Yesterday I made a time consuming and expensive attempt at cooking ribs for the first time. I thought I knew what I was doing, and I just knew the ribs would turn out perfect; falling off the bone delicious. They did not.
I tried something new and failed at it. Then, I beat myself up for hours. I criticized myself, I questioned where I went wrong. Did I buy the wrong cut of ribs? Did I mess up the recipe? Did I cook them too long? I could not let it go. My family was very forgiving. They ate as much they could of the tough pieces of leather, but filled up on the various side dishes, and then off they went. But me--I was relentless with my beating. My husband even said "You'll do better next time", to that I quickly replied "There won't be a next time!!".
If someone else had cooked the ribs and they didn't turn out, I wouldn't have batted an eye. Live and learn--better luck next time. But when I made the mistake--no let up. No forgiveness.
Reason #3 I fear change: I don't know how to forgive myself when something goes wrong.
Remember Stella? The one who hasn't changed her clothes, hair, or make up since the 70's? Well I hate to keep picking on her, but I'm realizing this stuff is all connected. Not only does Stella fight, kick, and scream to resist change in her life, but she also doesn't like to make decisions. Stella is bright, and she knows what's going on at work, but if there's any way at all to avoid it, Stella absolutely will not make a decision on her own. Even if she knows the answer, she'd rather shoot the question past someone....ANYONE, and have them make the call. What causes this? Fear. Fear of making a wrong decision. Fear of being responsible if something goes wrong. After all, if someone else made the call, then it's not Stella's fault. She's off the hook. I believe this is directly related to the resistance of change in her life. "What if I make a change and don't like it? What if I make a change, and something goes wrong? There's no one else to blame then, but me".
I'll be the first to admit when I've made a mistake. I take responsibility for my actions, and don't try to push my bad decisions off on others. But the fear of failure mortifies me. It always has. When I was little, I never wanted to try new things because I was convinced all the other kids already knew how to do things and I would look stupid because I was new at it. I'm still that way. I'm terrified of being out of control, or trying something new and failing. After all, failing means you didn't have control over the situation; right? And we all know I have serious control issues (as do many of my readers), so feeling, or appearing to be out of control is not an option for me.
I think this fear of failure keeps many of us from making decisions or making big changes in our lives. I'm quite sure it simply paralyzes me.
Reason #2 I fear change:What if I make a bad decision? What if I....fail?
Growing up, things were always pretty consistent at my house. The alarm went off at the same time every morning. My mother got up first and started the coffee. Then Dad would get up and they would sit at the kitchen table for a bit, then Dad would get ready for work. While he did, Mom would make his lunch and fill his Thermos with coffee. A kiss, and Dad was gone for the day. Next, Mom got me up, made my breakfast, and then, off to school for me. When we returned home later that day, the house was tidy and dinner was cooking. I could go play with my friends, but I knew that Dad would be home, and dinner would be on the table promptly at 5:00. Fried meat, a potato, a vegetable and ice water. This was the way it was every weeknight of my life.
We watched the same shows every week. The Carol Burnett Show, The Flip Wilson Show, Sanford & Son, Good Times....my Dad liked to laugh. He didn't enjoy watching sad or serious television shows. It was always light and clean during television time at our house. We watched a lot of baseball, and we watched boxing.
We took vacations, but they were calm, and low key. My dad liked "scenery". We ate at restaurants, but never where alcohol, or even beer was served. Mostly the Ponderosa.
We moved only once in my life, at the end of third grade. Once we got to the new house (where my Dad still lives to this day), there were three other girls my age, and me. We played every day. I still keep in contact with one of them. Their lives were just as consistent as mine. Or at least they appeared to be.
Because of the move, I went to two different elementary schools. After that, middle school for two years, and then to a private school where I stayed through 12th grade. My Dad worked at the same place from the late 1950's until the early 1990's, when he retired. My mother worked before I was born, but other than one short stint at a part time job which I ruined for her with my whining and complaining (I didn't like the change), my Mom stayed home.
Routine, consistency, safety. That's how I grew up. There wasn't a lot of change going on in the Hatch household. So.....
Reason #1 I fear change: It wasn't part of my life growing up. I wasn't accustomed to it.
During my counseling session on Friday, I told my therapist (Kat) about the previous journal entry I had written (Just Okay). I told her about my discontentment with practically everything in my life. I told her I felt stuck, and like I was drowning in a sea of things that were unfulfilling, but very safe.
Kat gave me a homework assignment. She wanted me to write something in my journal about change. Of course I embraced this writing assignment whole heartedly. So today's entry is about change. How do I feel about it, and more importantly, why does it scare me? As the thoughts on this subject begin to fill my head, I realize it may end up being a mini series!
For most human beings, it's normal to like things to be stable. Babies and children need to stay on a schedule so they know what to expect. If their routines get interrupted, they become very fussy and out of sorts. But as we get older, we learn that we must adapt to new things. Some people have an easier time than others adjusting to these changes.
My friend Madison seems to like change. She's moved to new cities two different times in her life; both times by herself. She's willing to try almost anything, and she seems to have no problem at all with changes to her daily schedule. She appears to be comfortable going with the flow.
My friend and coworker Stella is the complete opposite. I truly have never met anyone more resistant to change. Stella still has the same hairstyle, clothes, and makeup she has had since the 1970's. She does not own a cell phone or a computer. Stella has a very difficult time when new computer programs or new policies and procedures are introduced at work. Not that she can't do them or understand them; she just doesn't like that things have changed. Often she will still refer back to policies that were in place years or even decades ago.
So where do I fit in? Somewhere in between I guess. I don't like change at work, but I know sometimes it's necessary. Some work changes I'm much more resistant to than others. I don't have a lot of problems changing plans. I would never move away from home unless my entire family and all my friends were going too. I haven't changed my look a lot over the years, but I have tried to keep somewhat current with makeup, shoes, and hairstyles. I wear jeans most of the time, but transitioned well from bell bottoms to straight legs, to pleated and acid washed, to boot cut. I don't like to move, but have. I don't like it when my kids have to change schools. I've only had one real job my whole life, even though I've held different positions within the company. My first marriage lasted seven years, four of which were a nightmare, but I hung in there anyway, thinking and hoping things might get better. They didn't. I went through several hellish years in my current marriage, thinking and hoping things might get better. They did. I don't like to burn bridges with people. I am able to get rid of many old items, but hold tight to others that have significant meaning to me.
I think I'll end this entry here. I'm going to re-read it and figure out why I embrace some changes but not others. I'm going to think about Madison and Stella, and why change is so markedly different to the two of them. Stay tuned.
Let me preface this by saying, while my new meds are definitely helping me, they seem to be quite ineffective at treating my PMDD. I've been in an incredibly unstable mood today, and all day I've felt desperately out of sorts. In no way do I mean any disrespect for my company, and as always, will not even name the organization. This journal entry is for me to sort the plethora of feelings I've had all day today.
It's no secret, for the past three years or so, I've been discontented with my job. There was a time in my life where I couldn't imagine anything but spending the rest of my life at my company. I was happy, I was content, I felt like my thoughts and ideas were important, and I felt like I had a good chance for growth and advancement within the company. All of that went away with a corporate merger a few years back and now I feel that I am in a situation where there is zero chance for advancement, maybe even for any more pay raises. I'm not even sure my office will continue to operate when our lease is up in three years. I'm giving it a 50/50 shot. Attrition has meant that our staff will only continue to dwindle as employees leave the company, meaning we must constantly keep trying to figure out how to do more with less; all the while ensuring that our customers are "totally satisfied". "Satisfied" is unacceptable. I watch my employees grow frustrated by taking on more and more duties, some of them doing so knowing their pay will never increase.
Believe me, I know a lot of people have it a whole lot worse. I know I'm lucky to have a job. I get it. But working harder and harder only to feel things are never good enough makes it feel like the walls are slowly closing in on me. I swear to God, sometimes I feel like a deck hand on the Titanic. The ship is going down folks, and all we can do is wait for it.
I won't lie. I don't know what to do about it. I'm 47 years old, and I don't have a college degree. I make decent money and I get a lot of vacation time. Maybe I should just follow the lead of so many of my coworkers and just buck up and deal with it. After all; it is what it is. I can't afford to quit my job and I'm not sure there's much else out there for me anyway.
So in my life I feel like I'm trapped in a cycle of things that are "just okay". My job, my marriage, my self esteem. Not great, not fulfilling, but not terrible, and certainly very safe.
I'm just wondering if "just okay" is going to get it for me for the rest of my life. Is "just okay" good enough? SHOULD it be good enough? Right now, there's not alot of choices, so I guess it has to be. Maybe there are choices and I just can't see them.
Col. Harland Sanders was nearly 50 years old when he came up with his "secret recipe" for cooking his fried chicken. Maybe it's not too late for me after all.
I just read a startling statistic. Children ages 6-11, along with female adolescents, get 20% of their daily nutritional intake from added sugars.
Think about that for a minute. One fifth of the energy that fuels their bodies is from added sugar in their diet.
Everyone knows "The Biggest Loser" is my favorite television show. I was very saddened to hear that one of the trainers, Jillian Michaels will be leaving the show after this season to raise a child. But then I read that she will begin working diligently to fight childhood obesity and the atrocious school lunches served to America's children, much in the way Jamie Oliver and our First Lady, Michelle Obama are doing. That got me pumped. Jillian Michaels as a warrior fighting this battle can only be a big plus.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic. An avoidable epidemic. Other than signing petitions and passing on information to my handful of readers in "Detach", I'm not sure what I could do to help with this problem. So until I find another way, that's what I intend to keep doing.
I read something the other day that says "The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings". I talk about my feelings all the time. It doesn't mean you have to air all your dirty laundry, or tell every aspect of your personal life. For me, it's just a way to work through my issues. After all, I've said before, I believe life on this earth is a test. When our time here is done; how far have we come? Not how much money did we make. Not how high did we get promoted in our company. But how much did we grow as a human being? How many obstacles did we face and conquer? What things did we do to truly help someone? Not what did we appear to do. Not community service or volunteer work that we grumbled about. What did we do to help someone that really made us feel good inside? And did we do these things with good intentions, or did we want something in return? Are we superficial? Do we smile at people for which we truly harbor hate? Do we resent the sucesses of others, or find joy in their accomplishments?
I truly believe it's all a test. And to me, feeling my feelings, talking about them, and working through them are the only way I feel I can grow enough to pass it.
Well, the Kentucky Derby was 5 days ago, and while my husband is still not completely recovered from it all, I'm happy to say--I'm doing great! This year I loaded my kids into the car and drove to Cincinnati, OH for a drama free, stress free weekend. The kids and I ate at some great local restaurants, we visited the Freedom Museum, we saw Cirque du Soleil OVO, the kids swam at the pool, and we did some sleeping. It was terrific. And the best part....not a drunk person in sight. No "once a year, fair weather friends" mysteriously appearing in my kitchen, trying to hug me and tell me how we need to get together more often, no late night rants, no laying in bed wondering what was going to happen next, no noise, no nothin'.
Mystical doesn't have to shop too hard for my birthday present. Every year I ask her for the same thing. A "Wild Quotes from Wild Women" calendar. I LOVE flipping the page every day to see the witty words that await me. Today's quote has been stuck in my head all day, so I decided to write about it. It seems to fit in with several different stories people have shared with me in the past few days.
"To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is; a dissatisfaction with self." -Joan Didion
There's a lot of bitter people out there. People who can't seem to find delight in the successes of others. People who constantly feel they must "one up" you. Some people are what my husband calls "Oh-I-Know's". No matter what you tell them, they already knew it. There's a skit about a "One Upper" on "The Women of SNL", a show Scarlett and I could watch over and over again.
You know the type--you say your arm hurts, suddenly they are having chest pains. You say your 17 year old cat died last week, they say their cat died yesterday--at age 18. I don't think most of the "One Uppers" and "Oh-I-Knows" are even aware they do it.
Maybe Joan Didion is right. Maybe these people constantly have to "one up" because inside they are terribly unhappy. They can't find joy in anyone else's triumphs because they are so displeased with themselves. Recognition for anyone else but them is unwelcome, and will not be tolerated. At least not without retaliation.
I realized awhile back that I've rarely ever mentioned my sister in "Detach". In fact, when I did a search of my blog, most times I used the term "my sister", I was referring to my sister-in-law, Kitty. The only thing I could find that was actually about my real sister were the entries about my mother's death.
But I do have a sister. I'll call her Goldie. Goldie is almost 12 years older than me, so by the time I was born, she was almost like a nanny or a second mother to me. When I was very young, and we both lived in the same house, she used to walk me up to the drug store or to the library. Goldie got married young. She was 17. I was 5. So it's really more like I grew up an only child.
Goldie had a baby, my niece, at 18. This was 1970, and the height of the Vietnam war. Goldie's husband was in Vietnam when my niece was born, so she and the baby came home to live with us for awhile, until he returned.
Once her husband returned safely from the war, Goldie and the baby moved out. I became an only child again.
But Goldie wanted desperately to maintain a relationship with me. After all, she had prayed every night that Mom & Dad would have a baby. In the summers, I would often go to Goldie's house and spend a few days, maybe even a week. She spoiled me. Since my parents were older when I was born, being with Goldie and her husband was exciting and very different for me. They had a cool car, they listened to loud rock music, they took me to the drive-in to see movies my parents would never have gone to see. I remember once going to see "Planet of the Apes". And there's no way we would have ever exited any type of store without Goldie buying something for me. Candy, a little toy, but usually a .45 record of my choice.
Goldie is the person who made me fall in love with rock-n-roll. She had quite a collection of albums, including Beatles, Monkees, and Herman's Hermits. But it was the Beatles albums that captivated me. Before leaving third grade, I knew every single word to the entire Sgt. Pepper's album. While other kids were listening to kid's music, my mind was being exposed to "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds".
Goldie and I have been through a lot together. Besides the loss of our mother, we've both carried each other through one failed marriage, and various other struggles with the men in our lives. We shared the same challenges with our parents; our Dad often being very hard to please. She gave me a niece, who has always been a special part of my life. And now she has two little ones of her own, who have brought new life to our family.
So why do I not ever write about this person who was so influential in my life? I've been sitting here pondering that. While Goldie and I talk on the phone once every week or two, we lead very different lives now. Goldie lives in the country, about an hour and a half drive from my house in the city. She has had numerous illnesses and injuries, which have disabled her. She rarely leaves the house now, except to be driven to the city to visit various doctors. Because of her illnesses and various surgeries, she's missed some Thanksgivings, and for the first time ever, she missed this past Christmas. When we talk on the phone, I hear of all her pain and suffering and it breaks my heart. I remember Goldie being active. I remember her being an entrepreneur, having two businesses of her own. I remember her being strong willed and independent. All those things are now taken away, and I miss them very, very much. I miss my sister very, very much.
But I know that my sister will always be there for me. At least as much as she is able to be. She's the first person I call when there is a crisis. She is my blood. When I think of Goldie, I try to remember those better times. Not the way things are now. I pray that she will get healthy, and be able to drive again, and one day maybe even move back to the city. But wherever she is, and whatever condition she is in, she will always be my big Sissy, and I love her very much.
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.