Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Reformed Morning Person

I have never been a morning person. I have always valued my sleep. I used to be an 8-10 hour girl, easy. I worked 2nd and 3rd shift. I wasn't a fan of 3rd, but I liked 2nd. No rushed mornings. Time to relax and drink my coffee in my pajamas. Lounge around and be. Once upon a time, I was able to just BE. I don't like to be rushed. Ironically, I always feel like I am rushed. I frequently feel like the ball in a pinball machine. Bouncing from one thing to another. I have a friend who used to ask me frequently where I was running. Even when I really have no place to go, I walk fast. As if I am on some sort of mission. I have to be reminded to slow down.

Since having children, I have seen more sunrises than ever. I remember when I found out I was pregnant, my biggest fear was how I would survive with little sleep. I remember waiting for the elevator at work one morning completely sleep deprived. Between a newborn, a teething one year old, and on call, I was awakened every hour. While standing there in my dreary haze, it dawned on just do it. There is no rhyme or reason. There is no secret. You don't get sleep when you have children and you just manage to function. 

Here recently, I have started to learn the beauty of sunrise. Every once in awhile I get the opportunity to just get lost in it. I used to meet my friend for early morning hikes on the weekends I didn't have my boys. I was able to slow down and just be. As difficult as it might be to drag my ass out of bed, the reward is awesome. Especially when the weather starts to turn and it gets cold in the morning. I love the cold and sun. I love to see the sun reflect off the frost. Millions of tiny crystals covering everything and reflecting  the light. I could literally stay out there for hours and just take pictures. Completely mesmerized by the beauty of nature.

I used to write a lot. It was my way of communicating. Even in tough situations, I still prefer the written word. I express myself so much better. When I try to speak it, the words get all mixed up in my mind. I develop a stutter out of nowhere and I can't put all my words together to form  a constructive thought. However when I write, I feel free. I am able to see my words before they are communicated to the other person. I can't seem to see them as clearly in my mind, but on paper I am able to examine them fully. Over the past several years, I have written less and less. I have stuffed and turned inward. I think there is a part of me that is so overwhelmed, I don't know I could ever express my feelings appropriately. There's another part of me that feels I wouldn't know where to start. Another reason is the fact that I don't take the time. When push comes to shove, my time is the first to go. I have gotten so off track writing about my feelings, I feel mute. So, I have turned to more visual forms of expression.

A couple of weeks ago, I  had the opportunity to borrow my sister's amazing camera. Luckily, she now trusts me to borrow it. Maybe since my children are still alive, I am more trustworthy with an expensive piece of equipment. I was up very early and it was very cold outside. I walked outside and straight in front of me was this beautiful sunrise. I turned around and noticed the moon still hanging on. I found it to be quite amazing. The sun rising and the moon slowly making its descent. Like yin and yang in a face off.  

What I loved the most was the contrast in colors. In front of me was the bright oranges and yellows. Signs of a bright, brand new day. Behind me was the darker pinks, purples, and blues. Darkness descending. Marking the end of another day. In this quest, mission, journey...I still don't know where to start most days. Maybe I should say I know where to start and I am just procrastinating. I don't know that I am up for the work, to be quite honest. I have such a difficult time getting my bearings in all other areas of my life. I am not sure I am ready to open Pandora's box. 
I have my moments of martyrdom, self-loathing, and self-depreciation. However, in all the mayhem, I have started to make a conscious effort to thank God every day for this day. My 5 year plan may have fallen by the wayside. I may not be where I want to be right now. I can tell you I am the most uncomfortable I've been in a long time. But, no matter how shitty it seems, I can always find something to be thankful for. I have a job. I have two healthy boys. I woke up today and therefore get to have one more with them crammed into one bedroom at my parents house. As uncomfortable as that seems, the reality is I am not visiting them in the oncology ward at Children's Hospital. They may drive me crazy sometimes, but at least they get the opportunity. I am starting to be more grateful in my life. Sadly, some might say I still complain too much. Truth is, I probably do. I continue to be a work in progress. I have been bouncing around for years. I have recently realized, I like to get lost in nature. I like the calm; the peace. I like the sounds of trees creaking in the breeze; leaves crunching underfoot. I like to be stopped in my tracks and staring at a deer or seeing them bedded down in the leaves. I am still in awe of how nature works. I am not sure how anyone can look around them and not realize there is a God. A Being much more powerful than us. It seems every day is a miracle. So, as the sun sets and the moon rises, I feel blessed to have another day. As this cycle continues, I will continue to be amazed at the beauty of the Earth and the intricate design of Mother Nature. I hope I am continuously afforded the opportunity to get lost in it. Most of all, I hope I am afforded the opportunity to share it with my children. And as long as I am afforded the opportunity, I hope to have a camera in hand. I don't know I have learned how to capture the majesty of Mother Nature yet, but I'm just getting started. Even if I am not the next Ansel Adams, I have found another therapy. Another way to BE...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

When all else fails...

At the end of the day, when your heart is seized by so much pain that your chest literally hurts; when you feel like your heart is so heavy, the bottom will drop out and you are tired of crying yourself to sleep, you can always rely on Ani Difranco to help turn that pain into resentment and anger, getting you through another lonely night. When all else fails and you're tired of hurting, listen to this song and take a moment to feel jaded and bitter. As much as I don't like to get stuck in this mode long, sometimes it feels better than feeling like a sorry sack who was duped again. So, because I don't think I could say it any better, I am going to post the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Ani Difranco. A pick me up, so to speak. Hope you enjoy...

"Untouchable Face"
by: Ani Difranco
Think I'm going for a walk now
I feel a little unsteady
I don't want nobody to follow me
'cept maybe you
I could make you happy you know
If you weren't already
I could do a lot of things
and I do

Tell you the truth I prefer
the worst of you
Too bad you had to have a better half
She's not really my type
but I think you two are forever
and I hate to say it but
you're perfect together

So fuck you
and your untouchable face
And fuck you
for existing in the first place
And who am I?
That I should be vying for your touch?
and who am I?
I bet you can't even tell me that much

Two-thirty in the morning
and my gas tank will be empty soon
Neon sign on the horizon
Rubbing elbows with the moon
A safe haven of sleepless
Where the deep fryer's always on
Radio is counting down
the top 20 country songs
And out on the porch the fly strip is
waving like a flag in the wind
Y'know, I don't look forward
to seeing you again soon
You'll look like a photograph of yourself
taken from far far away
And I won't know what to do
And I won't know what to say

Except fuck you...

I see you and I'm so perplexed
What was I thinking?
What will I think of next?
Where can I hide?
In the back room there's a lamp
that hangs over the pool table
And when the fan is on it swings
gently side to side
There's a changing constellation
of balls as we are playing
I see orion and say nothing
The only thing i can think of saying

Is fuck you...

Need I say more??
Oh yeah, Happy Fucking Holidays!!
And peace be with you...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Please tell me I was wrong...

The end of the day is the hardest. Typically on my way home, the reality sets in. I don't have a home. I share a room with my two toddlers. I sleep in a California King bed alone. Vast space surrounding me as I curl up on one side. Yearning to walk through the door and into someones arms. Desperately trying to understand how I ended up here. Parts of me deeply regretting the red flags. Other parts of me realizing some really amazing things have happened regardless. Then there is a part of me which is grateful for this incredibly humbling experience. I try to thank God every day for the many blessings in my life. Even though it seems I have pain in epic proportions, I am so dearly blessed. There are so many out there far worse off than me. In fact, when I really think about it, I have no reason for complaint. However, the reality of my situation still hurts like hell. I waited to get married and have children in hopes to avoid a situation like my current one. However, by the time my 3rd anniversary rolled around, I had two children and was separated. In the past 6 months, my life has changed dramatically. I stand in awe of the situation frequently. One of the catalysts over the past 6 months was someone who I thought of as a dear friend. My support. My cheerleader. Feelings developed on both sides outside of the realm of friendship. A reality we both tried to ignore and then flat out deny. We spoke of a connection like no other we had experienced. Even with our spouses. I really thought I found my soul mate; kindred spirit; best friend; partner; you get the point. I finally found a person who's goal was to help me become better. In the short years of my marriage, we endured counseling, retreats, etc. The one thing I remember hearing time and time again was to wake every morning asking yourself what you could do to make your spouse's life better. I rarely (if ever) got the impression that my ex-husband had that thought. But, with this new man, I did. I was flabbergasted. Completely smitten. Someone actually cared about ME and wanted to take care of ME! Instead of me neglecting myself to care for others (enter martyrdom). As the months unfolded, a picture was painted of this life together. A future. The future I had always dreamed of. Having a partner; a REAL partner. Working beside me in tandem. Someone who loved me as much as I loved him. Someone who, when they said they had my back, did in fact have my back. Someone I could rely on. When he looked at me as I was filled with fear and doubt and said, "it's you and me", I believed him. I felt safe. I thought, even if I had nothing else, I would always have him. Finally, someone who would be a constant in my life. A given. However, somewhere along the line, it all crumbled. We changed. Boundaries blurred. Confusion, anger, fear, resentment, and tortuous pain set in. I thought I had stepped off the roller coaster when I divorced my alcoholic ex-husband, only to board another one. I got sucked back into the "back and forth". Saying things without really saying things. Questioning. Uncertainty. Feeling like I have to read between the lines b/c nothing is ever said for sure. At the end of the day, I have been crushed. Again. When my marriage was over, I grieved the loss of an ideal. Now, I grieve the loss of something I really did have in my grasp. However, like sand squeezed tightly in my fist, it slowly drained out until there was very little left. Only remnants. Not enough to really see, but you can definitely feel the grains in your palm. Much like my relationship with this man. You can't really see it, but sometimes I feel the minuscule grains. Grains of hope. Crushed by reality. I have told myself many things to be OK with this situation; to make it less painful. I have turned my pain into anger. I have told myself it was all bullshit. I have told myself he never really loved me. I have told myself he is not the one for me; in addition to the "ageless symmetry" we had, there was too many discrepancies. But, at the end of the day. When it's all said and done. I just can't believe that the connection was a fake. I want for him to just tell me it was all a mistake. A mirage. Tell me it's not real. Please tell me I was completely mistaken. It seems so much easier than not knowing. It seems so much easier than thinking I actually did have the dream within my grasp only to have it trickle through my fingers, regardless of how hard I squeezed.
I want to know I was wrong.
It seems far less painful than it all being real and now all being lost.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reflections of a haunted past...Day 12

I forgot my books at my office last week. The past week has been somewhat of a whirlwind. Hell, everyday feels like a whirlwind. Needless to say, 9 days passed before I opened up my Al-Anon books again. I woke up for no reason at 3:45am yesterday and laid there for about 30 minutes before I decided to finally get up and get going. I opened One Day At A Time in Al-Anon for November 29 and my breath caught as I read. It never ceases to amaze me how real this disease is. Just when I begin to feel alone and as if no one understands, I open one of my books and it's as if that page on that day was written just for me. However, this is a program that has been around for quite some time. Therefore, no one has written this book just for lonely, ole' me. However, there have been enough people who have felt the exact same way, that someone, somewhere, put it in writing. It gives me hope. I may not be surrounded by people who understand the insanity completely, but somewhere out there others understand my plight, my pain, and what a struggle this journey has been and will continue to be.
That being said...
From "One Day At A Time in Al-Anon"

November 29
     "In one of the Al-Anon leaflets, the following hard-to-believe statement is made: 'A drinking problem in the home can often be more easily recognized by the wife's behavior than by that of the drinker.'
     Isn't this an inevitable consequence of our turbulent emotions, our despair and uncertainty? Isn't it proved by our futile efforts to outwit the alcoholic, to compel him to stop drinking and meet his responsibilities? This self-imposed struggle to control the uncontrollable is certainly not rational!
     Once we experience the efforts of applying the Al-Anon program, and observe the miraculous changes that take place in the attitudes of our Al-Anon friends, we can look back thankfully that we, too, are improving our relationships.

Today's Reminder:
     As I see the progress I have made, it becomes clear to me that many of my earlier habitual reactions needed to be transformed into normal mature behavior. The only possible way to improve the conditions of one's life is to improve one's emotional condition.
     'Most of the things I did, in anger and frustration, only made matters worse. Now I am  
      learning to let go.' "

     This reading damn near knocked my off my seat! The first line really hit home to me. Much like I when I heard someone quote (in response to being asked what she thought her neighbors thought about her behavior towards her alcoholic husband), "I know what the neighbors think: poor guy; look at his wife. No wonder he drinks!"
     This was a picture perfect reflection of me. While I crumbled, drowned, and flipped the fuck out, he sat there calmly and bewildered right alongside our families. Now, don't get me wrong, I was in fact behaving like a complete lunatic. Ranting, raving, violent outburst that involved throwing things at him or hitting him during arguments. Followed by deep, deep, depression, suicidal thoughts and gestures. Followed by overwhelming anxiety (my chest still gets tight thinking about it) in regards to not understanding my behavior. Fearing what others thought and appearing invalid in my statements even when I was being rational. On top of the already overwhelming demands of two boys (5 and 18 months at the time), an alcoholic and unreliable husband, a demanding and unpredictable job, and my own issues w/ what became debilitating ADD, anxiety, and depression. This was the cycle I was stuck in for what seemed like forever. However, when I hear people talk of being married 25 years to an active alcoholic; my 3 years seem like nothing. But I just couldn't do it anymore.
     When I walked into Al-Anon almost a year ago, I felt so helpless and hopeless. I felt completely out of control and insane. I was suffering and struggling in every area of my life. When I opened my mouth to talk, I could barely breathe a word because I couldn't stop crying. I opened my mouth and the tears just started flowing. Heavy sobs of despair turned into relief. Sweet, sweet, relief. The relief to know someone else understood. The relief of being able to tell others about my irrational, embarrassing, and shameful outbursts and not feel judged. When I walked into those doors for the first time, I wasn't ready to leave my husband. I wasn't looking for anything until I heard someone say it. The program is about improving your quality of life regardless of what the other person is doing. "Quality of life"...a chance to improve my quality of life is what hooked me. My quality of life had gone down the tubes. Along with the quality of life of my two precious babies and those family and friends who felt compelled to do something, but completely helpless. People who loved me watched in horror, fear, and despair, my painful descent into the hell of this disease and my own mental health crises.
     What no one saw and no one knew until now, was the number of times I held a knife to my wrist, put a handful of anti-depressants in my mouth, or kneeling on the floor of the closet with a suitcase strap looped around the clothes bar and the other end around my neck. Except him. He witnessed these moments time and time again. In the throws of our arguments; when the rage would finally subside and the suffocating depression would set in, I would think that everyone, especially my two babies would be better off without me. Not only did I not want to live like this, I didn't think they deserved it either. They deserved better. No one saw, in response to me shoving a handful of pills in my mouth, my husband saying, "go ahead, you won't do it". No one saw him take pictures of me sitting on the floor with a knife pressed to my wrists as proof of my insanity and his innocence should something have happened to me. No one saw him turn his back and walk away from me as I kneeled on the floor of the nursery closet with the suitcase strap around my neck begging God for the strength to lean forward just long enough to lose consciousness. Tears streaming down my face as I stared at the crib in which my infant peacefully slept. Yearning to feel the same peace. Wanting to provide the best I could for these two precious miracles given to me. Thinking at that time, my children couldn't possibly know peace if they continued to know me. He stood there and watched me struggle with the decision. He turned his back and he walked away. I don't know how long I kneeled in that closet begging God for the balls to just do it and get it over with. It seemed like an eternity. What I do know is this: when I finally got the balls to get up off the floor and save myself, there he sat in the recliner, watching TV and drinking a beer. These were my cries for help and the one person who entered this covenant with me could have cared less if I lived or died. The psychological ramifications of my husband leaving me in my darkest moments are inexplicable. To be at your bottom; to want nothing more than the sweet surrender of death and be taunted is beyond words. If my own husband, father of my children, cared less whether I lived or died, why would anyone else?
     Now, by this point you may be thinking, "wow, what a fucking lunatic". To that thought, I have two things to say. One, you would be correct in your assessment of my behavior at that time. Two, I could really give two shits what anyone thinks anymore. I have been working in the human services field for close to 10 years, with a focus on mental health and now substance abuse (anyone else noticing the irony here?). I thought I understood the maddening thoughts and overwhelming urge to feed into them no matter how irrational. I thought I was gaining a much better understanding of addiction. However, NOTHING could have prepared me for this. Until I experienced, first hand, a mental breakdown of my own (my fall from grace, as I like to call it), I had no idea. Until I experienced, first hand, living with an alcoholic/addict, I had no idea its  ability to eat someone alive. When two sick people get together and in turn exacerbate each other's illnesses, you have NO IDEA. Not that friends and loved ones don't mean well when they give you the age old, "well, you should...". However, until you experience an already broken mind get mind-fucked into oblivion by the disease of addiction, you have no idea...
     I opened up my notebook tonight to an entry dated October 24, 2010. Here is what I had written just over a year ago. Right around the time, I hit my bottom and separated from my husband for the first time:
     I cringe as I lower my bruised and aching body into the hot bath. Senses heightened. I am more aware of my bumps and bruises than before. It's as if the warmth goes straight to the places that need healing. The bruises are a constant reminder of the pain within. Every time I wince in pain, my heart feels a tug as well. The physical pain is no match for the pain in my heart. Deeply saddened and grief-stricken about recent events. Saddened and somewhat relieved to be away. He is the only one who matters some days. I yearn for his acceptance and love. I yearn for his closeness. He is the only man who has had the ability to send me over the edge again and again. The way he looks at me. With such anger in his eyes. As if I am the most despicable person in the world. The things he says to me. It's as if he takes my deepest fears and uses them against me. He has the ability to break my heart, and he has. With each look, each taunting remark - they're like a hammer and chisel breaking the stone of my heart piece by piece. I don't know why I allow this to happen. Probably because I am not sure of myself and haven't been for a long time. I constantly question my purpose here and frequently find myself waiting for God to remove me and with my life, the pain will go as well. The rage I feel is a response to my pain. I have such deep-seeded pain. It comes out in rageful fits in which I say and do things I mercilessly regret. My regret becomes a deep sadness, a depression; and then I become paralyzed. So ashamed, I am afraid to move. Uncertain of my next step. Afraid it's too late; I've gone too far. Paralyzed by shame because I hate to see the pain in my loved ones eyes. Pain that I caused. Scars forever carved into their hearts. I am also paralyzed by fear. Fear of it happening again. After the dust settles and it looks as if we have a future, it attacks again. It sometimes seems it is due to something small. Something so minuscule, most don't even see it. But, it feeds that spot. That smoldering spot in my heart burning a hole right through. Like oxygen to a flame, it grows bigger and bigger until I am completely consumed. Unable to be reached for fear of being burned. Unable to help myself because I am overcome. Like a forest fire raging out of control; I am consumed. Like trying to put that forest fire out with a squirt gun - I am no match. Watching and witnessing the destruction but powerless to stop it. Weakened and saddened by it's ultimate demise. Sifting through the charred rubble. Smoldering and still hot to the touch. Attempting to find some piece. One piece, that on the outside may appear ruined, but once the black soot is wiped away you find color. Hope. Refuge. The thing is, unless the remains are handled with care; unless the hot spots are all located and put out, a little breeze could set it off again. And once a fire burns the same space again, less is left to repair. And as this cycle repeats itself, one fire after another - less and less remains intact. Less to sift through because it turns to dust when touched. The things you attempt to save may only look charred from a distance, but when you attempt to pick it up, it turns to dust. Falling at your feet. A vague memory of what once was.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back...Day 2

After last night's revelation, I really started today off with a feeling of peace. I did my daily readings, went for a hike, and wrote a letter to my friend. I had many moments of insecurity. However, I refused to let my neuroses win. It felt good to not give into the temptation as maddening as it became at times. Part of today's reading from "Courage to Change" stated: "I quit fighting the God of other people's understanding and found a God who honored the long forgotten spirit in me. That's the God who can restore me to my true self...Today I make a sincere effort to roll in the clover, kick up my heels and celebrate being alive...I will set my problems to the side for a little while and appreciate what it means to be vitally alive".
How true this is. Over the years, I have completely lost focus. I lost sight of who I am and I became a person, I not only didn't recognize, but that I despised. I remember saying time and time again while in my marriage, that I didn't even know who I was anymore. I hated the fact that I had become somebody I truly resented while with my husband.
So, when I found someone who I thought truly understood me, accepted me, and who would do anything to help me, I was over the moon ecstatic. I understand why the brakes have been put on and I really am trying to be OK with it. For the most part, I am OK with it. What I hate the most is how much I truly miss him. I miss my best friend; my confidant. I miss the banter of the person in which it seemed there was ageless symmetry. The intense connection has been replaced by vast space; a solar system between us. He lives across town, but it seems he moved to the moon. Most days I hate that I am held captive by that little red light on my phone indicating I have a message. What I find deeply saddening and heartbreaking is the thought that he may not feel the same way anymore. The fear that I have lost him.
There's that word: FEAR. I learned yesterday, fear is the absence of faith. Ain't that the truth. I lack faith and trust. It's has what led me here. I lack faith and trust in God. I lack faith and trust in myself. I lack faith in trust in those around me. I have looked in all the wrong places to have it filled, but it is fleeting at best. Until I put my faith and trust in God, I will continue on the same cycle - the same roller coaster. I have to continue to have faith that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I have to trust God that He knows what he is doing and I most certainly, do not. As long as I am held captive by others, I am not living. I am merely surviving and not doing a bang up job it would seem. I need to quit focusing on others and focus on my God and myself. If I can do that, everything else will fall into place. Things will happen, regardless of whether I want them to or not. I have no control. The sooner I learn that the better. I need to stop distracting myself and/or expecting others to carry the load. I need to give it all to God and LET GO...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Beginning Again - Recovery Day 1

     It has been a long time coming. The day I choose to focus on myself. The day I realize I am unable to completely help others if I can't help myself. I can't forgive others if I can't forgive myself. And lastly, I can't get better if I continue to lose focus of what is important and who is important.
     I am not an addict or an alcoholic. However, I lived with one and I work with them daily. How can I call this journey recovery one may ask? Co-dependency is my disease and all the complications that go along with it: anxiety, depression, debilitating ADHD, hair loss, weight loss, chest pains, mood swings, severe neuroses, near job loss, broken relationships, isolation, martyrdom, the list goes on and on (some days). Much like an addict has to overcome the compulsion to use and admit they are powerless over their addiction, I have to overcome the compulsion to engage in old behavior and admit I am powerless over all that surrounds me. I go to Al-Anon and the occasional NA or AA meeting. I have "serenity, courage, wisdom" tattooed on my forearm. It doesn't mean I read it, let alone internalize it. It doesn't mean I haven't completely lost sight of what needs to be done. In fact, I have done the complete opposite.
     I have two young children and my divorce to their alcoholic, drug abusing father will be final in less than 48 hours. I became involved in another relationship way too soon. In my defense (or so I thought), this one was different because I didn't see someone who needed rescued. However, my co-dependency manifested in other ways. I became so dependant on this person to guide me; to be my rock; my stability; that I completely lost my mind. For my neuroses got the best of me and I started behaving like a lunatic. This well-meaning man wanted to help so bad, but couldn't. It wasn't until he ended the romantic part of our relationship until I got better, that I opened one eye (or squinted, I should say). Reality and truth carry blinding lights and when you open your eyes wide to see it, it is quite disorienting. I vacillated between being grateful for the role he decided to play in my life as strictly a friend and being so angry because he told me he would always be there for me. He told me he would not allow me to push him away. I was extremely angered and deeply hurt for being lied to AGAIN! However, when I forced myself to stop reading between the lines and read what was right in front of me, I realized that isn't what he is doing. He loves me, wants to be with me, but realized he was hindering my progress and me working on myself. He wants me to be better for me and my boys. So, he did the one thing neither of us had the self control to do in the beginning and told me to get better. He isn't going anywhere.
     So, tonight I went to a meeting. And God, did I need it! Parts of both readings today really resonated with me. The first, coming from "One Day At A Time in Al-Anon", which stated: "I had gone overboard trying to distract my mind from concentrating on the alcoholic problem" along with Today's Reminder, which stated: "Suddenly I awoke to the fact that Al-Anon asks a lot more of us than just to cope with the problem of alcoholism. We need to apply it to all departments of living - and in the order of importance." And finally, "I pray to remember to attend to first things first". The second reading from "Courage to Change", stated: "The goal I'm striving for in Al-Anon is an overall sense of wellness. My pursuit of this goal began by seeking recovery from the way a loved one's alcoholism has affected my life. But today Al-Anon offers me even more. As I heal and grow, I find that it is no longer enough simply to survive. Today, when I say I'm a grateful member of Al-Anon, I'm not zeroing in on one particular problem but rather participating in a whole host of solutions that can lead to emotional, physical, and spiritual health."
     One of the things that resonated with me in the very beginning of this program was the possibility of improving one's quality of life whether or not the alcoholic kept drinking or not. The promise and hope of the program kept me coming back. Most of all, I realized I wasn't alone. When I started applying the principles and noticed a difference in my life, I really knew I was on to something! Unfortunately, when in a marriage, if only one person recognizes the need to change their behavior while the other does whatever, you can only progress so far. Not to mean, my mental health was waning, to say the least, and my violent outbursts and deep-seeded resentments weren't healthy for me or my children. So, when I found the Fentanyl patch (next high powered opiate under heroin) in his coat pocket, I started planning my exit. So here I am wondering when I will get out of survival mode and be permitted to live again. The answer is: whenever I feel like completing the first step and admitting I am powerless and my life had become unmanageable. Once I give it all to God, I am giving up my control (or illusion of control, I should say). Hence the Serenity Prayer I have strategically placed on my forearm. "God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference". Can I get an AMEN!?!
     All this time, in the depths of my co-dependency, I was completely distracting myself from addressing my issues by delving into everyone elses. I couldn't fix myself, so I attempted to rescue others. And then, I look to someone else to save me, as if it is a possibility. Talk about insanity and setting oneself up to fail! I just run, run, run. When in moments of complete exhaustion and despair, I slip into self-loathing and martyrdom. And the only person I have to blame is me. This way of thinking and this neurotic behavior have led me on a downward spiral for quite some time. If I want off the roller coaster I have now created for myself, then I must first change my thinking and my behavior. I must look at the way my thinking and behavior contributes to situations. I must stop feeling sorry for myself and make the changes that need to be made. If I am ever going to get better, I have to "Give it all to God" and move on. Period.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At the end of the day...

At the end of the day, as I am driving home completely exhausted (physically and emotionally), I am consumed by absent thought. My body hurts. I can feel the aches from working out yesterday; the tenderness from the chiropractor pressing on things. I would like nothing more than to go home and have someone take care of me. The mere presence of this thought haunts me; causing me to feel completely selfish and prima donna. I was raised to rely on no one. Period. Especially a man. I take care of others. I do not and will not allow anyone to take care of me. I will run myself ragged in the name of all those around me and banish help when offered. "I am woman. Hear me roar!!" However, pseudo-Irish twins; an estranged husband in need of a 12-step program (but in extreme denial); several mental health diagnoses later (of my own); an insane job; and a divorce in the balance; has led me to believe one really can't do it all. I have realized the hard way that sometimes you just have to ask for help; one person cannot do it on their own. That being said (and I really mean saying that was like pulling teeth because I would rather die trying than admit I cannot do it on my own...), am I admitting my own defeat? That is how I feel some times (most times) - defeated. In addition to feelings of defeat, I feel depleted and strained. I'm flat out, fucking tired. Period. My body aches, my chest hurts, my hair is falling out. What more can a person ask for?
Today, I drove by my empty parking spot and panicked that I had parked in a 2-hour spot, forgot to move my car, and would inevitably have a ticket. I then realized I was driving my car.
A few weeks ago, I called my cell phone from my office phone to check my voicemail and answered my cell phone when it rang! Seriously?!? I am losing whatever fragments of a mind are left!!
At the end of the day, I continue to ask myself when enough is enough?? If I manage to lose my job, maybe it will be a blessing in disguise. A human being can only take so much emotionally and physically. What I would give for a partner to share this burden. I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders and let's face it, it's really heavy. However, I refuse help. Part of it has to do with the inability to trust in anyone. I fully trust no one; including God (my apologies to G-O-D). But, let's face it...he already knows, right?? He knows what bounces around in my FUBAR mind every second of every day. I hate to admit it, but my faith is waning. My strength faltering. My stamina, diminishing by the second. All I want to do is have someone hold me while I just cry. They don't need to say a word; just hold on tight and don't let go. As sobs cause my body to shake, just keep holding on. As tight as humanly possible. I want the ability to just let go; and I mean LET GO. Let all the angst, worry, regret, resentment, debilitating pain, completely drain out of me until there is nothing left. I spend all day taking care of others; and to be quite honest, I am OK with it, mainly because it affords me the opportunity to be distracted from my own dysfunction. However, many a day, I find myself driving home yearning for someone to take care of me. I yearn for someone to share the burden  of the weight of the world. At the end of the day, I can't carry it all on my own. I need help.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

If I Don't Get It, How Can Anyone Else?

I work with people who typically live in crisis. They live their lives in "flight or fight" mode; always moving from one crisis to the next. I remember looking at mother's like cyclops as they told me they forgot to schedule an appointment for their child. Now, I look at them, shrug and think, 'my second son didn't have vaccinations for almost his entire first year of life'. I totally get it now, where as I didn't quite get it before. Much like having my utilities shut of on numerous occasions. Not because there wasn't any money, but because I hadn't sat down to pay bills. Or, my personal favorite, was when I walked around with the check in my purse for weeks and never remembered to drop it off. So, while home on my first week of maternity leave, the water gets shut off. I would probably be horrified if I added up the amount of late fees I have paid out over the years. I don't quite understand what in the hell is wrong with me. I often refer to myself as broken. That is how I feel: BROKEN. I have a fractured mind. It doesn't communicate well with anyone, including itself. Synapses misfire, information gets lost or sent somewhere else. Regardless, there is something wrong with my brain. It just doesn't work the way I think it should. I think, I was able to manage my ADHD pretty well up until now. Enter: an unpredictable and demanding job. Plus, an unpredictable and demanding home life, courtesy of (now) one and two year old boys and an alcoholic/addict husband. NOW, add to that, separation from said husband and me and our two boys moving in with my parents. So, now the three of us are crammed into one bedroom. Thank God, it's decent sized. However, once you add a toddler bed and porta-crib to a room, it significantly reduces maneuverability. I don't watch a lot of TV. I sure as hell don't watch the "pseudo-reality TV" shows. Clearly, at my house (or, should I say my parents) time is of the essence. From the moment my feet hit the ground in the morning, to when I walk in the door, I hit the ground running. I challenge those "reality TV" bitches to follow me for a day. Given my circumstances, accompanied with debilitating ADHD, I make Survivor look like a stay at the Hilton. I used to think I understood. I have worked in this field for 10 years now. However, it wasn't until I (someone who works w/ addicts and people with mental health issues) I was blessed with a husband who is an alcoholic, two boys 13 months apart, and a plethora of other things...that lead to my ultimate demise. The insanity of it all became too much for one already fragile mind to handle. I literally lost my mind. Fast forward nearly a year and here I am...I wouldn't trade it for the world. I wouldn't want to do it all over again either, mind you. However, the past year has been one of the most humbling. I have a whole new understanding in regards to the nature of addiction and the effect it has on everyone unfortunate enough to be touched by it. Addiction has a far reach and it is difficult to hide. At some point, you have no choice to be affected. Addiction is like an octopus with "go-go Gadget" tentacles. There are many directions and endless lengths to which it can reach you; no matter how hard you try to hide. Now, imagine having a 5 gallon bucket filled with ping pong balls. Take one ball and place a black 'x' on it. Now, dump that bucket of ping pong balls into a 40 gallon fish tank all at once and trying to keep focus on the one ball with the 'x'. Nearly impossible, right? Maybe not to some, but still difficult to the average 'Joe'.  That's what my thoughts seem like in my mind. Hundreds of fleeting thoughts, bouncing all around my mind and me trying so hard to pick one and make it my focus. Not to mean, the balls are bouncing out of the tank and beginning to roll away...into oblivion, my un-captured thoughts will roll. Some will come back. Some will stop within arms reach. Others will stop where I can still see them. Then, there are many that will roll away and never be seen again...
Trying to explain this process to those around me is damn near impossible. I feel like I get a lot of blank stares and puzzled looks. Until you experience this uncontrollable phenomenon inside the confines of your own brain, you may never know. Just like you may never realize the overwhelming feelings of incompetence, failure, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, shame and uselessness. Most of all, the feeling of having so much to offer and no way of making it known. I am forever blocked by the epitome of the glass ceiling. I am blocked by glass walls as well. Stuck in this box of insanity. Confined to the recesses of my mind. Held captive by racing thoughts and lists of things to do that never get checked off...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First thing on my mind...

Didn't go to bed until 2am. Alarm went off at 5:30am. Sound of Isaac laughing fills the room (it's a great alarm). I hit snooze. The alarm goes off again. It's 5:45am. I am exhausted. Deliriously exhausted. However, the first thing that pops into my head is "The Light" and an overwhelming urge to write down what is in my head. I don't even turn on the light. I just grab my notebook and write. Hope you understand...

Thoughts of you consume me.
Open my eyes; floodgates to my mind.
Thoughts start pouring out.
Thoughts of a different time.
Different opportunities.
The potential we have,
to be something purely awesome...
Have you ever stood in the pouring
rain and laughed?
The rain washes over you;
soaking and cleansing.
Your love is like the rain.
Washing all my cares away.
Making me erupt in spontaneous laughter.
Mindless smiling...
Maybe one day, I will stand in the rain.
Feel the warmth wash over me,
and dance.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This Guy...

Loss of an ideal;
Loss of reality.
Through tightly closed fists;
It's slipped away. 
Yearning met;
With sweet surrender.
Peaceful bliss;
I fell into you.
Tears shed;
What could have been;
What should have been;
What hasn't been.
One by one;
They fall silently.
Wipe away one;
Another follows.
I beg of you;
One more kiss;
One more hug;
Just one more.
Tell me I wasn't foolish,
Tell me I wasn't wrong.
My heart has busted open;
Please, don't pour salt in the wound.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

And another thing...

You have no idea...I used to write. All the time. Thoughts would come to me clear as day amidst a mind full of complete chaos. I would have no choice but to write them down; on a napkin, on an envelope, scraps of paper...I had random things lying around with thoughts that jumped out at me. For the longest time, it was like a compulsion. A thought would hit me and I would have to write it down. Words would flow from me effortlessly. Over time, I completely lost myself. I not only quit writing, but when I tried, it was forced. My thoughts no longer flowed into words on paper. They continued to run (chaotically) into one another in my tangled gray matter. Constantly held captive. Never able to escape. Held hostage with no signs of ransom demands being met. We do not negotiate with terrorists. I have been held hostage for years. A captive in my own home; in my own mind. Nowhere to go. No one to listen. Nothing to listen to. Because I had nothing to say. Now, I have a lot to say. I am so overcome with emotion, I am beside myself. For the first time in a long time, words rushed out of me and into writing. And then it hit me. What I've been missing: INSPIRATION.

What is this?

Overwhelming desire.
Suffocating bliss.
Reach out to touch;
Quickly singed.
Careful now;
Hot to touch.
Uncharted territory;
No map to guide.
Tumbleweed in the wind;
Breathing life into me.
No direction.
No plan.
Completely lost;
And loving it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep...

I am a walking, talking, oxymoron. I once took a personality test in high school in which I was exactly, half melancholy and half sanguine. My English teacher, who was due to retire, stated she had never had anyone with results that split in the middle in all the years she had given it. However, anyone who truly knows me, would probably agree with the assessment. I like traditions, but don't always go the traditional route. I like to talk, but am terrible at communicating my feelings effectively. I love to be around people, but sometimes loathe any human interaction. I have spent years feeling misunderstood and misplaced. Even though I am friendly to many people; I hardly consider any of them my friends. Maybe it's the overwhelming flood of thoughts entering my brain my the millisecond. Maybe it's my inability to focus on much, but then become hyper-focused on one thing. Either way, I feel like I have no idea what is going on. Maybe it's my "turret's-like" symptoms, in which I just blurt shit out without thinking. Things that can bring a room to silence, as if someone just scratched the needle across a record. All of these "quirks" make me intriguing and likable to some; horrible and repulsive to others. Hell, my own neuroses drives me nuts. And, when you can't stand yourself, who can? Most of my life I have been coined, "The Black Sheep". I just never quite belonged. Whether it be in my family, amongst my friends, or at work. I have always been drawn to other black sheep. I have spent much of my life feeling disconnected from those around me. I relished in the idea of having a connection with someone, even if they were a social misfit. Imagine my elation when I found a man who had also spent most of his life as a black sheep. We were complete opposites, but had a lot in common at the same time. We were so different, we were alike. I found my kindred spirit; my partner in crime; my soul mate. The person who, as long as we remained together, I would never feel alone again. I would never feel isolated as long as he was by my side. I spent the last 11 years with virtually the same people, doing the same things. Our lives changed considerably during this time, but it seemed their thinking and behavior didn't. My life changed the moment I found out I was pregnant. I expected him to follow suit. After all, he's a black sheep strayed from the herd. It would only be natural for him to follow me. But, he didn't. And so began my plummet back into a world of isolation and abandonment. I found myself feeling more misunderstood and lonely than ever. I felt rejected. Shunned. If your kindred spirit doesn't want you, then who will? When you find you have nothing in common with the person you thought you were most alike, then what? Well...let me tell ya. It fucking sucks. Living a disconnected life can leave you self-doubting and critical to begin with. Plunging back into that life after a brief, yet sweet surrender, only seems to make things worse. I now question the validity of most statements that come from someone's mouth. The more invested I am, the more I question. I wonder how I will ever find anyone who wants to be with me if the one person I thought adored me, put most things in front of me. I have zero confidence in my ability to establish relationships with those around me. I am constantly second-guessing myself! If there were ever an epitome of neurotic; I am now it! I got married, so I would never have to date again!! I was lucky to find someone the first time and now I'm expected to go round two? Finally, I desire someone I  have things in common with. I pine for someone I can have an easy conversation with. Joke with. Laugh with. Cry with (OK, that may be stretching it. I would settle for someone who didn't look at me like I was crazy for crying and actually give me a hug). I yearn for someone a little less stoic. Less like a wall. Finally, I dream of someone crazy, stupid, and/or brave enough to adore my neurotic, oxymoron ass!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bedtime blues...

Light on. Light off. Light on. Light off.
"Better, mama?", my toddler innocently asks.
You see, I have been patiently waiting for him to go to sleep for about 2 hours now. We have been having this 'issue' for about 2 weeks. Several have said its probably due to us moving in with my parents. My husband and I are getting a divorce. We are currently separated with me having the kids the majority of the time. It's moments like these in which I really struggle with whether or not I am doing the right thing. And if I am, who am I doing it for? Am being selfish? Am I being cold? Will my kids be OK? I didn't want my kids to come from a "broken" home. That's why I waited to get married and have children. At 25, my 5 year plan was NOT: get married, have two babies, get divorced. It just wasn't the way I saw things playing out. As crass as I can be, at my core I am a hopeless romantic. Please, don't laugh at me! I am. My name is Abby. I am a hopeless romantic. There. I said it. Since getting pregnant and married (yes, in that order), my rose colored glasses have not only come off; they have been torn off my face, bent up, twisted, ran over with my car, and then ran over again. They are FUBAR (F-ed Up Beyond All Repair/Recognition). I have changed, lowered, and completely erased some of my expectations. I have looked past all the crap in order to find something to compliment. At the end of the day, I am deeply saddened by the loss of an ideal. Not the loss of my reality. I grieve something I don't know I ever really had. How is that possible? When it becomes final, there is no hope of it getting better because it's over. I had hope. However, fleeting and minuscule at times, it was still there. Now, there seems to be no hope of it getting better. I think back to all the "lost moments". Moments we will never get back. Moments that we never really had. Moments I wish would fall into a black hole. Yet, it seems the moments that sear themselves into my memory, are moments I don't care to remember at all. When I look back on the short time we did spend together, at the pictures we have looking so in love and so happy...these were all moments created in an altered state. Products of drunken nights with friends. I just had a fleeting thought of a movie called, "Punch Drunk Love". I don't remember much about it, except I don't know that I fully got it. However, if I had to give our relationship a name in three words or less, it would be that: Punch, Drunk, Love. Maybe I should go back and watch it. It may have a totally different meaning at this time. Sorry, I digress...
So, what does all of this mean?? How did I get from my bedtime stand off with a two-year-old to "Punch, Drunk, Love"? (Gotta love ADD) Believe it or not, these things are connected (even if it is only in my mind). My point being, prior to embarking on the uncharted territory of separation and divorce, my life was chaotic (to say the least). My home life left much to be desired and I strongly felt mine and my children's quality of life needed some re-vamping. However, amidst all the chaos and discord, it was home. It was familiar. We had a system (as disorganized as it was) and I knew what to expect: nothing. Since starting this process, my children seem to be doing well. However, it is moments like this bedtime stand off that cause me to question if I am doing the right thing for my children. Maybe he wouldn't act out if we were at home. Then I remind myself, he's two! What two year old doesn't act out? They don't call it "terrible two's" for nothing. I also ask myself, what kind of life can I provide for my children when I hate the person I've become while being married to their father? Some people just aren't meant to be together. We are two sick people whose diseases manifested and festered while together. I am looking for something different. I want to get better. He does not. It just won't work (at this time). I guess there is hope. I just need to keep reminding myself this is temporary; like my own little purgatory. It's hard right now, but it will get better. By the grace of God, it will get better. I will get better. My kids will get better. Hopefully, some day, my husband will get better.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moments of clarity or ramblings of a cluttered mind? Could be both.

I'm not sure why I have such a difficult time letting things go. I often say I am going to "let it go". However, I later find myself (or should I say, 'catch myself') replaying the entire situation and interaction in my head. Even better: when I am upset about a past interaction gone awry or anxious about an upcoming interaction. I rehearse the entire interaction in my head. I think about what they will say and then what I will say in response (might I add, I am much more brilliant in these rehearsals, leaving the other person quickly humbled). Is this the illusion of control? "Rehearsing" upcoming interactions and "replaying" old ones that left me feeling hurt? I think it is. Prior to an interaction, I have no way of knowing what's going to be said. In fact, I rarely come across as brilliant in real life as I do in my head. Therefore, when people don't say what I think they should say and I say something less than charming and graceful in response, I've lost all control over the entire conversation. Then the conversation quickly turns into a black hole. A giant opening in the ground, swirling and sucking everything down. We just spin and spin and spin. Stuck in a circular argument from hell. Sucking the life out of everyone involved. I swear, those conversations age me by a year or five every time (I'm around 300 in arguing years). I feel hopeless and exhausted at the end of them. I typically have a throbbing headache in my frontal lobe (where my impulse control lies) from it being exercised so much. Sadly, it still doesn't seem to be effective in these situations. At the end of these unpleasant interactions, I feel weak and shaken. Even if I've made "my point", I don't feel good about it. I don't feel relief. Instead, I waste more energy, more time obsessing over what I could or should have said differently. THEN, what THEY should say in response. I start the whole damn argument again in my head!! Now, as I write this, I am realizing the INSANITY of this process. I can justify (a little) rehearsing the interaction prior to it happening. However, this last one is asinine. Let's see: the conversation didn't go as "planned" (this is an impossible task from the get go). The conversation then goes awry (probably because I am stuck on getting it back to script). So, I replay and rehearse again. Changing words, actions, tones, and emotions. REALLY?!? This is REAL LIFE!! Not a Hollywood screen play. This isn't a Lifetime movie, an after-school special or even community theater. In the grand scheme of things, this interaction and how it plays out is nothing! A drop in the bucket. Or, more like a drop in an Olympic-size swimming pool. It really probably isn't that important. Yet, a lot of energy goes into preparing (and fixing) it to my standards. LET IT GO!! Instead I find myself going: Well, he said...Then I said...So, he said...So, I said...LET IT GO!! THIS IS EXHAUSTING INSANITY AT ITS FINEST! My new favorite saying: "It is what it is". I learned that in Al-Anon and I love it. It is what it is. What can I or anyone else do about it??
I now think I have answered my original question. For those of you who may be lost at this point; it was, is this "movie in my mind" an issue of control?
The answer (drum roll please...)
The light that just illuminated above my head could light an entire country block. The clarity is almost laughable. In the sense of, why didn't I think of this before?
Now, don't I feel like a horse's pa toot??