Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Day I Hit The Wall: Part 2

A year or two ago I started mentioning to close friends that I felt like something was wrong with me. I was having a lot of anxiety. My thoughts were becoming more and more irrational.

My friend Scarlett kept asking what I thought was wrong. I kept telling her that I was a very "complicated" person. That was the only way I knew to explain it. I'm not sure I was even able to put what I was feeling into words.

I was worrying about everything and everyone around me. These feelings intensified when my Mother passed away in April. I was worried to death about my Dad, and how he would cope. Less than a month after Mom's death, my son had an accident on his skateboard that required a CAT scan, and layers of stitches and staples in the back of his head. Two major events, back-to-back, that I had absolutely no control over, launched my insanity into overdrive.

I was aware of the fact that much of the change in my mental well being had occurred when my husband quit drinking. In fact, he kept telling me I needed to focus on my own issues; maybe I should even consider going to Al-Anon.

That really pissed me off.

Someone suggested I read a book called "Feeling Good". This book had some good information, but didn't really fit me. My sister-in-law said she thought I needed to try some counseling. I felt she was right but I kept putting it off.

Every time I'd have two or three good days in a row, seeking help would take a back burner. I'd feel better, so maybe I could just lick this on my own.

That leads us right up to the unfortunate "deck incident" described in Part One of this entry. As bad as it was, it had to happen. I had to hit the wall that morning.

I spent the day (a Sunday) feeling angry, embarrassed and ashamed of my insane behavior. After a lot of soul searching and praying for an answer, I realized these issues of mine were some kind of sick web, spun out of my need to control, driven by my husband's drinking, and ultimately his sobriety.

On Monday I headed to the bookstore.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Day I Hit The Wall: Part 1

People who have problems or addictions rarely seek help for them until they hit a wall. There are “obvious” walls such as a DUI, an accident, health problems, or the loss of a job. Any of these may push the addict to realize they need to seek help.

I hit my wall in August.

My husband was hanging out with our neighbor. After I’d gone to bed I realized they had parked themselves on our deck, which is directly below the bedroom window. All night long I kept waking up. I’d hear them talking. Normal voice, not shouting or anything. It got later and later. Every time I awoke I envisioned the scene. In my mind I saw beer cans everywhere. The next time I woke I could picture them laughing at how I’d never know they were drinking because I was asleep. The next time, I could just see them staggering, slurring, and about to pass out. Who knows what else!

At about 5:30 I awoke and heard guitar strumming. Dear God, they've been up all night and now they've dragged out the guitars! I was livid. I tried to go back to sleep but I was so filled with rage from my psychic visions that I just couldn't. I just new the entire day would be one big hangover. Nope, no work would get done that day! It would just be a day filled with throwing up, headache, arguments….the day was ruined!

At precisely 6:45 a.m. I couldn't take it anymore. I got up, grabbed my robe, and headed down the stairs. Even though my entire body was shivering, I could feel my blood boiling with every step I took.

By the time I reached the kitchen I was out of my mind. I walked to the back door that leads to the deck. I reached for the door knob. I yanked the door open as hard as I could.

I suspect I looked quite Gollum-like as I pointed my shaking finger in my neighbor’s face and said “YOU NEED TO GO HOME”. I then turned the finger to my husband and scathed “YOU NEED TO COME IN!”

As long as I live I’ll never forget the looks on both their faces. My neighbor was standing there holding an acoustic guitar. If there was beer or any other alcohol involved I never saw it. There were no dancing girls either. Neither of them reacted with a drunken confrontation. They both just looked at me like I was crazy.

At that moment…..I was.

I didn't know it right then, but I had just hit my wall.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meet Mary Bailey

Internet Usage 101 teaches us we shouldn't use our real names when we post things online. So when the time came to select a screen name for this blog I wanted one that fit me. One that most people could identify with, that gave some insight into my personality and what makes me tick. One that might help well-adjusted people who don't know much about codependence, well....get it. It wasn't long before something "wonderful" came to mind.

My all time favorite film "It's A Wonderful Life" is all about the life of George Bailey. All his life, George dreamed of being an adventurer. He planned to travel the world. Exotic, maybe even dangerous places! Tahiti...Africa! That spunk of his quickly attracted the attention of adolescent angel Mary Hatch, who declares "George Bailey, I'll love you til the day I die."

Well, you've seen the movie; George never makes it out of Bedford Falls. One disaster after another befell him and eventually things got so bad he jumped off a bridge in an attempt to end his problems. Now the story will tell you it was George's guardian angel Clarence who saves the day, but every time George fell, it was Mary who was there to pick him up and fix everything.

Mary dedicated her life to raising her children, volunteering for the USO, and most important, fixing George Bailey.

Here's a photo of Mary after she rebelled against her mother (who wanted her to marry the rich Sam Wainwright). Mary lured George into her parlor where she's about to convince him to marry her, even though he'll tell her he never wants to get married....EVER!

Here's Mary on her wedding day, saving the entire population of Bedford Falls from economic doom by offering up a large wad of cash she and George had stashed for their honeymoon. The stock market crashed and George was in a major pickle because everyone panicked and wanted to withdraw their money from the Building and Loan.

Finally, and most's Mary after the bank deposit was misplaced and ultimately stolen by the evil Mr. Potter. George fell apart and attempted suicide, but Mary rallied the entire town together and single-handedly saved the day!

Like me, Mary was out to lasso the wild boy from early on. In the process she performed rescue after rescue (a term you'll be hearing a lot more about), and fixed every problem that came along. So you see....there really was no other choice for a screen name except "Mary".

I think that's what all codependents really want--to be like Mary Bailey. Able to take complete and total control of any situation; able to rescue everyone around them until they finally get their "happily ever after". See how happy they all look? Ahhhhh......that's a codependent's dream come true.

Problem is, controlling and rescuing don't typically result in a happy ending in the real world. That's what this journal is all about.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The First Step

My husband is a recovering alcoholic. Last night at a neighborhood Halloween costume party he drank. I don't know how much; it really doesn't matter.

It's the first time that has happened since I truly realized I had massive codependency issues, and started the long road to recovery.

This morning when I couldn't wake him up in time for work I felt that rage and those overwhelming urges to "control" coming on. That's when I realized I had two choices. I could do what I always do and wake him up with a lecture, then we could have the same argument that we've had a thousand times before, or I could try a new approach. I could practice the things I've learned from reading Melody Beattie's wonderful book "Codependent No More".

My husband is never a pleasant person when he first gets up; particularly if he's running late. That unpleasantry is magnified considerably if he's hungover. But for the first time in 15 years, I reacted differently. I stayed calm. I made coffee. I didn't view his action as an attack on me, but rather an attack on himself. I realized that if I reacted the way I always reacted then we'd have the same exhausting conversation we always had and frankly, I just wasn't up for it.

I realized I had taken the Codependent's First Step:

"We admitted we were powerless over others-that our lives had become unmanageable."

This realization was so empowering that I decided I would write this journal about my journey out of codependence as part of my therapy and recovery. I realize I've only taken the first step, and that I have a long, LONG way to go--probably the rest of my life! But for the time being, this will be therapeutic, and maybe I'll share some insight and interesting stories along the way!