be alone for the rest of my life. The birthday tigger I think.

I decided I needed a diversion. I drove to the movies and saw the only adult film that started a 4:00. Watering the Elephants. I read the book and thought the book was a little slow. The movie was good and set in a time of the depression. It helped me to put my life into perspective. It ended at 6:55 and I headed to a meeting.

I ended the day watching the tube and munching on a bag of animal crackers shaped like circus animals. I know my life will change because nothing stays the same good or bad.

Monday, May 2, 2011

For Pete's Sake

I was reading a CS Lewis The Great Divorce and came across a line that said for peace sake. I stopped and thought Granny has done it again.

As I have written before my grandmother taught me all kind of sayings that were her version for example. If wishes were horses we would all go for a ride and two peas in a pot. Now I guess I need to add for Pete's sake. I always wondered who Pete was.

I guess for peace sake is appropriate today. The more spiritual I become the less political I become. I can't see the big picture and why there is so much suffering in the world. I can only try not to personally do harm to another myself and pray for those that protect us for a living. We all do our best with the circumstances handed to us and I know for myself many times even my best wasn't good enough.

Thinking about the news last night I had this thought. A distorted mind came up with a tiny hateful idea and then with time and money sold this idea to others with fear and hate in their hearts. Hateful ideas feed on fear and fear can be a powerful emotion. Suddenly a tiny hateful idea in one person's mind has morphed into a tragedy. A tragedy that effects a whole planet. One tiny hateful idea in one person's mind.

Will this be closure for the families or the nation or will it just bring the past back into the present for everyone. Giving the power back to the fear and hate.

I pray that this will bring healing for those that need it and this will not ignite more hate in the hearts of those that live by hate and fear.

For peace sake.