Thursday, January 30, 2014

Voyeur - Who is making the decisions?

My job gives me the opportunity to look into the lives of people when they are making decision about money.  The dynamics of couples can be so different either they share the decisions equally or sometimes one person pretends to let the other person have their way until the last minute and sometimes it is clear from the beginning who is in control.

I have to admit that often it is during these moments that I am happy to not be in a relationship. In my own marriage before the program I was secretly the dictator (maybe not so secretly). I thought I made better decision and it was my responsibility whip my husband into shape or as I would like to say have him meet his potential.

To me he was always a work in progress.  I can see the arrogance in that now.  In my defense I thought that was what a good wife would do for her husband.  I could see so clearly where he was going wrong and I was more than willing to point him in the right direction. This kept me from looking at myself.

I learned early in my life how to manage people and then I made a career of it quite literally. I was really good at it and it never occurred to me that it was manipulation and not everyone wanted to be managed. It was just a survival technique that I thought was an asset even after I didn't need it anymore.

What I didn't know about manipulating or managing people was that it takes a lot out of you.  When things go right you are on top of the world and when they go wrong you feel somehow responsible. It is a false sense of power that increases with every success but when you fail you can end up in the pits.

I lost and gained everything when my marriage ended. I had to start to see my part in this sad story. My controlling ways didn't cause the marriage to end but it didn't help either.

I did love again and it gave me the chance to be a different person. To treat my partner as an equal it was good for more than a decade and I learned a lot.  It did end but only after it had run its course. We both wanted more I just wasn't the one who made the break.

I don't think at this point that being in a relationship is better or worse than being alone. It has been for me about the same.  I was depressed for a long time but that didn't have anything to do with the breakup. It had to do with coming to terms with the fact no one was going to rescue me from my fears. In my case it was the fear of not being enough and being rejected brought that to the surface. I had to see that even with nobody I was enough.

I am sure I will love again if the right person comes along.  I think for the first time in my life I wouldn't be bringing much baggage along and I am not interested managing anyone.  I also not interested in being managed. I hope that that kind of relationship exist.  For now I will just be a voyeur in the lives of others.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tears of Joy - Leaving my mind behind

When I was driving to my counselors appointment on Tuesday I was suddenly overwhelmed and tears began to roll down my cheeks.  They were tears of joy feeling like my life was back to normal.

This isn't any where close to being true. When was the last time I felt normal?  Before bits and pieces of my life were scattered to the wind.  About six or maybe seven years ago. That was last time I was only worried about work and normal things like chores and paperwork.

You take these mundane things for granted until you don't have them anymore.  When your days become only about making it until the next day. You watch other people and you know you aren't like them anymore. You remember being like them but you know you aren't anymore and the fear is that you will never be again.

My mind wants to dwell on why this happen to me.  Why after a lifetime of comebacks that this time I almost didn't make it back.  But I feel so good that I just want to live.  I just want to do ordinary things like empty the dishwasher and wash clothes.

I want to tell people that I see stressing over nothing. I want to say "Hey all this stuff you think is life and death is a joke"  I want to tell them that to stop and enjoy what is instead of wanting something they think they need in the future.

I have lived in my mind most of my life. I created a complicated place that I almost didn't escape from. I imagined that I was permanently damaged by my past and would forever be lost in pain and suffering.

A seed was planted a long time ago telling me that I was damaged. I built an interior life around this idea and used everything that happened to me as means to reinforce this idea. I had help too I got a lot of sympathy for what I had been through this helped me stay where I was even longer.

I believed this story I told myself. I have spent my life trying to fix my brokenness and after investigating every possible solution I found the one final truth "I am not broken the idea that I think I am broken is the real problem."  Nothing that happen to me is happening now it is my mind that is holding on to the pain. In truth I am addicted to the pain of my story.

I don't regret the path I have taken to heal myself.  I have met the people I call my family now.  I obviously couldn't do it any other way or I would have.  I hope my experience can save someone else a lot of time.

My way out did start with the 12 steps showing me how to control my thinking.  They also taught me that I wasn't perfect and neither was anyone else.  I learned to let go of my control and let life work itself out.

Today for the first time I am truly free from myself.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Professional Help - Exercise in mindfulness

A day last spring
I worked 13 hours yesterday. Now I am starting to sound like my co-workers starting my conversation with how much I have been working but  I made up for it today by getting in at 9 and leaving at 3 for a counselors appointment.

It has been a year since I saw her and with my old life finally wrapping up I thought a visit would be good for me.  She is nice and has a eastern take on life.  

Today we did an exercise in mindfulness.  An exercise on how to deal with our problems.  She said that when we have serious problems we sometimes let them take us over. To represent this she held her hands over her face. She said we can't see anything but our problems and we are lost.

She then talked about the other option and she said that we run.  We push our problems away by staying busy and pretending everything is just fine.  She took  her hands and put them up facing out.

She went on to say that both options drain the life right out of us. She said there was a third option she demonstrated by cupping both hands in her lap. She said we can take a moment to set our problems aside and while still acknowledging that we have them we can use our 5 senses to see there is something in life besides our problems. We have this moment.

What in the room could I see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Seems simple but I got it just for a moment I can learn to be here instead of in my head even if it is only for a moment. I am no longer lost in my thinking.

I understand what she was trying to teach me about being in the moment.  These days I live most of my life in the moment it has only taken me 20 years to get here.  When I was depressed I know sometimes I was lost in my problems and other times I was running.  It was only when I stopped doing either I did get past the worst of it.

I did enjoy our visit today but I don't think I will be going back anytime soon. My problems don't involve the past anymore they are just your everyday boring stuff. How nice is that?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Losing Control - Finding Freedom

Work is in full swing for me my old place of business was liquidated at auction.  Probably not the most cost effective way to take care of things but I am not there to do that.  I have moved on.  I didn't even feel the need to make a phone call or even to do a drive by to look at the damage. It is over for me now.

I am free.  I didn't realize what an emotional drain it was putting on me waiting for the next shoe to drop.

In the past I would want to blame somebody for the way things turned out but today I can accept that everything has an ending. Whether it is a job or a relationship everything must change and I have to learn to go with it and not try to stop life from happening.

Saturday at the end of the day someone got fired after being there for many years. Who gets fired on Saturday? We helped her put her things in her car she looked completely shocked. I have been there many times.

We are so afraid when we don't know what is ahead for us.  We ask ourselves "will I ever be happy again?" "will I ever feel safe again?'  When something in life surprises us it shakes us from the dream.  The dream that we have made up for ourselves that nothing will ever change. It feels so bad we never want to be there again.

For me I thought these things happened because I wasn't smart enough to see it coming. I knew if I would have to work harder and be better prepared the next time.  In my relationships this meant I kept people at arms length.  At work I tried to be perfect I would anticipate the needs of my customers before they even knew it themselves. This is exhausting.

To the people that I have loved and that have loved me back....

If I can keep you happy you will love
me.  If you are unhappy you might hurt me or at least not love me. If you aren't happy with me it must be something I have done.

I have suffered a lot mostly at my own hands because I thought I caused you to hurt me or reject me. I spent so many years trying to discover what was wrong with me and why you left me. Taking my own inventory over and over only to discover decades later that I don't have any control over how you feel about me.

The truth finally discovered  I have been absent for most of my own life. When I was worried about you and your happiness I was preoccupied and missed my own life and my own happiness. Your happiness always came first. I knew when you were happy I was doing things right and when you weren't I was doing things wrong.  I needed to know you needed me.

I see it clearly now and I have to let you go. I have let you be over there feeling what ever you have to feel. I have to be okay over here feeling helpless watching you even if that means you walk away.  I will be kind if I can.  I will be respectful of your feelings but they are not mine. I will love you even if it is from afar.  I will miss you if you leave but you won't take a part of me with you this time. I am here and you are over there and that is how it has to be.

 It it not my fault and it is not yours. It is just how it has to be me over here and you over there.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Moving On - Last Man Standing

I have had to push myself through some final issues with my previous business this week.  My former business partner and I could not come to an agreement on transferring the business to her and we have opted to close.  A third party vendor is liquidating the business this weekend.

I had some pretty strong feelings about it when one of my friends drove by the shop and saw the auction sign. I was notified this week giving me less than 3 days to respond.  I felt sad at first and then I felt like I should do something but inside my spirit said "let it go".

So after Saturday there will be nothing left.  The legacy of the former owner basically abandoned by the both of us.  We didn't choose to be partners and things worked as long as I didn't expect it to be a partnership.

I have grown up this past year so much I can't even tell you.  I can see how my need to please made me a doormat over and over.  I was always the last man standing.  I wanted to be known as the rock the dependable one the last one bailing water on a sinking ship. In the end the hero or martyr depending on the outcome.

I have been wrong all my life.  I thought being the last man standing was the right thing to do even if it was a lost cause. In the end I was shocked to be there alone a victim one more time.  When I would tell my story people would feel bad for me and sympathize with me. This made me come back for more.

In the program I learned to stop acting like a victim but I never learned how to stop being a victim.  I learned to stop whining and complaining about the latest bully in my life. But my cycle continued I just called it something else.   I was self proclaimed hard working un-appreciated person and that had a beacon on my head for users.

I had to see that my thinking that sacrifice was a virtue was wrong. I had to look out for myself first.  What a concept to accept that healthy people put themselves first.  It isn't selfish it is actually what is best for everyone. You can still help people out when they need it but you don't have to do it all or at the expense of your own happiness.

I have rarely felt appreciated for the sacrifices I made over the years to keep things going.  I wanted someone to acknowledge me and see that I was the glue that held things together. I can see that this need for validation set me up for the same situation over and over again.

I have learned that I have to search my heart ever time I start to volunteer for something. Am I doing it for the right reasons? Can I do it without resentment? Can I do it without expecting brownie points? Do I tell myself  "a nice person would do this."

I finally understand my need to please kept me coming back for more.  With this situation I let everyone involved share the responsibility.  I am not too popular but I can live with that.  

I am loving my new job and my life is filling up quickly.  I am very grateful.