Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quotes I Like

Fitting, after the conversation I had with a codependent family member yesterday.

"We're so careful to see that no one gets hurt.
No one, that is, but ourselves."
-Al Anon Member

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Mom

My Mom was a feisty woman until the day she died, but particularly feisty when she was young.

She detested telephone solicitors, various religions, liars, cheaters, flirty women, and a few members of our family (usually ones associated by marriage).

I probably get my potty mouth from my Mom. Difference is, unlike me, the only words she ever used were "shit" and "ass". Saucy for her generation of women I suppose, but piss her off and they would fly.

In no way would I consider my Mom to have been rude or aggressive; she never provoked people or started trouble, but she would stand up for herself anytime she felt she or her family were wronged or threatened. It didn't matter that she was around 5'2" and 105 lbs most of her life.

When she was young she was a waitress at a popular restaurant in the same neighborhood where Dr. Eve's office is now. One night a big brassy kind of a woman came in to the restaurant, drunk and loud. She insulted my mother and pulled her hair. My mother balled up her fist and punched the lady right in the face, sending her sailing across the room, knocking her out.

I know of at least three times in her life where my mother actually pulled a gun on someone. Once on an abusive man in her life, once on some Jehovah's Witnesses who wouldn't take "no" for an answer, and once on a man who pulled up in a car and was naked from the waist down, preparing to expose himself to me and my friend who were swimming in a kiddie pool in our back yard. I personally witnessed the last one. And I'm pretty sure she'd have shot either of the two abusers if they'd gone any further. She wouldn't have missed either.

I'm painting a picture of some sort of hard woman, but my mother was classy and strikingly beautiful with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, big full lips, and a small, curvy body. Most of her life she dressed sharp every day and always had on full makeup. She went to the hairdresser regularly and always had long red fingernails.

My mother used to tell me we were decedent of Blackfoot Indian on her mother's side, French on her father's side, and somehow she was convinced we were distantly related to John Dillinger. One day I'm going to look into that; it might explain a lot.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We Don't Need Any New Recruits

I know a very beautiful 24 year old woman who has a broken heart. I've known this girl her whole life. She comes from a wonderful, loving family. Her boozing, cheating, lying boyfriend just broke up with her....for the second time.

She wants so much for him to change. She's finding herself driving around looking for him at all hours, spying on him, and worrying herself incessantly. She's become a CIT (Codependent-In-Training).

I talked with this girl a little and shared part of my story. I told her that even though it may not seem like it right now, she's been given a wonderful gift; the chance to move on and start her life over again. The chance to get to know herself, and to one day find a partner she can trust. I'll be saying some prayers for this girl. I hope it will help.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prepare Yourself!

I forgot to mention this, but I asked my therapist why she thought I got so upset at the graduation, and how odd I found it when my Dad disclosed he'd been so upset that entire day too. I told her we'd been through two of Mom's birthdays without her, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. and we were more torn up on this day than any. I just didn't understand why.

Of course Dr. Eve had a brilliant response.

We prepared ourselves for those "monumental" occasions such as Christmas. We knew they were coming long before they arrived and we knew they'd be sad. We didn't prepare ourselves for this; it caught us off guard. We didn't deal with the feelings before hand.

Makes sense to me. Thanks, Dr. Eve.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Give A Little Bit

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my readers. We were discussing how tired we both were, and how we were looking forward to a relaxing weekend. The topic came up that they had done something for one person and then done something else for another person, and the reader ultimately said something along the lines of "I'm exhausted and I just need to butt out of [that person's] life!"

Codependent people are givers. When that giving becomes exhausting, or when we're not getting joy from it we need to stop and do a "Giving Check". As luck would have it, I sat down to do a little reading this morning, and lo and behold, the next chapter in my book was on this very subject. Here's what it had to say:

It's said people can't outgive God, but codependents come close. That's not healthy giving. If we are compulsively giving, stop until our giving comes from the heart. Abstinence from giving is the best way to do this. No giving until our giving and receiving is clean and balanced.

Some people associate all giving with codependency and permanently stop giving. Not giving at all is as unhealthy as compulsively giving too much. Both behaviours are codependent. Giving is a personal choice. But never giving breaks universal law. Giving too much or too little means we're not trusting ourselves. Know when to give again.

While it's more blessed to give than get, it's important to receive. For some people, giving puts us in the driver's seat. Receiving leaves us vulnerable and we feel like someone is controlling us. Some of us have been abused by people who gave to us, and to protect ourselves, we don't receive from anyone anymore, which guarantees people can't control us by giving. Learning when to receive means listening to and trusting ourselves. It's even okay to ask for what we need.

Become aware of your giving and receiving. Note how much you give, who you give to, what the feelings are that motivate it, and how you feel afterward. Log when and what you receive and how you feel about it. Do you feel like you have to give back each time someone gives to you? Are you caught up in compulsive giving? Are you giving to manipulate? Are you able to ask for what you need?

Awareness is the first step toward acceptance, peace, and change.

-Melody Beattie "The New Codependency"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Shrunken Head Collection

So as soon as I got to Dr. Eve's office yesterday she hooked me up to a gadget called a fingertip thermometer. The theory with Bio Feedback is that as your stress level rises, the temperature of your fingertips lowers. Stress puts our bodies on alert and the blood stops flowing readily to our extremities (in the event we lose one during battle....).

By learning how your body feels when it begins to stress you can get an early start on telling it to calm down. Eventually you'll become so familiar with this process you won't need the thermometer.

Every time my number began to drop, Dr. Eve would point it out to me. Every time, my shoulders were tensed up and/or I wasn't breathing properly. When the number would lower, I would relax my tense shoulders, breath correctly, and think about making the number go back up. It worked every single time.

Over the course of the hour session, my temperature stayed in about a 4 degree zone. That was, until Dr. Eve began to tell me how her brother had suddenly dropped dead after one of our sessions a few weeks ago. By the time she finished telling me the story my fingertip temperature dropped more than 10 degrees! Dr. Eve said it started the decent right after I said "I'm sorry to hear that."

I'm going to search out a model I like and buy my own. It's a very intriguing concept.

For a "more better" explanation of the process I will copy and paste an article I found while searching the subject:

Biofeedback for migraines and headache, has been well studied and utilized by psychologists for decades as a psychological method of controlling pain. It involves teaching the brain to achieve a balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) part and the parasympathetic (relaxation, slowness) parts of the nervous system.
Like most headache patients, you probably have some degree of anxiety. Studies indicate up to 85% of all people in chronic pain have some degree of anxiety. As a result, chronic anxiety can make headaches worse as this heightens your sense of tension.
Once the pain starts, the sympathetic system goes into overload and you have increased sweating, muscle tension and higher heart rate.
This is where biofeedback for migraines can help. Through lessons in learning how to lower heart rate,biofeedback for migraines can decrease body temperature, loosen muscle tension and decrease sweating, you can control pain.
How Biofeedback Is Performed
Biofeedback is not a passive treatment. It requires intensive participation in learning to control such normally involuntary functions that are part of the parasympathetic system.
In the first session, the psychologist will talk to you and find out more about your health history and your headaches. The biofeedback therapist will then apply sensors to various points on the body. The location depends on the problem that needs treatment. For migraines, sleep problems, and mood disorders, for example, the electrodes are often attached to the scalp. Other possible sites include the hands, feet, or fingers.
The sensors are connected to a computer,or another piece of monitoring equipment that provides instant feedback about the function trying to be controlled, such as the tension in a particular set of involuntary muscles or circulation to a specific part of the body. Some biofeedback machines signal changes graphically on a computer display, others beep, buzz, or blink to indicate the strength or level of the function they are targeting.
The therapist will teach you mental or physical exercises that can help affect the headaches. Success is seen by noting any changes in the intensity, volume, or speed of the signals from the machine. Gradually, biofeedback success is found when thoughts and actions result in the desired change in involuntary responses. (Lowered heart rate, etc) The standard recommendation once techniques have been taught, is to practice twice a day for twenty minutes at a time.
Like other meditation techniques such as yoga, biofeedback for migraines definitely serves a purpose and should be part of your headache management.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It Wasn't Just Me

After writing yesterday's post I received a phone call from my Dad. A couple of minutes into the conversation he told me that the day of my son's graduation was "the saddest day of [his] life". He said the feeling lasted all evening and it was the saddest day he's had since we lost Mom. He said he couldn't stop thinking of how proud she would have been to see Graham receive his award for Good Citizenship and Upstanding Moral Conduct. He told me he didn't feel right keeping the flower all to himself, so first thing Thursday morning he took it over to her grave and shared it with her.

The apple don't fall far from the tree.

I'm sure I get alot of my anxiety and emotions from Dad. I can vividly remember him having horrible, horrible headaches when I was a child. Mom would make him a big bowl of ice water and he'd dip a wash rag into it and put it over his eyes. We had to be very quiet. My Dad never went to the doctor back then so there was no diagnosis, but looking back I'm sure he probably had migraines. Also, I've recently heard stories that my Dad's mother would spend days at a time laying in bed with depression. That's tough when you have eight children. My Dad's oldest sister was really the one who raised him.

Dad always tells me not to let things get to me so much. Maybe it's because he's experienced a lot of the same feelings I do now.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Shrunken Head Collection

I've been rather depressed for days now. I'm tired, going to bed early, and just overall kinda "blah". As I mentioned in my last post, I was off from work on Wednesday. My son was graduating from his elementary school (5th grade), and I got to the ceremony about thirty minutes early to get a good seat. As soon as I sat myself down, I began to feel big tears well up in my eyes.

Let me back up. During the ride over to the ceremony, my very sweet son explained to me that during the ceremony he would be given a flower. His instructions were to present this flower to someone who was important in his life. He told me he didn't want my feelings to be hurt, but he wanted to give the flower to my Dad. So I guess I was thinking of what a sweet gesture that was, then I started thinking of the obvious absence of my mother from this ceremonial day, and how much she adored my son. Then I started thinking how my baby was growing up, and I guess it was inevitable that the tears would start to fall.

Next, my anxious thoughts started racing, and by the time the ceremony was over I was banging on the door of a full blown anxiety attack. The only thing that kept me from busting the door down and charging in was that I practiced my breathing techniques Dr. Eve taught me.
Fortunately, I had an appointment with Dr. Eve immediately after the ceremony. By the time I got there, both my armpits were soaked with perspiration, my hands were shaking, and my crying was uncontrollable. By then my thoughts had turned to my unfortunate situation at work, so everything was swirling around in my head like the cyclone scene from "Wizard of Oz".

"Look at my armpits! I'm shaking all over! I can't breathe! I'm so MAD! I miss my Mom! I'm worried about my Dad! My baby is going to middle school! What about those poor kids who didn't have anyone there to give their flower to? How sad is that?! I'm so MAD! My husband doesn't understand! My boss is a bitch! My world at work has been turned upside down! Everything I do lately is misunderstood! I'M SO MAD, AND I CAN'T STOP CRYING!!!!!"

Dr. Eve had her work cut out for her, but within about five minutes she had me relaxed and I was able to sort my thoughts and quit crying. She told me that on top of the anger I was obviously feeling, I was also experiencing so much grief. Grief for the loss of my mother, grief for the loss of "my baby", and grief for the place where I worked for 25 years, and the way things used to be there. Suddenly, I didn't feel so bad. At least there seemed to be some reason(s) for my insanity!

I'm so glad I'm seeing Dr. Eve. She's helping me in so many ways. Thank you Sally, for hooking me up with her. I'm feeling less tired and depressed and am looking forward to relaxing this weekend. In the weeks to come, Dr. Eve and I will continue to work on relaxation techniques so that in the future I can calm myself down from those anxiety attacks. We will also begin "Bio Feedback"; the technique my "migraine doctor" recommended to control stress and anxiety.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Thoughts On Summer Vacation

My mind is tired. My body is tired.
I'm off work tomorrow and I need it bad.

Summer vacation starts for the kids tomorrow and it's making me feel a little blue. How exciting it is for them to be off all summer! Nothing to do but hang out with your friends and have fun. Why do responsibilities and life have to prevent us grownups from doing that? This summer I'll just be looking forward to working my ass off only to be criticized and put down because no matter how much I give, it's never good enough.

I want to lay out by the pool. I want my 1970 Nova back so I can cruise the park. I won't even care that I don't have air conditioning, I'll just roll down all the windows! All the better for me to blast my homemade AC/DC cassettes!

I'm thankful I have a job that pays pretty well and puts food on my table; I really am. But I'm not going to lie....I'm sad that the carefree days are gone and in their place are a mound of bills, a ton of responsibility, and a never ending pile of laundry.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Word of the Day

The word of the day is:


Often, we have patterned reactions to people, that have been learned, reminicent of Pavlov's dogs. They do something, and we immediately and instinctively react in a predictable manner, even though our reaction may not accomplish anything. In recovery, we learn that we can choose how we want to act. That takes the control of our lives away from others and frees us to choose a course of conduct that will work more effectively for us and our relationships.
-Codependents Guide to the Twelve Steps
I think the reason my boss treats me differently is because she knows part of me is weak. I almost always agree with her and rarely have I ever challenged her. The last time she even thought I challenged her (I didn't) she got hostile towards me and accused me of going over her head about something. She was pissed about that.
When she finds out I did go over her head this time and complained to her boss about her, she's really going to be pissed. She may even retaliate. But I don't care. I've done the right thing. I'm not reacting to her attack on me the way she thinks I'll react and I may pay for it.
I see Dr. Eve on Wednesday. I hope she's got some good advice for me on this subject because you can bet it ain't over.