Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Maturity - Being wrong

Our live model and teacher
Every day I realize just how wrong I have been about everything in my life. I can see now that when my mother died I stopped maturing. Without her I had to become my own parent. This isn't really a good idea.

I did grow up quickly and learned how to take care of myself and how to keep other people happy. I didn't know until recently that I have been emotionally eleven. I can't believe that I am even admitting this but it is true.

I married my emotional equal twice. Both adult children, both potential alcoholics but it didn't matter. The first I tried to change the second post 12 steps I didn't. They were both loving and generous but just like children found their new best friend a little more interesting.

I can see how immature I have been now and realize the act of thinking someone can make you happy forever is a real stretch. I can't even make myself happy for very long.

I think I am finally adult enough to be in an adult relationship. Now I just have to find another adult.

I am happy for the first time in a long time. My happiness isn't dependent on any one person or any one thing to happening. I just want to do things I enjoy with interesting people all the time.

I went to an drawing class last night. It was fun and everybody brought food. It felt like some how I am back where I belong.

PS. There is a Ted Talk on "Being Wrong" that says it all.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Relationships - It can get messy
My friend is leaving today and going back home to her husband.  They left on not so great terms. He is very emotional and she is very controlled emotionally. He tries to provoke her into professing her love by having emotional out bursts and saying that she doesn't love him. This of course locks her emotions down even further.

I was in my counseling mode this morning before I left for work. I was trying to tell her not to make any final decisions right now about the relationship. She has just lost her father and this week has been full of emotional  family issues of the past. He is feeling left out and feels she doesn't need him.

I realized on my way to work this morning that I was pretty upset about the finality of her words. Why? I realized that it reminded me of all the relationships I have been in that ended. They were the same in that decisions about the relationship were made without my input. I was told " I love someone else and this relationship is over."  I was shut down along with my emotions. I was left to deal with the fall out along.

I was feeling for her husband today. He has been home all week and they have not talked and now she is coming home.  He has been alone with this all week while she has been here with a non stop schedule.  She told him she would get a cab home.

I know no matter what I say her mind is made up. It feels like a total lack of compassion for what another person is feeling. Relationships are messy and in my experience both people are rarely in the same place emotionally at the the same time. It takes commitment to work through things and even some times that isn't enough.

We all see the people in our lives the way we want to see them not necessarily the way they really are so everyone should be who they want to be and let the chips fall where they may. It isn't fair to have your feelings dismissed but that is part of they way some people deal with emotions.

For me every relationship has been more mature than the last and I don't feel the need to assign blame anymore. I hope my next relationship will be with someone willing to talk things through before they decide it is over.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What is in the Box - Choices

I had a little break from my company the last two days and decided to play hooky and be on my own yesterday.  I woke up and thought no one was looking for me so why not? It is hard for me to just do that even though I am my own boss.

I am reading a book that my sister recommended called Halftime.  It was written in the mid 1990's and is about taking the talents that made you successful in you thirties and start to transition them into something more than just making money in your forties.  He was tremendously successful buying and selling companies so I think maybe he had more options than most of us.

I think I understood what he meant because when you reach a certain age you realize that no matter how much stuff you have, something is missing. This is a book about a spiritual life. One thing that stuck in my mind is that he said that everyone has a box that they put their most important thing or idea in. What is your life's priority at that moment. He said you can't have but one thing in that box. For him it had been money.

The thrill of the business deal the accolades from the people in the industry. All the things that the money brought him. At that moment when his own mentor posed this idea of only one thing he decided it should be God. But the very next day a big deal came along that was irresistible. He knew it was a test of his commitment to this new idea. He decided to turn it down.

I felt this book spoke to me where I am today. I did leave a money making career in my forties and went back to school to become a designer. Ten years later I am starting to realize that I don't have the inclination to set the world on fire anymore. But my ego hasn't quite adjusted to what this really means or how to accept this graciously.

It felt good to have the day to myself yesterday and time to look at where I am and where I have been. I was taking a little inventory of all that has happened to me over the past five years. I can see now just how lost I was and now that I am back what I am going to do with the rest of my life.

I have been mad with myself for a long time because I wasn't stronger and felt so needy and desperate. I was humbled by what life dished out to me even though I fought it the whole way. I didn't want to be that person that people who needed anyone. I can see now that I did my best and now I need to get on with my life.

I guess have to decide what exactly is in my box these days. What and who will get my time and energy? Can I push past the fear of what will happen if I really stop worrying and let go? Maybe.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies - My kind of night cap

I am really tired today. No big surprise because my friend and I stayed up late talking. I have discovered that I have to have alone time or I never stop talking. She is a talker too.  She taking a road trip for a few days and this will give me time to recharge.

I had a late appointment last night and she had dinner ready when I got home. How nice it was, it has only been a couple of decades since I had dinner waiting for me when I got home. That is one thing I do miss is having someone interested in when I am coming home. With my relationships I was usually the one waiting.

We talked and talked and then decided to have a night cap of chocolate chip cookies. When she visited last time she had never actually eaten homemade from scratch cookies. I saw excitement in her eyes last night when she said "do you have the ingredients to make cookies?"  Of course I do. Growing up in our house everything was from scratch mainly because it was cheaper and still is most of the time.

My mother's philosophy about food, especially sweets, was that you should be willing to do a little work before you indulged in a sweet treat.  Opening a container of store bought cookies wasn't enough effort.
We did have an occasional Oreo or the Real Vanilla Wafers.

I am grateful that my mother was always striving for balance and wasn't about extremes. Except for the time she tried to control my ADD by restricting sugar. We had carob chips instead of chocolate chips. News flash they are not the same. Nothing really helped the ADD and she didn't believe in drugs for kids so we all suffered.

They say that the early years are the formative years. A time when life long habits are established. I know that is true for me I live and eat a lot like I did as a child. I like good food that is as close to its original form as possible. It is really not that hard to do. It took about 15 minutes to make cookies from scratch and let me just say they were well worth it. Yum.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Near death experience - How important is it?

It has been an interesting couple of days since my last post. My friend had plans to come into town for her father's memorial and her flight got delayed and she ended on staying over in Dallas. Then she over slept and missed the 6 AM flight and booked a noon flight which was delayed. She didn't make it to the memorial.

She called and ask me if I would go in her place. I agreed and got there by three and made my way around a room of about 30 people. They all had funny stories about her father's drinking. I knew this already from my friend but it is never called alcoholism.

Her brother was the star of the show and had plenty of his own sarcastic stories. He made everyone laugh and the drinks kept coming. I could see his own sadness just below the surface as he talked about his own failed marriages between jokes. Blaming his wives for everything.

My friend showed up after most everyone was gone which turned out to be a good thing. She had been exiled from her father's family and when they heard she was on the way they started leaving. When she got there only her aunts were left and huge confrontation began and ended with screaming an swearing.

We stayed at the restaurant another 3 hours after the everyone left. Her brother myself and another friend. They drank and smoked and I had Key Lime pie and ice tea. I left them and took my drained introverted self home. I felt hungover Sunday from the emotion of others.

My friend stayed overnight at the beach an I went over yesterday for a late dinner. I was still tired and ask a friend if he would go with me. We had a full night of family stories and headed home around 10. We pull up behind a car in the left turn lane and waited for the arrow to turn green. It was dark and when the light changed the car in front of us turned and then we turned.

Just after we turned we heard a huge crash. The car behind us was broadsided by a truck going really fast through a red light. We heard the truck lay on the horn as if he didn't see the light. My friend was driving and said he saw the third car in the rear view mirror skid into the intersection to avoid the car that had been hit.

We were stunned and just drove home. We had turned on to a bridge and couldn't turn around. We don't know what happened and I couldn't find anything on it today. My friend came to my house about 15 minutes later and said the whole intersection was closed.

I didn't sleep much last night and wondered how we were so lucky to have escaped. We are talking seconds and I know some where some family is grieving today.  Was the driver drinking probably? Why else would he have laid on the horn like he had the right of way.

It has been an emotional two days and I feel tired but grateful..  I am in the office today dealing with things that feel even less important than they usually do.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fathers - Saying what needs to be said - It is never too late

I wanted to write about my dad today. He has been on my mind this week before I even realized it was Father's Day this weekend.  He has been gone over ten years and even before that we had a distant relationship.

He wasn't a bad man his only real crime against me was his indifference to my existence. I let this indifference label me and have spent a lifetime trying to feel like I meant something to someone. With my intimate relationships I tend to pick people that also ultimately treat me with indifference.  I see now that I have repeated this practice many times even sometimes with my friends.  I pick people that are there one day and gone the next.

Until now I have taken these departures as personal against me. It definitely seems personal.. They move on to a new life with someone else and you are left to deal with it.

What I have realized is that, because of my dad, I attract this kind of person. They are not evil or mean in fact all of them have been generous and kind up until the moment they disappear. They all have one thing in common and that is that they don't like to share their true feelings. They avoid emotion at any cost.

I think in any healthy relationship you have to have regular discussions about feelings. No two people are happy all the time with everything. My only regret in life so far is that I didn't have the opportunity to at least talk through things before I got to the " I want this person instead of you" point.

It all started with my dad. When I left at 16 my dad chose my stepmother over me. It was the same as all the relationships that followed. " I want this person so much I am willing to sacrifice our relationship."

My point is it you can really hurt someone with indifference. It may feel less messy for you to just pretend that life goes on but for the other person there is not closure. I always blamed myself for people leaving me. I was not good enough in some way. I just wanted a simple explanation which of course doesn't exist.

My ex-husband did send me a letter just before he married the his new love. He made amends in that letter which I have kept all these years. He said he had blamed me for what was really wrong with him. I can't tell you how healing that letter was for me. It wasn't all my fault after all.

I wanted something like this from my dad but it never happened. I did have lunch with him a few years before he died and I ask him why he let me go. He said "every one's gotta to do what they gotta do." I realized that day that that was best I was going to get.  There was no hope that real feelings would suddenly come bubbling to the top. That was it take it or leave it.

I stopped blaming him then for not being enough for me. I have stopped blaming people for hurting me because now I know it isn't intentional. It isn't about me it is about what works better for them. I use to consider this disloyal but now I know it is just part of life and people trying to find happiness.

These are old stories but I thought they might help someone out there that is holding back from saying what needs to be said. Nothing unsaid really goes away even if you leave someone behind. It is never to late to say you didn't mean to hurt someone you once loved.

I loved my dad and he loved me. I am sure he is happy up there with my mother if you believe in up there. Happy Father's Day daddy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gratitude - Acceptance - Hanging on

My Painting
I am having a moment of gratitude today. It seems my mind is coming back from where ever it has been for awhile now. I am not feeling, less than these days, afraid that I am unable to do new things or things I have done in the past.

I was starting to believe my new state of mind was permanent. I was starting to think I would never be myself again. I guess this is what depression does to you locked in a cycle alone with nothing but time. You stop feeling hope at some point that you will ever feel good about anything again.

I can't say what really kept me going without hope. Mostly I existed on autopilot going through the motions of what I thought was expected of me. I was there for a long long time.

It seems that once I accepted the new me I started to feel better. I accepted that it just takes me a long time to get over things. I had to stop beating myself up for not being more resilient. Life dealt me a major blow and I was down for the count.

The depression and the last five years is starting feel like a distant memory. You know like an old relationship that is over. You know it happened to you but it doesn't seem like it was really you. It seems more like a story from a book.

I have started to take care of myself and my life again. I am starting to make plans for the future. I am facing things without fear.

I am grateful for the things and people in my life that have supported me. Some of the people aren't with me anymore but they were there when I needed them. I am grateful for my own mind that kept me safe while I continued to search for answers. That small part of me that hung on when the rest of me didn't want to.

I am grateful to the program that saved me from myself so many years ago and helped me to see how it was my own thinking that made me so unhappy. A foundation that helped me to keep going through the past five years. Giving me hope that if I just waited the answer would come.

I am grateful for this blog and the encouraging comments I have received. This gave me something to look forward to and a safe place to sort out my thoughts. It is good to be me today.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spray paint - and success

I took my two whole days off this week with only a couple of work calls to address yesterday. Sunday I  took apart a fan the looked like a rust bucket and sanded it down with a wire brush attached to drill.

I decided to do this in my studio and pretty soon everything was covered with brown dust including me.  Luckily the room needed cleaning anyway because the window have been open in there for months.

I did where a mask and glasses so subliminally I must have know there would be dust.  I am afraid I just jump in head first when I am excited about a project. If I make it too complicated or think the prep will take too long I end  up feeling overwhelmed and not doing anything.

While I was masked and with safety glasses I thought about my friends son. When he was in high school he was  kind of a quirky boy genius who wore bowling shirts and other outlandish outfits he bought from the Goodwill. He was always creating doing things without much thought or preparation. Once he painted his bike with spray paint inside the garage with his mother's car. He and we never heard the end of it.

He is all grown up now living in D.C. and working for an advertising agency. He has a new baby and a wife that is a lawyer and they seem to be happy. His is a success story owed partly to Al-Anon and his mother's dedication to the program and letting him live his own life while she lived hers.

My friends from the program watched him and his sister grow up and they have done well. Still some scars from the alcoholism in their life but who doesn't have some scars for something.

I didn't paint my project in the garage with the door closed but lets just say luckily my house is already gray on the outside.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

4th Step - 5th Step - 6th Step

I talked to a friend the other day about going to meetings. She has recently returned to her 12 Step program and doesn't feel that it really pertains to where she is now. She said the exact same people were there telling the exact same stories and she had issues with the Six Step.

I get this and have taken my on breaks from meetings myself over the years. I don't feel the same about the Steps as I did when I first started. It was simpler in the beginning because I had serious issues to deal with and a big pile of debris to clear away. Today my issues feel less like a crisis and more like obstacles to happiness.

Back when I started I was dealing with a lifetime of denial and I could barely function. I like the Steps because they were simple and straight forward which when you are on the edge is all you can handle. Luckily I have matured in my life and my program and every crisis is not life or death. Denial still is a problem in my life it has just become a little more sophisticated. It is more like a light veil across my face instead of the iron curtain of the past. I am still good at hiding things from myself that I don't want to own up to.

When my friend called she said the meeting was about the Six Step "ready to have defects of character removed" she didn't like the idea of defects and didn't think that sounded too loving towards oneself.

For myself over the years I have had to reinvent the meaning of the Steps for where I am now in the program. In my mind Four, Five and Six are about identifying what is still holding me back from the freedom and happiness I am looking for in my life. Four is about seeing where my thinking is screwed up, Five is talking it over with someone that I trust and Six is about accepting once again that it is still my thinking that is the problem.

What I am working on now is that I have realized that I am not the driven person I once was and therefore I am not reaping the benefits of working non-stop. The defect isn't that I am not driven, it is that I haven't accepted that I am not that person anymore. I am not willing to do the work to be the first to the finish line and so second place has to become more comfortable.

I know my approach to the Steps is unconventional but it works for me so take what you like and leave the rest. As far as people repeating themselves in meetings and being stuck their story I didn't have an answer for that if you attend the same meeting for a long time this is bound to happen. The information might be just what a newcomer needs to hear. Sometimes things bother us because it is reflecting something in ourselves we aren't ready to look at.