Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Prayer

I'm sick and tired of the situation I am in. I feel that I've exhausted my friends, my "Detach" readers, and even my therapist, Kate. I feel that everyone around me is thinking, "Oh Lord. Here comes a text or a call or a blog entry from Mary. Run for your lives."

The problem is, I don't know what to do to fix it. I truly, truly don't.

None of the solutions I can come up with seem to be good ones. No answer seems to be the right one. Try as I may, pray as I may, I can't figure it out. I can't figure out if God is ignoring me, because the timing isn't right, or some little piece of the puzzle isn't complete, or if He is giving me my answer and I'm just too stupid to realize it. Or maybe just too stubborn to listen to it. I swear I don't know which.

I don't know the answer, I don't know the answer, I don't know the answer! But I'm so tired of the way I am living. I'm so tired of constantly being in turmoil.

Lord, you know me better than I know myself. You know the pain I am suffering. You know the thoughts that constantly race through my troubled mind. You know the sadness, fear, frustration, and confusion I feel. Please God, give me the answers I need. Make them crystal clear. Give me strength to accept them if they are not the answers I want. Give my friends the patience to continue to put up with me. Guide me Lord...I'm so confused.

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, April 25, 2012

Father / Daughter Dance

As much as I may try to deny it, I'm so much like my father.

Tonight I was talking to him about buying another house, a fixer upper. This time, possibly to rent. I was telling him how my husband thought it was a crazy idea. Then my dad said the funniest thing. He said "Your mother thought I was crazy every time I ever bought a house." He told me that when he took my mom to see the home that we lived in when I was a child (the one next door to Mrs. Crevistan), she said "I wouldn't live in this house if you paid me. I hate it." Then she walked out and went back to the car. He bought it anyway.

The first time I bought a house to flip, my dad told me that I got that crazy hobby of buying and selling houses from him. It was his passion as a younger man, and made him quite a bit of money. He always saw potential in houses, and loved fooling around with them.

So not only did I inherit my dad's fascination with real estate, but I also understand a little more about myself. Straight laced control freak marries fiesty woman with addictive behaviors, then does whatever in the hell he wants to do, even if she doesn't like it.

Sound familiar?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm Not Good At Being Married

Tonight's lesson was about the partners we pick. Codependent people may realize they need to get out of a relationship, and may actually do it. Then, there is an excellent chance they will pick the same person all over again.

A person very close to me has been in not one, not two, but three relationships with alcoholic men. And believe me when I tell you, number one and number two were bad. REALLY bad. You would think the instinct would be to stay away from anyone who may even remotely seem chemically dependent, but that's not what we do. "Normal" people seem uninteresting, even boring to us. They don't need to be fixed. We don't need to change them. There's no challenge in that. So we pick the same person over and over again, and convince ourselves it's US that has a hard time having a successful relationship. I can't tell you how many times I've said "I'm no good at being married". In reality, I'm no good at being married to men with addictions.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lessons I've Learned

As I continue to re-read "Codependent No More", I am now sure that I have indeed come a long way in my recovery.

Here are some of the lessons that I feel I have put under my belt:

I no longer believe that "fixing" my husband will make me feel better. Clearly I have learned that not only will I never fix him, but these problems are mine to deal with, and mine alone. Checkmark. I can't fix him. I've got to find a way to feel better on my own.

Codependents love to keep all eyes on the alcoholic. Most people, even those who are very close to them, have no idea what goes on inside the codependent person's head. As people have read this journal, they say to me, "I had no idea you were going through this. I never saw any signs that you felt so much anxiety and depression. You always seemed so "together" to me!". Codpenedents are masters of manipulation. Also, for years I thought everything that was wrong with me and my marriage was all my husband's fault. He's the one with the problem. I don't go around making big messes and expecting someone to clean up after me. I was so responsible, so dependable. I knew I felt miserable, but put all the blame on my husband. So all eyes were focused on him and his "wrong doings". Once I identified the problems with me, I was able to focus on myself, and stop focusing on my husband's behaviors. Checkmark. I stopped putting everyone's eyes on him, and started working on healing myself.

Codpendents are controlling because everything around them is out of control. They are manipulative because manipulation appears to be the only way to get things done. They feel they are crazy because they have believed so many lies they don't know what reality is. Checkmark. I'm not crazy! I'm not crazy!! This one is huge for me, because for years, I genuinely felt that I was. I still have lots of work to do on control issues, but I understand why I am the way I am, and why I feel the way I feel. And I'm not crazy.

So with those lessons learned, I will share a great Sunday fable from the Introduction of the book.

Once upon a time, a woman moved to a cave in the mountains to study with a guru. She wanted to learn everything there was to know. The guru supplied her with stacks of books and left her. Every morning he returned and every morning he asked her, "Have you learned everything there is to know yet?" Each morning her answer was the same. "No, I haven't". The guru would then strike her over the head with his wooden cane and leave.

This went on for months. One day the guru entered the cave, asked the same question, heard the same answer, and raised his cane to hit her the same way, but the woman grabbed the cane, stopping his assault in midair.

Relieved to end the daily batterings, but fearing reprisal, the woman looked up at the guru. To her surprise, the guru smiled. "Congratulations," he said, "you have graduated. You now know everything you need to know."

"How's that?" the woman asked.

"You have learned that you will never learn everything there is to know. And you have learned how to stop the pain."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Let's Start Over

Several days ago I felt like I had made no progress whatsoever in my journey out of codependence. I felt like I had lost control of everything in my world. During my counseling session with Kate, she seemed a little disappointed in me for feeling this way, especially when she looked back at her notes to the dark place I was in one year ago when I first came to her for help. Kate was disappointed, but not surprised. It's very typical to have peaks and valleys when you are codependent. She reiterated how important she felt it would be for me to re-read "Codependent No More". As I started the book again today, I realized why I loved it so much in the first place. I realized why it inspired me to start this journal.

In the Introduction to the book, Melody Beattie talks about her first encounter with codependents. She was a recovering addict herself and was working as a counselor. She was assigned the task of organizing a support group for wives of addicts.

She found the codependents to be hostile, controlling, manipulative, indirect, guilt producing, difficult to communicate with, and more. She saw people who felt responsible for the entire world, but they refused to take responsibility for leading and living their own lives. She saw people who constantly gave to others, but didn't know how to receive. These people often gave until they were angry, exhausted, and emptied of everything. She saw mere shells of people, racing mindlessly from one activity to another.

They were controlling because everything around and inside them was out of control. Always, the dam of their lives and the lives of those around them threatened to burst, and no one seemed to notice or care. These people thought the were going crazy because they had believed so many lies they didn't know what reality was.

No wonder codependents are so crazy. Who wouldn't be, after living with the people they've lived with?

We are not born codependent. But after we become codependent, it is a monumental task to recover. When you have had to be responsible for everything and everyone around you, it's very hard to let go of that, even when it's time to do so. When you have been hurt over and over again, it's very hard to let down your guard. Recovery from codependence may seem impossible, and relapses often occur. I believe now this is what has happened to me recently. It's not that I haven't made progress, it's that I've had a relapse.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Four Years Later

April 20, 2008. The day my mother died. It's hard to believe it's been four years. But in some ways it seems forever. I miss her terribly.

When I think back on it, I could simply do no wrong in my mother's eyes. I can remember bringing home less than glowing report cards and my mother would say "C is average. I'm happy with that". On one occasion, after my divorce, when I was dating Michael, we wanted to go away for an out of town weekend. My dad sat in his recliner for three evenings in a row with his 20 pound Masonic bible opened up on his lap, looking at me in disapproval. Then he just suddenly seemed to have a change of heart. My mother told me she had reminded him how when they first met they would sneak off to be together any time and any place they could. My mother always defended me to my father who was, and still is, much more critical of me.

My mother thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world. She even got joy out of writing my name. She thought it was so pretty. I remember how she would sneak me a ten dollar bill at the start of the weekend. In those days, that was enough to buy gas and still have some money leftover to throw in on a pizza. My mother didn't want me to do without anything.

I can remember a handful of times when my mom got upset with me. Pretty much exclusively over boys. Boys who did me wrong, but I wouldn't walk away. Putting myself in dangerous situations by sneaking off with boys I had no business being around. I'm sure I gave my mother and my dad, more than one sleepless night. For that, I am genuinely sorry.

When I lost my mother, I lost the one person who would always defend me. Who would always encourage me, and always take my side in any argument. I always knew that no matter how much trouble I managed to get myself into, I always had a home to go back to if I needed it. I always had someone who would bail me out. Someone who would find a way to get me a Barbie ornament for Christmas every year, even if she was too sick to get out and buy it herself. It's a scary feeling when that security is gone.

My mother was so sick for so long before she died that I think it was probably impossible for me to realize it at the time, but I know now that when my mother died, I lost the one person who would love me more than any other person would ever love me in my life.

I miss you, Mama.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Are You Getting Out Of This?

"As a dog returns to it's vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
-Proverbs 26:11

Why is it we often make the same mistakes time and time again? At some point, we must be getting some pleasure from them, or we wouldn't keep repeating them. This is the advice I was given by a wise friend tonight. So we need to think, what is it that lures us into this same trap every time? What is the the attraction? And why is it so strong, we are willing to cause ourselves pain and suffering just to get it?

In the past, my bait was always a sexy bad boy I hoped to fix. None of them ever wanted to be fixed, and of course this never worked, even once, but I was willing to stick my head right into a steel-jaw trap to get the chance. Even though the end result was always heart breaking for me, the pain was worth the exhilarating initial high.

I no longer have the energy to attempt fixing anyone. I'm tired. But I do wonder about my motivations. What payoff drives me to make mistakes today? I think it's an interesting question, and I intend to ponder it for awhile. Maybe if I can figure out the motivation, then harvest that feeling from a positive source instead of a destructive one, I just might be on to something!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stinkin' Thinkin'

Someone shared some thoughts on anxiety with me recently. This person suffers from it too, and their counselor gave them some interesting advice. The counselor said anxiety is a direct result of negative thinking. I thought that was very interesting, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

We all know I'm an "over-thinker". I think way too much. The more my thoughts race, the more hysterical and distorted they become. The more distorted they become, the more anxious I get. So it makes perfect sense. Constantly thinking of the worst case scenario (something I do all day long) is indeed negative thinking, and certainly does lead to anxiety.

So how do you turn it off? Unless I have the help of alcohol or benzodiazepines, my mind simply doesn't stop racing. The counselor suggested focusing on positive or neutral thoughts. A lovely idea, but not easy to do. I'll couple that with the idea Kate gave of focusing on one thing every time your thoughts go sour. I rub my left forearm very softly with my right hand.

So if anyone sees me wandering the streets, stroking my arm and singing a tender song under my breath, please know that inside my head there is probably a swirling vortex of fear, anxiety, and distorted thoughts, all just fighting for my full attention!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Today started out bad. My anxiety was through the roof. My thoughts were racing like the Indy 500 and no matter what I did, I couldn't calm down. I kept feeling like I was out of control. That's all I kept thinking, "Mary, you have lost all control. You have control over absolutely nothing in your life". For a codependent person, that is truly a paralyzing thought.

I drug out my copy of "Codependent No More" last week when I was feeling bad, but I hadn't cracked it open. Today I put it in my hand, closed my eyes and asked God to send me to the right page. He did.

I opened the book up and found myself smack dab in the middle of the chapter on "undependence". The first words I read were "If we have decided, for whatever reason, that we can't take care of ourselves, I have good news. The theme of this book is encouragement to begin taking care of ourselves. We are not helpless. Being ourselves and being responsible for ourselves do not have to be so painful and scary. We can handle things, whatever life brings our way. We don't have to be so dependent on the people around us. Unlike Siamese twins, we can live without any particular human being. Now let me give what I shall call the "rest" of the news. There is no magic, easy, overnight way to become undependent."

I went on to read the rest of the chapter and immediately found comfort in the words I read. We can't expect things from people who are unable to give them to us. If we do, we will continue to be disappointed. Suddenly, I remembered why I loved this book so much in the first place. It's all about me. Me, and the way I feel. And guess what??? I'm not the only person who feels this way! What wonderful news!

I'm going to start working on my thinking. Again. Much of what I put myself through is learned behavior. If I learned it, I can unlearn it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quotes I Like

"Sex is always a good idea. Even when it's a bad idea, it's a good idea."
-Anonymous Friend

People around me have just been saying the wittiest things lately.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Current Favorite Word

Inscrutable: Impossible to understand or interpret. Impenetrable, mysterious.
That's just the word I've been looking for! Thank you, Gordon.

My Journey Out?....Really???

Monday, October 27, 2008. That was the day I started writing this journal. I subtitled it "My journey out of codependence". That was three and a half years ago, and today I am wondering if I have made any steps on this journey. Any steps at all.

I've learned a lot. I understand it. I get it. I just don't think I'm working to move out of it. It's like my husband said after he went to rehab. "I still want to drink, and sometimes still do, but learning why I do it, and what it does to me and those I love, has taken all the fun out of it." Or like the smoker who says "I know this is bad for me, but I just can't quit". That's exactly how I feel right now.

I understand now that codependency isn't anyone else's fault. It's me. Circumstances and events from my life may have caused it, but it's up to me to make the necessary changes to stop it. In the past 5 days, I have failed miserably at that feat. Miserably. I desperately desire things from people who will never be able or willing to give them to me. And I'm pretty sure they don't even know I need them in the first place. My own brain and my incredible anxiety and distorted thinking are clearly my worst enemies.

As I look back over this journal, I clearly have two critical times in the year. One is the Christmas season, the other is April. I won't site the reasons again, we all know them. But I need to recognize I am smack dab in the middle of one of these critical times, and need to base my actions and interactions with people accordingly. Maybe think a little harder about the things I do and plan during this time, so I don't set myself up for disaster.

Kate has asked me to re-read "Codependent No More". She thinks I've lost touch with the information and skills I need. She's right. I'll dig it out and start reading again today.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Reflections

It's Easter morning, and it feels like a lot of people in my life have a lot on their minds.

My Dad just walked in to pick up my son for church and told me that on this day in 1952 he left his home in rural Kentucky to join the Air Force. Sixty years ago today. I could tell it was on his mind, and he seemed proud of it. Clearly, it's an anniversary he wanted to acknowledge.

One friend is struggling with grief and lots of conflicting feelings this weekend.
One friend has just entered in to her battle with cancer.
One friend is launching a new business, but is also dealing with sickness in the family and is preparing for the loss of her neighbor, who has lived 94 wonderful years.
One friend is torn about a major life decision.
One friend is in a daily struggle with a decision she seems to keep questioning.
One friend is spending a lot of time by herself due to a very selfless act of love and helping someone fulfill their dream.

As for me; I am feeling very emotional right now. The least little thing can bring tears to my eyes. All of the things listed above are not only weighing on the hearts of my friends, but also on my heart. The anniversary of my mother's death comes in a few days. My son will leave home for his 8th grade trip to Chicago next week, and will end his middle school journey. I keep thinking of how this affected me three short years ago when he graduated from elementary school. I'm not sure I'm ready to have kids in high school. My sister turns 60 on Saturday, and that brings a few emotions too. Not due to her age, but due to where she's at in her life right now. I've had the opportunity to spend a whole week with Kitty, who has been in town for a visit. We've talked and talked, and had such a great visit. But I always hate saying goodbye at the end.

I don't know where life is going to take me in the coming weeks. But I feel like it's going to take me somewhere.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oh, My Housewives!

I've watched the television show "Desperate Housewives" since it's debut in 2004. It's been a Sunday night ritual at my house for 8 years. I've even written some blog entries about situations or characters on the show. But as we approach the series finale, I find myself worried to death about what will happen to Bree, Gabi, Lynette and Susan! Will they all go to prison for the murder of Gabi's stepfather? Will they partake in a mass suicide? Will they flee the country? Will the detective on the case get caught planting fake evidence and they will all be free? The anticipation is just too much. I don't know if I can take it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Quotes I Like

"The past is gone. The future is not here now. I am free of both. Right now I choose JOY."
-Deepak Chopra's prayer for times of crisis.

I believe this with all my heart and soul. I really do. Don't live in the past; don't worry about the future. Live in the now.

So why do I seem to be totally incapable of practicing it???

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rainy Day

It's 11:00 a.m. and so dark and rainy outside. I'm really fighting with feeling depressed. Also feeling scared, or having fear. I think I'm going to try turning on a bunch of lights and maybe burn some nice smelling candles. I don't want to fall into this funk.

I saw my counselor Kate on Friday, and she told me that my next visit would mark one year since I first saw her and my psychiatrist for counseling and meds. She said that during that next visit, they would reassess me. The diagnosis on my chart still reads "Severe Depression accompanied by Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Marital Problems, and Low Self Esteem". I am anxious to see what my updated diagnosis will be. There is no doubt the medications have helped me tremendously. While it still exists, and probably always will, my depression is much better than one year ago. Anxiety is still much more of a problem, but has improved. I think the area where I've made the greatest improvement will come with "Low Self Esteem". I remember how bad that was during my first sessions with both of them. I couldn't find much good to say about myself, if anything. During some exercises, Kate asked me to write my negative thoughts about myself on some cards, then think of logical reasons why those things were exaggerated, and write those on the backs of the cards. I honestly couldn't think of anything to write on the backs! That was very sobering to me. I'm not really sure what brought me out of that, but I'm feeling much better about myself. Although a man at work payed me a compliment one day this week and those insecurities jumped right out. He said he liked my dress, and I immediately started saying how I normally didn't wear dresses that showed my knees, because they looked "old". As it was coming out of my mouth I knew I shouldn't have said it, so I finally just stopped myself and said "Thank you".

Sometimes I think I'm a mess. Sometimes I feel pretty good. There's a long way to go, but I think I'm making progress in all areas.