Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Ex-Husband

One night I was sitting in our house watching television. David had gone to bed early; he said he wasn't feeling well. This wasn't unusual; we'd been having problems for awhile and he would often avoid me. I had been sitting in the living room by myself for quite awhile. The room was lit by a lamp as well as the light from the television.

It was a very small house and the bedroom was directly connected to the living room. It was dark in there and the door that separated the two rooms was open about half way. At some point during the evening a strange feeling came over me--or maybe something just caught my eye. I looked over to the dark bedroom and saw a figure. Since I was in a brighter room it was difficult to focus in on what I was seeing. I kept looking, straining my neck and squinting my eyes. After a few blinks and squints, my eyes became adjusted and I realized David was sitting up in bed, still as a statue, and had a double barrel shot gun pointed directly at me.

I screamed and dove to the floor. I was sobbing, and started shouting "DON'T SHOOT ME! WHAT ARE YOU DOING??" He calmly got out of bed, put the gun away and said "Stop whining! I'm not going to do anything!" He rolled his eyes and went in the kitchen.

He treated me like I over reacted. To this day I have no idea how long he had been sitting there like that or what he really intended to do.

I don't remember much about the rest of that night, but in the state I was in at that point in my life, it's safe to say I was probably apologizing to him for blowing the whole thing out of proportion. I often ended up apologizing to David after he'd done something like this. He had so much power over me that things always got twisted around to seem like my fault.

Looking back now, this was obviously a huge contributor to my control issues today. After I finally got away from David I vowed I would never allow anyone to treat me that way again. In my mind, to keep that from happening it was clear I would need to be in complete control of any relationship from this point on.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Follow Up

In response to yesterday's post, Scarlett commented:

My dear friend, I believe I'm the queen of "bottling." But in the past few months, I've made great strides in "unbottling." I just wish I'd unbottled sooner. But better late then never.

I decided to make my response to her comment today's post. Besides, I just had to include the pic!

I will not argue with you; in the past you have been a master at this art! But in my humble opinion, I believe for both of us this was a learned behavior. Unlike some of our friends, our parents were not "hippies" from the peace and love generation and did not encourage us to speak our minds. They were older, and were from a time when children were seen and not heard.
In fact, I'm not sure that's not one of us in this photo. It's at least got to be someone we know! Look at the little girl's face. It probably took years of therapy and Twelve Step Programs to fix her later!

You are making huge strides in this department (and many others), we both are. You won't be the queen of this for long!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Catchy Phrases Decoded

"Dealing With Feelings"

You hear people say it a lot, but what does it really mean?

Dealing with feelings can be an uncomfortable experience, initially. It means we stop running from our emotions, from what's really going on with us. We stand still and feel our feelings. Feelings are emotional energy; our feelings are our responsibility. We avoid blaming our emotions on others; letting our feelings control us; and trying to control others with our feelings. Usually, that's all that's required to make them go away. Ignoring our feelings doesn't make them go away; it makes them get bigger, or come out in strange, unpredictable, and often undesirable ways. Many of us learned in our families that it wasn't okay to feel. Now, we're learning differently. We're learning to accept and value the emotional part of ourselves as important and closely connected to happiness and health.

-Codependents' Guide To The Twelve Steps

I am a master at bottling things up until I explode. I've held in certain thoughts for months or even years before they finally come blurting out in the middle of a fight about something totally unrelated.
I'm not the only person in my family who does that.
The day we buried my mom, my sister and I got into a huge argument over who was taking which flower arrangements. It got so our of hand I'm surprised no one called the cops on us. I really don't think the flowers were an issue at all. We both just had too much bottled up inside us. The flowers were simply the tool we used.
We've since apologized to each other for our crazy behavior that day, but it's a perfect example of why leaving feelings buried inside is a really bad idea.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Message To Sally

I want to send support to my friend Sally.

She has had a very rough few days but has managed to keep her head on straight and make some very good decisions. Healthy, tough decisions.

Sally has found the "Courage to Change the Things She Can", and I am so very proud of her.

Stay strong Sally, and keep praying. This too, shall pass.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick Thought

Why is it we are so quick to take care of others, but sometimes find it so difficult to take care of ourselves? Sometimes it's hard to set aside time in our day to do something that's just for us, but it's so important.

A very dear friend of mine feels guilty if she does anything at all for herself aside from basic needs. I think I'll invite her out for a lunch one day, or maybe even a pedicure.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sounded Like Two Beers

Today I stopped in the pet shop to buy a pound of gerbil food. As I was approaching the cash register I overheard the two girls who worked at the pet shop having a conversation. Actually, one girl was doing all the talking, the second girl was trying to work. It went something like this:

Girl #1: I called him.
Girl #2: Yeah? That will be $1.59, please.
Girl #1: I asked him how many.
Girl #2: Huh?
Girl #1: How many beers he'd had! He wouldn't tell me. But I can pretty much tell how many he's had just by his voice.
Girl #2: Okay.
Girl #1: Two. He's had two beers so far. I can always tell.

Girl #1 was a pretty little thing, not more than 20 years old. I instantly wanted to grab her and shake the shit out of her.
I wanted to say "Are you married to this guy? If you're not, you better run like the wind, girl"!!!!! You think you can count those beers by listening to his voice now? Wait about ten years! Wait til you've laid awake in bed tossing and turning, praying he'll pull in the driveway alive and in one piece. Wait til he HAS pulled in the driveway alive and in one piece and you greet him at the door and try to kill him! Wait til you devise a "formal rating system" for use with your best friend to tell her how drunk he was on a scale of 1-10. Wait til one day when you have to write a blog to heal yourself from the years of worry, obsession, and anger! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?????"

But I didn't. I took my change and my gerbil food and left. I did say some prayers for her though.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quotes I Like

"I always learn the hard way. But come to think of it, so do most people.
Rarely have I heard a person say, 'I learn the easy way.'"
-Gary E.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Secret Rooms

My Dad is a master at turning away from anything negative. He changes the channel when unpleasant things come on the television. In my family we never discussed controversial or unhappy things, we just locked them away in a room someplace so we didn't have to see them or think about them. This is a technique I apparently learned quite well.

I rarely speak of my first marriage or my ex-husband. People who know me best were shocked to read yesterday's journal entry. They had no idea. I guess I really had thrown away the key on that one.

Based on the reaction yesterday's post received, I have come to the realization that the seven years I locked away after my divorce were pivotal.

The incident I wrote about yesterday was just one of many. There were a hundred more just like it or worse. I don't want to relive the past and I don't want to reopen old wounds, but I think if I go back a little here and there and look at some of the things that happened to me between 1983 and 1990 I might be able to see why I behave the way I do today.

You'll go in there with me, right?

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Ex-Husband

Since my big epiphany about my codependence, I've been thinking alot about how it all came to be. When I started studying the condition, my immediate reaction was that it was all my (current) husband's fault. I was behaving this way because of his drinking. As I mentioned the other day, I've since began to understand I've been this way for a long time; maybe all my life.

Lately I've been thinking about my first marriage, and the huge role it played in creating the monster I became. Many people that know me now don't even know I was married before, but in fact I was--for seven years. Seven years I have virtually blocked from memory because they sucked. But I think it's important to dig up a little of that time in my life. Maybe it's time to come to terms with a few things that I buried and never truly dealt with.

There's a lot to this story, and since I don't think any of us are up for another long, drawn out "mini series", I'll just write random things about him (and me) over time as they surface. Maybe at some point they will all connect.

Today's thought:

One night a friend and I sat in my car for four hours waiting for my ex-husband, David to come out of a bar. I suspected he was in there with another woman; I was correct. Four hours was plenty of time to work myself into a rage, thinking of him betraying me. I fantasized about mowing both of them down as they unexpectedly exited the bar. I fantasized about calling her husband so he could be there with me when it all went down. Oh, they will be sorry.

By the time they came out of the bar at around 2:00 a.m. I had worked myself into quite a frenzy. Even though it was summer, I was shaking down to my bones. My hands were frozen and unsteady. I waited for them to walk near me and then I started the car. I blinded them with my bright headlights as I gunned straight towards them. Then, at the last moment I slammed on my brakes and got out of the car. I screamed. I cursed. I think I even pretended to faint. I heard my mild-mannered friend actually threaten them both with physcial harm, and say the "F" word for the first time ever. Of course it was a huge scene; one of many in my sordid life.

I see now this was a pathetic and desperate attempt on my part to control their behavior. Surely they would see that I was on to them and that I was potentially crazy, and surely they would stop what they were doing and David and I could get on with our lives. Why, oh WHY didn't I make better use of that four hours and just start packing my things??

Of course I didn't. Of course I stayed for a long time after that, and things just got worse. My attempts to control didn't work even back then.
I guess part of the reason for my codependence is a result of my husband's drinking, but it's starting to be very clear it's so not the only reason. It's also very clear I've got a very long way to go in this recovery.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

These ARE The Good Old Days

Yesterday I was listening to the Bruce Springsteen song "Glory Days". The song is about sitting around with your old friends reminiscing about the good old days. Towards the end Bruce says "and I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it, but I probably will". This reminded me of another song by Carly Simon in which she reminds us "these are the good old days".
I recently became a member of Facebook. Something I love and hate at the same time. I've reconnected with several people from the past; some of which I'm interested in, some.....not so much. Anyway, I keep reading about "remember when" or "how young we were" or "the good old days".

Have you ever had your photo taken and thought how unattractive you look and then five years later you see the same photo and think "man, I was hot!"? I do it all the time.

So I've been thinking. We're so quick to think how great things were back in the day, but we need to focus on today. One day we will look back to today and think "when I was younger" or "back in the good old days".

The past is gone and while it's fun to look back, we're not dead yet! We need to work hard and strive to be the best we can be TODAY. That way when we look back on 2009 and beyond, we'll be proud of ourselves.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Word of the Day

The Word of the Day, boys and girls is:


Addictive behaviors are more dangerous than compulsive ones. "Addictive" refers to behaviors that are out of control and causing negative consequences in our lives, but that we persist in anyway. Addictive behaviors are usually engaged in to get high or get numb. We can be addicted to a substance, such as alcohol or drugs, or to a behavior, such as eating or gambling.

In the past couple of weeks, two different friends of mine returned to smoking, after they seemed to have it licked. One of them hadn't smoked in three years. One or both cited stress at work and at home, and the stress of the power being out for so many days.

Yesterday after a particularly stressful visit to the doctor and a massive East End traffic jam, I decided I deserved a visit to the Wendy's drive-thru, which included an order of french fries; something I rarely ever eat. I knew they would make me sick (they did), but I ate them anyway because somehow I jusitified that I deserved them.

There is a cake in the house right now and it doesn't seem to be tempting anyone but me. I look at it every time I go in the kitchen. The other people in the house who could eat it don't seem to care a thing about it. I'll probably have to throw some of it out.

I guess it's a good thing we're not all addicted to the same thing, and I'm not sure what leads us to that "one thing" that keeps luring us in like a moth to a flame. I hate cigarettes; obviously mine is food. For some it's alcohol or gambling or sex or pills or, as Sally pointed out even caffeine. Personally, I can't imagine being addicted to caffeine, it makes my chest hurt and my heart race.

Whatever the vice, if it is harmful to us or others, we must constantly be aware of it and continually work to keep it at bay. We have to be stronger than our temptation. Short term goals help, as does the tried-and-true AA approach.....I won't drink (or overeat) just for today.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Riddle For My Readers

This is a true story; although I know exactly what I'm obsessing

After dinner Saturday night, someone in my house splattered a dab of spaghetti sauce on the floor next to the garbage can.

I kept meaning to go wipe it up but I kept forgetting, or maybe I just kept putting it off (you all know I don't have time to be a good housekeeper).....anyway every time I threw something into the garbage over the weekend I saw it.

So you know those ink blots psychiatrists make you look at to see what's going on inside your head? Your eye turns them into objects or designs and the psychiatrist can tell what you may be thinking (or even obsessing) about from your interpretation of the ink blots. Well, every time I looked at the splat of spaghetti sauce on the floor I saw a spider. It was as clear as a bell--definitely a spider.

Now why would I be seeing a spider in the spaghetti sauce splat???

Catchy Phrases Decoded

Let's talk today about
owning our power

Our power is our ability to take responsibility for ourselves-to think, feel, solve problems, and find our direction. Our power lies in speaking our truth, setting appropriate boundaries, refusing to tolerate abuse or mistreatment, and sometimes, being vulnerable. Our power means discerning what is real and right for us. Owning our power does not mean controlling others or having power over them. It doesn't mean allowing others to control us. It doesn't mean reacting to others out of fear or a need to manage them. it means finding that centered place within us and acting from that place.
-Codependent's Guide To The Twelve Steps

One of the hardest concepts to me is that letting go of power often gives you more power. The harder I try to control, the less control I actually have. We just have to find that perfect mix of letting go while not compromising the boundaries we have set and not allowing others to control us.

Sure sounds easy, doesn't it?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mary's MILFs

It's been a serious few weeks.

We've been diligently studying the Twelve Steps and I for one, am tired. There have been layoffs and office closings at work. My good friend Jay lost his job. My mom's brother died. My best friend had a car wreck. The city was paralyzed from an ice storm and many of us were without power for days.

I really think it's time to kick back with some mindless fun. It's time for a Mary's MILF.

Not all Mary's MILFs are from the
past. Bad boy Josh Todd, the lead singer of the band Buckcherry is not a particularly good looking man but something about him makes me feel all funny.

There's not much he could do to a girl that he couldn't fix (at least temporarily) by singing her the song "Sorry".

"I'm sorry I'm bad
I'm sorry you're blue
I'm sorry 'bout all the things I said to you
and I knowI can't take it back."

He's got the classic long thin frame that I always seem to gravitate to. He's smothered in tattoos, and I'm not ashamed to say I can not stop staring at that belt buckle.

I'd be trying to fix something about him within the first week, but man what a week it would be until then!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Step Twelve

Step Twelve:
"Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other codependents, and to practice these principals in all our affairs."

How do we share this message? Not by rescuing. Not by controlling. Not by obsessing.

We carry this message in subtle but powerful ways: by doing our own recovery work and becoming a living demonstration of hope, self-love, self-nurturing, and health. Learning to remove ourselves as victims, take care of ourselves, and walk our own path is a powerful message.
-Codependent's Guide To The Twelve Steps

I'm slowly learning to work the Steps. Writing this mini-series has helped me become more familiar with them and what they mean to me. Some Steps are coming easier than others. I'm trying hard to focus on myself, not on others. I believe I'm portraying myself less as a victim to other people.

Writing this journal is helping me stay focused and may be my contribution to Step Twelve.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Step Eleven

Step Eleven:
"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out."

Of all the relationships we are learning to rebuild in our recovery from codependency, our relationships with ourselves and with our Higher Power are the most important ones. This Step tells us how to do that. We pray and meditate to improve our connection with God and ourselves.

How many times have we begged God for something, gotten furious because we didn't get it, then felt so grateful a year later when God's agenda worked so much better than our own? We don't always know what's best for us. We can pray for things big and small, but we should always pray for God's will to be done; even if we don't understand it at the time.

Praying is how we keep ourselves-our souls-connected to God. It is where change begins.
-Adapted from "Codependent's Guide To The Twelve Steps"

My friend Sally and I have talked about prayer a lot since I've been writing this journal, and we are amazed at the results in our lives. You don't have to be a certain religion to pray. You don't have to pray a certain way. Just talk to God and be who you are. When you meditate God will talk to you. It's very simple.

"Thy will be done."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Step Ten

Step Ten:
"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

I can not stand to be in trouble. I worry incessantly just thinking I'm in trouble. I'm 45 years old and I still cannot bear to think I've disappointed my Dad....or my children.....Scarlett......anyone! Sadly, I see this same codependent trait in my nine year old daughter. Even at her grown up "tween" age, she'll sit and cry if she thinks I'm angry with her. We'll be working on that....

Part of taking this Step means that I can give an apology or accept an apology and then move on. I don't have to punish others for their wrongs, I don't have to punish myself for wrongs. I just need to acknowledge my mistakes, learn from them and move on.

I still enjoy looking at the daily checklist I posted in this journal a few weeks ago. It's a great way to take a daily personal inventory.