Monday, March 31, 2014

Regrets? I've Had A Few...Part Four

Moving right along with our series. Bronnie Ware writes:

#4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

"Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks, and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remained in the final weeks, love and relationships."

This is an area of my life where I have stayed extremely strong. As I have written before, the bonds I share with my close friends are what has kept me alive. Just thinking of the people who read this blog, many of them have been friends of mine for 30+ years. I truly do not know what I would do without them. I think maybe this is something I learned from my mother. Her friends were so important to her. My dad too. 

But there are many people who choose not to maintain friendships. One reader told me a family member has let most of her friendships go. I also know people who have not only let friendships go, but have severed ties with everyone. I do not believe you have to physically be with someone to nurture a friendship. I have a dear friend who I haven't seen in years, but still relate with through email. I have often said that in my life, men have come, and men have gone, but my relationship with my friends has persevered through it all. The one true constant in my life. For that I am grateful and very happy. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Regrets? I've Had A Few...Part Three

More on our Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Bronnie Ware writes:

3.  I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. 

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others.  As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. 

We cannot control the reactions of others.  However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win."

This one is complicated for me. In my life I feel I have expressed my feelings...a lot!  It just seemed to fall on deaf ears. Why?  Because I expressed my feelings, thinking it would cause someone else to change their behavior!  That was my sole purpose for putting it out there. Of course it did not! It didn't change a thing!!

While I'm still codependent, and still hope people will react the way I want them to, I'm now so much better at expressing my feelings, then taking the measures I need to take to reinforce them. I distinctly remember the day I found the courage to start doing this. It was about a year and a half ago, and it was hard. BUT, not as hard as I feared it would be. I have felt much more free since that day. 

When you express feelings, people may or may not react to them the way you hope. So then it's up to you to decide if that is good enough...or not. 

Happy Sunday, everyone. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Regrets? I've Had A Few...Part Two

Tonight I will continue the series on the five regrets of the dying. The first entry probably touched me the most, but each one is good, and the one that touches you may be different. 

From Bronnie Ware: 

#2. I wish I didn't work so hard. 

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle."

I have been at my job for 30 years now. I stayed home with my children the first three months of their lives, but after that I was a working mom. My children stayed with their grandparents for a a while, then went to daycare. I have never regretted this. It kept me from going insane, and it taught my children a wealth of social skills and gave them the head start they needed to make a successful entry into today's school environment.  But oddly, at this point in my life, I wish I didn't work so much. My children are teenagers, and don't need me in the same way, but I am tired. My house is not organized the way I would like. I don't have time to do some of the things I would like to do. But I am in a financial situation where I must work to help pay the mortgage and other bills. While I do not feel I will ever regret working, I hope that I will not have to work full-time until I am 70! Maybe I do need to simplify things a bit.

I do know there are Detach readers who will relate to this entry more than I do. To them I would say work hard for now but have a deadline in mind. Visualize yourself in five years. Ten years. Where do you want to be? Can you simplify? You will know when the time is right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Regrets? I've Had A Few...Part One

The mother of one of my classmates passed away a few weeks ago, but instead of the traditional funeral, her family had a Celebration of Life. There are photos of family and friends at the celebration, everyone smiling and happy. It is what the mother wanted. While I thought "This is kind of cool", it all seems very foreign to me. A far cry from the sad funerals we are used to in America. So yesterday the classmate posted something on Facebook saying that her mother's doctor had given her a phone call expressing sympathy, but also said to her, "Your mom lived life like she wanted to".  What a fabulous statement. "Your mom lived life like she wanted to". Think about that. It stuck with me, and I made a comment saying how I would love for my own children to one day be able to say that about me. 

This morning I received an interesting email from Kitty. It was titled "The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying". An article that recounts the lessons of a hospice worker in Australia, from her departing patients. 

I think I would like to talk about it. But not all at one time. Let's just discuss the introduction and #1, for now.

Bronnie Ware writes: "For many years I worked in pallative care. My patients were those who have gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to under estimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five". 

1.  I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even half of their dreams, and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

It is very interesting to me, that seemingly all of these people made peace with death in the end. Interesting and comforting. There have been times in my life where I was very afraid to die. I have attributed this to my need to control. What will happen to my children if I die? Who will take care of things? I am not as afraid of death today, as I was 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago. I hope that I am able to fully make my peace with it before my time comes.

Now for the part about having the courage to live a life true to myself… I had such a flood of emotion and thought after I read this, I felt tears filling up my eyes. While it has all been by choice, or maybe a sense of obligation, a large part of my life has not been lived the way I wanted to live it. It is not what I expected. I have made changes in the past couple of years that are leading me in the right direction. Leading me to live the life I want, not the life others expect of me. I still have a long way to go. But this has made me realize, there is no time to waste. I want to take care of myself. I want to do fun things. I don't want to be scared of other people's reactions. I want to be confident in my decisions, in my choices, and with my life. I want my children to be able to say I lived my life like I wanted to!

Next time we will discuss the second regret.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Codependency Revisited

Recently, my interest in codependency has resurfaced. I heard a couple of stories, and ran across some articles, and I want to revisit this topic for a short time. 

Today there are many definitions of codependency, and many opinions as to where it comes from. Most people believe it is tied in with alcoholism, but some do not. 

Codependency guru Melody Beattie's official definition says "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". 

This is an obsession, that can grow and grow over the years. The one thing that remains consistent is, fixation or obsession with any one thing is bad. Fixation or obsession with a person will slowly, but very surely destroy a relationship.

Sally has given me permission to share this story.  She had a very good friend for many years. A friend who's company she thoroughly enjoyed. The friend had an unhealthy romantic relationship with a man, that eventually fell apart. The friend needed a place to stay, so she temporarily moved in with Sally. She began to focus all of her attention on Sally. She started questioning her whereabouts, who she was with, and what she was doing. She would become angry when Sally did things with other friends. Slowly, Sally's devotion to this friend began to deteriorate. The friend was chipping away at the relationship, which at one time was very solid.

Eventually, Sally had no choice but to ask the friend to move out, and has now permanently severed all ties with her.

During the first couple of years I wrote this blog, I researched reasons why people may become fixed on other people. Often it is because they don't want to focus on themselves. Additionally, they are looking for other people to make them happy.  

Sally being forced to separate ties with a friend who eventually sucked the life out of their friendship, has reminded me once again how devastating codependency can be on any relationship. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Quotes I Like

After seeing this, I want to get back to my roots; just for a few days. The reason that I started this blog:  codependence. 

So many of us look to others to make us happy. We find that we cannot be happy without them. This is dangerous and unhealthy because it gives people power over us. And when they have power, they can take away our happiness with even one simple action.

So think about this message and ask yourself where your happiness is coming from. And are you allowing someone else to control it?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ready To See You Go, Old Friend

All my life I have loved winter. This puts me in the minority, but fall and winter are my favorite seasons, and always have been. But I have to say, this year has been an exception. As much as I dislike spring, and the sweltering heat and humidity of summer, I absolutely cannot wait for this winter to end.

It seems like the ground was covered in a white frozen blanket for months. But more importantly, there was packed snow and ice on the roads leading to my house for weeks and weeks. It was bitterly cold. The kids have missed so much school, they will be in class until well into June. But I honestly think the thing I hated worst was the mass hysteria created by the Weatherazzi.  People were constantly in a frenzy, sometimes even a sheer panic, worried about blizzards, ice storms, raging wins, bitter cold, and deep snow. While we often got some accumulation after those doomsday predictions, they were rarely as bad as predicted. It just kept every one on a nervous red alert status all winter. It was exhausting. Fear and panic made it impossible to enjoy the days that were beautiful.

As we approach spring, I'm sure we will now be plagued with a constant flow of storm and tornado warnings. Hours of media coverage for nearly every approaching storm. At least I will be able to get outside and not have to sit in front of the television preparing for gloom and doom every other day.

Farewell Winter of '13-'14.....that is, IF you ever end. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

July 50.....A Little Late

If you will recall, last year when I was writing my "50" series, I asked a friend of mine to write something about turning 50 in July. He agreed, but then got very sidetracked with his writing. He started doing a tremendous amount of thinking and reflecting. It actually ended up taking months before he presented me with his final thoughts on the subject. But I finally have it, and it's definitely worth the read. So even though it is a few months late, here is our July 50. 

    Jimmy Buffett wrote a song called a Pirate looks at 40, years later (probably 10?), he wrote a book titled A Pirate Looks at 50.  I guess there is something that makes us want to look at our lives, reflect, and analyze where we are, where we have come from, and where we are going.  I think it happens several times over our lifetime, I know it has for me, but 50 seems such a milestone.  50 years, a half century, by most standards more than half an expected lifetime.  I am no pirate, definitely not a writer of Jimmy Buffett’s talent, but here is my look at 50.

    My 50th year was interesting and eventful to say the least.  My 50th year brought a cancer diagnosis, radiation treatment, 3 surgeries, physical therapy, 30+ days in hospitals, 60+ days missed work, but I am grateful for a lot more than a few road bumps can ever sidetrack me from.  In my 50th year I saw a lot of loss among my friends.  I lost a very close friend; I saw others lose children, parents, and siblings.  Life can be gloriously blissful at times, disturbingly painful at times, but overall it is life and it does go on.  How we choose to respond to life’s little gifts, distractions, and loss is….well, it is really just the way we live our lives.  The years leading up to 50 were full of interesting change and events as well.  We don’t just “turn 50”, we earn 50.  Through good and bad, and all of life’s changes, we earn it.  Through my life I would have to say there has been far more good than bad.  So much more good than bad.  I try to take things in stride and just keep on rolling.  Life is short, and we only get one trip.  No guarantees, no promise of any tomorrows.  Live every day like it’s your last.  All of those clich├ęs come into play, but there is good advice in them.  

    After 50 years I have been blessed with two awesome kids, some great family, and some wonderful friends.  Some friends that I really don’t even deserve.  But that’s just another component of life….plenty of things we deserve, and plenty of things we don’t.  Both good and bad.  And then there’s music.  A constant in my life.  I have said it is like breathing to me.  But it also became a part of my never say what if story.  As I looked at 40, even though I had been singing in church most of my life growing up, I had always wanted to sing with a live band.  I did not want to say what if.  So at 40 I started to take the steps toward working with a live band.  About a year later I was on stage performing live with a band.  And in one form or other I am still doing it.  Whether I am with the praise and worship team at church or a live band on stage somewhere…it still feels like living the dream.  And nothing makes me feel like that.  It is truly the breath in me.  

    So as this pirate looks at 50, life is good.  It’s not perfect.  It’s not very pretty right now.  But it’s good.  After completing a very difficult year, it’s still good.  And I choose to make the most of whatever is left.  Sing as much as I can.  Love as deeply as I can.  Tell people how I feel about them.  Treat others like I want to be treated.  And love.  I know I already said that, but it’s that important.  And even though I am single at 50, it doesn’t diminish my capacity or my desire to love. Life is too short.  Live it and love all you can.        

Sunday, March 2, 2014

'Cuz I'm The Tax Man

I apologize for the gap in posts. I ran into a friend of mine the other night, who told me she used to read my blog, but quit reading at one point because there was such a long lapse in posts. Sorry… Sometimes I just don't have anything to say. 

So I finished my income tax return today, and I was remembering tax season as a child. My parents had a man come to our house to prepare the tax return. I believe his name was Carl. I remember my mother would always tell me that I had to be very quiet. Carl needed to be able to concentrate. My mother would clean off the kitchen table and would always have a stack of forms, and a very large glass of ice water ready for Carl. He looked like Ben Stein, and typically wore a shirt and tie, and never spoke much.

Other than the ice water, one other thing stands out in my mind. Carl tried to convince my parents to go in with he and his wife, and buy a private island in the Bahamas. The idea was, we would all go live there. This idea absolutely mortified me. Carl had a son who was about my age, and I envisioned I would have to marry him. We would start our own tribe of people. Hell no! I was not about to find myself in an arranged marriage on a deserted Bahamian island. Luckily, my parents were not interested in this business venture. But it is something that remains in my mind every tax season. 

I have to wonder whatever happened to Carl, his son, and family.