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.

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