Monthly Archives: March 2014
Gratitude for this one..
Relax, take three deep breaths, in through the nose and exhale out of the mouth. Silently to yourself countdown from ten to one ( eyes closed ). Imagine a ticking clock, with each second-hand movement, you sink deeper and deeper into relaxation.
Picture every cell in your body magnified and displaying beautiful geometric designs of love and freedom. Iridescent light blue light spirals outwards from the patterns and shapes, softly transforming their structure downloading soul memory coded knowledge from the planets that we originate from. Every cell in our body will re-connect with the path of ascension of the planet and the human race. High-lighting and clarifying our spiritual purpose this life time round.
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By the time I went to my 12-step study meeting tonight I was completely NOT emotionally sober. I had no control over the thoughts, worries that were circulating in and passing through…assaulting my mind. I had a proverbial sway, and my feelings were obscene (just bad, not sexual).
I had a very bad sleep last night, woke up with that hangover discomfort (to put it kindly) and so today was a struggle.
The weather was great, which is nice. But I had planned to work my butt off writing my chapter 6 so that I could take tomorrow (or at least the better part of it) “off”. However, trying to work on a beautifully sunny Sunday while I can hear kids playing outside my window, and while I am simply mentally groggy and in plenty of physical discomfort due to a crappy sleep is really a challenge. And the disdaining voices in my head on top of that… Well, my day was a little sad.
While I seem to have disappointed myself for not doing EXACTLY what I wanted to do to free myself up for tomorrow (12 degrees and sunny it is supposed to be!) I did 1) make myself blueberry bran muffins and eggs for breakfast, 2) real juice for a snack later, and 3) go for a walk in the park for about an hour in the sunny afternoon after I had 4) written a few (yay) pages of chapter 6, 5) bought fruit for juice for the week and 6) sorted out insurance coverage for a dental checkup…I was still incredibly tense at myself by the time I went to my meeting. I thought for at least a half hour into the meeting that perhaps it would not be as comforting and inspiring this week as it was last, largely because I was not the optimistic and chipper woman I was when I go there last week.
Amazingly though, I was fortunate enough to discover some good stuff in this mind and heart of mine…and through the minds and hearts of the other lovely and courageous people who have also decided to attend and commit themselves to the process. Overwhelmingly good stuff…
One of the things the yellow book says about the step process is that it frees us to “say who we are, instead of drunk or dysfunctional parents saying who we are not” (p.2). That stuck out to me tonight.
As I have avoided contact with my ex and with my mother of late…the aloneness and silence have left me really spooked. It’s like ‘nobody’s home’ inside me, because there is no one to tell me who I am, or what is good about me, or what I have to do, or what the world needs from me. I go through the motions each day, doing a bunch of “things” like I did today, even making plans and trying to stick to them. But deep inside I don’t believe my own plans, I don’t even believe my own actions. Because no one is there to affirm or receive or gush or resist or even criticize. Only me. And just me is really irritating…my thoughts are like a broken record, echoing insults and worries and resentments and terrified fears and empty compliments and mean accusations…all residue from those people who I learned to ‘purpose’ myself for, and who did not deliver in return with the (unconditional) love they promised as a mother and a partner. My sense of self is adrift without anyone to acknowledge my existence, good or bad.
And then comes the next quote from the book…
Many of my recent months and even years (maybe even a decade or more!) has been a break up/make up fest between myself and my boyfriends, as well as avoidance and then giving in with my mother, over and over…because the feelings that I got from being around them, the feelings I thought were the good ones were like crack. Staying away from these people put me into an absolutely hefty emotional and physical and physiological state of withdrawal. I have felt so physically sick and emotional destroyed that there were moments I thought the experience was literally going to kill me.
“The ‘withdrawal’ from addictive codependent relationships can be just as painful as, if not more painful than an addict’s withdrawal from drugs” (p.6). (Have you seen actual or realistic portrayals of chemical withdrawals?!)
I was asking myself in the meeting…what is the relationship between this lack of knowledge of who I am and this absolutely horrendous experience of withdrawal?
Abandonment is also a mondo-humungous creature in itself, — In the book it is associated with “our inner child reliving the fear of being unloved and unwanted by our family”.
I remember the moments when I was really young where I was afraid that my mother would leave (and leave me alone with my father – he was terrifying to me). I think there were a couple of times where I had the feeling I was literally going to die. But I don’t think it was because I felt I would starve or be left out in the woods to perish…
I had learned at a relatively young age that my existence (my behaviour and actions and emotional expression) was defined by others, mostly my mother (and eventually father) and eventually ANY other significant person. What I became afraid of with the possibility if my mother leaving me with J (my dad) was that her notion of me as good and well-behaved and valuable and heavenly (only for her purposes of course) would disappear with her and that all that would be left of me when she left me with j would be his notion of me (extraneous, fragile, insignificant, weak, an irritating reflection of his lack of softness and of his scary-ness). My physical well-being was threatened by the fact that I was annoying, threatening, and expendable to my dad. And that is all I was if my mother was not around to force him to treat me according to her notion of me. I was only what the closest person to me saw me as…
Anyway…so, then what happens when I have NO one around with any notion of me?! Well, back then – before a lot of other crap – I was simply a little girl with still a bit of a healthy sense of adventure and ambition (kid-sized) and rose colored glasses – when I was all by myself). Being alone in the woods playing for hours was my sustenance. My saving grace, and god took care of me there and my sense of self progressed for a while. But once J left I was completely bombarded with catering to my mom’s notion of who I was (on her ‘team’, emotional support, source of unconditional love – or evil if I did not deliver on those). Life was so traumatic and desperate for years after that that there was only time for me to cater to mom, and catering to me disappeared. I became only a being who was everything she needed, exclaimed, and claimed… A grunt, and emotional slave. And I etched out an identity from the good and bad things she claimed I was (for her). When she got what she needed from me and praised me I was divine. When I it was the opposite I may as well have been like a snake skin that someone shed…I barely existed, I was barely visible. I didn’t even have the weight or Substance to be called garbage.
My abandonment operated through claims that I was useless. That what I didn’t do made me a bad (nothing) person. That if I did not fulfill someone’s unfulfilled need I was nothing. DID….NOT…EXIST.
I have operated according to that rule until this very day. This very night. This very hour.
Everything I did today was for someone whose needs I did not fill before, or whose needs I will be responsible for in the future!
And if I had done nothing today, I would have been freaking out about how to hide that ’empty’ time…
I worked so hard in my last relationship. And every time G (my ex) went somewhere else for something that he should be getting from his partner (me), I felt absolutely…like I was going to die. I had no purpose. My attraction to him was in a large way based on the fact that he needed self-value and I showed him that I valued him more than anyone than he had ever met.
When he needed a place to live I gave him that. When he needed someone to trust and have faith in him, I gave him that. When he needed money, I (initially) gave him that. When he needed family ‘cred’ he got that because I was in his life. When he needed someone to look at him with love and admiration I did that. When he needed someone kind, I was that. When he needed caress and comfort, I delivered.
Once he started to ‘play me’ and tell me how I wasn’t giving ‘enough’ or in the right way…the first thing I felt was devastation (rather than offense or anger at his cruelty). Because he was telling me I had failed him… That meant I was nothing. I have no other self than the self who has been co-oped as a “caring machine” for those who claim me that way…!
My trauma has been perpetuated by me because I thought that the reasons for my actions, for my gestures, for my feelings, for my activities, accomplishments, (eeeeverything!) were other people! Specifically the person who offered me love and admiration for those things. I have been subsisting when alone by waiting for the next (or last!) receiver to come along so that I can give all and become visible again… (When someone is not benefitting from my existence, I do not exist.) that is why doing all of these wonderful things I have been doing for myself has felt, more often than not, like it is all just going straight down the toilet! Like straight into a void, or a black hole.
And that is what people read from me! That my actions have no value but for them! I have no purpose but them! I do not value me, or much of anything about me! That my contribution to the world means nothing if it is not valuable to them! (By the way, only very sick people take advantage of people like me). My healthy body, my hard work, my university degrees, my thoughts, my thoughtfulneess… I have thrown it all to the wolves!
It was supposed to all be for ME!!! It was supposed to be, first and foremost valuable to me!!
I am supposed to exist and remind the world that I exist by doing things for my own purposes. Doing things from my heart and spirit and body!!! Not others’!!! Inevitably everything I am and do will go to others as we are all pat of this one organism. But the reason for everything that comes from this body mind and spirit, the the origin, the purpose needs to be me.
I am a creation of my higher power. And my higher power needs MY contribution. not for me to mask my existence and my energy behind the needs of those who have their own and can help and love themselves.
DAMN, This is huge. HUGE!!
Tomorrow I can wake up and ask myself, about every little thing I think and feel and do. Why are you thinking and feeling and doing…all of this, WonderfulShantelle??
FOR ME!!!! ME, MEEEEE!!!
Because I love me. And because The higher power needs my self-love. If I do not love myself, that is one less in the world. No More.
How does this sound like me…
Thank you Belle
I am an unlikely candidate to have started a sober blog. Call it desperation if you like, I just had NO IDEA how to stay sober on my own.
I don’t drink that much, I say to myself. Yet I drink mostly every day. Some weeks I manage a few off-days but I hate them. Why can everyone else drink except for me? And then I cave as soon as someone offers me a drink. I read my morning pages, and I have written “drink less” and “you drink differently from other people” and “from now on I will only drink wine only on special occasions or when we have company or when on vacation or if it’s a really good reason.”
Yeah, that never worked. Ever. Not once. Never. Not one time.
Alcoholic? Well of COURSE I’m not an alcoholic. I mean, for christ’s sake, just look at at…
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The prison of obsessive thinking keeps us trapped somewhere when the door out is unlocked. I really like the story that Tara Brach tells about Houdini not escaping a jail cell because he worked and worked on the lock not considering that the door was already unlocked.
And she also said…that we (people like me) tend to live life like it is problem to be solved. I don’t want to live life like that anymore.
Then I must reflect on everything I have been obsessing about today that is not in fact a problem that I have to solve or a situation that I am trapped in. I want to see how I am not “locked in” like my thoughts have me believe…
Everything I can think of:
Getting up out of bed – obsessing about how i will meet an insurmountable mountain of obligations when I get up. “How can I get out of bed and not feel like I have so much on my plate…I might as well just give up before I even get up!” I might as well stay in bed…and think about the impossibility of getting thins done, about the absent G, about all I my mistakes, about how I failed to get catch up with things yesterday and the day before, and wait until something (outside of me) changes.
But if I cannot change the circumstances and I have to go to work, and teach and write, and eat, and do my chores, and keeping on living despite making mistakes over and over, just thinking about it all is not going to help. Waiting is not going to help. I am not ‘trapped’ in bed by my difficult situation. I am trapped by my thinking. The door is open and I can get up and just ‘do’.
– obsessing about how taking the bus is a problem (nausea discomfort time suck) I have to solve…I don’t have any choice but to get up and take the bus. Obsessing/thinking about how uncomfortable it is and how nauseous it makes me and how long it takes is not going make It more comfortable or less nauseous or less time-consuming.
The fact is that I can drive the car or take the bus. And taking the bus solves my concern with costs. Leaving me with less obsessing over money…sigh
– obsessing over responding to my mother. I think if I think about it long enough I will figure out a way to communicate with her that she will actually hear me and respond the way that doesn’t hurt or frustrate me. That door is ‘not locked’ either. It is not a conundrum if I know that the door is ‘not locked’… Feeling trapped my my mother’s feelings and thoughts and opinions is due to my obsessing about her thoughts and opinions and how frustrated I am with her. If I remember that I am in my body and mind and not hers, I don’t have to change that. I only have to go about what I would normally do! I don’t have to respond to every message because her obsession is not my trap, it is hers. I don’t have to make her feel not so upset, because I am not the cause of her upset in the first place. If I want away from her upset, I give myself that distance. I am free to walk out the proverbial door. Make myself happy elsewhere, fulfill my needs elsewhere. And then empathize with her later if I feel for that.
– obsessively worrying about writing chapters every day, about how slow I am or about how unclear and fatigued my thinking is so much of the time keeps me trapped inside “I am not finishing my dissertation”. Walking out the door of that conversation with myself frees me from staying unproductive and being upset about it. Thinking about the problems doesn’t solve them. Only doing something in response to them does.
Like Houdini…thinking about how to get the door open does not get you out of the trap. Giving the knob a turn does. And then walking through.
Obsessing about how little energy or time I have to go swimming does not solve those things and get me swimming. Actually responding to my low energy and altering my plans or schedule gets me swimming.
I’ve got to practice this a little more. Look forward to it 🙂
About half way down this webpage you will find the 5 steps I am going to exercise here for myself 🙂
1. Make a “you” section in your daily gratitude journal.
Thank you, wonderfulshantelle today for:
– turning on some spiritual guidance radio first thing this morning. It wa comforting
– trying not to be too hard on me for not jumping out of bed this morning and doing my exercise routine
– for taking the car for the repair
– for taking me out to mark papers somewhere besides home. A kind man spoke to me as I sat and marked and it gave me a warm feeling that there are kind people looking for kind people, all around.
– for trying to listen to what my body was telling me about its comfort and sensations.
– for buying me breakfast
– for walking me for almost 2 hrs 🙂
– for making me pasta with creamy cashew red pepper pesto sauce today (and yesterday), it is yum!!
– for paying some attention to me and not the mess on my bed or the mess in the sink or the mess in my office.
– for taking me to group therapy…
– for giving me time to lay on the couch when I get home
– for not contacting G today
– for looking for ways to get past the anger/sadness that is clamped on to my gut
– for doing shoulder exercises that help get rid of my neck pain
– for choosing to look at the good things about your efforts with G’s kids rather than only dwelling on the possibilities of bad aftermath
– for sending myself all of the little messages on my phone to remind myself that I love me and that I am loved, and to remind me that how I feel matters.
2. Before seeking external validation, ask yourself, “What do I hope that person tells me?” Then tell it to yourself.
I hope that
– the guys at the garage would tell me that the work they do on my car is no trouble and that they do not mind me asking questions and for them to show me what they are talkin about.
—a garage doing work on my car is no trouble to them. I can ask all the questions I want and can ask them to show Me what they are talking about if it will make me feel more comfortable
– G would tell me he is sorry for making me feel like the one who screwed things up and that I was only asking something reasonable when I asked him not to drive my car and drink.
— G is an angry alcoholic and cannot think about how he hurts my feelings because it is too painful for him to think about. He can only distract me from being hurt AND from his mistakes by telling me I am hurting or “trying to control him”… I was asking something pretty reasonable and angry for a good reason. I do not want to be around anyone who calls me names, even G, because he wants to distract me from his own inconsideration. I am not a bad person for getting angry when he tried to tell me what to think or how to think after I said we could “talk later”. Manipulation is upsetting for anyone.
– mom would tell me she understands how I would find it difficult to talk with her given the feelings I have shared with her and my experience of the past. She would say she understand how I can not answer the phone in the middle of the night or whenever she decides to call because of how I am trying to help myself right now. She knows I don’t not love her because I am keeping to myself. She knows I am doing what I feel is best for me right now.
— I am not unloving, insolent, or a bad daughter. I am a grown adult woman who is only now learning to create boundaries, learning to pay attention to what my limits are, and learning how to share those with others. I love my mother and empathize with her, but the most important thing for me is to love and empathize with myself. A mother who loves me will be proud of that and will want to learn about me as I learn about myself.
3. This morning I had a right to feel tired. I had a right to feel scared of my day, I had a right to feel overwhelmed. I had a right to doubt myself, I had a right to feel lonely, I had a right to feel entitled, I had a right to feel scared of face ing my fears? I had a right to feel worried about what others thought of me.
Get in the habit of telling yourself, “I have a right to feel how I feel.” This will help you understand your feelings and work through them much more easily, because you won’t be so deeply embedded in negativity about yourself.
4. See yourself as the parent to the child version of you.
Good morning WS! You are my sunshine :-). You are feeling tired and anxious? Try no to worry. I will make you a good breakfast and you will not have a long day today. And you are a hard worker so things will go well, you’ll see.
When you’re looking for that warm, fuzzy feeling that emerges when someone you trust tells you, “Everything is going to be okay,” imagine yourself saying it to your younger self.
Picture that little kid who tried so hard, meant no harm, and just wanted to be loved and cherished. This will likely help in deflating your self-criticism and fill you a genuine sense of compassion for yourself.
5. Get in the habit of ask yourself, “What do I need right now?”
– a lot of water
– help to get rid of the racing obsessive thoughts
– more sleep
– comfort that “I am doing the best I know how” and assurance that I will feel better…
Oftentimes when we’re feeling down on ourselves, we feel a (sometimes subconscious) desire to punish ourselves. When we reject or deprive ourselves in this way, we exacerbate our feelings because we then feel bad about two things: the original incident and the pain we’re causing ourselves.
Been meaning to update some things… But have chosen to be all ‘task-oriented’ and…you know…focusing on what I ‘have’ to do instead of what I feel for doing. I think every once in a while when I have a good experience (i.e. my ACA meeting the other day – see below post) I feel like I have to pay it back with ‘work’. The pattern of keeping me ‘working’ instead of ‘living’ really overshadows my life most days. And sometimes writing about it on top of experiencing it feels disheartening. The thing that keeps me writing is that…well, 2 things… Other people may read this and get something comforting or personally revelatory out of it, and after I write here I actually feel a bit of a load off. It takes me reminding myself…
So, in the past few days I have somehow found some relief from the terrible feeling of dread I was having. On Friday I took my ex’s kids out which was soooo nice, but I realized it also causes me a lot of stress. I have to worry about how their parents react to them and to me taking them to do things… And, I usually spend time with them with their Dad, and I noticed how much compensating (for him) I was doing during those times, and how driven I am to behave in the same way when he is not here. Just out of habit… But I don’t have to. And then I think I am at a loss… Like, not sure what the point of me is, if I am not here to compensate for their Dad… I try to depend on the great things I do with them or the caring way I am with them…but it is just a weird shift… and it gives me a lot of anxiety, right in my chest. Like I am feeling guilt for something and I can’t quite put my finger on what for.
I am off to Group Therapy tonight and anticipating some upheaval. Last week everyone opened up quite a bit more about what they thought the meetings should be like, what they expected of them, and I even talked to a couple of people for a few minutes after the meeting. We aren’t supposed to socialize after the meetings, so I am looking forward to sharing what those exchanges were between me and others. And trying to share my honest goals about being there while sharing my honest feelings about my exchanges with others.
I am seeing that some people think someone else is supposed to define why we are there, what we are supposed to do there, and where we are supposed to be at the end of the 9 months. I do not feel that way at all. I think I have my own goals, but they are not really quantifiable or ‘psychiatrically’ defined or any such thing. But some people want them to be. And some people are defining their success by whether we are ‘solving each others’ problems’ or not… That I find gives me a bad feeling in my stomach. And the idea that some people want to simply know if others agree with them or are ‘on their side’ about certain issues that are happening in their lives or choices that they are making in their relationships. I am also not down with that…
I am just happy to be able to go somewhere where we are all obligated to be courteous and be a part of other people getting to know themselves. There are some things that I know will be helpful, but I know no one will be able to help me singlehandedly… I just need a place where things I do and say come to light, and bounce off of other back to me to show me a more nuanced way of looking at myself and at life… I do not want to be in a ‘race’…or anything like that. I just want to find comfort within myself, to know that I belong in this life, that everything about me belongs here. Many people aren’t in that frame of mind.
In order get rid of the bit of tension I have in my chest I am going to walk to the meeting (about 55 mins yay!). Here’ goes.
So thankful for another day. Another chance to grow into me.
Tonight I went back to my first ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families) step study in maybe almost a year. Almost a couple of months ago I decided I would go back and do another one. What made me plan to go back was…a couple of things. I haven’t been able to really spend time with my own feelings as much as I thought I was going to be able to. I don’t feel like I have been able to ‘re-parent’ myself as i had hoped. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Coda meetings, and Alanon meetings are great, but I think I’ve come to need a little more, a little deeper searching after a little break from the last step study. I need the time to really dive in a little more. I have made some progress on my own, and with other things, including meditation, but I am lonely. Lonely in part because I either have regressed to spending time with my ex (although I havent seen him in about 1.5 months now) and little time with healthy friends. I am literally thinking that I am not healthy enough to spend time with healthy friends, but it is no problem to spend time with someone who is not at all healthy…because…well, maybe because I don’t think I can do much more damage to myself, and I’d rather not embarrass myself with healthy friends. I’d rather G be pissy at me for enforcing boundaries than other people look at me with sadness or pity when I show some signs of pathetic-ness. It’s time to kick my self-love up a notch and try to propel myself into the new world. And sharing all of the things I have been learning about myself in a safe environment feels kind of like ‘coming home’ again.
I felt very good in my first step study, because I fervently tried to be as open and honest about my feelings as I could. Even though I think I hate my anger and what I might call my petulance… I really put myself out there. And I am so relieved to have that basis now, and relieved to know that I love myself more than I thought, and no matter what comes out of this heart and mind and body, it is going to move me closer to sanity.
I have felt really NOT emotionally sober as I have isolated myself. I have been panicky and obsessive and anxious, and bitter, and just getting more and more pissed, even though I am working on myself all alone… But like they say, we can’t do it alone. I can not do it alone. I need to share this experience with a spiritual community, a group conscious, be present with myself and my higher power. And the ACA step study feels like a good place of all of those…
It was a tender-feeling place to be tonight. There were some scared people, I could tell. But there was very little tension, very little ego. Very little resentment. Which is what I know I can bring into such a place, just because I am so scared. So scared to be judged. So scared to feel vulnerable. There are moments when I want to growl like a wild cat to warn people not to &^%$ with me. But there was none of that tonight. We were all there, vulnerable, and seemingly considerate and welcoming to each other. I like the location as well. This will be my home one night a week for 17 weeks. Yay 🙂
I am paralyzed with sadness and negative emotion.
What can I give myself that no one else can?
The time and the space to feel it. To see it. To hear it. To put it somewhere. To respond to it. I am the safest person, and this powerful natural presence that I thank for my life is the right place to reveal it… Can I have faith in that, that ‘God’ is a safe place for my feelings?
God is a safe place for my feelings…
Shame for doing things for outwards appearances and not for what is best for me.
Shame for spewing so much anger at a situation that was already absolutely overly soaked in it.
Ashamed for having the arrogance to think that I was a shining light for someone. ‘God’ is the only shining light.
Shame for being irresponsible to myself. So irresponsible as to put my life on hold, for decades, for a human savior that is not to be.
Shame for pretending that I was ok when I was not, for pretending I trusted when I did not, for pretending I was not hurt or scared or angry or destroyed… Ashamed of not responding lovingly and caringly to my own despair, when I was hiding under the bed at 37, 38 years old instead of kicking him out. I was justified in kicking him out.
I was justified in never speaking to him again, or at least telling him I could not manage a relationship with him at the time because of my job.
I was justified in cutting it off…
I want to hate myself so much for being a star-struck puppy dog. Look at myself and have the thoughts I imagined my father thought about me when I was little. Thoughts like, “you useless weak fragile pathetic chip of paint…do you have no sense or spine whatsoever. Your baby-ness is absolutely shameful…you can’t handle anything! You…will…pretend you are strong, you will pretend I am good to you, you will pretend you are not scared. You will be my daughter even though you are not. You will comply, you will be scared of me to be good…”
What do I tell myself when these memories and feeling are so fresh, from almost 40 years ago…?
You were scared for good reason. Your mom left you alone. She used other people to take care of you. You needed her but you had to stuff that need. You felt that you were a mistake but you had to stuff that feeling. You felt lost but you had to stuff that feeling. You were taught to feel need for someone in a relationship of owing her for keeping you. So absolutely cunning and cruel for someone to learn at such a young age. She was trying to have a daughter and trying to compensate for losing so much because of having a daughter all at the same time… She was multitasking in the cruelest way…
What can I give myself right now? The time and space to feel the worst of the feelings I have. You are free to feel them with me. They mean no less if you sit and feel them just with me ,yourself.
Right here, right now. Feel them.