I don't like things to change. I am a creature of habit; I need familiarity in my life to feel stable. Yet things around me are changing at an alarming rate. My kids are growing faster than I can stand. They are becoming more and more independent. Aside from the people, nothing is familar at work anymore. Things are changing daily and it's either adjust to the changes or don't get a paycheck. I guess change can be a good thing but sometimes it just doesn't feel like it.
I can't yet discuss the particulars, but tonight I'm trying to get my head around some news I heard that will dwarf any changes that have come down the pike in awhile. A change I'm just not ready for. Maybe it's necessary, maybe it's not. The fact is I can't control it so I won't even exhaust myself trying.
Like everything else in my life I'll accept what is. If it happens, it happens and I'll find the good in it. But I won't lie; for selfish reasons, right now I hope it doesn't happen. Maybe things will seem different after I sleep on it, but tonight I'm just not sure I can stand it.
"Automatically trusting people is a sign of naivete' and immaturity, not health. It's dangerous. Because we can trust someone one day, doesn't mean we can trust that person tomorrow. People shift and change. anyone is capable of anything, depending on the situation. Awareness is crucial. We will be guided about who to trust, when, and for what. We'll also be given red flags and warning signals, but we need to pay attention. But we can trust God, Life, and ourselves for discernment in the moment we're in now." -Melody Beattie The New Codependency
Recovering alcoholics have a very difficult time dealing with the highs and lows of life. You can't really blame them, they never really had to do it before. When something went wrong they didn't deal with it, they medicated it. So when they stop relying on the bottle to fix their problems they often have big problems when little problems occur. Couple this with the fact that they are sometimes mad as hell about having to give up their old friend and you've got a recipe for some volatile emotions.
Our household has been experiencing just this type of unrest for the past few days. The problem is, I can't accept when things are unsettled because I always think they are unsettled because of something I did or didn't do. It always has to be about me! Instead of "hitting it back" I grab the ball and instantly perform brain surgery on it. "My God, I've caused a tumor! It must be all my fault!"
The storm clouds seem to be clearing but this is an area that needs work. Work on everyone's part. Communication is key. So is knowing when to accept "what is" and not over analyzing every negative emotion and comment.
It's no surprise to me I am my own worst enemy. Cause every now and then I kick the livin' shit out of me.
I am really struggling right now. I have put myself in a codependent trap. Before I write about the effects this trap is having on me, I will first need to explain something called Dry Drunk Syndrome. I found a wonderful article on this subject and will dedicate today's journal entry to that. Later I will write about how this is affecting me.
Dry Drunk Syndrome Unfortunately when many former drinkers go through the grieving process over the loss of their old friend, the bottle, some never get past the anger stage. It is a very real loss. The drink has been their friend for many years and one they could count on. When the whole world turned against them, the bottle never let them down. It was always there ready for the good times, the celebrations, the parties, as well as the sad, mad, and lonely times, too. Finally their old friend let them down...they got in trouble with the law, lost a job or career, almost lost their family, or the doctors told them they had to stop drinking....whatever the reason, the circumstances of their life brought them to the point where they made a decision to say "so long" to the bottle. "Whether they realized it or not, they began the stages of grieving -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance -- the same stages most people go through when they have a great loss in their lives or have been told they have a terminal illness.
First comes the denial -- it's really not that big a deal, I've always said I could quit anytime -- and then the anger and depression when they realize just how much that had come to depend on their old friend alcohol. Many make it through the process to the final stage -- accepting the loss, learning and growing through the experience, and moving on.
Some never make it. It's sad to see them, sometimes many years later, still stuck in their anger, bitterness, and resentment at having to make the change in their lives. They haven't had a drink in years, but they have also never had a 'sober' day.
You even see them in the 12-step rooms... been in the program for years and years and their lives seem to be a constant unmanageable struggle. All those years and they have no more of a spiritual awakening than they did the first time they walked into the room.
'Dry Drunk' has been described as 'A condition of returning to one's old alcoholic thinking and behavior without actually having taken a drink.' Or as one wise old drunk put it, if a horse thief goes into A.A. what you can end up with is a sober horse thief. Or a personal favorite: you can take the rum out of the fruit cake, but you've still got a fruit cake!
Those who quit drinking but are still angry about it, wind up living miserable lives and usually make everyone else around them miserable too. If it has been said once in an Al-Anon meeting, it has been whispered thousands of times, 'I almost wish he would go back to drinking.'"
It was never wise for anyone to try and get something over on my mother. I guess the Blackfoot Indian and alleged John Dillinger bloodlines were just too strong.
Sometime in the early 1980's my mother's aunt passed away. My mother was given a few trinkets from her estate, the most interesting of which was a very large amethyst cuff link. There was only one of them and since my mother's birthstone was amethyst they gave the cuff link to her. The amethyst was a very large emerald cut, probably close to an inch long and nearly half an inch wide. My mother had it made into a very striking looking ring.
One day Mom had gone to a building supply place to pick up some top soil. She paid her money and was instructed to drive my Dad's El Camino around to the loading area. She waited patiently for a worker to come load the bags for her. After several minutes of waiting, a man sped up in a pick up truck. He jumped out of his truck and started loading several of the bags of top soil into his truck. By the time he was finished only a few bags remained, many of which were ripped and leaking.
The man shot a glance at my Mom, I guess to see how she was taking all this. My Mother extended her arm and held her hand out flat in front of her. Her thumb was wrapped under her hand and touched the bottom of the amethyst ring. "Tssst! Tsst!" my mother blurted out. The man got a dazed look on his face and said "What are you doing???" My mother calmly replied "That was a Sicilian Hex. Everything you plant in that damn soil is going to die." The man jumped in his truck, burned rubber, and peeled out of the parking lot.
By then the loading dock boy had come around and told my Mom he had more topsoil in the warehouse and he'd be right back with some. He then asked my Mom "Was that for real? Did you really put some kind of hex on that man?" My mother replied "Nah....that was just something I saw on The Golden Girls."
My son is leaving the safe and familiar environment of the elementary school he's attended since Kindergarten. It will be his first day of middle school. It will also be the first year for riding the school bus. I have no control over middle school bullies, new friends, or him remembering that he rides one bus to school and a different bus home in the afternoons.
My son is a good kid. I know he'll make the right decisions and I know he'll get on the right bus. I know everything will be okay!
Sometimes I feel like I take two steps forward and one step back in my recovery. Sometimes I feel like I keep making the same mistakes over and over. I can't stop controlling, I can't stop obsessing, I can't stop my codependent, insecure behaviors.
Then, inevitably I end up around someone who hasn't even discovered the source of their problems. Someone who is letting an addict upset their home and their life. Someone who doesn't even realize they have control issues and codependence. That's when I realize that while I may still have a long road ahead, I've also come a long way.
I've spent the past several days trying to piece together my sordid love life. I don't mind saying it's been a little scary. Those childhood crushes came to me pretty easily, but sometime around 10th grade things started getting blurry. It was then I decided any type of precise time line from this point forward would NOT be a good idea. For starters my memory is bad. Also, "overlapping" may present a problem that I am choosing to ignore.
My first serious boyfriend was Chris W. But Chris will require a detailed entry of his own so I'm leaving him out of this story. This story is about The Boys of Summer. An assortment of kids who came along during high school, and were as young, excited, and curious about life and love as I was. And none of us had any intentions of getting serious. Well, most of us didn't.
Having been unsuccessful at winning the charms of any of my previous targets, I knew it would be necessary to change my tactics. I developed assorted strategies for attracting and luring young men. My best friend at the time, Sammy lived on my street and attended the same school as me. Our neighborhood was a popular area for cruising. Sammy and I sat on my front porch almost every evening when it was nice outside. All sorts of people would drive by, see us, and stop to talk.
The first boy I ever went on a "car date" with was named Ron. We got pizza. He was also the first person I ever kissed. I did not know what I was doing. I attended a Junior Prom with a boy named Mouse while I was still a Sophomore. I went to 4th of July fireworks with someone called Chico. I once had a "pillow fight" (described later) with a boy who had come to visit with my aunt and uncle. I believe he may have been a distant cousin of mine. I choose to think it was by marriage. Once I met this guy named Kinky. He drove a blue Camaro. I didn't even know what the word "kinky" meant, but judging by her reaction, apparently my mother did. Kinky was 19 and had his own apartment. I was not even 16. I lied to my parents about how old he was but they weren't buying it. I know I drove my poor mother crazy more than once. I'm thankful that I stayed safe even though I naively put myself in a few unsafe predicaments back then.
One year my friend Kathie and I came up with a most excellent idea. Neither of us were cheerleader material, that was way too prissy. So we approached the men's baseball coach at school and told him we wanted to be statisticians! We told them we came in a pair though...if they took one they'd have to take the other. We got the job. What a brilliant idea!!! We got to sit in the dugout with the baseball team during every game! One time we got to go on a road trip with the team. We flirted unmercifully during the 100 mile bus trip, and that was only until it got dark outside!
My other technique was to lure boys to my house by telling them we had a pool table and that I was pretty good. They'd come to play and if I decided I liked them my strategy was to throw a pillow at them, thus ensuing a pillow fight, which usually led to a make-out session.
Finally, I had perfected the art of flirting and seduction! Man, if I could only have a "do over" on the Mustang ride with Mike!!!
I remember some of the Boys of Summer, but not all of them. I won't lie, there were a lot. But at that point in my life I wasn't doing anything more than kissing and maybe a fleeting grope here and there. Oddly, except for the aforementioned Kinky, most of the BOS were normal, good kids, not bad boys. It was all pretty innocent and a lot of fun. There will however, be no pool table in my house as my kids approach adolescence. I'm thinking of getting rid of the pillows too.
Sometimes during counseling I would hear myself spill things out and suddenly mysteries made sense. Writing this journal has the same affect on me.
I guess my ongoing adult fascination with Mike Brown is due to the fact that I never had a relationship with him, so in my mind he represents my adolescent ideas of the perfect man. Since I never actually dated or married him he never had the opportunity to disappoint me, cheat on me, lie to me, or piss me off. In my mind he has remained perfect and untainted all these years. Our night time dreams are full of symbols. I guess during the rough patches of my life, my unconscious mind uses Mike Brown to represent Mary's idea of the perfect man. Wild, untamed, young, hot, and unattainable, but someone who has never hurt her.
Mike Brown is not someone I want to let go of. At least for now I'm going to keep him tucked away safely in my dreams.
When I started writing this journal there were a few things I knew I'd have to write about one day. My Mother is one, Mike Brown was another.
In the summer following third grade we moved to the house where my Dad lives now. That's where I discovered someone who would become a pivotal player in the game that is my life. I didn't know it at the time, but this person would elude and haunt me forever. This is where I met Mike.
Mike lived in the house directly across the street from us. His parents and mine became friends and were together a lot. Mike's sister Sherry was seven years older than me and I looked up to her. She became a mentor to me and was like an older sister. She was very kind to me and I thought she was great. Mike was four years older than me.
Almost instantly I formed a crush on Mike. When my girlfriends and I would play school, Barbies, or our favorite, Sisters (four sisters who lived in an apartment) I would always be Mrs. Mike Brown or Mike's girlfriend. As we grew up I was too old for play pretend but my love for Mike didn't go away. To me he was wild and untameable. He drove a loud, black Mustang Mach One, that I could hear coming from way down the street. The car was loud and so was his music. When he'd pull in the driveway late at night I would always get up out of bed and watch him get out of the car and go in the house. He had a cute cheerleader girlfriend who I despised. How could she possibly appreciate Mike?? I was always just too young for him. I was always the little neighbor girl from across the way. He hardly seemed to notice I was alive.
When Mike's sister Sherry was about to get married I was asked to be in the wedding. I was about 13 or 14 at the time. We had all been to the rehearsal dinner. I don't remember how it happened but Mike gave me a ride home. I finally had my chance to profess my secret love but of course I didn't. Riding in the black Mustang was one of the most exhilarating things I'd ever done. I still remember the sundress I was wearing and how I felt sitting in that black leather seat that vibrated under me. Somehow I believe something was unleashed in me that night. I had the equipment but I was just too young to come on to him but I knew right then and there that one day I wouldn't be.
The night of his senior prom Mike was outside and everyone was taking pictures. Someone yelled, "go on over Mary and get your picture made with Mike". Even though I thought my love was a deep secret, I think everyone including Mike had to have known how I felt. Having our picture made together with his arm around my waist was one of the highlights of my life up to that point. The photo turned out great. Right about that same time Mike gave me one of his senior class photos. He wrote some things on the back and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you it was my number one most prized possession for years. I still have both of those photos in my special box.
By the time I got old enough that our four year age difference wasn't so drastic, and I actually DID know how to come on to a boy, Mike was getting married. He married a short, stocky butch looking girl named Tippy. Tippy??? WTF??? For the life of me I could not understand what he saw in her. She was very manly and had a gravely, raspy voice. I was devastated.
Shortly after that they had a baby. By then I was engaged to my first husband, David. I accepted the fact that Mike and I would never be, but that didn't seem to matter. The whole time I was married to David I had dreams about Mike. In my dreams I was always trying to get to him. "I'm old enough now, where are you Mike?" I think the fact that nothing ever materialized between us made him some sort of a saint to me, at least in my psyche. The worse things got with David the more I dreamt about Mike.
By the time I divorced David, Mike had two children and had moved to Atlanta with Tippy. I was in my prime. Late twenties, my own house, decent job, great body, great looks, and believe me when I say I had perfected the art of seduction. No way in hell I'm going to waste my chance if I get another ride in that Mustang! But the Mustang was gone, and I never got the chance.
Mike is now divorced from Tippy and living back here. I'm told Tippy was an alcoholic and he couldn't take it anymore. His youngest daughter lives here with him. He came to the funeral home when my mother died and I truly had butterflies. He is still as handsome as ever.
My mother told me that during a rough patch in his marriage, Mike once said "I should have waited for Mary." How bittersweet. I still have dreams about Mike to this day. I suppose he represents a lot of things to me. Timing is everything.
I saw Dr. Eve this week and we agreed this would be my last session for now. We recapped a few things and she assured me she would continue to be available when I need her but not necessary for me to come on a regular basis right now. I told her I thought I was doing better. She laughed and said "I think so! When you first came to me you couldn't even breathe!!" She was correct.
There are more, but the main concepts and ideas I will take from this round of sessions are:
1. I'm still grieving over the death of my Mother. 2. The importance of breathing correctly, particularly when I am anxious. 3. The Fight or Flight concept and how panic affects my physical health. 4. My need to control and my desperate fear of losing control will probably always be a part of my life. 5. When a task seems too large and overwhelming, break it down in to smaller tasks and put boxes around them so I may allow myself to accomplish one thing at a time. 6. When someone is hitting an idea to me it's often wise to "hit it back" instead of grabbing it, analyzing it, offering my thoughts, and pissing people off.
Thanks Dr. Eve. Hopefully I won't need to call on your for awhile but it's good to know you're there if I do.
A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior.
The following two "Detach" journal entries will give you a crash course:
"An Answer to a Prayer" dated Nov 1, 2008 "How Did We Wind Up Here?" dated Nov 2, 2008
About This Journal
In 2008 I had the life changing realization that there was a name for what I'd always felt was "wrong" with me. After 20 years of thumbing through various self-help books. I learned about codependence.
I began writing this journal to document my journey out. Over time, it's evolved into something more. While I still talk about codependence (I know now, it will never totally leave me), this blog has turned into the thumbprint of my life; a therapeutic journal for me to sort out a lifetime of thoughts and memories. I believe in being honest with myself and others, and when something is bothering me, I reach out. With a support team of strong, smart women surrounding us, we can all continue to grow. I'm trying to live my best life, in pursuit of a Healthy Mind, a Healthy Body.