Friday, December 28, 2012

Disappearing into the Sunset
I got a call yesterday out of the blue from a friend. She is desperate for a solution to her extremely dysfunctional family. She is young and feels she has played the peacemaker for the family her whole life and is tired of this and wants to just move away and leave them behind.

She says she knows she can do that but it would cause her family a lot of pain and they wouldn't have anyone holding them together.

I didn't really know what to say about that. There is an addiction problem in the family and the family has lived with one sort of addition or another for a long time. Decades of uncertainty caused by erratic behavior including destruction of property.

She is young and the decisions she makes now could determine whether she perpetuates the disease and dysfunction or decides to save herself. She is planning an intervention of sorts. A last ditch effort before disappearing into the sunset.

The house of cards will fall in her absence or will it? Addiction and dysfunction is tricky for the Al-anon you think the world will come to an end if you don't keep propping everyone up. When you find that life goes on without you and another person quickly volunteers to take your place you can't believe it.

You thought the world was depending on you and really you find that life goes on. Yes there is a time of confusion and regrouping but the disease of addiction is smart and has many years of practice manipulating people into aiding and abetting its survival. Addiction has been around longer than we have and it is smarter than we are and can adapt quickly to change.

It is the addiction calling the shots and it is because we aren't good enough or because the person doesn't love us that they choose the substance over us. They aren't ready and may never be ready. We can't control someone else is life. It isn't our job.

My advice to her is to save herself. Do what in her heart is the best for her spiritually. To be prepared for the initial change back response that ensues just after the family addiction dysfunction pattern is changed. The merry-go-round of denial is stopped for a moment and every one participating will be stunned into either doing something about the situation or glazing over it and finding a way to go back to denial.

Changing yourself is hard enough and changing someone else is impossible. In the case of the family the odds that everyone is ready to change at the same time is unlikely.

Of course I recommended Al-Anon and seeing a counselor to help her deal with taking her own life back. It isn't easy to not get drug back into the drama with guilt and manipulation. The program helped me to break those rescue habits and a weekly meeting to keep me on the right track.

It is complicated at first but once you discover that you are only responsible for your own behavior and happiness then it does get easier. Letting go of feeling guilty for not being able to change someone else.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dealing with anger - Confrontation on the Beach

I had good holiday the best in many years not trapped in my own mind. It is a relief especially when a few close friends are going through some major stuff. I am grateful that that time has passed for me.

I had lunch with my sponsor today. I reported my new freedom from despair but I did have to tell her about my encounter with the angry person.

She gave me some words of wisdom to not take it personally. It always does feel personal when you are being attacked. My response has always been to feel I deserved it or I should have done something differently.

I learned early that it is best to avoid the wrath of the angry person at any cost and to keep your feelings in check if you wanted to stay under the radar. In my previous post I wrote about my ex-husband and how he was my first angry bully, but it occurred to me after my post that my first encounter with the angry bully was my stepmother.

She is bad to the bone and probably the last person on my list that I have some resentments towards. Can you tell? She didn't like me but really she didn't like anyone then or now.

I never knew anyone that could go from a smile to rage in less than 10 seconds. I remember once at the beach I told my sister something my stepmother said about her and the next thing I knew my stepmother was charging towards me. She grabbed my chin and got close to my face and started screaming that I was going to destroy my fathers happiness and she would take their baby and leave forever. I wished for just one second that she would.

I disappeared emotionally after that. I didn't want to hurt my dad's chances for happiness. She never took responsibility for what she said that day or any other day. It was always my fault and she knew her anger scared me so it was easy for me to become the scapegoat for anything bad that happened in our family.

I have been faced lately with a lot of angry people giving me a chance see how I always assume it is my fault and also an opportunity to face them head on. Really scary.

I can stop being the kid on the beach being paralyzed by an angry person. Stop being willing to do anything to make things better. But when someone is angry I can admit it does still scare me. I have to know they aren't interested in talking and any reason or explanation falls on deaf ears.

As a kid I wanted desperately to be liked by my stepmother and ever since then I thought I caused people to not love me or like me. It was my fault  when people left me and I worked hard to figure out what I had done wrong. A child's view brought into adulthood.

I have learned that I am lovable even if nobody but me believes that.  I learned that everyone lives in their own head and you are not responsible for what they are thinking if they don't tell you. They have their story and sometimes you are just a secondary character and could at some point get written out of the story all
together.  We are only the stars of our own story.

It has been helpful writing here and realizing I am not the kid on the beach anymore and will not feel like it is my fault. I will do my best and let God take care of the rest.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nailed Shut - Bullies

I don't like to deal with confrontation. It is necessary in life to communicate with people that will disagree with you but I don't like it when voices are raised or when I feel I am being bullied.

When I was married to a person I felt drank too much he won all the arguments because he bullied me into to submission. He never played fair and would just refuse to acknowledge anything I said. It wasn't about being right or wrong it was about manipulation.

I don't think this kind of manipulation is personal and for him he probably learned this approached worked while living with two drinking parents. Out burst and dominance was part of the way they communicated in his house.

Of course for me it wasn't how I was raised and it really scared me. I retreated and felt paralyzed by the situation. I couldn't win no matter what and it made feel stupid, helpless and I ultimately I took to my bed.

During that time I had one repetitive dream of being trapped in a house where all the doors and windows were nailed shut. I would make it out of one room only to find in the next room the window were also nailed shut.

I was lost in my relationship buried alive. I was isolated with no one to turn to for a second opinion. The disease had made him my whole world. In the beginning I enjoyed being needed so much it was great to think that someone couldn't live without me but what happened it turned out that I couldn't live without him.

I had to see that I chose this for myself. My need to be needed drew me to this kind of isolated intoxicating relationship. Then  I felt powerless to get out he was my whole life and I would be nothing without him.

Living with a bully strips you of your self-confidence and for me whatever he said about me I believed.

My higher power decided to get me out of this situation. It was a painful separation and it has take many years to heal the part of me that needed to be desperately needed in order to feel whole. I didn't know real love doesn't need to be earned it just is.

I wasn't intending to go in this direction with this post but here it is. I have been dealing with a few bullies lately and my reaction takes me back to the days when I had to deal will verbal abuse everyday. I have to see that my reaction is about the past and I can't be hurt unless I choose to be hurt.


Monday, December 17, 2012

A message - Not the messenger - Love
I was listening to a message yesterday that reminded me of my dad. If you are familiar with my past post you know my dad  and I didn't really stay connected after my mom died and he remarried. I was only a riff from my end that I could tell anyway. For a long time I suffered in my own mind from his indifference to me.

He was a man of principle even if emotionally he couldn't empathize with the pain of others. I think with the childhood he had he reserved his emotions for a select few and I wasn't one of them.

I am more like him than I want to admit given my own childhood experience how ironic.

My dad was a passive man.  I never ever heard him complain not even once about anything.

He was passionate about only a few things. His wives, his god and the next holistic cure. He could fix anything that had parts with or without a manual.

He was a man of principle and never broke the rules. He never even broke the speed limit he would tell us it was a sin to knowing do something wrong. This was the message I heard yesterday that you are representing God out there and you should be your best.

I spoke to my sister last night and she said she had been playing the video from his funeral. Probably about the same time as I was thinking about him weird huh? He was a rock star among his church peers and really I was the only one that didn't know him. Maybe.

I am passed the grievances I had with my dad and I am not suffering anymore about what I think I missed. He taught me to set a good example even when it isn't easy or popular.  Even when doing the right thing alienates you from everyone. It is the message not the messenger that counts.

He let me go and I let go right back. It has taken me most of my life to get over feeling abandoned by him. I can't undo what has been done and I know he did his best even if it wasn't good enough for me. It was all he had.

My parents weren't perfect and with my mother's death I got skewed up. I was lucky because they did give me a good foundation of confidence even if it included regular whippings. I was lost for a long time but with every set back I was then able to move forward and learn from it.

I have resisted giving up my resentments about my family. I wore my past like a badge of honor to show the world all that I had suffered through. It defined me and when I saw how these resentments were holding me back I knew I had to let them go. I was afraid who would I be with my story of pain and suffering.

I have become comfortable with this blank slate now. I feel so free and happy I shared this with my sister yesterday and she said "oh your always going up and down it won't last".  For a second I thought she is right but then I asked myself  "why are you going to the hardware store for bread?"

Life is a solitary journey and only you and yourself live in your head. You can be surrounded by a crowd but in the end you have to decide what is right for you. You can't let the opinion of others define you. It is you own opinion that matters most. If we will be still long enough the small  voice of wisdom inside of you will send you in the right direction.

My dad would agree but would add that the small voice is God and I don't totally disagree. I love you dad.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Wishes - Fumes - Dead batteries
I get the sneaky feeling sometimes that we get exactly what we wish for so be careful what you wish for. Last night I specifically wished that I didn't have to go to the office today. This morning I have a dead battery and I am currently looking at my car that I had to roll out of the garage. Hum not exactly what I meant. Be specific.

Just as I think we do have an affect on our world or at least the way we see it I also think the the universe conspires to get us exactly what we are thinking about.  Most spiritual materials address in some way saying we should guard our thoughts.

I am not saying that when bad things happen we caused but I do think if we are open to good things happening then we get more good things and if we live life in constant fear then our worst fear seek us out because we are looking for them giving and them our energy.

Staying positive is hard in a world that constantly broadcasting the negative. It is human nature to be drawn to tragedy and gore that is why bad news travels so fast and is so popular. What if we had a TV station that just told us good things 24/7 we would be asleep in five minutes.

The program taught me that I was separate from my thoughts. I was the boss of me and not a victim of life. I had a choice of who I was with and what I was thinking even if it didn't feel like it was my choice. Every minute of every day I made good and bad choices for myself. If someone cut me off in traffic I could feel attacked or I could be happy I wasn't the one in such a big hurry. I could let that moment ruin my day or I could see it for what it was a moment.

What a concept right? It isn't that easy and for me I just say to myself that I don't know what is going on in the other person's life. It isn't about me it isn't personal unless I make it personal. I can let that moment slip by unnoticed not reliving it by telling someone about it. We don't go to work and tell people how nice someone was that let us into traffic right?

I have to warn you when you are use to recounting to woes of life it is a hard habit to break. We all like to commiserate about how bad we have even if it is only in our head.  It helps us to relate to everyone else and draws attention to ourselves.

I don't always do this but I will say I am careful about what I say I don't say " this always happens to me", unless I want it to always happen to me. I don't give weight to the negative and try hard to give weight to the positive or say nothing at all.

Like today I am sitting in my nice house looking at my car and waiting for one of our contractors to give me a jump. It is just a slight detour and a part of life's flow. My heart did not want to work in the office today yesterday the fumes from the cabinet shop in the back kept me from enjoying my day.

I could have brought a gas mask to work but I didn't know in advance I would need one. So today the universe is trying to help fulfill my wish. Maybe I will work at home today.

Well he has come and gone in about 10 minutes my battery is charging so I guess I am off to the office. Have a great day unless you have other plans.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I have been odd - Santa hats and Buddha
There is a line in one my favorite movies Stranger than Fiction where the main character says to a woman that hates him also the woman his loves that describes exactly how I feel right now in my life he says " I have been odd and  I know I have been odd...."

I am suddenly some version of my old self the person left behind during my grief. It seems since Thanksgiving I have been healed is some way I can't really explain. The past seems to be just that the past without any residue to drag me down.

My friend an I decorated a Christmas tree actually he decorated it while I plundered through a million smelly boxes from the basement. My friend from Salt Lake sent me a gift and card saying " buy a Christmas tree " so that is how it all began.

The tree looks beautiful and after 6 years with no tree the idea of decorating seems fresh and new. I have decorations that are hand me downs from who knows where but they all seem fresh too. The house smells like Christmas and I put Santa hats on all my Buddhas. I don't think Buddha would have a problem with that.

I feel ready to run my life instead of it running me. I know I have been odd in so many ways and finally I got to the point that I accepted that I would never resemble the person I use to be and suddenly here I am again.

I am not exactly the same person as I was before all this happened but my mind is clear and I feel ready to take care of myself again instead of bracing myself for what the day might bring. Surviving at best.

No one really trust me at this point I get this I am just starting to trust myself.  People have been avoiding me and the blackness that I carried for such a long time. I hurt people on my path of survival and I have already made some of my amends. I did my best even if it wasn't always enough.

I haven't felt really happy in a long time. At first I was content to just not feel sad for awhile. I didn't trust that I would ever feel happy or enthusiastic about anything again so I really just gave up trying to feel any different.

It has never taken me this long to recover before so I assumed my state of mind was permanent. I feel so grateful that the god of my understanding has reached out a hand to help me up off the ground one more time.

So if your out there and it is seems like the pain will never end don't give up. The sadness is a blanket protecting you while your deepest places heal. It's ugly and painfully but if you can just trust the process (which I never can) it will make a new person out of you or bring back the best parts of the person you use to be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bumbles Bounce - Falling Down
I went to an event in town last weekend and fell down on the sidewalk in front of the concert hall. It seemed pretty surreal from my vantage point. A small crowd gathered trying to help and in my mind I could hear myself saying "how did I get down here?"

I wasn't hurt except for the a skinned knee and a bump on the head. I am short so the fall wasn't too far and I have fallen here and there throughout my life. Bumbles bounce comes to mind from the Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer cartoon. You know the abominable (that was almost abdominal with spell check that would be really gross) snowman falls off the cliff and takes a sleigh of characters with him. Everyone thinks the worst but they show up at the end because bumbles bounce.

I was a little sore but recovered quickly which means I am in better shape than I thought.

Sometime in life you are just going along and suddenly you find yourself on the ground and you do wonder how you got there. One minute your up and moving along and the next minute your laying on the ground and everyone is staring at you.

No one is sure what to do with a person on the ground. As a person that has spent a lot of time there recently I can understand the dilemma. When your on the ground you are embarrassed and you want to believe you don't need help but you do.

When I was spiritually on the ground I didn't really want help and nobody really knew how to help me without me knowing it so I stayed on the ground. Looking at my life from the bottom up where everything seems larger than I could manage.

I stayed there on the sidewalk of life and became part of the scenery for what seemed like forever. Life went on without me and truthfully I was happy to let it. I got use to the view and comfortable in the discomfort.

I am standing now but barely moving. It was time to make a choice to do something about myself. It was time to brush myself off and get on with the life that was given me. Things don't seem so big to me anymore in fact they seem quite small. I am grateful to get my own bounce back.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Charlie Brown - Dreams verses Reality

I was looking at a blog about cool Christmas trees and it made think of something funny from a past Christmas.

When I was married way back when and was looking for perfection at the holidays I would force my husband to go with me to cut down a Christmas tree.

This was me  trying to re-create the perfect childhood holiday I had in my head. Every year we went to the woods of my grandfather's farm to pick out a tree. We would trudge through the thick woods looking for anything that even remotely resembled a Christmas tree. After a few hours (minutes probably) of searching my sister and I would start whining about the cold.

We would end up picking some awful Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We would bring it home along with whatever critters were attached to it and try to make it look good. The funny thing is we didn't do it for the family experience but because my dad was too cheap to spring for a tree and my mother didn't believe in fake trees.

I guess the funny part of the story was that I forced my husband to continue a tradition that was really awful and for all the wrong reasons.

Even the year we split at Thanksgiving I made him go with me to cut down a tree at a tree farm. I thought that this would re-kindle our love a moment in the woods selecting a tree. We were both miserable and he only did it out of pity for me. I was holding on to something that had slipped away long before that moment.

This wasn't the funny story I had planned on writing but it is what came out. It isn't a sad story to me it just shows me how much I wanted things to be my way. To create something that my mind believed existed when it didn't no matter what the cost to my emotional self.

We had some really great Christmases in our house as a child but they are a child's memories and maybe not so accurate. They can't be re created we have to work with the reality of now. We have to make new memories and enjoy the moments we have with the people we love and stop pressuring the people we love to conform to our idea of the perfect holiday.

Today is all we have and we never know who will be missing from the table next year and it might even be us.