Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tug of War - With myself

I am little burnt out right now. I know this because I keep letting things slip through the cracks that I shouldn't. I am not my usual creative self and for some reason can't force myself to keep working.

It is good to be busy but I haven't been able to restore myself. I was thinking that going to my sister's house would give me an excuse to forget about work but since I didn't go that didn't happen.

Yesterday I had a tug of war with my inner child who refused to go into work. The adult in me refused to find something fun to do. At an impasse I sat paralyzed. I kept thinking if I catch up on my work I can get some relief from the stress I am feel right now. In my heart I knew this was not going to happen when the kid in me digs in no work that will be done.

So I sat there for a couple of hours refusing to work and refusing to have fun. I finally broke the stalemate between me and me and went to the movies.

I got in my car and just drove straight to the movies without any idea what was showing. Arriving a 1PM I had three choices Twilight, Hugo 3D and Anonymous. I opted for Hugo I figured it would be a little less stimulating than the others.

It is not really a kids movie. It was visually very interesting and the characters were likable for sure. It was a little slow and very quiet I couldn't imagine kids sitting through the whole thing. Even one couple in our theater just started having a conversation. I didn't care the kid in me was just happy I wasn't working.

It is probably progress to see that I really need a break right now. In the past it was easy to get lost in my work. It was all that I knew and didn't have much experience with joy or fun. I am working to find some balance now.

The truth is what I do most of the time doesn't feel like work. I still need a break though to get my creative edge back but the timing isn't good for that now. I will do my best and God will have to do the rest.

Picture from:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today is the day

So this is it, the day I got dumped four years ago. Sometimes it seems like a million years ago and sometime like last week. I am over the bulk of the emotions but today there is something simmering just under the surface.

I was feeling quite good last night alone reading some new art books I picked up and watching my new favorite show Parenthood. The perfect couple having a fight he was talking and trying to use reason and she was in her own head not listening and talking herself.

We never fought, this is not a sign of a healthy relationship. A lot can go on between the lines when there is not arguing. Relationships can die from disinterest or apathy. I really can't tell you exactly what happened. Not that I was without fought because I let sleeping dogs lie.

I did for a long time try to keep the lines of communication open but I grew tired of using my interviewing skills to get the emotional temperature of our relationship. I always got I am fine we are fine and why do you always ask me that?

I stopped asking and put the focus back on myself and let it go. I guess without my efforts to keep us tethered together the relationship failed. Just like any long term relationship we go into a routine that made us feel safe and secure. That routine ultimately turned to boredom and killed the relationship. Secure but dead.

Along comes someone that is new someone that thinks your the best thing since sliced bread. Your a star again the apple of someones eye irresistible perfect in every way. How can you resist that? So you start seeing the flaws in the person you have committed your life to and all the reasons why you shouldn't be together. You made a mistake and now your long lost love has finally showed up. This is your one chance for happiness so you got to be free and you lower the boom.

The day before Thanksgiving. You didn't plan it like that it wasn't on purpose. It slipped out, I love someone else. Maybe the alcohol was to blame but maybe it is just an excuse because you want to start living the life you have always wanted. So what if you are going to ruin the holiday for the family. You got to get the ball rolling. It is all about you after all.

So that is how it all came down. Of course I don't really know the thinking that was going on at the time and I will never know. As you can imagine I tried to get answers but I never got them. There is no talking to the dead and that is what it felt like.

We stayed in the house together for the next few days. There was no Thanksgiving dinner even though most of it I had already cooked. It all sat out until it wasn't fit to eat. I couldn't look at it or touch it. It was spoiled just like the relationship.

I went into shock that night and didn't come out of it until a few months ago. In the beginning I summoned all my courage and all my friends and to take care of the necessities. In 60 days I packed, bought a house and moved.

My heart is heavy while I write this I can feel the pain of those 60 days. Life is not fair and you can't make someone love you or even talk to you if they don't want to. I never got the answers that I needed in order to heal faster.

It was harsh it was thoughtless the way it all went down. But it is the past and I am becoming the person I was always meant to be. Every day I feel stronger and more able to face life and my dreams are coming backing. Dreams that I have always had for myself.

I have shed some tears today but that is normal. It was thirteen years of my life. I wasn't happy for a long time in that relationship but I thought it was just me. I had it all in the eyes of others. God does for us what we can't do for ourselves.

Will Thanksgiving ever be the same for me? Who knows I am thankful that it is not four years ago.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Denial - What I am not ready to see - Step 1

I had a long talk with a family member last night and she is in a predicament. She young and her family has been living under the strains of addiction for most of her life. She wants her mother to at least acknowledge whats happening, but she refuses to admit there is a problem.

As they say and elephant in the room. She has reached an age where she can just choose not to come around anymore. To abandon her efforts and her hopes that that things will change. Her older brother has already made the decision to stay away. It is her mothers denial that makes her the most crazy, not the addiction.

I felt like I had to tread lightly because this is my family. I wanted her to know that addiction and denial go hand in hand and any sudden changes in assigned roles within the family can cause a fire storm. Maintaining an atmosphere where someone can continue to use perpetuates the disease. The habit of buffering someone from the reality of their choices just keeps things the same. If she decides to leave then she has to be prepared for upsetting the dynamics of the family situation.

I understand about denial. I was in denial about my husbands addition and how messed up I was from my own childhood. I was dead inside and didn't feel I deserved to be happy. I attracted my equal someone as self-loathing as I was and we were in misery together. I had been in survival mode since I was eight and it was the only life I knew. It was a perfect fit.

I think sometimes you think if you admit something isn't working then you have to be ready to do something about it. Maybe you just aren't ready to do the work. For me I just thought with time things would work themselves out. In the case of my husband they certainly did he packed his bags and left. Talk about being yanked out of denial.

Denial catches up with you or it kills you slowly from the inside. There is no getting around the what is there whether you acknowledge it or not. It is still there and with addiction it doesn't just go away. Even when someone leaves or you leave it has done the damage long before that happens.

Last night I felt I was listening to a sponsee and not someone so close to me. She is analytical and is sure there is a solution to this family problem. I thought there is where the pain comes from believing you can make people see what you see. Not if they are not ready.

So what is next. She wants an intervention where the whole family goes to counseling and airs all the dirty laundry. You have to actually admit you have dirty laundry for that to work.

I suggested counseling for her, someone with experience with addiction. Someone that isn't easily manipulated by a smooth talker with a quick mind. I said, start with yourself and then you can invite your mom to join you. A true Al-anon cannot resist the invitation to help someone else.

I didn't tell her that getting past thinking you personally can solve someone elses addiction is first step towards saving yourself. Admitted we are powerless... You have to experience this for yourself. I searched for a solution until I was exhausted and someone had the good sense to send me to Al-anon and I had the good sense to listen.

The miracle of giving up and focusing on your own emotional health. It is part of healing and taking the spot light off the person with the addiction. It gives you your life back and that is the true miracle.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Psychic - I can predict the future

I had to get up extra early this morning for an appointment 1/2 hour from my house then make it back to the shop and open by 10. I also had another appointment scheduled at 11 that I was feeling like wouldn't go well.

The couple older but newly married doing their first renovation together. He wants to please her and she wants to be pleased. I went to their house last Saturday after a lengthy visit in the showroom. In the showroom he said very little and smiled a lot and when I got to their house he didn't really engage with me at all.

My spidey senses were tingling and I surmised that they wouldn't want to pay for the quality product and finish they selected. I do try to qualify people ahead of time by getting a budget from them and seeing what their expectations are, but with them I didn't. I find that it helps to prepare them for the cost. He just kept saying what ever you want honey as she kept picking the higher priced doors.

I think my ability to read people has helped me in the past, but maybe not. It seems like a good skill, but how do I know? I am just writing them into the story in my head and I could be completely off base. Maybe my egos need to feel I have special powers is really holding me back. Maybe I am just dismissing perfectly good customers on a hunch. Self-full filling prophecy.

The skills I learned as a child to avoid getting in trouble when my mom was sick. Knowing how to test the emotional temperature of the room before asking for something. What would happen if I didn't do that and just went about my own business and stopped using that emotional antenna?

This morning on the ride in I started to project how they wouldn't like my design or the price and I stopped myself. I ask God to let the meeting unfold naturally without me putting my expectation on it. I would do my best without worrying about the outcome.

What a surprise it went very well. They loved my ideas and actually weren't shocked at the price and then added some stuff.

Have I been wrong all my life, that it is an advantage to be able to read people. Maybe I can just wait to see what happens instead of trying to be psychic. It is a hard habit to break.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My first drink - A piece of my story.

I talked to my sister last night and I don't think she was too keen on me coming for Thanksgiving. I didn't take it personally and was actually a little relieved to be free from obligations.

We have had an estranged relationship for many years both suffering alone without each others support. She left for college when my Dad remarried and didn't really stand up for me when the emotional abuse started. This is really behind us now and we both made our amends during our last visit.

I have built my life around the story of being the outsider. That is why I fit in with Al-anon. It feels like a room full of outsiders. I liked alcoholics because they seemed to fit in better than I did.

I realize now that we really aren't that different. I think they drink to fit in and to quiet the same ugly voices that us Al Anoners have.

When I first came to the meetings I was the victim and felt superior to alcoholic in my life, then I felt sorry for him. Then as I matured in the program I really started to see we were the same people. I just didn't have a liquid escape route. I was just as sick without any excuses at all.

I don't know why I am not an alcoholic but I can definitely relate to the need to escape. In the beginning when I attended AA meetings to summoned some empathy, which was in short supply at the time, it made me think about my own first drink.

I was 15 and life was unbearable at home my co-workers at Long John Silvers offered my a ride home. They really wanted me to buy beer because I looked the most mature. I purchased it at Kroger and we drank in the car.

I can still remember now the relief I felt at the moment the pain of my life dissolving away. The stress of trying to make my stepmother happy, she is still not happy. It felt good to let my guard down to fit in just for a few moments.

I don't know why I didn't become an alcoholic. The grace of god I guess, I had plenty of reasons to escape and after leaving home at 16 I had plenty of opportunities to become one.

In my younger years I worked in restaurants where there was free drugs and alcohol for anyone that wanted them. I did drink a lot and dated bartenders and cooks. That is how I met my husband. Once we were married I decided we needed to get out of the business, it was a bad influence on him. This is where my Al-Anon story starts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Filling and killing time

Acceptance is place I want to be these days but I can't seem to get there. The angst I feel has to do with thinking I should be somewhere else other than where I am now in my life.

Isn't this an age old human problem, never being satisfied. It is a luxury I know. If I had to spend my days hunting and gathering I would be too tired to think about what is lacking in my life. But with a protein bar in my stomach and work piling up on my desk I am taking this moment to feel unsatisfied with where I am in my life.

I know this is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude but I am just not there. I really don't want to make a gratitude list or think of all the hungry people in the world. Please don't tell me I need a gratitude meeting.

Don't get me wrong I have am thankful for a lot of things. But I am restless right now and nothing seems to sooth my spirit. Is it because at this time of year everybody seems to have a plan. I use to be the plan maker but I gave up and for that I am grateful. Ok, maybe I should start a a gratitude list. Yuck.

So I am drifting and waiting for these feelings to pass. My greatest fear is they won't and I will feel like this forever. I know I will get over it it is just that time of year for me.

My friend says just accept that I am going to feel crappy until this month is over and she is probably right. So I am riding it out and trying not to take my feelings too seriously.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I don't know you - Heroes and illusions

I watched the end of Face the Nation and they mentioned the scandal at Penn State. I don't keep up with the real world much but the idea of someone held in high esteem doing something so low made think about how we really don't know anyone.

We only know our version of that person who we want to believe they are because that is all we have to work with. When we have heroes we somehow expect them to be better than average instead of worse than average. They are setting the example they are keeping our dream of perfection alive for us and we want to believe everything is exactly as it appears in our own mind.

We are all the same no matter whether our picture appears on the screen or not. We wake up and face the day. We feed ourselves and fill our days trying to get our needs met. Some of those needs are not so healthy and hurt the people we know.

I think about the people who know that something awful is happening and can't bring themselves to tell. I imagine the first thought is, what about me? How will this affect my life my family? They might tell someone or just let it eat away at them. Justifying they need more time to decide what to do.

You might say it is about the money but I think it is more about not rocking the boat and wanting to stay in denial. The bigger you are the bigger the ego and the more you have to lose.

You think you know someone because you work with them or even live with them every day and then you find out they are doing something really bad. You don't want to believe it because in your mind it is out of character. Obviously not since it happened. So you do nothing and hope by magic it stops. Meanwhile more children get hurt.

Lets face it no one likes a whistle blower. History has shown that it is usually the end for them as well as those they have turned in. We don't like our heroes tarnished because we need them to prove there is perfection out there.

In this case there are victims as we all know abuse has been around forever. Is it worse because in our mind we thought he was a hero? Are we mad because we were fooled. There are no heroes just people just like us with wants needs and desires.

We get up each day and listen to the voice. If it is a healthy voice we can do great things and if it isn't we can damage people for life.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Will I be missed? Fat chance

photo by

I have a lot going on in my head these days, so what else is new? The difference is that before when I was down and out I couldn't really feel the emotions. I was in a state of denial and so the emotions were never dealt with in a healthy way.

I was sad and in a lot of pain but it was swirling around constantly I couldn't face what it was really about. I was dumped, after 13 years I was left for someone else blah, blah, blah .... Hey I am not saying it wasn't a big deal it rocked my world. It has taken me four years to come back to the surface.

This week I had a couple of epiphanies. First I took an personality test. I can't help myself I love that kind of stuff more insight. Anyway, my highest score was self-sacrificing, no big surprise really, but what it did say was that that is how I get my fulfillment in life. Anticipating the needs of others is second nature. I give but it is extremely difficult for me to receive.

Two things that stood out to me was that this type of person can be easily overlooked because they are stealth in actions. They do it because it is their nature and enjoy pleasing others. When they are gone they leave a surprising large hole behind. The other thing is that in their personal life they can attract users people that need to be taken care of, not a big surprise. It isn't personal just a good fit.

As a sat on my friends couch, the other night, looking at the street light outside I started to recall the moment of the break-up. What I felt at that moment and tears started flowing, in a good way. I could handle the truth and pain of what happen to me without censoring myself or trying to be brave. It felt like I was in a trance looking at that light and seeing every detail of that moment while the pain drained out of me.

When I love I love big. I put everything into making it work and it is my nature to take care of things and people. The sadness I realized just this week is that it feels like with all that I put into that relationship it didn't matter, I didn't matter.

The sadness is from thinking that I am not missed. That only I suffered from the loss. My own feelings of self-worth is really where this comes from. I don't matter to me.

The truth is I do make a big difference where ever I go. Whenever I put my heart into something, things change for the better. Sometimes in a big way. I was always taught to be humble and God would reward me in the end. Never toot your own horn. Pride goeth before the fall. But it is healthy to know your own self-worth and not depend on outside sources for confirmation. God given talents, right?

The truth is every body makes a difference. Do I think so little of myself that I can't imagine anyone missing me from their lives. I think I just want someone to say so. Fat chance.

I just want some fantasy call that says hey I am sorry I didn't realize just how much you were worth to me. That is not going to happen. I wouldn't be willing to do that either. Pride again. Even now for me to admit there is anything about that relationship I miss, is too much for me.

So will I be missed? I have to know in my heart that the answer is yes. That is what is important for my survival. I bring a lot to the table I commit heart and soul to everything I do. I can't wait for validation that will never come.

I feel so free these days getting the last bits of grief out of my system. I am closer to the person I was at eight before my mother got sick. I can see all of life's possibilities and everything is an adventure. I am going to be ok. I am going to make it.

It has a been a long journey back to my real self and I can't wait to see what is next.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In the weeds

Artwork by

I am writing right now in hopes that it will help me get settled. Things are all over the place and I really in the weeds. I first heard the term when I was in the restaurant business in the 80's. It means when you just can't keep up with the volume of orders coming in.

One of my first jobs was at a golf and country club. I had the breakfast and lunch shift and started work at 7 AM. We were all in our twenties and would stay out all night and come to work still half lit. The room held about 20 tables and within 20 minutes the whole place would fill up.

Breakfast is hard on a waitress (server). What kind of juice? What kind of toast? What kind of meat? How do you want your eggs? Decaf or regular? Hash browns or grits? I remember one time a man ask me three times for ketchup and that night I woke up from a sound sleep and thought, he never got his ketchup.

My roommate worked with me and in the middle of the rush she would sneak off and sleep in the women's locker room. This made me furious and it sent me over the edge when customers ask me if she could wait on them instead of me. One time I told them they could go wake her up that she was in the locker room. It only bothered me.

I have always been an over-achiever in my work life. Self-sacrifice is in my dna and I always loathed people that got away with doing as little as possible. You know the type always leaving early and still being loved by everyone. Flying by the seat of their pants and having so many adoring fans to cheer them on.

If your in Al anon your are probably not one of those people. I know it is just a generalization but this is my post and I can do what I want. The hard working Al-anon has their nose to grind stone and longs to be one of those care free fun loving folks with the cheering crowds. More generalizations.

Since I can't that person I now settle for being near that person. I find that is better to have them as friends than as lovers. One is amusing the other can drain the life out of you and leave you with an empty bank account. I use to worry about how they would make it but I have learned some adoring fan is waiting to help them out. I am glad it doesn't have to be me anymore.

So now I try to have fun myself instead of living through someone else. I can do it, really! Ok, it is still work for me to have fun but I can do it sometimes. I have realized that I am not an extravert or a thrill seekers and I don't really like loud parties.

I like to do things and learn things while I am doing it. I like movies and shows that make me laugh or make me think about the big picture in life. I live in my head and it can be very fun sometimes and more like a horror flick at other times. This is who I am and I don't feel guilty about that anymore.

I have also realized that I like to work. I like to accomplish things and it feels good to see a finished product. I love what I do even if right now I am in the weeds.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate and other therapy

So I have done no work today so far. I had such a great day off yesterday and was so excited I couldn't sleep last night. I got up and roamed around the house looking at all that I have accomplished in the past couple of days. I even commented on a few blogs at 2 AM.

I am foggy today and can't seem to get motivated. When I am in that mode I end up writing. I produced a very dull post and decided to ditch it and try again.

After I spewed forth my weaknesses with Saturday post I got over myself and decided to do something different. I have gotten into the habit of going home every night and curling up in my bed and watching TV. This past week I added to the routine eating Hershey nuggets. Purchased on the slim chance of having trick or treaters. This was unlikely since I didn't turn the light on. This was not a good addition to the routine.

Lets just say a bag of chocolate and millions of hours of TV can bring you to a place where you are having an out of body experience. Luckily I am not clinically depressed so the low really was good for me and I thought to myself, you have to stop doing this. Really I mean it this time.

Saturday after work I ate the last piece of candy and turned the TV off and went to my studio. A few hours later I had three new paintings which I will post if I can figure out how to send them from my IPhone. It is hard to get out of a rut it feels so good so comforting and familiar. But a rut can slowly eat away at you and put on weight on you at the same time.

Sunday I got up and cleaned yet another disaster area in my house and then worked on a puzzle for an hour or two. Very funny puzzle with a million different cartoon characters.

Everything feels right today. I have a job, which I apparently do not want to do today. I have a house that is perfect for me which even has a studio. I am exactly where I need to be today even if I could have used a few more hours of sleep.

Even if I have to stumble back into the past occasionally I don't stay too long. The promises say, we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. I guess it is the only way to see just how far we have come.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Never satisfied - tweaking and breakups

The hard truth I have discovered on the journey of recovery is that I am never quite satisfied. With life, myself or the people around me. Over the years the latter I can usually cut some slack but with myself I never really let off the hook.

When I stumbled upon the 12 steps for the first time they didn't really mean much. I was a zombie in those rooms with pain so heavy that I wonder now how I managed. I had so much baggage that no one could get close to me.

I blamed myself first for not being good enough to keep my marriage from ending. I came there to make myself a better person. I needed to understand why everyone left me. I used the program as yet another way to acheive perfection. Working towards a more lovable and worthy person.

In my mind I was never good enough for the people in my life but I just kept on trying to figure how to be better. Be more like the person they wanted me to be but I failed. Over an over again people left. In my mind where there is smoke there is fire.

Whats wrong with me? My therapists assured me that it wasn't me but secretly I didn't believe them. I had to work harder use my intelligence to root out my flaws. I was constantly trying to improve to shield myself being booted out. No matter what I got the shaft in work and in my personal life. I was replaced with someone more worthy.

I always felt sucker punched. The last time standing eye to eye in the hall me thinking, you got to be kidding me, are you sayings it is over? It was a drunken conversation which gives courage to the lips. I took it from there. You don't want me then I don't want you.

I have been reviewing my story the past couple of days. Both of my significant relationships ended at Thanksgiving. Even though I am over it the little person living in my subconscious brings it up around this time every year.

What is different about me now is that I realize that I can let myself off the hook. I don't have to constantly chisel away what I think is a fault or unattractive. I can be satisfied with the person I am. Really.

What I do know now is that, in the past, I would do anything to be loved. I was controlling the situation and thinking in order to be loved I must be who you want me to be. It was second nature to me. The only time I was true self was when I was alone with nothing to lose. Once I was in love I wanted to make sure nothing changed so I started tweaking myself to suit someone else.

My ex's would probably disagree with last part. This is where the passive aggressive part of me stepped in because the things I did were not authentic they had strings attached. If you didn't acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices (tweaking) I made I shut down or rebelled in subtle ways. Just no fun at all.

Wow, what a confession. I have been a child most of my life. I have acted and reacted in the way a child would. I didn't know better. I was trying to secure the love and security I lost early on. I have been the chameleon that I have accused others of being.

Did I get anything from all the work I have done on myself? The Steps and beyond. The answer is yes. I now have to give of the search for perfection and work on just being happy with myself and what I am doing today.

You can't be who someone wants you to be because you don't live in their head and besides what we want changes minute by minute. So this time I am going to be myself whoever that is today.

It is harder than I imagined being myself. Not looking for others to validate me or give me answers. Learning to do only things for the right reasons. A different kind of tweaking this time one without strings.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I wonder - Live and Let Live

I had a conversation with my sister the other night. She was exhausted and said that she has let everyone in her life know that she can no longer keep up. She has taken responsibility for the lives of everyone she knows and things have gotten out of control.

She is like me and very hard headed and thinks she can influence and possibly help steer other people in the right direction. I wonder if you can really help people or is it just a way to meddle in the business of others. Even with the best intentions is it really my business?

I find it difficult to keep my mouth shut when I see someone clearly heading down the wrong road. Did any one ask me? How do I know that the person doesn't need a train wreck to motivate them to make changes for themselves.

It is trap for the ego because a few successes perpetuates the need to do more.

It might be like those movies where someone changes some seemingly minor thing and it inevitably changes the course of history and the world comes to and end.

These days I have been trying to live and let live. This is what I want for myself and maybe I should let others have the same privilege. It isn't easy because it puts the focus back on me and that takes all the fun out feeling superior.

Don't get me wrong I still know what's best for everyone, I just don't tell them anymore. Just kidding, before I get too far down that road I try to remember God has a plan for them and he just hasn't informed me of the details.

Judging others is just a distraction from what I don't want to see about my own shortcomings. For example the other day I was complaining to myself about the office mess and I thought about my own office. Maybe I should start there it was just as much as a disaster but it was easier to see how messy everyone else was.

No one will ever live up to my expectations including me. My goal is to just be at peace with things the way they are right now. How to enjoy the moment and let the rest go.