Saturday, April 07, 2012

day 40 - lent....check.

i had hoped to be entering tomorrow in a zen, mystical space, that's not happening.  i am exhausted.  losing monday and friday this week threw my whole week off, but i have finished my work for the week tonight and while i'm not in the zone i was hoping for i am in much better spirits and head space than i was when i started this 40 days ago.

i have done good work here, being open and ready, preparing myself and waiting.  i am quite proud of myself and feel real hope again, not the hopeful, hoping hope that is too scared to hope for real.

i know that i don't have it all figured out, but i have a better grasp on what has brought me to this place and as i sat in the space we created last night and saw both of my pastors on the floor in front of the little cross we put together, one on his butt and one on his knees participating in the exercises my friend and i put together i realized that i do belong here.  there is a space for me too.

i belong and am grateful. looking forward to worship, good food and family together time tomorrow.  it is well with my soul.

Friday, April 06, 2012

day 39 - good friday

put together a contemplative service with a friend tonight.  it went well and was just what i needed.  it was really beautiful and unpadded.  we left a lot of silence and space for god to show up.  it wasn't monumental for me, but i had little expectation as i was concerned about how the details were coming together at times.  but there were times i was able to sit and just be.

there was a station for letting go and as i sat with my thoughts i thought that i was letting THEM go, and in the middle of my thoughts i found i was distracted and when i came back to them i realized that what i really needed to let go of had nothing to do with them, but to do with my need for people like THEM, my constant need for external affirmation and validation.

i know that something shifted in me.

that returned things to their proper perspective.  outside of me i have no control, accept the things that i can change.  was granted wisdom tonight to know the difference and for that i am truly grateful.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

day 38 - moving on

life has gotten really busy this week leading into easter, too busy, busier than it's been in quite some time.

not happy about that, but it's good things.

still feel pressured and rushed and that is unfamiliar for me lately.

had so many expectations on these next four days, the busy has definitely helped me to set them down.

can't believe that i have blogged my way through lent, it hasn't been easy.  blogging is much less rewarding than it used to be.

but i am happy that i have stuck to it and it has been important for me.

those clues might have still revealed themselves to me, but documenting the search was far more satisfying than just allowing it to all happen without taking witness of it.

for it all i am grateful, even the very difficult parts.

i am looking forward to getting to the other side of easter though, feels like i'll be able to exhale and not put so much pressure on everything, myself included.

most of all i am thankful that winter is showing it's backside.  i will not be sad to see it go.

i am moving into spring with a new perspective.  some things have died this winter that i am sure needed to die.  burying them and saying goodbye is important and right.  i have grieved well and hard and know that there might be another season of grief, but this one seems to be easing.

in less than an hour it will be 24 years since my mother died.  i can look back on that grief and know that the pain lessens over time, and even though there are times of sentiment and sorrow that things well grieved can even give us life.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

day 37 - too much

that article i blogged about the other day is doing it's work on me, slowing peeling back layers and showing me places that have long needed attention.

even here i am giving away too much.  i have never known it before, or understood its affect on me, but even here i see how exposed i have made myself - how i strip myself of boundaries and safety and self respect all under the guise that it might help someone if it helped me. 

this thread started to reveal itself at the beginning of lent when i saw my spiritual director after i had walked a labyrinth right before i became so sick.  i wish i had a better memory of what happened, what we talked about, but the gist of my memory is that i realized that far too often i give away what i have received far too quickly that i don't allow myself the ability to own it first.  the metaphor that came up was the idea of harvesting all of my fruit and giving it away without barely getting to enjoy it myself.  she counseled that if i was able to enjoy the fruit i would have seeds to plant for future crops and that would be the time to share.

it was almost like we/i (and i take this into the we or our marriage and our inability to build a financial safety net around ourselves too) was never able to plant the orchard that would continue to feed me and mine, and more because i was being over generous at the wrong time. 

re-reading that thought in a much more explicit manner in the article brought it home as to how it affected those i was giving to - and not just how it affected me.

i am still so overjoyed to have this knowledge revealed to me.  i have prayed for it for years.  i don't know that it has ever been a thought ever introduced into my thinking any time prior to this - it felt like the first time i ever heard the term "compulsive overeater" - the light turned on and i now was able to give a name to my monster.

it was a rumpelstiltskin moment to be sure.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

day 36 - chilling

hard a horrible night last night - chills like i haven't had in months.  there was nothing i could do to get warm.  i knew it was coming, i was prepared to shake it - 3 layers of clothes, heating pad, little heater next to my bed, 2 pr. socks, 1 pair gloves, 4 blankets - nothing worked.  i shook and shivered through most of the night.  i don't know why it happens.  no one does.  it's like a gong goes off in my core and i can feel it radiate out through my body.  it is cold, like ice and it just threads itself out through my innermost being.  the outside of me doesn't matter, it will just keep going until it's done.

when it breaks i am pouring with sweat and exhausted, and then if the first wave isn't over the chill that comes from being soaked from the sweats brings the second wave.  nothing can stop it.

i awaken stiff, exhausted, disoriented and probably dehydrated.

it's really scary and i would love for it to end.  would love to know why it starts.  would love to understand what exactly is happening in my body, it's cause, it's name or it's cure.

doctors don't seem to believe the severity of my struggle, what's a little cold? liam calls them seizures - they are so debilitating - and unfortunately don't only happen in winter.  i don't remember getting a chill yesterday, but it must have happened.  many times i can track it, but last night it came on like a storm.  hopefully it's out of my system and will leave me alone tonight, i could really use a good sleep.

Monday, April 02, 2012

day 35 - over giving

i have found what i think is the biggest piece of the puzzle that i have ever had.  i know that is a big claim, but something clicked, lights turned on, the penny dropped, release the doves, cry the tears, ah-ha's said - everything makes sense.  i have prayed for this clue, this understanding, this awakening for years now.  and i am brought to tears again with the massive realization of how important knowing and understanding this is for me.  so many relationships have tanked and i had NO idea what i had done, where i had gone wrong, what would warrant such ignorant or uncharicteristic behavior - and now i know.  i am an over-giver.  i don't have lots of means like the author here - but it's not about money - it just because extremely obvious to her when she finally did - go read it, i'll wait here.  it's just about 6 paragraphs...

Confessions of an Over-Giver by Elizabeth Gilbert

i started to shake as i read it - i have NEVER heard anyone pinpoint a character defect so succinctly that affects so many areas of my life.  i love to give, i need to give, i give willingly and without strings, it is my favorite thing in the whole wide world.  no boundaries, no limits, no wisdom (obviously) - and i had NO idea how it was degrading the ground under which i and others stood.

the constant sanding away at their dignity, overwhelmed by my excess, of words, time, food, sex, commitment, friendship, work, service, information - it just doesn't end.  i feel like i finally have the key to the door that has blocked so much of my life that i honestly cannot even believe it.  i have NO idea what to do with it, but i am scared and excited and hopeful and terrified.  but i can now begin to understand what i have done, where i can make amends, how i can prevent it from happening in the future, so many things can change.

i sent it to my therapist with a note that said "help me obi wan, you're my only hope" - joke - but it really feels like i need a guide in this - it is such new territory.  it is why i can't sponsor, it is why the needy that are so attracted to me end up demoralized instead of empowered - it is going to be a paradigm shift that will rock my world.  i can't imagine it.  the deadly part of this is that liam is also an over-giver too.

so was my pop.  i learned it from him.  and his generosity to use stole much dignity and struggle that we needed to grow up.  i am gobsmacked in the full, literal sense.

on a side note - i asked liam to read my last post on sunday and we took a walk and talked and really got honest and opened up about our fears and our hopes and our commitment to each other.  it was really beautiful.  hope this finds you well and entering into holy week in a beautiful way.  i am.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

day 34 - many years from now...

drawing from an empty well tonight... okay day, nothing grand or great though...

church tomorrow.  hope i can find something to wear that is flattering.  i'm not feeling all together lately.  getting my period too.  blah.

i have three minor ailments happening right now that are all driving me crazy.  i know that so many people are dealing with so much more than this, but i am royally tired of not feeling 100%.  old.  just feeling so dang old.

i watched my father care for my dying mother.  he was so faithful.  so present to her.  he never, ever shirked anything.  i don't think he ever made her feel like a burden or put out by her illness.  liam is very faithful, and very committed to me.  but i am not getting the sense that he is up to the icky parts of life.  i have cared for my dying mother - until she took her last breath.  i know what i'm in for.  i am not so sure he does - and i am not so sure he's really understanding what this next 1/2 of life could really be about.

it gives me pause.  i come from an open family, we talk about our body stuff.  i know it bothers him.  i have never let it bother me that it bothers him before - but it has begun.  will you still need me, will you still feed me when i'm 64?  i have never questioned it before these past few weeks, but he just seems squirmy and off put by my lack of health and feebleness.  i am a bit shocked.  i never imagined that this could be hard for him.  i have to admit that i know how easy it is these days for men to trade in for a younger, healthier model.  i never imagined that would ever be something i would have to face, but he just seems so surprised and almost resentful that more would be required of him.  he gives 120% all of the time.  maybe it's burn out? maybe it's just my own fear? but i must admit that it is a real live fear. 

i don't think he really gets growing old and all that it means.  he visited his dad in the hospital before he died, but i still don't think he's fully understood how that could one day be one of us.  it's difficult to fathom how that plays out.  i have tried a couple of times to talk about it, but he reassures me quickly that it's not true or real - but i have known this man near 30 years now and i can read him.  and i think he's not allowing himself to be truthful about how unprepared this stage of life makes him feel...

anway - i guess that's all for now... i wasn't heading here originally - but i guess that's where my words took me.  maybe i'm just projecting my own disgust with my body not being it's normal working self on him... who knows.

Friday, March 30, 2012

day 33 - adult children of alcoholics

had a good friend and long time reader of this blog emailed me today and ask for resources on 12 steps groups and recovery for adult children of alcoholics - i don't have many specific to ACA and i have never gone to alanon - but from my experience within recovery circles an honest commitment to walk any path through the 12 steps will take you where you need to go.

support is crucial to my recovery - i could not do this alone. there are sublime moments in recovery where i have felt like everything has clicked and i have the keys to life and just as quickly i can be face down in the depths of despair - so it's as important for me to keep going to meetings when i'm up as it is when i'm down.  i'm actually less prone to going when i'm up - and that very quickly can push me into a downward motion.

i love the anonymous programs as they are never trying to sell me anything, promote themselves, answer me as an expert or convince me of anything more basic than the steps.  i have found great healing from some other sources too.  a gentle path through the 12 steps by patrick carnes has changed my life.  i worked through it with a therapist who had some training from him.  i did celebrate recovery and it made me itch because of it's fundamental approach to having all of the answers tied up in a nice little box - and everyone needed and got the same box - one size fits all.  many find great healing there though and i don't want to stop someone from going if it works for them, it just didn't work for me at the time and place i was when it was available to me.

hazeldon is another amazing facility, everything i have read or encountered from them is top notch.

i found that therapy and support groups hand in hand helped me out of many deep holes in my life.  what i appreciate about therapy, at least the therapy i have received - even though they have not been superstars in the field - they gave me a different perspective on my life and problems - and breathed fresh air into my world.  i am convinced that if i am open to healing, and they are opened to be used by god then he can use anyone or anything to accomplish my healing.

the truth is crucial - and i have to be willing to face it and own it - god cannot heal a lie. 

one thing i learned about aca's is that it does not matter if your family was full blown alcoholic, if they were raised by alcoholics the behaviour patterns are passed down - and repeated - it's like a virus - and so stopping the spread in your own family is worth it.  i know that our kids will have some "infection" but it will be far less because of the hard work liam and i have done in recovery and therapy.

co-dependency and co-addiction are also important branches to begin to understand.  i have both tendencies - our marriage is (less now than before) a dance of co-addiction - our velcro sticks together for a reason.  his loops, my hooks - very entwined.  i also find much of my need met in codependency.  caring for the needs of others to have my own needs met is as addictive for me as any drug.

once i began to peel back the tape, band-aids or cellowrap that is/was holding my relationships together i was able to see that this had affected much if not all of them. 

it is messy, but the alternative of not looking is even messier.  it is so worth the work.  we end each of our meetings with our little chant "keep coming back, it works if you work it, and i'm worth it, so i'll work it" silly? childish? simplistic? i don't know, but holding those hands in my own each and every week reminds me that i am not alone and that i am worth the work of keeping my feet on those 12 steps each and every day.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

day 32 - 9 days until easter

hard to believe lent is almost over.  i look forward to being able to set this aside.  most nights i forgot to blog until bed (like tonight) and i am falling asleep at the keyboard.

i helped a friend plan our good friday service today.  joined her for lunch and we brainstormed a contemplative night of stations for people to meet with god.

i was able to express how lacking in excitement i am this lenten season - hopeful, but really afraid god isn't going to show up.  it was so good to be heard and to allow for us to create a space where anyone, wherever they are on this journey to participate, no expectations.

i'm so glad i'm not in a place that manufactures hype or ratchets up the need for a projected participation level.  this will just be a grace filled night, filled with options and honesty and the tension of moving into easter together.

it feels very safe.  i haven't felt safe in quite a long time.  i like that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

day 33 - fade to grey

i have been accused of being mean and bullying by two different women lately.  ironically they are both from the same faith background that i came from.  one no longer attends that kind of church, but is still firmly rooted in it's theology, and the other, ironically has just been going for the past couple of years.  i say ironic because it's not a common belief system and near non-existent in our area - god plopping her down into my circle makes me shake my head and wonder what he's up to. the other person is my sister.

i challenged my sister on health care, she's praying for the supreme court to kill the aca - she knows how social medicine has been a huge blessing in our life, how can she forget that even though our father had the best insurance money can buy that our inheritance was stolen from us because our father had to pay for my mothers medical bills when she died - it left him near bankrupt, medicare is saving him from ending up on welfare and she even has her own children in state sponsored medical care.  i challenged her hypocrisy - and she told me i was mean.  she made it this strange political war between conservative good and liberal evil.  she was on the right side of things, and i obviously had lost my way.

this other woman burned through a whole afternoon blathering on in lingo that i haven't been exposed to in decades - it made me itch and squirm inside.  she has started to come to our recovery group and was asking for my help.  the few times i was able to get a word in edgewise i challenged some of her inconsistencies in the things she was saying.  i pointed out areas that might not be helping her in her hope for recovery and healing.

both painted me as the bad guy, the mean bully.  and it's totally possible that i am and can be - but while i usually take this stuff, apologize and move on i decided that this time i was going to sit with this and untangle it.  some of the things that i realized were really interesting.  fundamentalists are known for their black and white thinking, so are alcoholics.  the irony is not lost on me...  it was so important for my sister to reduce us to opposing teams - that way she could cheer for hers and hope mine lost.  it was empowering to realize this and help her understand that this had nothing to do with politics for me - it had to do with her, and my niece and nephews quality of life.  pointing out to her that we are not on teams, and this is not a game helped me smash that false dichotomy she had constructed.  i think it helped her to crack the door just a tiny bit.

i also was able to tell them both that their discomfort could just be that - their discomfort, laying it all at my feet wasn't healthy - maybe there actually was something that i was pointing out that really needed to see the light of day, and to blame me because i had aimed light at it might be easy, but in the long run counterproductive.

and the final thing that i was able to untangle was to explain to my new friend, that i can be critical of a system and not be critical of her - if she was tying herself to that system that was her choice, not mine.  i explained to both of them that i would sit with the mean/bully accusations, and i apologized if i was mean, but know that i wasn't mean-spirited - i realized how important it was for me to stand up for myself instead of just folding or ignoring and placing some big boundaries between this newcomer and myself.  she's got a whole load of crazy she's looking to lay at someone's feet - been there, done that, and not buying another ticket thank you very much.  i like my technicolor world, filled with nuance and lovely shades of grey.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

day 32 - oh the drama

did today have a big, fat pour on the drama sticker stuck on the calendar or something?  man what a day.  i would not go back to being 16 for all of the money in the world.  my poor kiddo.  she is such a hybrid of the most intense parts of me and her father.  it doesn't seem fair to give a kid such complex, intense emotions coupled with exorbitant fears - she had an amazing 4 day weekend - really stellar experiences and moments - and i should have been prepared for the crash...  it always happened to me, it had been so long that i had forgotten.

but i could tell that her fears were ratcheting up, her emotions spiraling, her thoughts becoming more intense.  it broke tonight lots of tears and moaning.  they boy she likes is as shy as she is, so only the overconfident girls can get his attention.  their shy's cancel each other out and they are just both left looking at their toes.  she despises the girls who ooze with confidence - wanting more than anything to have that bravado that can flirt and direct.  she does not know how mysterious timidity is, how overdone the flirty can become - all she sees is the immediate response - none of it directed at her.

she is so hard on herself, so driven to re-hash and re-think every single move she makes, it is heartbreaking.  she feels such great shame for feeling anything at all.  punishes herself regularly for any crack in the armor.  belittles herself for any small risk taken by a surety that says it was the stupidest move she could have ever made and life as she knows it will end i a steaming pile of flop.

and i watch this, sometimes from afar, sometimes from up close, most of the time having to bite my tongue to keep from laughing at how very similar my responses and reactions can be.  how liam has endured and loved me through these past 25 years? he is a man of steel.  i prayed with her tonight, asking for serenity, hoping for peace, maybe a mute button to the escalating drama that is 16...

Monday, March 26, 2012

day 31 - junk mail

wrote to my therapist after i blogged on saturday, said basically the same thing in the email that i said here.  asked for wisdom, he reminded me that caretaking any of them is destructive to me and recommended that i think of someone i can refer the son to if it becomes about HIM and HER, i knew that his uncle (a friend before they poisoned him with their version of how mean i was to them) would be good - and the family should know if things are hard between them.  i was glad to be prepared as he shared how hard things were, how much his parents were fighting and how scared he was for his sister as his mother thinks she should be held back next year because she isn't getting her home schooling as well as she should (poor little girl).  i can't imagine the stress.  told him i would pray and that i thought maybe his uncle would be a good resource because he understands the family dynamic well.  i also encouraged him to take a walk with his father and tell him how he feels.

the other thing my therapist encouraged was changing metaphor, from the tentacles pulling me back in to something that i have control over.  he started with a cupboard, that i can open and close - and set aside and then he talked about mail, how it's not the kind of thing we leave lying around or keep forever.  so i really liked that one, and termed contact junk mail, sometimes informative, usually not life changing and can be recycled regularly.

i can't tell you how much that helped.  even makes me smile when i think of it.

i told him that i realized that one of the good things that came from this was that i realized how tangled my emotions were around her still - i have worked through a lot of my stuff with him and don't find that i have nearly the amount of emotion or tie-in that i used to - so i need to write out my stuff on her and process the emotion behind it.

so in case any more junk mail comes by the house at least now i know what to do with it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

day 30 - next stop bizzaro world

in my room blow drying my hair and i hear the phone ring - it's the weird long distance chirp, we get very few calls anymore, and weirdly i still can tell when it's HIM, this time though it wasn't HIM, it was HER... i heard liam say hello and her name and i was in shock... they talked for about 10 minutes, and i kept drying my hair, not wanting to hear anything, gobsmacked at how six months can go by, emails never answered, and a full year of trying to mediate the mess between us and out of the clear blue sky she calls.

i hear by liam's response that she ends with "we love you guys" and i am instantly pissed.  so angry at the gall.  so angry at the denial, so angry at the fact that i have made 2 amends face to face with this woman and she never once apologized to me for anything - and played the wounded martyr to everyone. 

oh how i wish i had blown her cover back then.  maybe all of this wouldn't have happened.  i really thought that giving her the dignity of silence was the most loving thing i could do.  i vent at liam, blow off steam and listen as he tells me that they were out for brunch at a cafe that feeds everyone no matter what their status or ability to pay.  it was always a dream of mine, and she had to call and tell us that they found this place.

the levels of denial are so profoundly monumental that i am staggered at her abilities.

their son was close friends with our two kids, and being that he is home schooled now and that i was his former youth worker finds that i am frequently online when he is studying through the day.  he chats with me from time to time, and tonight i got a desperate email from him asking if we could talk soon.  it feels like that pool outside the mines in Two Towers where that thing lurks in the pool and no matter how hard they try they just can't get away from it.  the tentacles on this thing are fierce and they keep sucking me back in.

i keep trying to figure out how to put some closure on all of this for my own good and not theirs, but i just can't seem to sense my way out of this.  my usual clarity evaporates when it comes to this family.  i guess it's that way with all addictions, eh?  any wisdom on this would be appreciated.  i am tired of not having any control in these situations.  i feel blown about by whim and need.  i warned liam that there will be an "ASK" coming - she was priming the pump... all of the other friends aren't nearly as capable or committed as i once was... 

i am tired of it all want off of this roller coaster ride.

Friday, March 23, 2012

day 29 - relief

had bought hunger games matinee tickets for daughter & my girlfriend and her kids before i realized that it was normally the day i see my spiritual director.  that is the highlight of my month - so i was so grateful she was able to come down early and see me before we left.

i love this spunky nun more than just about anyone in my life right now - it is no mistake that we have found each other.  i adore her.  she is as close to extended family as i have right now.  she is like an aunt to me, and i adore her.

at the end of our session today i told her that i had been hoping for a more slow thaw to winter than we have had and how i noticed on my walk yesterday as there was no ice for me to break through.  i mentioned that i liked to help spring along by crushing the ice on the edges of the road and sidewalks so it melts more quickly - and she started to giggle and mimes god and the angels looking down from heaven saying "oh, you don't have to worry about that block there, bobbie's taken care of that one" :)  we belly laughed and giggled for quite some time.  it felt so good.

she reminded me when i left that i needed to remember that the calendar is just a suggestion and that my hoped for resurrection may not fall distinctly on easter - i was grateful for that reminder, i said that maybe, like this spring it might even come early.