Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

I have a lot of hope for the New Year.

I had a wonderful New Year's Eve lunch with Scarlett today. We did a small amount of reflection, and we also raised our glass to good things for us in the new year.

2008 was an eventful year for me. There were massive changes where I work. Hell, there were massive changes where MOST of us work! And I'm pretty sure there are many, MANY more work-related changes to come. I lost my Mom in 2008, which was a major life event for me. But as big as those two things were, maybe the most significant thing that happened to me in 2008 was hitting my wall in August, and the realization that I needed to start working on myself. I plan to continue that work into the new year. Why, I'm just getting started!

Also, as Scarlett mentioned at lunch, whether we are Democrat or Republican, we all need to rally behind our new president so that we can start to turn this country around. I'm not much for politics, and truth be known I am a registered Republican, but to that comment I say "here, here"! It's time to put our differences aside and come together for someone who seems truly interested in helping our nation. Working together is the only way we're going to fix the problems we have.

Thank you again, to my support group; my closest friends for being there for me. Whether it's codependence, alcoholism, food addiction, shopping addiction, or any other addiction, we all have our own issues. Let's all work on ourselves this coming year.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How Was Your Day?

I cannot stress this enough; I absolutely detest forwarded emails. But for some reason I always get a little intrigued at the ones that include surveys about yourself. I even like the ones where you answer questions about your friends to see how well you know them. I don't know why.

Anyway, last night during my reading I found a sort of survey that instantly caught my attention. I liked it so much that my new plan is to read it every night before I go to bed and answer the questions as they pertain to that day. I think these questions could be beneficial to all of us on a regular basis.

Today, did I stand and deal with a feeling? I may have done it awkwardly, but did I do it?
Did I think about any of the Steps once, during a crisis?
Did I do something differently today than I would have done a year or two ago? Even a little differently?
Did I reach out to someone and allow myself to be vulnerable?
Did I start to get into shame or negativity, then become aware of it and get myself out?
Did I do something nice, gentle, and loving for myself?
Did I do something for someone else that felt good?
Did I do my work well today?
Did I deal positively with a bad day?
Did I practice gratitude or acceptance?
Did I take a risk?
Did I set a boundary, enforce a boundary?
Did I talk honestly and openly to someone and feel we got a little closer?
Did I own my power in a way that was good for me?
Did I take responsibility for myself in a way that I might not have before?
Did I take time for prayer or meditation?
Did I trust God?
Did I talk to God and turn things over to God?
Did I let someone do something for me?
Did I start to get caught up in someone else's issues, then practice detachment?
Did I go on with my daily routine, when what I wanted to do was sit and obsess?
Did I listen to myself, trust myself, and see how well that worked out?
Did I hold my own with someone who tried to manipulate or control me?
Did I nurture myself instead of criticizing myself?
Did I go to a meeting, read a meditation, or think about a recovery concept, even for a short while?

I like it. I hope you do too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mary's MILFs

As a young girl I had three huge crushes. By huge, I mean massive. And they lasted years. One of them was a real-live person (I'm pretty sure we'll talk about him another time). The other two were on television. One was a recent "Mary's MILF", David Cassidy. The other was Arthur Fonzerelli.

I had every poster, every teen magazine, Fonzie socks: every piece of Fonzie material I could get my hands on. I even had a Fonzie action figure.

Unfortunately, the longer the "Happy Days" series went on, the more mellow Fonzie got. But I loved him most early on when he was a bad boy rebel with his tight white t-shirt, black leather jacket, motorcycle, and duck tail hair. In those days he didn't say alot. He didn't have to.

I always hated that Fonzie's girlfriends usually looked slutty. I knew girls like Pinky Tuscadero just weren't right for him. In my basement, when I was about 12 years old, I remember dressing up in a poodle skirt with my saddle oxfords and my hair in a high pony tail. I had a Ronco record with a bunch of 50's songs on it. I would listen to them and fantasize about being in the Fonz's apartment over the Cunningham's garage, and......well, I just knew I was the kind of girl he needed.

In 1974 Henry Winkler starred in "The Lords of Flatbush", a film with Sly Stallone where he played a similar biker/thug character. He was hot in that too.

Yeah, in the mid seventies I was pretty sure I could fix him.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quotes I Like

"When I repress my emotions,
my stomach keeps score."
-John Powell

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Line In The Sand

Tonight I've been reading about boundaries. As expected, most codependents don't have them.

Boundaries are limits that say: "This is how far I will go. This is what I will or won't do for you. This is what I won't tolerate from you."

Alcoholism and other compulsive disorders laugh in the face of limits. The diseases not only push on our boundaries, they step boldly across them. Each time the disease pushes or steps across our limits we give in. We move our boundaries back, giving the disease more room to work. As the disease pushes more, we give in more until we are tolerating things we said we would never tolerate and doing things we said we would never do.

Sometimes it is necessary to set a certain boundary that applies to a particular relationship, such as, "I won't baby-sit Mary Lou's children anymore, because I don't want to, and she takes advantage of me in that area."

Set boundaries, but make sure they're our boundaries. The things we're sick of, can't stand, and make threats about, may be clues to some boundaries we need to set. They may also be clues to changes we need to make within ourselves. Mean what we say, and say what we mean. -From "Codependent No More"
A couple of years ago I finally established a set of my own personal boundaries. Lines in the sand that must not be crossed. I like to think I'm strong enough now to enforce them, but fortunately, I've not been tested much.

It's pretty simple to think of a long list of boundaries when you live with an alcoholic. It's much trickier when you realize you need to establish them with other people in your life, but I'm seeing now those boundaries are just as important.

As with all codependents, it's very easy for people to expect things from me and when I don't fulfill their expectations, it pisses them off. This has happened more than I like in the past few weeks and it's really starting to annoy me. It would be different if I promised things and then didn't deliver, but when people tell me what they expect from me and then get disappointed when I don't do what they want, it makes them and me crazy.

Setting boundaries is closely tied in with saying "no", and we codependents don't like to say that word. After all, if we say no, people might not like us! This is an area where I need some major work.
I realized tonight that not saying it is costing me my sanity.

Friday, December 26, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday

Today is my birthday. I feel good. It's my first birthday since Mom passed away but I don't feel sad. I made it it through Christmas pretty well too.

I've got a lot of work to do in the coming year. I'm going to be a better person.

But for today, my birthday....I'm happy with me, and I'm happy with where I am.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

I've obviously been sidetracked with all the unexpected drama of the past few weeks. Couple that with the fact that the big holiday rush is on and I've been neglecting my journal more than I'd like. Hopefully things will be back to normal in a few days and I can get back to writing.

In the meantime, I'd like to send each of my readers a Christmas message.

Hands down, you are the most even-tempered, easy going friend I have. I've rarely seen you rattled, let alone freaked out about anything. Your patient and even demeanor compliments me well. Thank you for standing by me and understanding, even when I didn't expect you to. I wish you peace and security in the new year. Rock on, sister.

You are probably most like me when it comes to processing things, and why wouldn't you be? Our kids are the same ages and we've both been married to people with addictions; we have a lot in common. In the coming year I wish for something great to happen to you professionally. It's past time. I also hope you will continue to make strides along with me. Working more on yourself and worrying less about others. Whichever life change the new year brings you, I know it will be the right one.


You've been there, done that and I know I can always count on you when I need some wise words. Somehow you always have them. You understand how my brain works and my often irrational, insane thoughts. You are making good decisions and you're in a good place. I hope you stay there in the coming year. I'm proud of you for holding down two jobs AND going to school. I know you will be rewarded and I'm proud of you for working so damn hard.


Since you are part of my husband's family you almost always know why he does the things he does, and more importantly why he does them the way he does them. You've helped me make perfect sense of things that once made no sense at all to me. You've never once criticized me or turned away your ear, even when I know it had to be numb from listening to my incessant ramblings. You've told me for years to work on myself and the rest would fall into place. I wish I'd listened sooner. You've achieved successes beyond anyone's wildest dreams and I know you busted your ass to do it. I wish for some rest and relaxation for you in the new year. Enjoy what you've earned.


You're constant. You're reliable. You love me unconditionally. You've driven to my house every Sunday for the last several years in rain, sleet, snow, and hail because you knew that was the only way I was going to be able to visit. Our Sunday Afternoon Cocktails and our out of town Diventures have given me an opportunity to focus on myself and have some fun. Those are pretty much the only times I get to steal away with no responsibilities or demands, and I treasure that. You have worked so hard on yourself this year. I know you've already added at least ten years to your life and you have inspired me with your healthier eating and daily exercise. I've known you since we were kids and I'll swear in court I never would have believed your ass would be riding that bike every single day like you do! More of the same for you in 2009. Keep speaking up for yourself, keep eating right, keep working out, and keep trying new things. This seems to be working for you physically, mentally, and professionally. You kick ass.

Without you guys I am quite certain I would be in an institution someplace. I love you all, and wish the best for all of us in the new year. Merry Christmas, my friends.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stuck on Stupid?

Someone I care about very much made an off the cuff comment to me yesterday, but it has me troubled. I passed Cici in the hall at work yesterday and she said "Mary, I'm stuck on stupid. I can't get this weight off and my blood pressure is too high." We had a brief discussion in the hall and as she walked off, Cici again said "I'm stuck on stupid!".

Our brains are very powerful. In one of my earliest journal entries "The Day I Hit The Wall Part 2" dated Oct 30, 2008 I mentioned that someone had suggested I read a book called "Feeling Good". That book is all about cognitive thinking and how our thinking patterns control our moods. It suggests our distorted thinking may even be responsible for depression.

It's not easy to lose weight, but my friend Scarlett is living's not impossible either. It takes hard work and dedication, but it starts with the right attitude. Melody Beattie tells us we should stop saying bad things about our minds. Quit telling ourselves things like "I'm stupid," "I can't make good decisions," "I've never been good at figuring things out". It's just as easy to say good things about ourselves as it is to say negative things. And, we'll probably start believing the positive things and find out they're true!

Cici has read this journal at least once. I don't know if she'll read this or not. But maybe all of us can take a little something from it. Women seem especially inclined to belittle themselves when things don't go as planned. Let's start giving ourselves some long overdue credit! I'm positive with some hard work and the help of a friend Cici could lose some weight and get her blood pressure back to normal.

There's really nothing we can't do if we put our minds to it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sally's Dilemma

My friend Sally had a rather bothersome codependent moment over the weekend. We've talked about it and Sally said I had full permission to write about it in Detach. Let's take a look.

Sally has been divorced for a few years now. She has two grade school aged children with her ex-husband. We won't spend too much time focusing on him, except to say he's had a long history with addiction; alcohol and amphetamines. Like most addicts, this addiction has caused him to make some really bad choices in life. Like most women who are married to addicts, Sally became quite codependent, with a strong urge to control things. We've studied this so we all know why.....for years, Sally had to be the exclusive caregiver of the children. They had no contact or support from their father. She made all decisions and paid all the bills because she had to. If anything at all were to get done, Sally had to do it.

I am happy to report that the ex-husband has now been sober for a couple of years, and therefore has inched his way back into the children's lives. Immediately in to his recovery he got remarried; then divorced. Very soon after the divorce he started dating a new woman. That brings us up to this past weekend when he told Sally he and the new girlfriend planned to get married. While he's known this new girlfriend for awhile they've only been dating a few weeks.

Naturally, Sally is very worried that the revolving door of wives is going to have a negative impact on her children. They were very hurt when he divorced his last wife. Sally has met this new girlfriend and while she seems nice enough, Sally feels an overwhelming need to step in and tell her ex "NO! You can't get married again, it's a stupid idea!" Since she has full custody of the children it's very tempting to pull a trump card and tell him he can't see the children if he goes through with this. Of course this would be detramental to everyone, especially the children.

I don't know the right answer here. I'm not sure there is one. The only thing I do know for sure is that we have learned that no matter how hard she tries, Sally can not control her ex-husband. She will not stop him from doing what he wants to do. My opinion is that as long as her ex is sober and the children are safe, she should step back and continue to let them visit their dad. If he hurts them by pushing and pulling another person in and out of their lives IT'S NOT SALLY'S FAULT! The children are getting old enough to make their own decisions about their father and in time that's exactly what they will do. In the meantime she will not be seen by them as manipulative or as the person who prevented them from seeing their dad.

It sucks big time Sally, but I vote you let this one go. Keep a watchful eye, but let this one go. We'll definitely update this situation in the future.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Catchy Phrases Decoded

So for years I wondered what those strange bumper stickers were all about. I think at some point in time someone must have told me they were slogans associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, but I never really knew what they meant until my husband started working on his sobriety and I picked up the AA blue book and started learning more about the program and all that goes along with it.

When I had my awakening about codependence and my own special set of "issues" I discovered that the teachings of AA are used for many different programs, including Codependents Anonymous. These slogans became much more important to me when I started applying them to my own special set of circumstances.

Today we will look at the phrase:

"Easy Does It"

I found this explanation online:

Recovery is about changing our attitudes and learning new ways to live. This does not happen overnight. We don't need to demand perfection or punish ourselves for mistakes along the way. It helps to be patient and gentle with ourselves.
We can not rush recovery. Insights and serenity come in their own due time. The Steps make sense when we work through them carefully and methodically. "Easy Does It", reminds us to be gentle with ourselves and not burden ourselves with more than we can handle. We try to approach life in a relaxed manner while taking responsibility for living in the solution. Things have a way of unfolding when we are willing and patient.

There's a lot going on with me right now. Couple that with the fact that we are smack dab in the middle of all the Holiday Madness and I think I'll really try to practice this one this week. In fact, I think most of us could benefit from this one right now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not Tonight

Tonight would be a textbook night for me to slip into a codependent coma. My husband has gone to a concert. We've had some pretty crappy "incidents" involving concerts, so typically this would be a night for me to give him "The Concert Speech" and then begin my worrying and irrational thinking. But I didn't. I did manage to ask who he was going with and who was driving, but I was very proud of myself for cutting out the bulk of the (very exhausting) speech, which includes not drinking and driving, not drinking period, what time he would be home, and what action he should take if he did decide to drink. No, tonight I cut off "The Concert Speech" early on.

I'm not sure if I did that because I'm making strides against my codependency or because I have so much on my mind. Either way, I was proud of myself, at least for now (night ain't over yet).
Actually, I feel like focusing less on my husband tonight and more on myself.

You know that feeling you have when a failed relationship ends? I'm talking about a relationship where you really loved someone at one time but the love is now dead? You anguish the thought of leaving that person. You fight it. You justify why you should stay; sometimes for months or even years. Then, when you've exhausted all your defenses at saving the relationship you finally accept "what is" (see last journal entry) and make the decision to break it off. That is exactly where I am right now. Not in my marriage or with any type of lover, but in another relationship that has been around much longer than any lover ever has. The relationship that has caused me so much grief the past couple of weeks.

Ever since I made the decision to accept "what is" I have been at peace. In the last journal entry I said I was trying to decide if I should "stay still" or move on. I was sick with a sinus infection all weekend so I had plenty of time to sit around and think. No Christmas shopping, no errands, not even much housework. I think God knew I needed to slow down for a couple of days and think. And think is just what I did.

I have decided that this time it would be best for me to move on from "what is". And just like the relief you get when you finally decide to break up with that doomed lover, I feel at peace with my decision.

I just haven't quite figured out my exit strategy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Art of Acceptance

Sometimes facing reality is simply more than we can bear. We may have too much to accept, our present circumstances may be overwhelming. Yet, we must come to terms with what is. If things are ever to be any different, we must accept reality. If we are ever to replace our lost dreams with new dreams and feel sane and peaceful again, we must accept reality.

Please understand acceptance does not mean adaptation. It doesn't mean resignation to the sorry and miserable way things are. It doesn't mean accepting or tolerating any sort of abuse. It means, for the present moment, we acknowledge and accept our circumstances, including ourselves and the people in our lives, as we and they are. It is only from that state that we have the peace and the ability to evaluate these circumstances, make appropriate changes, and solve our problems.
(Adapted from Codependent No More)

On more than one occasion in my life I've accepted "what is". Sometimes I've accepted and stayed still, sometimes I've accepted and moved on.

I'm at one of these crossroads in my life right now. I believe that today, I finally accepted something. I don't like it, but I accepted it. Now I just have to decide if I'll stay still or move on.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Follow Up To Yesterday's Post

Actual telephone conversation overheard at work today:

Mom (yelling) to Son: "You PROMISED you'd pay back the money you owe me by Friday. You didn't!" You're constantly taking advantage of me and I'm sick of it!"

This is so closely related to yesterday's "rescue" triangle that I had to note it. If the mom keeps loaning money to the son then she is enabling him. When she hands over the money she is the "good guy". When she doesn't get it back in a timely manner, the halo goes away and the pitchfork comes out. Next, she becomes the victim who is unappreciated and constantly being taken advantage of.

Will she loan him money next time? Me thinks she will.

On a related note....major props to Scarlett. She has a coworker who desperately SEEKS to be rescued. This person is only comfortable when she is in the "victim" mode, and for years she has held supreme power over the other three people in the department, ultimately turning the three of them into victims. Everyone involved was absolutely miserable. Today, Scarlett took some things from yesterday's post. She identified the signs that it was coming on. She refused to take her normal role in the daily cycle with this person, and she removed the victim--herself. This stopped the coworker from going into her roll (the victim role--on the bottom), and changed the course of their entire day. This was an incredibly empowering moment for Scarlett and her entire team!! Way to go on your incredible victory!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Word of the Day

The Word of the Day, boys and girls, is "rescue".

As I thought about a story my friend Scarlett told me tonight, I decided this would be a fitting topic.

Melody Beattie says rescuing and caretaking mean almost what they sound like. We rescue people from their responsibilities. We take care of people's responsibilities for them, whether they ask us to or not. Later we get mad at them for what we've done. Then we feel used and sorry for ourselves. That is the pattern. The triangle.

Rescuing should not be confused with kindness, compassion, or true helping. These are good things; rescuing is not.

Here's one example of how a rescue works. The alcoholic is too drunk to attend a family get together. You go without him. To save face, you make up a story about how they got called in to work. Everyone buys the story. You saved the day. On the drive home you are so angry that the halo is gone and the pitchfork comes out. By the time you pull in the driveway you want to go full fledged Crazy Bitch on the alcoholic.

Most of the time the people we rescue immediately sense our shift in mood after a rescue. They saw it coming. It's just the excuse they needed to turn on us. It's their turn in the persecution corner. Then it's time for our final move. We head right for our favorite spot: the victim corner... on the bottom! This is the predictable and unavoidable pattern of a rescue. Feelings of helplessness, hurt, sorrow, shame, and self-pity abound. We have been used--again. We have gone unappreciated--again. We try so hard to help people, to be good to them. "Why does this ALWAYS happen to me?"

But make no mistake. Rescues do not always have to occur with alcoholics. People who perform rescues perform them on everyone, every day; friends, family, coworkers. It's a vicious cycle. Many times we do it for the simple fact that we are afraid to say "no" to someone. To ANYONE.

So how do we break the cycle? Stop playing the victim card. We must learn to identify the signs of a rescue and refuse to do it. We also need to stop allowing people to rescue us. Take responsibility for ourselves and let others do the same. Whether we change our attitudes, our circumstances, our behaviours, or our minds, the kindest thing we can do is remove the victims--ourselves.