Friday, December 30, 2011

Might As Well Face It, You're Addicted To Love

Sally found this article awhile back and we have been discussing it. We have both known many women who are either currently in, or have been in this type of relationship. Essentially a relationship that never has any hope of getting off the ground from the very beginning. Since this is a good time for reflection, resolutions, and new beginnings, I thought I'd post (most of) the article.

Addictive Relationships
It is often very hard to end a love relationship even when you know it is bad for you. A “bad” relationship is not the kind that is going through the usual periods of disagreement and disenchantment that are inevitable when two separate people come together. A bad relationship is one that involves continual frustration; the relationship seems to have potential but that potential is always just out of reach. In fact, the attachment in such relationships is to someone who is “unattainable” in the sense that he or she is committed to someone else, doesn’t want a committed relationship, or is incapable of one. Bad relationships are chronically lacking in what one or both partners need. Such relationships can destroy self-esteem and prevent those involved from moving on in their careers or personal lives. They are often fertile breeding grounds for loneliness, rage, and despair. In bad relationships the two partners are often on such different wave-lengths that there is little common ground, little significant communication, and little enjoyment of each other.Remaining in a bad relationship not only causes continual stress but may even be physically harmful. The tensions and chemical changes caused by the constant stress can drain energy and lower resistance to physical illness. Continuing in such bad relationships can lead to unhealthy escapes such as alcohol or drug abuse.

In such relationships, individuals are robbed of several essential freedoms; the freedom to be their best selves in the relationship, the freedom to love the other person through choice rather than through dependency, and the freedom to leave a situation that is destructive.

Despite the pain of these relationships, many rational and practical people find that they are unable to leave, even though they know the relationship is bad for them. One part of them wants out but a seemingly stronger part refuses or feels helpless to take any action. It is in this sense that the relationships are “addictive.”

Are You Addicted?
Listed below are several signs of addiction. Consider whether they apply to you:

Even though you know the relationship is bad for you (and perhaps others have told you this), you take no effective steps to end it.
You give yourself reasons for staying in the relationship that are not really accurate or that are not strong enough to counteract the harmful aspects of the relationship.
When you think about ending the relationship, you feel terrible anxiety and fear which make you cling to it even more.
When you take steps to end the relationship, you suffer painful withdrawal symptoms, including physical discomfort, that is only relieved by reestablishing contact.

If most of these signs apply to you, you are probably in an addictive relationship and have lost the capacity to direct your own life. To move toward recovery, your first steps must be to recognize that you are “hooked” and then try to understand the basis of your addiction. In this way, you gain the perspective to determine whether, in reality, the relationship can be improved or whether you need to leave it.

The Basis of the Addiction
There are several factors that can influence your decision to remainin a bad relationship. At the most superficial level are practical considerations such as financial entanglement, shared living quarters, potential impact on children, feared disapproval from others, and possible disruption in academic performance or career plans.

At a deeper level are the beliefs you hold about relationships in general, about this specific relationship, and about yourself. These beliefs may take the form of learned societal messages such as “Love is forever,” “You are a failure if you end a relationship,” “Being alone is terrible,” and “You should never hurt anyone.” Also relevant are beliefs about yourself such as “I’ll never find anyone else,” “I’m not attractive or interesting enough,” or “If I work hard enough I should be able to save this relationship.”

At the deepest level are unconscious feelings which can keep you stuck. These feelings develop early in childhood, often operate without your awareness, and can exert considerable influence on your life. Children need to be loved, nurtured, and encouraged in their independence. To the extent that parents are successful in doing this, their children will be able to feel secure as adults in moving in and out of relationships. To the extent that these needs are not met their children may be left feeling “needy” as adults and may thus be more vulnerable to dependent relationships.

Strategies for Overcoming Relationship Addictions
Robin Norwood, in her excellent book “Women Who Love Too Much” outlines a ten step plan for overcoming relationship addiction. While this book is directed toward women, its principles are equally valid for men. Stated here (reordered and sometimes paraphrased), Norwood suggests the following:

Make your “recovery” the first priority in your life.
Become “selfish,” i.e., focus on getting your own needs met more effectively.
Courageously face your own problems and shortcomings.
Cultivate whatever needs to be developed in yourself, i.e., fill in gaps that have made you feel undeserving or bad about yourself.
Learn to stop managing and controlling others; by being more focused on your own needs, you will no longer need to seek security by trying to make others change.
Develop your “spiritual” side, i.e., find out what brings you peace and serenity and commit some time, at least half an hour daily, to that endeavor.
Learn not to get “hooked” into the games of relationships; avoid dangerous roles you tend to fall into, e.g., “rescuer” (helper), “persecutor” (blamer), “victim” (helpless one).
Find a support group of friends who understand.
Share with others what you have experienced and learned.
Consider getting professional help.

When to Seek Professional Help
Some counseling may be called for when any of these four circumstances exist:
When you are very unhappy in a relationship but are unsure of whether you should accept it as it is, make further efforts to improve it, or get out of it.
When you have concluded that you should end a relationship, have tried to make yourself end it, but remain stuck.
When you suspect that you are staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, such as feelings of guilt or fear of being alone, and you have been unable to overcome the paralyzing effects of such feelings.
When you recognize that you have a pattern of staying in bad relationships and that you have not been able to change that pattern by yourself.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quotes I Like

"A little stress and adventure is good for you. If nothing else, just to prove you are alive."

-Lady Bird Johnson

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my 48th birthday. A time to celebrate another year of life and for me at least, a time to reflect. I started thinking about my life this time last year, and I remembered that I was in the throws of depression. So I went back in the archives and actually read last year's birthday post, and it reminded me just how sad and sick I was a year ago.

It would be a couple more months past my birthday before I melted down in the gynecologist's office during my annual exam, and she would recommend I go see a psychiatrist. Let me reiterate that was some really good advice. I've been on anti anxiety and depression medication for several months now and I can't begin to tell you how much that has helped. The interesting thing was I'd been on meds before, but they never made me feel right. Having an actual psychiatrist prescribe the meds instead of your family physician makes all the difference. At least it did for me. But it didn't stop there. I've seen my counselor Kate, every week or every other week since I started the meds. She's helped me tremendously. I'm happy to say that these were life changing events for me, and while I'm not trouble free, I am certainly not in the bowels of depression like I was last year at this time. For that I am so grateful.

I managed to get off some of the weight I gained during last year's depression, but not all of it. As always, I need to focus on my eating and exercise. Particularly exercise. I need to keep this old body healthy.

But just like yesterday, I'm not going to push myself too far into 2012. Not yet anyway. Today I will celebrate my life! I'm going to finish my coffee, then check my well wishes on Facebook. After that, I'm going to get cleaned up and hit one or two stores for after Christmas sales. Then I'm going to go see "Kenny". He does my nails. I'm getting this bright Christmas red off my fingernails and switching to something else. I think I'll get the sweet Vietnamese lady who lives next door to Dad to give me a pedicure while I'm there. Whenever I get done with all that, I'm going to hook up with Scarlet for lunch and a cold beer. Then, I'm not sure. Later this evening, I may drop by the home of my friend Margo from work. She's on vacation this week and invited me by for a birthday cocktail.

For some reason I just feel the need to go and go, and just keep busy today, so that's what I'm going to do. I got some money and some gift cards for Christmas and my birthday, and I'm going to spend them! I'll buy a couple of new clothing items--it always makes you feel good to put on something new!

Anyway, on this birthday I am thankful to my friends and my family. Without you I would have withered away long ago. I am thankful for this forum, so that I may organize my thoughts and keep them journaled for myself or someone else to ponder later on. But mostly, I'm thankful that the cloud of depression and anxiety that literally tried to snuff the life out of me this time last year, has lifted.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas morning and my family is still sleeping. I'm having coffee with a cat curled up on my lap, and searching for inspiration to publish a Christmas post.

Lots of emotions this quiet morning. I am thinking of Kitty and family spending their first Christmas in South Florida. I am so glad Kitty's mother Cher was able to fly down and be with them.

I'm a little sad that my kids are too old for Santa. I miss that thrill of them charging down the stairs on Christmas morning. But at the same time, I'm proud of the young people they are growing up to be.

It's the 4th Christmas without her, but I'm still missing my mother. I guess that will never change.

I am trying not to think too far into 2012. I'm trying to live in the moment and think about today. Today I will celebrate Christmas with my husband and my children. We'll open gifts and then have a big country breakfast around noon. This evening we will go to my husband's brother's house for food, sweet wine, and probably some karaoke. Then, the big day will be over. Right now that's about as far out as I can think.

My son is in the shower and my daughter just came downstairs, so I guess it's time for presents. Merry, Merry Christmas to my friends and readers. I hope your day is low stress, and that you will be blessed in some special way.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This And That

Does it mean that I'm not a dedicated person, or not committed to relationships because I am totally unable to follow "The Love Dare"? I'm not really sure about that, but I am still struggling with that "not saying anything negative" thing from Day One.

"The Love Dare" is a great book, based on the teachings of the Bible, and it's loaded with great exercises, but I'm just too tired to mess with it right now. I'm just being honest. If you want to take the challenge, and start fresh with Day One, I'll gladly loan you my copy. Hopefully you will be more dedicated than I was, and will have success.

I'm trying very hard to stay focused and not let the hectic Christmas season get the best of me. On top of holiday shopping, we've encountered $1200 in car repairs this month, $200 in washer repairs, and numerous other unexpected expenses totaling up to about another thousand dollars. Last week I bumped in to a coworker's Cadillac when exiting the parking lot at work, causing $507 in damages. I'm not sure where all this money will come from, but I know it will come. Maybe somehow it's an answer to a prayer, who knows?

I feel like I have dozens of questions that I need answers to, and I'm not sure I'll ever get any of them. I'm warding off holiday depression, but rest assured it's looming right outside my door.

I'm looking forward to seeing most all of my readers in the coming days. I had a nice lunch with Scarlet yesterday, Madison today, and Miss Pamela tomorrow. I only hope I don't gain a bunch of weight making all this merry!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Are We Doing?

This shit is hard.

I came home from work today and discovered that in a hurry to get out of the house, my husband left an entire pound of sliced turkey and about a quarter pound of ham sitting out on the kitchen counter all day. My immediate response, out loud to my son, was "Daddy's gonna pay for this!!". Then....I remembered my challenge. How can I stay positive??? I thought about the kindness lesson from yesterday, and by the time my husband got home I was able to calmly say "Honey, guess what? You must have been in such a hurry today you forgot to put away the lunchmeat!". He was so upset, but only about his own actions, not by my words. I was so happy I didn't light into him. It would have been unnecessary.

The random act of kindness was vague. It involved helping with some Christmas decorating. A half hearted attempt at this gesture.

Little things like holding your tongue and random acts of kindness sound simple. They are not.
I didn't have the energy to see what Day Three might bring. It's gonna have to wait.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Dare You--Day Two

Quickly I discovered that keeping all negative comments to yourself is much easier when you focus on one, maybe two or three people, and leave everyone else out of the loop; particularly co-workers. Any way you slice it, it's hard to keep negative thoughts from impulsively shooting out of your mouth. Hard, but I have to say, it made me feel good.

So the next lesson? Kindness. The Bible keys in on the importance of kindness. "Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Kind people find favor wherever they go. "The Love Dare" breaks kindness down into four categories.

You are tender, even when you have to say hard things. This is where I struggled with Day One. I had to talk to my son about a missing homework assignment. I thought "How can I handle this without saying anything negative?" The key is you speak the truth in love and make it a little easier to hear.

Kindness enables you to do things to help others without feeling your rights have been violated or you are being "put out".

Instead of being reluctant or stubborn, you cooperate, you stay flexible.

You often have to make the first move. The first smile, the first kind word.

It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no motivation. But love in its truest sense is not based on feelings. Rather, love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to demonstrate kindness.

Today's Dare:
In addition to saying nothing negative again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

The unexpected gesture is a walk in the park compared to holding my smart ass comments inside for another day!!!

Oh, and for the record--I'm quite aware I missed a day in between Day One and Day Two. I gave myself permission.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Dare You

Last Christmas I received a book from my sister-in-law, Pinkie. It was something I had asked for. A book called "The Love Dare". This book and it's concept was featured in the film "Fireproof". I wrote about it in "Detach" on December 4, 2010. Anyway, I'm ashamed to say I just now picked up the book and started reading it. I'm intrigued with it so far. When I read the first chapter, I decided these ideals could work with any relationship--not just a spouse. So I decided to try an experiment. I decided to implement these ideas in all my relationships. My family, coworkers, and friends. I was anxious to see how trying them may benefit not only my friends and family, but also how they might affect me. So today I tried....and failed. Stress at work was just a bit much, so I decided to skip the coworker part, and just focus on my family and a few friends at this time. So I plan to start over again tomorrow. Of course I will be documenting my results. I hope some of you may even join me to see how this works. I don't want to get in trouble for plagiarism, so I will try to put the concepts into my own words.

We're sometimes at our worst around the people we love the most. When we are busy in the kitchen and turn around to find our child under our feet we might lash out with "Billy!! Watch where you're going!!" If we did the same to a stranger in the store we would say "Oh, excuse me!". After a few years of wedded bliss, a married couple surely finds the honeymoon has worn off and the littlest things can become incredibly annoying. That's where "The Love Dare" comes in.

The Bible tells us love is patient and kind. Learning patience is the place to start. The key. When you learn patience, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation.

Today's Dare:
For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience, and to say nothing negative at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you will regret.

I never thought of myself as an impatient or a negative person, but in many situations, I certainly am. Until you start keeping track, you may be very surprised how many negative comments come out of your mouth in any given day. I certainly was!! I attempted this at work today and failed miserably, but I've done fairly well practicing it with my friends and family. So tomorrow, I will focus on a much smaller group of people. I want to see how this affects my closest relationships, and how it affects me.

Try this dare with me. Tomorrow....pick a person or a small group of people. Practice patience, and NOTHING NEGATIVE comes out of your mouth. I welcome your comments.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Redirect Your Thinking

I've spoken dozens of times in this journal about my racing, out of control thoughts. I've described them as a tornado in my brain, and feeling like my finger is in a light socket, among other things. Today Kate told me I can control my thoughts. What an interesting concept. I'm not quite sure I believe her, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Do we really have control over our thoughts? Is having irrational, distorted thinking a learned behavior, or is it something we are just wired to do? I've been sitting here trying to ponder this. I don't believe I had distorted thinking as a child, so maybe I did condition myself to do it. Maybe it was analyzing specific events over and over in my head; looking for a reason or justification for them that caused the incessant thinking, I don't really know.

Madison thinks it has a lot to do with an overwhelming need to be in control. You never want to be taken off guard or appear to be stupid or vulnerable, so you are constantly thinking....analyzing. Preparing yourself for the worst at all times. A defense mechanism that eventually turns around and attacks you. I think she's very right in this theory.

So I've been given some exercises. Things to do when I feel myself starting to think too much...starting to obsess. Exercises that are supposed to distract me from what I'm over thinking. I can't wait to see if it works.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When The Tryptophan Wears Off

I feel strange today. Way too full of fat food and alcohol from the past few days, tired from a day and a half of cooking, and a little sad to see my out-of-town families head back out of town. It's been a good Thanksgiving weekend so far. I got to see my two little nephews from Minnesota, and also Kitty and her husband. Today I'm going to work on laundry and straighten the house. I have no desire to shop any after Thanksgiving sales, or start putting out Christmas decorations. I just want to be quiet today, I think. There are no sports practices or games today. No dinners or obligations, and that's perfectly fine with me.

My brain is having those flurries of activity that can sometimes drive me nuts. Replaying the events of the past few days--wondering if I said and did things the right way. Wondering if the food I prepared was good enough, wondering if I opened my mouth a couple of times when I should have kept it shut. Wondering if the time I spent with the people I care about had enough "quality" to it. Worrying about worrying so much, and analyzing everything. Kate, my counselor, tells me not to over think things. I do it anyway....a lot. Too much.

Anyway, I'm going to try to let these thoughts go today; at least for a few hours. I'm going to try to enjoy my family, and relax. I'm going to try to live in the moment, and not worry about what I did the past few days, or try to predict what will happen tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Three Years Later

The three year anniversary of "Detach" recently came and went without any fanfare. But as this milestone has passed, I have to wonder if I've really made any progress in my journey. Have I really learned anything? Am I better off now than three years ago?

Have I learned anything? Yes, definitely. It's been three years of self discovery and learning how I got where I'm at right now. Learning about the behaviors that have been so crippling to me during much of my life.

My favorite parts of the journal have been writing about my mother and remembering stories from way back when that helped build the foundation for my codependence. But I think my favorite part of the three year journey has been writing the "Kiss and Tell" series; thinking about all my past loves, especially Chris W. Those were probably the entries that commanded the most emotion from me.

Have I made any progress? Honestly, not much. I'm still desperately codependent, and have a very hard time being pleased with just myself for more than a very short period of time. I'm still hopelessly looking to others for my happiness. Will this stop me from trying? No. At least I recognize it more than ever now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Mom

When I write about my mom, I try to remember funny or happy stories. But the fact of the matter is, my mother was an addict. She spent a couple of years battling alcohol; something she was ultimately able to walk away from. But the one drug my mother could never kick--the drug that robbed her of the last 20 years of her life--the drug that ultimately killed her, was nicotine.

My mother started smoking when she was a kid. 12, maybe 13 years old. In those days everyone did it. Through the 1950's, even our heroes like Sheriff Andy Taylor had his evening cigarette. It's just what people of their generation did. Especially if you grew up in rural Eastern Kentucky.

I'm certain my mother smoked throughout both her pregnancies. It didn't seem like a bad thing to do in those days. When I was little, I can remember both my parents smoking in the house and even in the car. I cannot begin to tell you how badly I detested it; especially in the car. It nearly choked me to death. At some point in time my Dad took pity on me and decreed there would be no more smoking while I was in the car. To this day I feel my throat close up when I see adults smoking in the car with children. But something good came of all that childhood second hand smoke. I hated cigarettes so terribly bad that I knew I would never, EVER smoke. I could never understand the appeal of it, and still don't to this day. So if nothing else, it turned me against ever wanting to try them.

My dad quit smoking sometime around 1980, but my mom was a different story. When my mother was in her early 50's, she suffered a brain aneurysm. Then a few years later, a heart attack. After that, a second brain aneurysm, and about a year before she died a second heart attack. One year after that, a blood clot to the brain took her life. Cigarette smoking caused all of these cardiovascular diseases. Her blood was thickened to the point it could not flow properly. The walls of her arteries and vessels were weakened and compromised. She had developed COPD, and often had frightening spells where she couldn't catch her breath. In the mornings, she coughed and choked, and spit up for at least an hour. To the day she died, she called it "allergies".

While he had success giving her an ultimatum about her drinking, my dad was never able to stop my mother from smoking. One of the saddest things I ever heard my dad say was when we were sitting at the hospital during one of my mom's extended illnesses, and he told me how he'd worked so hard his whole life, and how he'd hoped that during retirement he and my mom could travel and see the world. But instead, he spent a good many years sitting vigil in hospital rooms for weeks on end, then providing weeks or months of home health care, driving her to doctors appointments, changing her bandages, and making sure she got her medicine. At one point he got so fed up he told her if she didn't stop smoking he would leave her. He felt her illnesses were preventable, and that she'd brought it all on herself because she wouldn't put the cigarettes down. From that point on my mother had to sneak smoke. I'm sure my dad knew it. We all knew it. But at least if we pretended not to know it would make it more difficult for her to score her fix. Any smoker who came to my house knew my mom would be hitting them up. Ironically, they sometimes tell me with great fondness, and a big smile, stories of how my mom would corner them for a cigarette. This seems to harken happy memories for them. It just pisses me off.

A couple of weeks ago I was getting a pedicure from the nice Vietnamese lady who has lived next door to my parents for the past 6 years. She told me how my mother would come knock on her door when my dad was away, and beg her to take her to the store so she could get smokes. The neighbor said she knew my mom wasn't supposed to be smoking, but she didn't know what to do. She felt she would be disrespecting her by turning her away. She told me how uncomfortable this made her. Talk about uncomfortable!!! I was squirming in my massage chair, fighting back tears. Have you seen Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino"? My parents were mortified when Vietnamese people moved next door. Yet my mother wanted or needed her drug so desperately that she begged these people to help her get it. It hurt my heart terribly to think of my mother being that desperate. And it hurt even more for the kind neighbors who were put in the position to unwillingly enable her.

When I think of the addictive part of my mother's life, and when I think about my dad, I see so many parallels. This isn't an epiphany, I've pointed that out before. But what must we sacrifice when we love and live with an addict? It's a lot to give up. Our dreams for retirement? Our freedom? Many people don't see cigarettes the same as alcohol or other drugs, but I do. Tobacco took my mother away from me and I hate it. It just took sitting there getting my toes done by a sweet little Vietnamese woman to remind me just how much.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Rarely do I have problems sleeping, but tonight I cannot sleep. When I went to bed at 10:30 I felt very sleepy. As usual, I fell asleep within a few minutes, but woke up a short time later feeling too hot. After that I tossed and turned until I finally decided to open up the laptop. I have too much on my mind. I don't even feel like writing about it all. Just overwhelmed with obligations, responsibilities, and lots of feelings and emotions.

It's nearly 2:00 a.m. and I need some sleep. Maybe I will sleep now. Everything will work out. It will.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ready Or Not....Here I Come!

When I was a kid, I absolutely, positively LOVED the holiday season! On Thanksgiving I would eat until I was miserable. One time I thought I may have actually caused myself bodily harm. I ate so much I seriously feared my stomach would explode. Then it was four weeks of thumbing through the Service Merchandise catalog to decide what I wanted for Christmas! I always had a list of record albums I wanted. Wasn't it fun to see a record album wrapped under the tree? No brainer on that gift! I can remember laying on my back for hours under the Christmas tree, watching the colored lights blink on and off, listening to Charlie Brown Christmas or some other wonderful Christmas show on the big console television. I had all the gifts memorized. The shape, the feel, the sound they made when you shook them. Yes, I loved the holidays.

I'm not really sure what changed, but for me the magic of that season is now gone. Maybe it's because I now spend a day and a half actually preparing the Thanksgiving dinner. The half day beginning on Wednesday evening after a full day at work. And I now know those pretty gifts don't just magically appear under the tree, which doesn't magically become decorated with those pretty lights! Someone has to risk their life to actually drive about town, spending hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars to buy and wrap the gifts, then an entire day decorating the 9' Christmas tree to place them under. Stuff has to be packed away in boxes to make room for all the decorations we must set out. There are Christmas cards to address. And I always feel obligated to write a nice note to those I don't see often. And I feel I should include a photo of the family; at least the kids. Last year I got so overwhelmed I just gave up on the cards. Oh and for the record...if you ever send me one of those mass produced Christmas letters written to update everyone on all the events of the year....please know that people (myself included) don't like those, and often make fun of them later. If you've never seen the episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where they write the Christmas letter, you're missing out.

Up until maybe five years ago, my parents' living room was overflowing with packages on Christmas Eve. Especially after my two kids came along. We would carry in armloads of gifts from our car. So would my sister, and so would her daughter. Add all that with the things my Mom bought, and it took two hours to open everything. We always opened them one at a time so we didn't miss anything. Mom would buy everyone in the family underwear. She called them "Santa Helpers". The label would always say "To Mary From Santa". I didn't have to buy underwear until I was in my 40's! But the past few years it became a gift card exchange. Everyone gets Christmas cards with gift cards inside. No one even needs to be in charge of the trash bag because there isn't any discarded wrapping paper. My kids no longer believe in Santa Claus and are starting to ask for money for birthdays and Christmas. Last year was the first year in my entire life that I didn't spend Christmas Eve at my parents' house. My sister wasn't able to make it in town and neither was her daughter and their family. So it was just us and my Dad. He came to our house and we had an awkward new tradition. I felt like crying more than once that night.

I know gifts and lights and turkey aren't the "reason for the season". I get that. But the enchantment I felt for Christmas as a child is gone. I'm not ashamed to say I dread it this year. I dread cooking, I dread making out Christmas cards, shopping, and mostly...putting up the tree and decorating the house. I don't really even do the decorating anymore; my husband does most of it. I still dread it.

But like it or not, Christmas is just a few weeks away. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. So fasten your seat belts cause here we go!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Reflections

While everyone in my house is taking advantage of their extra hour of sleep, I'm going to sit quietly and have my coffee, and write about a few things.

Madison is on my mind heavily this morning. She had a week that would make most people retreat to a corner and assume the fetal position. But Madison seems stronger than ever, and very focused. Keep doing what you are doing Madison. And as you told me, no matter the outcome later, you won't regret the kindness you have been giving.

Still sending love and support to Kitty who is working so hard in South Florida. Another week is in your pocket Kitty. Just keep going!

I am wishing luck to Scarlet in her business endeavor. I know from experience it's very rewarding to put yourself out there and see what you can do. You have a great product and I think you are going to be very successful.

Thinking of Sally as she is preparing for a life change in the months ahead. I know you probably feel scared sometimes. One day at a time.

Thinking of Miss Pamela, who has stood by my side for many, many years. Thank you for always listening, and for being such a good friend. Thank you also for caring about my kids.

I have two new employees starting tomorrow. We have such a tight knit little office, and I am hoping these two people will fit in and we can continue to work in harmony and peace! Also, I am looking forward to spending a couple of days with Mystical, as she helps one of the new hires get adjusted this week.

Mostly today I am thinking about my husband. He is leaving tonight to visit Kitty and her husband in South Florida for several days. I hope this will be a time of reflection for us both, and that we will see things much more clearly when he returns. I am going to pray for this every single day. All I've ever wanted was for us to have a happy, peaceful life together. Not a roller coaster, not a life of drama and sadness. Just closeness and peace. I'm not entirely sure this dream is possible, and I'm now seeing that clearer than ever. But after all that has happened, this is STILL all I want.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How About Now

Once in awhile I write a journal entry, and feel that years down the road, if someone should piece together the most pivotal parts of this journal, this entry would have to be included. Usually it's an entry that was written when I had a revelation--an "ah ha!" moment--a truly large step in my recovery. This is one of those entries.

Maya Angelou once said "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them". In the past several days, this saying has come to be very important, I will even go as far as to say life changing to me. Let me explain.

The last time my husband went to counseling with me he said "This is who I am. I'm not going to change. You can either accept that, or get out". It was a pretty powerful statement, and after it was spoken, there was a thick cloud of tension in the room. Finally Kate said "I really don't think there's anything else that needs to be said. Mary, you need to think about what your husband just said and decide if you choose to accept what he is telling you, or go". I sat there frozen. Frozen, but thinking to myself "What are you thinking, Kate? There's plenty to talk about! We need to talk about why that is an unacceptable statement! Is everyone in this room (except me) an idiot?". Then Kate said "Mary, how are you feeling about what your husband just said?" My frustrated response...."This is not the first time I've heard that. He doesn't really mean it. Tonight he will tell me he was angry when he said it, and he doesn't really mean it".

But in the days and weeks since that session, a very strange thing happened. For the first time since we met...I got it. I realized that my husband had been trying to tell me this for almost two decades, and in my ongoing, tireless, 20 year battle to change him, I simply refused to listen.

When I shared this discovery with Sally, she immediately shared the quote from Maya Angelou, and told me to think about it. "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them". Wow! What a revelation! Now this all seems very clear to me. How could I possibly have heard someone say something to me over and over and over again, and never listened? Never believed them? That is what codependent people do. We feel if we just try hard enough, we have the power to change people. We can't get it through our thick skulls, that most of the time, people are who they are, and they have no desire to change.

Tonight, after yet another incorrect assumption I made about what someone was "really thinking", I sent a text message to Sally saying "When will I ever start to believe people when they show me who they really are?" Sally's response: "How about now?"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nerved Up

Scarlet and I email or text each other a few times every day; mainly just to check in, or share funny stories of things that have happened at work or home. Inevitably, there's a line that comes up now and then during our quick conversations, and that line is the focus of today's entry: "I'm very nerved up today". Usually the other person will come back with "Why? What's bothering you?". Usually the next response is "I'm not really sure".

But alas....after years of writing this line, and decades of being friends, I believe we finally concluded that if we really think about it, and are honest with ourselves, we always really do know what is causing our anxiety.

So the other night when another dear friend of mine told me she was slipping back into the throws of sadness, anger, and crying, I thought of that line. I believe most of the time we really do know the root of our problem. Sometimes we deny it, or ignore it, or think it will miraculously cure itself, but it doesn't. It may go away for short periods of time, but after awhile it always rears it's ugly head again, and our anxiety and depression returns. Once again, we are nerved up....for "no reason".

Sometimes there's nothing we can do about that burden on our shoulders. Maybe it's something our kids are doing, or maybe it's the loss of a loved one. But sometimes, maybe....just maybe, that weight IS avoidable. Maybe it's fixable. Maybe we can eliminate it from our lives once and for all. What if we did let go of the albatross we carry around our neck? What a glorious feeling that would be!

So I guess my point today is that if you look deep inside and assess that which is causing your ongoing anxiety; think about what it would mean to eliminate that source of stress from your life. Sometimes it may seem too overwhelming--maybe even impossible. But maybe it isn't. Take a look at it from a new angle. Life is short my friends.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How Mary Got Her Groove Back

I'm now well in to Week Two of my annual fall vacation. I can't remember the last time I felt so relaxed and so.....what's the word I'm searching for?.......light. Kinda like when you've been outside in the summer heat all day and you are tired, dirty, and sweaty, then you have a nice cool shower and wash away all the dirt and grime, and step out feeling fresh and rejuvenated. That's how I feel.

I began the vacation by having someone clean my house. Major stress now eliminated. I had a little party for my staff at work. We were all happy, had good food and drink, and sat by the fire outside in the cool autumn evening. More stress eliminated. The next few days would be a little shopping, a hair cut, some naps curled up with the cats, getting my nails done, and the Restylane treatment. Stress is whooshing away now.

But the biggest stress reliever of all came last Friday when I was able to carefully and successfully have a conversation with someone. Something that I'd been building up, but didn't have the courage to execute. Ideas that were born from months of counseling, from a week of spending relaxed time alone with no television or other distractions, and from a great deal of soul searching. Suddenly I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Like I was free of the burden that had been crippling me since about June. The burden that possibly came over me that last night at the beach when I left South Florida.

With my new found emancipation, I headed to the airport on Saturday morning, and ironically boarded a plane, back to South Florida to visit Kitty and her husband. Four days and three nights of the beach, the pool, the farmer's market, and lovely food and drink. Four days and three nights of pure relaxation with no obligations and no demands on me. I left my phone down in my room while I was there--only checking it once or twice a day. No texting, no constant contact with the world. Just me, getting inside my own head, enjoying my liberation, and being with two people I love very much. Remainder of stress......poof.....gone.

Kitty told me I seemed like a different person from when I was there 4 months ago. I seemed confident and happy for the first time in awhile. She said I got my groove back. And it's funny--that's how I felt too. Insecurity, jealousy, codependence, constant worry about what everyone else is doing or thinking, all vanished. I was thinking about me, in that moment. Enjoying life and getting in touch with myself. No one else....just me.

I thank Kitty and her husband for lending me their home, giving me space and privacy, and putting absolutely no demands on me. They are most gracious hosts. This time when I left; no tears. Only happiness. I thank Kate for the months of counseling that taught me I wasn't crazy; I just have distorted thinking. She is helping me work out so many tangled ropes in my life. But mostly I'm thankful that I got up the nerve to say my peace. Thankful for the words that flowed out so perfectly. Thankful that I got my point across clearly and loudly.

I still have 4 more days of vacation before I return to the hectic, daily grind next Tuesday. I want to stay in this place. I want to keep working on myself. I don't really know what crossed over in me, other than the fact that I was able to stand still for more than three minutes, organize my thoughts, then articulate them. Something I waited way too long to do.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Restylane Results

I had my Restylane treatment today, and so far am very happy with the results. You pay by the vial. Today my doctor only used about 3/4 of that vial, so when this round has had a chance to finish settling, I will go back (3-4 weeks) and he'll use the rest of it.

It was not pain free, but also not unbearable. Stung quite a bit when the needle was in. There was a tiny bit of redness, as you can see (the "after" picture was taken within 10 minutes of the injections) but nothing serious.

Here are the before and after pictures. This is without makeup. Sorry they are sideways...

So far I'm quite happy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don't Look At Me!

To the partner of an addict, the easiest thing in the entire world, the thing that comes most naturally to us, is getting angry with the behavior of the addict. Especially when they are laying in the yard passed out, or miss an important engagement because they are drunk. Or worse yet, go to an important engagement and act like a fool. It's so easy to point the finger at them! Everyone is on our side! They all agree that the addict is the bad guy. The addict is the problem. We are WELL within our rights to bitch, complain, and even walk away from the drunkard.

But you know what's not so easy? Making the decision to take a stand when things are a little more gray. When the roller coaster is up and running. Bad days mixed in with a lot of good days. Stretches of using mixed in with some really good periods of sobriety. A far cry from the way things used to be. Do we really have a right to be angry? After all, they haven't done anything that bad...right?

So when things are gray like this and we decide we've had enough, the finger pivots around and now points to us. We are the ones who are rocking the boat. We are the ones who can't leave "okay" alone. Us codependents.....we don't like that feeling so much.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Running In Place

Today I had my first counseling session in three weeks. When Kate asked how things were going, and what all had transpired in the last three weeks, I was happy to report that I felt like I was making some pretty decent strides. Baby steps, or maybe even more than that. But the odd thing was, even though I felt like I was taking steps in the right direction, I felt that I wasn't actually getting anywhere. I felt like I was running in place.

The steps I have taken are mostly about myself. I'm working hard on my battered self esteem. I no longer feel quite so fat, quite so old, quite so unlovable and undesirable. I feel like I see where I want to be in my life and have a strong desire to get there. But even after taking these steps, things aren't changing much for me. I feel I'm still in the same place I've been for quite some time--in the front seat of a roller coaster that keeps going, and going, and going. Up hills, and down hills. Around turns and loops. Over, and over, and over again.

I'm ready for some type of change in my life, my friends. I'm ready to get off the roller coaster, and get on the straight away for awhile. I will be the first to admit; I'm not sure how I'll do that, but I need it...really bad.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Current State of Mind

I have a thousand things to say, but can't say any of them.
I have a thousand words to write, but can't write any of them.
I have more going on in my head than I ever have, yet am writing in my journal less than ever.
I want to blow scream at the top of my lungs, but instead I am sitting quietly saying and doing nothing. Not talking, not writing, not posting, not blowing up, not exploding, not screaming.

Just sitting quietly.

Thinking, pondering, weighing, deliberating, and then sleeping.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Morning Sun When It's In Your Face Really Shows Your Age

For the past several weeks, I've been working on feeling better about myself. I've been losing some weight, buying new clothes and shoes, and trying to look my best. This is an attempt at building self confidence, and so far it's working pretty well. But try as I may, I'm having a really hard time getting past the wrinkling and sagging that is occurring on my 47 year old face.

During my recent visit to the dermatologist, we discussed this problem. I'm not interested in going under the knife, or doing anything drastic, so my dermatologist recommended a procedure called restylane. Restylane is a gel that is injected underneath the skin to plump it up and fill in the lines. The results are not permanent, but should last several months. During that time, my dermatologist will perform a series of regular chemical peels to remove the layers of sun damaged skin he says is causing the "cracking" effect I dislike so much. I'm told most patients are ecstatic with the results they achieve from restylane, particularly when combined with the peels.

Perhaps I'm being vain. Perhaps I should be satisfied with the face I've acquired over time...but right now I'm just not. My husband is rather skeptical about the whole thing and had some less than enthusiastic words to say about it, but I'm doing this for me. I don't want to come out looking like Joan Rivers--just looking like Mary from a few years ago would be wonderful.

I'll be posting some before and after photos, and will keep you in the loop about the procedure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To A Friend

We never know what's going to happen to us next, do we? Life is full of changes, surprises, and lots of challenges. Some challenges we accept, some we do not. Sometimes when we accept a challenge, we are pleased with the outcome. Other times....not so much. Sometimes our heart tells us to move on. Sometimes it tells us to stay put.

Sometimes change is a good thing. Often (at least for me) it's a scary thing. We don't always have to embrace it. Listen to your heart--listen to your head. Pray. You'll make the right decision.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fun With Shoes

It never ceases to amaze me how good a new pair of shoes can make me feel. I don't care a thing in the world about designer names, never have. No matter the label, I want to put on a hot pair of shoes that fit me well, and make even an old outfit come to life. It's helpful if the shoes are comfortable, because if you look awkward or like you are in pain when walking in them, you've defeated the purpose, right?

Clearly, some shoes are "sit down" shoes. You just need to get where you are going and sit down, before you fall or before your feet begin to scream. But the best ones are the ones that feel good AND look good.

So go shoe shopping this weekend. Grab something that may be a bit out of character for you. Maybe even some great boots.

I promise it will give you a glimmer of happiness when the alarm goes off one day this week and you remember you have your fun new shoes to wear!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Mom

Yesterday was my yearly visit to my dermatologist for a skin check. He and I are only three months apart in age, and usually have at least some dialog about who's older or how aging is affecting us. Yesterday the doctor told me he looks in the mirror these days and sees his father. I told him I feel the same way! I'm morphing in to my dad. A little harder for a woman to swallow than a man. Anyway, my point is that most all my genes come from my dad. Very few of my physical traits come from my mother.

The same can be said about my daughter. She gets very few characteristics from me. She has many more of her Aunt Kitty's features than mine. But there is one interesting trait that passed from my mom to me, and then to my daughter. The love of singing.

When I was growing up I would hear my mom sing all the time. She sang to songs on the radio. She sang to her favorite record albums. She sang loudly at church. But my favorite memories of Mom singing were times when she got together with her brothers and they played music. Guitars, banjos, mandolins, steel guitars; they would play for hours and hours down in the country on my grandma's porch. Or sometimes here in the city, if we were lucky enough to get everyone together. They played what I call mountain music. A mix of gospel, bluegrass, and country. The brothers would play and my mother would sing in her best Eastern Kentucky twang, until the sun went down and everyone was tired. As a child, sometimes this playing and singing would annoy me, but in later years I couldn't get enough of it. I even recorded my mom singing. Now that is a cherished memory of mine.

I shared my mother's love of singing. As a young child I would sit in our attic bedroom and play my sister's albums, learning the words to them all. As I grew, and we moved to a new house, I would sit in the basement for hours, singing and drawing. When I met Scarlet, we quickly discovered a mutual love for similar types of music. We were both raised on classic country; Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn. We also loved groups like Heart, and singers like Pat Benetar, and Crystal Gayle. Scarlet and I spent many evenings and weekends playing records and singing. Often, Scarlet would bring one of her guitars and play. To this day, Scarlet and I enjoy singing karaoke and whaling out our favorite songs.

I am so happy that my daughter, who is now 12 years old, shares this love. She sits at the computer or listens to her iPod, and sings along to all her favorite songs. Once in awhile, she'll even grab the karaoke mike. Tonight I heard her singing loud and proud and it reminded me of how Mom would come downstairs and catch me singing. At first I would be embarrassed, but Mom would say "Rare back and sing it, honey!" It never mattered how good it sounded; Mom loved to hear me sing. It doesn't matter how my daughter sounds either. What matters is the love of song, and the freedom and confidence to open your mouth and let your voice shine through.

I'm happy that this is a, a gift, that the three generations have shared. I hope it is one that will carry on for many generations to come.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Constant Craving

Going back to yesterday's post, let me be clear about something. Codependent people are not just codependent on their spouses or lovers. And they don't all have a relationship with an addict; it just so happens many of them do. People with codependent tendencies constantly crave approval, attention, and never ending praise and love from many other people. Friends, bosses, parents...pretty much everyone. They simply draw their energy and their self worth from other people. It isn't enough to know you are loved, you need to beTOLD you are loved--constantly. It isn't enough to know you did a good job, you need your boss to TELL you what a wonderful job you did. Codependent people cannot seem to be content within themselves. They need others to affirm, confirm, and provide never ending reassurance. They want to feel wanted and needed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Reflections

When you have a codependent personality, your world often revolves around other people. There are times when you find your independence and can fly strong and on your own for awhile, but that's often short lived and you find yourself back in the rut of letting other people's behavior control your happiness. When they are attentive to you and things are going your way, it can be the happiest, highest feeling imaginable. But when they are not giving you what you want or need, it's the lowest of low. The loneliest feeling in the world.

I live on this roller coaster every day. I rarely have control over my own happiness, because I allow my happiness to hinge on the behavior of others. Usually those people are unreliable and unpredictable, thus so is my happiness.It's been nearly three years since I started writing about this subject. Three years of trying to find my independence. Three years, three different therapists. Three years of piecing together how I got to this point. Three years of understanding the patterns I keep repeating and the affects they have on me. Three years and I'm really no better than I was when I started.

My current therapist, Kate tells me that there's really not much she can tell me that I don't already know. I completely understand codependence and how it has affected my life. I understand the unhealthy behaviors--often I see them coming. Rarely do I dodge the bullet. I get it. I really do. But after three years, I still don't seem to be able to stop it.

I'll never give up trying. At least I don't think I will. I've got a lot of reflective time coming up this fall. I have a two and a half week vacation from work, and will spend four days of that time with Kitty at her place in South Florida. Shortly after that, my husband will go down there for a week. I love the fall. It's by far my favorite time of year, and the time I feel most alive. I'm hoping the alone time will help me with my independence. I think the time apart will do us all good.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Codependency Check Up

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.

Yep...that's still me!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Tonight I was visiting with my friends Sara and Marty-Marr. We were enjoying some of Sara's wonderful homemade apple turnovers and coffee, and as always, good conversation. Sara lost her father to cancer a few years back, and Marty-Marr has lost both his parents since I lost my mom, and we often talk about the four of them and how their deaths have affected us. It's nice to bounce those emotions off someone who is feeling the same way.

Tonight Marty-Marr posed an interesting question. Maybe more of an observation. He said he had noticed that at both our houses, the only photos of our parents that were out on display were those taken when our parents were young...and beautiful.

We both agreed that looking at photos of our parents from recent years made us sad, but that the photos from decades back, somehow made us feel happy. My mom was beautiful, but I must say, in the 1940's, Marty-Marr's mother was a stone cold fox. There are lovely photos of her in Betty Grable type bathing suits and heels. You can't help but look at those photos and smile.

But some sadness does come from that. You see photos of your mom with three or four other young women; clearly close friends. You wonder where they were. Who were the friends? What happened to them? Questions that will never be answered, and that is bittersweet. After her death, Marty-Marr uncovered a wealth of old photos that made him wonder about the woman he never knew. He wished he'd taken the time to look at those photos while his mom was alive, so she could have answered the questions, and given him greater insight into who she really was back then. Clearly, she wasn't always the mama who bandaged his knee and fought off the bullies.

So if your parents are still alive--get to know them. Drag out those old photo albums now, before it's too late. Ask questions. Listen to stories. You might just be surprised.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lyrics I Like

"Disillusion and confusion
they make me wanna cry"

-Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Codependent Sunday

My counselor says that not every problem in life has a solution. She says that some things just don't have a definitive right or wrong answer. For me, that simply does not compute. In my job, if there is a complaint or a problem, I work it out until the issue is resolved. Then, I jot down some good notes, and file it away. It's fixed. End of story. So to accept that some of the issues in my life may not have a resolution, is a hard pill for me to swallow.

I am a fixer. I am a people-pleaser. I am a rescuer. I am massively codependent. How the hell am I supposed to accept the fact that I can't control or fix aspects of my life that feel effed up to me?

I've been writing this journal now for nearly three years. It is supposed to document my journey "out" of codependence. But no matter how hard I claw and dig to climb my way out, I always seem to grab hold of something slippery, and slide right back down to the pit from where I first started. When that happens I feel hopeless, stupid, and totally disgusted with myself. I try to reach into my mind and remember all the things I've learned. I try to think of detaching, of letting go of that which I have no control. But sometimes it just doesn't work. Right now is one of those times.

While everyone in my life seems content and happy, I regularly feel like my head is about to explode. While others seem to have no problem at all accepting "what is", I feel as though things are totally and completely out of control. Madison says things aren't out of control at all, it's just that some things are simply out of MY control.

There are things in my life that are not so great, but there are a lot of things that are very good. Yet I seem hell bent on ruining them by picking them apart. I don't get that about myself, but I know for sure it's born out of my need to control everything and possibly everyone around me. It also comes from my massive insecurities, and an absolutely insatiable need to feel loved and wanted.

I keep thinking back to Del Shores' tweet: "You don't need everyone to love you". But even more so I get the fact that his friend had to remind him of that in the first place.

My counselor has a sign up in her office that reads "It Is What It Is". People like me would be so much happier if we could just accept that. How sad that we so desperately want to jump up and scratch out those words and write "It Will Be What I Want It To Be".

I'm going to go upstairs now and soak in a nice hot bath. I'm going to pray for peace and wisdom in dealing with those things that I'm told have no answer--things I can't fix and file away. I'm going to say over and over again:

God grant me the Serenity to
Accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dang You, Lionel Richie!

This morning I got an email from my friend Old Beth. She said that she was driving to work this morning and a song came on the radio that reminded her of when we were 16 years old, carefree, and living at home with our folks. She said she started crying so hard she had to change the station.

I don't know that we truly felt carefree at 16, although in our late 40's, it sure seems like we did. I'm sure we had our problems. Back then all we could think about was getting out and being independent. Making some money and getting married.

Today, sometimes I don't like being a big girl. The responsibilities can be overwhelming.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Journaling 1981 Style

I'm sitting up in my bed with my laptop, well....on my lap, trying to think of something to write in this journal, and then it hit me. I was thinking of doing this very thing 30 or more years ago. Well, sort of.

As a teenager, I would retreat to my bedroom at night, then lay awake listening to the radio. Sometimes I would draw, sometimes I would read my "Living Bible" and underline all the scriptures I thought were interesting. Once in awhile I would sneak the phone (which looked identical to the one pictured here) up under my bed covers and ever so slowly and quietly, dial someone's phone number and have a late night chat. But usually I would write. I had all sorts of stationery that I used for letters to my girlfriend Kim, who had gone off to college at UofK. I wrote to my girlfriend Gale in Ohio, and letters to my boyfriend Chris W. after he went in the Marine Corps. I wrote letters and drew pictures for everyone. I had journals, and like now would write the things I was thinking or feeling at the time.

But in those days it would have been almost impossible to imagine the technology of today. I'd be listening to an iPod, not a radio with dials. And the stationery has been replaced by electronic messaging. I'm not sure that back then I could have dreamed that virtually every person in the world would have an entire library of information at at their fingertips. No more writing to the guy at the local newspaper to ask the name of a movie you saw a few years back. Just Google it.

But some of these things are a lost art. Radio DJs who could actually play the songs they wanted to play, and who had the freedom to play your late night request if you called in. The beauty or humor of colorful stationery and colored ink. All gone.

It would have been hard for me to imagine the different struggles I write about today. Even though some are remarkably similar to the ones I had in those days, many are not.

I love today's technology and the freedom it gives us, but often I do feel nostalgic for the way things were in 1981.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Leaf Dance

I had the strangest experience driving to work yesterday morning. It was a little abstract, I hope I can describe it so you might be able to visualize and share it with me.

I was driving down a road that is heavily lined with very old, very large trees. At that particular time of the morning, the entire street was in shade. But beams of light shot straight down through the trees, making spotlights on the road. Many of the trees were shedding their very small, round shaped leaves, and the little yellow leaves covered the road. There was only myself and the car about 5 car lengths ahead of me.

"Benny and the Jets" had come on the radio, and was at the part where Elton John plays a catchy, almost burlesque type piano solo. As the car ahead of me drove over the tiny leaves, they whirled up in the air, danced around, and fell back down to the ground in the most beautiful, delicate way. I felt like they were doing a special little dance, just for me. A little sign that Fall is coming.

It only lasted for several seconds, but the petite little yellow leaves spotlighted by the sharp morning sun, gracefully dancing to the beautiful music of one of my favorite artists, made me feel so happy. It was like I got a special little present that no one else in the world was given.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Will You Love Me Forever??

In case you aren't familiar with him, Del Shores is a talented film director, writer, and producer. He is probably best known for his play "Sordid Lives", which later became a film, and eventually a short lived television series. It's a cult favorite, with fans (including Scarlet and myself) able to quote lines from every scene. Del Shores is also a self proclaimed codependent. We should hang out sometime.

In April, 2010 I posted a wonderful quote about codependence from one of Del's plays.

Today I came across something Del posted on Twitter earlier this year. I liked it so much I'm going to share it too:

"You don't need everyone to love you" great quote from Robb. Thanks... this codependent needed to hear that tonight!"

Madison and I have had some discussions recently about this very thing. Why do codependent people so desperately want other people to want them and to love them? Why do we worry, worry, worry about this all the time? Is it because we don't fully love ourselves? Sometimes I have to wonder if it's even possible for us to ever feel loved enough. I'm not sure it is. There's always this insecurity that the other person is going to leave us, lie to us, or love someone else more.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Words That Stick

Words are powerful. Sometimes you can say something, or someone can say something to you that sticks in your head forever. Words or phrases you will never, ever forget as long as you live. Sometimes you remember it because it made you happy, or sad. Maybe it was erotic. Maybe it shocked you, or maybe it changed your life forever. For me, here are some that spring to mind.

Sally, to me: "How far away is all the time dread?"
Scarlet, to me outside the Luxor in Las Vegas: "It's as hot as damned Egypt!"
Me, to my husband when we were dating: "I think I'm falling in love with you"
My gynecologist, to me: "What's going on with you?"
My psychiatrist, to me: "I feel pretty confident I can help you"
My therapist, to me: "Sometimes there's not a way to fix things"
Me, to my therapist: "Is that okay?"
My husband, to me: "Right now I'm here, but one day I'm going to be here"
Our neighbor Dorothy, to my mother: "They just said on the news that Elvis died"
My friend Kathie, to me: "Michael Jackson is dead"
My mother, to me: "One of the Beatles was killed last night"
Someone named Sandy who used to work with me, to me and my coworkers: "My husband just called and said the space shuttle blew up"
Some guy at a bar, to me: "You have the most beautiful lips I've ever seen"
Miss Pamela, to my husband and me: "There's the blue van!"
My husband, to Robert Plant: "I love you, man"
My mother-in-law, to me: "I know I can never take the place of your mother, but I swear to you I love you like I love my own children, and I will always be there for you"
My boss, to me: "'s just a job"
Kitty, to me: "Life is complicated"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Remember You!

Sometimes I have the strangest feeling that there are people in my life that I've always known. And I don't mean I've known them since I was a kid, I mean I've known them "forever". My husband and I both felt that way with our children. During both pregnancies, somehow we already knew what their personalities would be like. When I was first carrying my son, we didn't have a boy name picked out, but we did have my daughter's name picked out. When we found out the child was a boy we were excited, but instantly both of us had a little sadness that the girl wasn't coming. Somehow we knew she was waiting, and would come to us soon. Two years later, she did.

When my daughter was about three, she would say how she remembered playing with her Grammy when Grammy was a little girl. They played in a field and picked flowers. At first we tried to explain to her that Grammy was a grown up when she was born, but that did not change her insistence on the subject.

I believe there are old souls in this world and newer souls. The older I get, the more I believe we may be sent back here to learn the things we just didn't get the last time around. And maybe we come back with some, but not all of the same people. Maybe that's why we are drawn to certain people, and feel instantly comfortable with them. Maybe that's why some friends come in to our lives at an early age and even with long periods of not seeing each other, we know we must never fully lose contact with them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Seriously suffering from writer's block.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Commercial Art Advertising...Really??

When I was a junior in high school, I realized two things. One, I had a major crush on my Sociology teacher, and two, I was completely fascinated with human behavior. This lead my decision to sign up for the class again during my senior year. They say you shouldn't have regrets in life, but I often wish I would have chosen to study Sociology instead of Commercial Art Advertising when I went to college. Maybe I'd have decided to stick with it and graduate instead of dropping out after two years, and maybe I'd be working in that field today.

It's so interesting to me to see how people act, and especially react to certain situations. Some people, when confronted with something they don't want to hear, twist things around so they can quickly avoid the comment by changing the subject and acting like the comment was never made in the first place.

Some people tuck all their fears, pain, and emotions far, far away, so they don't have to deal with them. Only they do deal with them, the issues just manifest themselves in very repressed and unhealthy ways. Some people (like me) want to talk about every emotion they are feeling. They want to think about and analyze what caused them to feel the way they do.

Some people are independent, some people are codependent. Some introverted (my daughter), some extroverted (my son).

Some people are bitter, some at peace. Some are deceiving, some are genuine. Some lie and cheat to make themselves "winners" or to always appear smarter, some are honest and accept their shortcomings.

But none of us are born with these traits, with the possible exception of introverts and extroverts. So the fascinating part is what factors cause us to end up they way we do. Our parents, our upbringing, life experiences, and other environmental factors. All very fascinating to me.

But I didn't choose to study this in college, so now I have to be satisfied with MY choices. I have my blog, which allows me to dabble a bit in the subject, but at this point in my life, it appears that's as far as it's going to go.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

River Ghost

My husband just came home from a weekend adventure trip. He and a buddy canoed down a river and set up camp on the banks at a cove. While exploring, they came upon an old abandoned church and cemetery from the 1800's, which is an historic landmark in the area. While my husband was telling us about walking around looking at old graves, and about cave explorers who had been lost in the area, and never found, I made the comment that I hoped he didn't bring any ghosts home with him.

About that time I heard something in the kitchen. It sounded like dishes clanking together. There was silence, and I asked if anyone else heard it. My husband and daughter both said they did. My daughter got up to check to see if her brother had come upstairs and gone into the kitchen. It wasn't him. We laughed it off and forgot about it.

Then about 6:00 this morning, my husband got up to go to the bathroom and heard more clanking coming from the kitchen. Was it the river ghost? If it was, he must be hungry! My husband walked in to the kitchen slowly and quietly, and concluded that the noise was coming from inside the corner kitchen cabinet. The one that swivels around in a circle. Slowly, he walked over and turned the cabinet to open it. That's when the creature revealed itself! One of our cats had gotten in there! We estimate she must have gone in around 9:00 p.m. when my husband opened the cabinet to get a pot holder. Seems she had a little overnight camping trip of her own!

I keep telling this particular kitty that curiosity killed the cat. I hope she'll listen!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just Tellin' The Truth

I'm beaten down tonight, friends. Day after day, week after week of brutal heat is taking it's toll on me. It's too hot to sit outside after work, so I feel like some type of shut in. It's too hot to sleep well at night, and too hot to cook. Besides the heat, I had to go through the pain last night of saying goodbye once again to Kitty, who spent a wonderful couple of weeks here at home. We got to share a lot of quality time, and had a great visit, but saying goodbye to her rips something out of my heart, and takes a lot out of me.

My self esteem is lower than it's been in my life, and my job continues to leave me unfulfilled and frustrated. I feel that depression is trying to creep back up on me and I'm fighting with all I have, but just like before, all I can think of is getting home and shutting down.

I'm not saying this for attention or pity, or to try to find someone to offer a solution. This blog is a journal of my life, and this is my life right now. Hopefully in a few years I'll read this back and remember this dark period, and think how glad I am that I was able to pull through it and feel good again.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And Many More!

Happy, Happy Birthday wishes to three of my favorite people. Yesterday was Miss Pamela's birthday, and today is Kitty's. Sally's is later this week. Wishing each of you a wonderful year.

The Circle of Life

So last night I'm walking into the grocery store when I spot this incredibly hot young man walking out. He's early 20's and looked like he could have a spot on the new season of "Jersey Shore". I couldn't help but look at the boy.

Then a strange thing happened. Instead of him glancing up to catch my older, more experienced gaze, I noticed his eyes were focused solely on my very pretty almost 12 year old DAUGHTER!!!

This is just wrong on so many levels.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse And Me

I felt very sad yesterday when I heard that Amy Winehouse had passed away, most likely from a drug and alcohol overdose. Such a talent; a wonderful writer and singer. She was never able to escape the stranglehold of her addiction. At 27 years old it got the best of her, and killed her. My heart truly goes out to her family, and to the people who loved her, yet had to stand by and watch her self destruct.

This has caused me to be extraordinarily reflective today. About addiction....about codependence. About my own life.

If you have never lived with, or loved a substance abuser, you can't possibly imagine the battle they fight every day. Moreover, you can't possibly imagine what it's like to be committed to, and LOVE someone who is trapped by this addiction. Every day is a roller coaster. Some days are normal and stable, some days are like a carnival ride through hell. Then the days turn in to months and years. No matter how much rehab, no matter how long the sobriety, the demon is always there, just below the surface. It never leaves...ever.

Years of riding on the roller coaster make you jaded. Jaded and bitter. You always have to be on guard because you never know what you're going to get. Will today be peaceful and calm, or should I brace myself for the worst? No one likes to be left unguarded, so most of your days are spent prepared and ready for attack. Even after months or years of peaceful and calm, you can still go from relaxed to red alert in the blink of an eye, if the enemy is spotted.

At some point you stop being a partner to the addict, and become more of a guardian or disciplinarian. This usually happens very early on in the relationship, and quickly changes the dynamic of it. The damage this causes is detrimental, and drains the life out of both partners.

I don't think there's much that can be done at this point to turn back time and change my life. Right now I am trying very hard to focus on myself and I'm desperately seeking the motivation I need to return to Healthy Mind, Healthy Body. Also, I am focusing on my children. I'm trying to educate them on the evils of alcoholism, and the likelihood they possess the gene for it.

My life is far from over, but so much of it has been wasted from this disease, and my desire to keep control over it. I don't know where life will take me. I want to be happy. I want my husband to be happy. I want my children to be happy. But I have to face the fact that I can control only one of those things.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shake Your Tail Feathers

In the animal world, the male is usually the feathered, maned, more decorated of the species. Male peacocks strut their beautiful tail feathers to attract a mate. No lioness can resist the male lion with his stunning mane.

But with humans, it's typically the women who are painted, bejeweled, and decorated. So when a human male wants to impress the world, what has he got? His vehicle.

Today I saw a man who was sitting in a parking lot, under a shade tree away from any stores, near the street. He was dressed nice, looked clean, and a bit nervous. I expected he probably smelled nice too, with fresh after shave. I don't know why, but I got the feeling he was waiting to meet someone; possibly a blind date, or maybe even a secret lover.

Anyway, the man was sitting in a very nice, but rather large pick up truck. It was brilliant blue, shiny and clean; just gleaming in the sun. Not a spot nor bug on it. I figured it was his way of saying "Here I am! Look at me! See my pretty feathers? I must be a very good catch!"

Man, I think of the strangest things sometimes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Mission Today:

Trying very hard not to let myself get upset over that which I have no control.

God grant me the Serenity
to Accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
and Wisdom to know the difference.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Love Is...

Love lasts forever. At least that's what all the greeting cards and love songs say. But tonight something happened to me that made me ponder that notion. I was driving along and I heard a song on the radio, and it transported me back in time. You know how you hear certain songs, and it takes you back to the place in your life when the song was popular? Well, my mind flashed straight back to 1983; the year I married my first husband. It was our "song". A song about eternal love and bliss, and happiness, and forever. The song was played at our wedding and when we parted ways I would cry and cry if I happened to hear it on the oldies station. Hell, I might have even played it over and over on my cassette player, so I COULD cry and cry. But tonight when I heard the song, it didn't mean a thing to me. I still like it, and I still think it's a great song, but no pings to the heart strings, no sadness, no remembering what I "lost", no nothin'.

This made me wonder(again)...did I ever really, truly love David at all, or did I fall OUT of love with him? If true love really does last forever, is that even possible? Falling out of love??? Can you do that?

I decided you can.

I've been in love lots of times in my life, but I believe I only truly loved four men: my two husbands, Chris W, and Michael. As I confessed during my "Kiss and Tell" series, I will always love Chris W and Michael. Even though they broke my heart, I will always love them. But I have no love at all for him--none whatever. And I don't think that's because I never really loved him; I think I did.* But David didn't just break my heart. I believe I fell out of love with him because he betrayed me, and lied to me, and caused me four years of unequivocal, pure living hell.

So after some consideration, that is my conclusion. I believe you can love many times in your life, not just once. And with some people, that love does last forever, even if time and circumstances cause it to change. But with other people, it can grow as cold and rancid as a rotten tomato on a dead vine. If given the right mix of poison, love...even true love, can indeed, die.

*It is noteworthy to point out that even after this post, this is still up for debate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mary's MILFs

I hate to keep harping on this, but....damn!

Cake For Breakfast

I was just sitting here thinking back to a time--oh, maybe mid 1980's, when every Sunday I would bake a cake. Then, would take a big, honking slice of it to work every day that week, for my breakfast. I weighed around 125 pounds then. Skinny as a rail, by today's standards.

Honestly, a good piece of cake is one of my very favorite things in the entire world. Now, I just LOOK at a slice of the stuff and gain a pound.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mary's MILFs

It's been a really long time since anyone has been inducted in to Mary's MILF status. In case you are new to this blog, my personal definition of a MILF is "Men I'd Like To Fix". I'm codependent. I attempt to fix people. It never works.

I've been completely consumed with Kid Rock for about a week now. The "Devil Without A Cause" CD has been in my player all week. I love his mix of Southern Rock with a little Rap thrown in. Funny thing is, I keep thinking "He just needs to find the right woman". Like that's going to fix him. Like that's going to make him stop drinking, smoking, and chasing ho's.

Like one of my all time favorite MILFs, Tommy Lee, Kid Rock was once married to the lovely Pamela Anderson. Hell, she couldn't fix either one of them either! Anyway...I've been digging some Kid Rock lately, and I think he's "So Hott", with his bad self.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Quotes I Like

"Life is complicated."

The day Kitty said this was a very bad day. I had said and done a bunch of crazy things in a codependent rage one night a few years ago. The morning after, I wasn't sure what I was going to do to ever make things better again.

I felt I owed an apology to an innocent bystander who had been caught in the cross fire, and I was embarrassed and remorseful.

After careful deliberation on the subject, Kitty told me I should simply tell those involved "Life is complicated", and leave it at that.

I can't even imagine how many times I've used the phrase since then, but it runs through my head at least once a day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Little Work Neighborhood

I know it's hard to believe, but I really wasn't in the mood to go to work today. But as I was on approach to my work neighborhood, an odd thing happened. I had the strangest sense of the place just being alive. Bustling with energy, and commerce, and men and women living their lives, and being a community.

I work on the east side of downtown. Far enough away not to be caught in the traffic and concrete jungle, but close enough to feel like the city. It's a cross between a growing restaurant row, a very large medical facility, and a homeless community.

I saw the patients of the hospital outside on the sidewalk in their hospital issued gowns, desperately sucking the life out of their cigarettes before they had to go back inside the smoke free facility. One guy actually had his entire bed wheeled out onto the sidewalk, and was hooked up to an I.V. Nevermind the entire campus is smoke free, including the sidewalk...that just makes it all more ironic.

I saw a man walking down the sidewalk angrily talking to himself. Unfortunately he was walking AWAY from the Christian Mission, not towards it. And as always, as I approached the mission, there was the usual buzz of men coming and going. Some looking sad, some lost, some scary, and some perfectly happy. Many of them leaving in pairs, showered up and clean, with a friend they may have just met. Sometimes I wonder if they'll stay together long, or soon part ways.

But I also saw a city bus, full of people headed all over town to start their day. One lady was wearing a Subway uniform, another lady was wearing scrubs.

I passed a truck with it's flashers blinking; the driver busily unloading a rack of uniforms to be delivered.

In the air, I saw a helicopter to my right, and a large UPS plane full of parcels coming in for a landing on my left. Parcels my husband would be sorting and moving to different aircraft in a couple of hours.

I saw the usual long line at the McDonald's drive thru, and the "locals" who sit out front every morning, drinking their coffee.

It was Farmer's Market day on Gray Street. The farmers were already beginning to arrive; setting up their booths, and making sure everything was in place for the day.

I saw a young woman with three small children; two of which were in two separate strollers. She looked very tired, and I wondered where she was going. More importantly, I wondered how she got where she was in the first place.

The pizza chefs were already arriving at the Italian restaurant next door. Time to start making the dough for the day. It has to rise for a few hours, you know.

I love my little work neighborhood. It's plenty diverse. It's good, and sometimes it's bad. But one thing is for sure; today it was alive.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Aunt Mary Jane

When I was a very little girl, I remember having a great aunt named Mary Jane. I'm not entirely sure how she was related to me--possibly she was married to a brother of one of my grandparents. This was on my father's side of the family. Aunt Mary Jane lived down in the hollers of Eastern Kentucky, where we would go to visit my grandmother. In fact, she lived the last couple of years of her life with my grandma. I'm not quite sure how old she was, but to 7 year old Mary, this lady seemed to be at least a hundred. She was a sweet old woman, with deep lines on her face. She may have been part Indian; her skin was very dark. She was toothless and wore her hair back in a tight grey bun. My strongest memory of Aunt Mary Jane was that she used snuff, and would ask me to go get her "can" from my grandma's front porch. This was an old coffee can she would use to spit in, and I hated going to fetch it worse than anything. I tried desperately not to look inside and see the dark brown goo in there, so I would grab it and get it to her as quickly as I could.

One summer night, I had run around catching lightning bugs in a mayonnaise jar until I was tired, so I sat down in one of the old creaky rocking chairs on my grandma's big wooden porch and listened to the crickets and stared at the millions of stars in the sky (I believe you could see every one of them from down there). My mother and Aunt Mary Jane started talking, and somehow the subject of growing old and dying came up. I still remember something my Aunt Mary Jane said to my mom that night. She said "No living thing wants to die. Not even a little bird."

My mother often quoted Aunt Mary Jane on that line, and I remember her repeating it to people many times in my life.

It's human nature to want to live. That's why I can't understand why someone who is very close to me and much, much younger than Aunt Mary Jane, would be willing to throw in the towel and say they didn't have much intention of living a whole lot longer. Is it an excuse to give in to addictions and temptations? "I may as well abuse my body as I please, because I'm not going to live much longer anyway?" Well to me it's a cop out, and for the last few days, I've been pissed off about it. And I'm damn well sure if my mother and Aunt Mary Jane were here, they'd be bloody pissed off about it too.