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.
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!"
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 David....no. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So a few days ago we read about the hydrogenation process. If you stuck with me long enough to read the whole article, you know how disgusting and unsafe hydrogenated oils are. You know that hydrogenated oils equal deadly trans fats. That is an absolute fact. Even if the label says "Zero Trans Fat", rest assured it's still there. We'll discuss how that works later.
But margarine is not the only food containing hydrogenated oil. In fact, you can find it hidden in many of the foods we consume. Many of which, seem "healthy" or are part of a low fat or low calorie diet.
So what are Americans to do? We are busy. We like Cheap and Convenient. The answer is this: stay educated and informed, and make substitutions.
After some health scares a couple of years ago, my friends Sara and Marty-Marr totally revamped the way they eat. They exercise regularly and vigorously, and they read the label on everything now. They buy almost nothing containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Did they eliminate these foods from their diet? No. They have merely substituted real food for non-foods. Here's a perfect example, and a great place to start:
Eliminate Non Dairy Whipped Topping
Non Dairly Whipped Topping is an ingredient in many Weight Watcher recipes. It's very low calorie and it tastes great. Nothing goes better on top of a cool summer dessert, than a big dollop of the stuff. Personally, I love it. I can just have a big spoonful of it and be happy! But read the label...Non Dairy Whipped Topping contains hydrogenated vegetable oil. Let's face it....Non Dairy Whipped Topping couldn't have existed a few decades ago, because it is not real food.
A great substitution: Real whipped cream. If you don't want to use the canned version, do like Sara (and all the pastry chefs in the world) and whip up a fresh batch to top your desserts. A little fresh whipping cream (or light whipping cream) poured in to the mixer, and in a a couple of minutes you have real food. You can also add a dash of vanilla and sugar, but it is not required. It's not as Cheap, and it's not as Convenient....but it is real food. And it's delicious!!
Well, it's over. Last night my sister and I divided up my Mom's jewelry. I got the Sicilian Hex ring, as I had wanted. I also got a little ring for my daughter to have when she gets older. My sister's daughter took the diamond bracelet my mom always wore. It looked so pretty on my niece that I almost cried. She looks more like my mom than my sister or me. It just looked "right" on her wrist. The division went off with little "to-do". I think I had prepared myself for it and just kinda went numb.
I looked at the ring for a long time tonight, even wearing it on my finger for awhile. But it didn't feel like it belonged to me. Maybe if my mother had actually given it to me at some point in time, I'd feel like it did. But dividing it up last night at my kitchen table did not make it feel like mine. It feels like me, wearing my mother's ring. I felt the same way when I watched the little velvet bag with the rest of the jewelry plop into my sister's purse. It felt like she was taking Mom's things. It felt like we all were.
I will always treasure the ring. I will think of the Sicilian Hex story often as I wear it. I will use it to honor my mother's memory, and keep the stories alive. Maybe the ring shouldn't feel like mine. Maybe it should always be hers.
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.