For Those of You Who Love an Addict/Alcoholic/Self-Destructive Person

Loving an Addict

No one is ever going to save an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person from themselves.  I don’t know how many people came along in my life and tried to save me while I was in my addiction, but all they got from the relationship was hurt and confusion.  It wasn’t that I was incapable of feeling love, because I definitely loved people (including my two children), but my self-loathing took precedence over everyone and everything.  I could hide behind motherhood, a career and a meaningful relationship for long stretches of time, but seeping out from behind those images I tried so desperately to uphold, was a deeply terrorized person who lived in a state of absolute fear.  If you don’t know what that’s like, then it must be difficult to grasp the behaviors of an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person, because they can be so damn lovable at times, and terribly mean when you least expect it.  That unpredictability is because an addict is a person who behaves according to how good or bad they feel.  If they are feeling high, then you’re the best thing that ever happened to them, but if they are too drunk or going through withdrawal, or needing a drink or drug (or whatever it is that keeps them from feeling the terror within them), then watch out.  Anything you say or do can and will be used against you.

Reasoning with someone who lives their life in a state of fear is like reasoning with a toddler about why they aren’t getting a cookie that’s already in their hand.  It’s impossible.  You aren’t going to get anywhere except frustrated.  Everything an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person does is out of fear.  Nothing takes precedence over their deeply ingrained fear.  There will be times when they seem clear and ready to make a change, but the fear will always override.  The only cure for an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person, is for us to acknowledge our fear and to step directly into it.  We have to do the work ourselves, and many of us are afraid of the work because the fear of facing our demons is overwhelming to a degree that will push us further into our addiction.  This is why the programs of recovery teach us to do things “one day at a time.”  In our addiction, an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person is not capable of seeing things the way a “normal” person sees them.  Instead of seeing a mountain as something you climb one step at a time, we only see the whole of the mountain, and feel like it is an impossible journey.

If you are dealing with an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person, you may say things like, “Well, they don’t drink/use/behave badly all the time, so I don’t know if they are really “an addict” or if they are just having a hard time in life.  That is something my loved ones told themselves, because the thought of me being “an addict” was devastating to them.  People hear that word and they think “hopeless…”  Normal people have a difficult time digesting that label because it sounds like a person is doomed, but it can be alleviating to recognize this trait in someone who has been abusive and unpredictable, because it gives definition to their strange and hurtful behaviors.  Your alcoholic/addict/self-destructive loved one’s fear is like a boulder chained around their neck.  Sometimes they have slack in the chain, but eventually it is going to take them down.  It is only a matter of time.  Although the chain and boulder is not who they truly are, no amount of love, reason or chivalry will unlock that chain.  The addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person is the only one who holds the key.  Helping them out of their addiction is an impossible feat, and it will strip you of your own self-worth.

Loving an addict is like throwing a valuable coin into a well and hoping your wish comes true.  The value in the coin doesn’t guarantee a wish coming true. Your love cannot reach the bottom of the addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person’s fear.  The only way they can move through the fear is to recognize it for themselves, and to be willing to walk through it.  The willingness has to come from a place deep within themselves.  Sometimes it takes several years and many rock bottoms for an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person to become willing.  For me, it took me realizing that I could never die drinking, so I inadvertently decided that I wanted to live my life on the opposite end of the spectrum.  It was my own personal awakening.  No one who tried to save me ever got very far.  I was drowning in my fear of life, and my dread of feeling anything other than high.  I had no idea at the time, that my emotions were temporary and beautiful (like the seasons).  I thought everything I felt (the misery) was eternal, and this is the delusion that kept me drinking and using for eighteen years.  I had to lose everything in order to realize no matter what I went through, and how difficult life was, that I would not disappear. When I was still alive and well, during the great losses of my life, I finally understood how valuable I truly was. Prior to that, no one could love me to that degree of understanding. You cannot love someone to a place of ultimate recovery.  You simply have to know that your loved one is in a state of fear, and it is impossible for them to accept love when love is the furthest thing from fear.

If you can grasp the way an addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person is, the hurtful things they do and their strange behaviors will make more sense to you.  I know it’s difficult, because when one of us shines, we are brighter than most, and our loved ones recognize that there is more to us than the self-loathing, but that fear will always seep through the cracks of the images we so desperately try to uphold (whether that be a relationship, a job, or our vanity).  The fear blinds us from ourselves, but the one thing you have to know is that we are not hopeless.  We have the key to our own recovery.  Many people can and do recover from this affliction, but no one recovers because someone loved them to the doors of AA, or into treatment.  A person who is living in fear cannot be moved from the outside in.  It has to come from within.

If you love someone who is struggling in their addiction, and you’ve discovered yourself feeling lost, confused and yearning for their love – you are not alone.  Those of us who are afflicted with alcoholism/addiction/self-loathing are some of the brightest people around, who simply do not know how to balance in life.  We are loveable.  We are the kind of people that want to change the world, yet we feel so small in the grand scheme of things.  We cannot see that the only thing we need to change, is ourselves.  We see the mountain, rather than the small steps it take to get to the top.  We have a different perspective than you is all, but in order for us to change our perspective, we have to be willing.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to let go of that person who is struggling with their alcoholism/addiction/self-loathing and love them enough to let them find their way.  Letting go is like having unconditional love for that person and not expecting anything in return.  It sounds awful (kind of like recovery sounds to the addict), but it will set you free.  Letting go doesn’t mean you are giving up on them.  It simply means that you are in acceptance of their affliction, which takes precedence over everything.

Nobody enjoys feeling vulnerable, which is where loving an addict will take you very quickly, but vulnerability is a place of surrender, and surrender is the beginning to your own healing. Acceptance and surrender isn’t only for an addict in recovery like me. It is for anyone and everyone who wants to experience the fullness of their life. It is essential. So when it is all said and done, be grateful to the addict/alcoholic/self-destructive person in your life who brought you to this place of vulnerability. For they have unknowingly offered you a beautiful gift.

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How About a Little Encouragement… Just for Today!

Encouragment

No matter what you are going through right now, trust that it is an opportunity for growth.  Regard it as a challenge on the vast field of life and know that when you overcome it, there will be victory.  We are not helpless.  We are incredibly brilliant people.  Each and every one of us.  Some of us simply have not tuned into their own inner light.  Many are lost because they do not know their potential, and so many people in the world are chasing temporary pleasures instead of diving into themselves and seeking out the hidden treasure, which is sustainable joy.  Perhaps if you already know how incredibly brilliant you are, you can spend today offering love to others.  Give encouragement where it is due and let your friends and family know how much they mean to you.  Write a letter, send a card, be of service.  We should all be doing more of this, especially when we are feeling down ourselves.  I recall one Valentine’s Day when I didn’t have a valentine.  My mom told me to “be a valentine” to others that day – and it really worked for me.  It lifted my spirits, and it brought me a lot of joy, but more than anything, it was a clue that I already had what I believed I was lacking.  Back then in my early twenties, I had no idea that I was the one I was searching for all along.  My soul doesn’t “need” a mate.  It is whole and filled with love.  When I do meet someone who I want to share my life with, they will merely enhance who I AM.

You are stronger than you know.  This is for certain.  Human beings are incredible creatures.  We are dynamic with powerful minds, eternal souls, and filled with emotions as great as the sea.  When we are in discord with these three parts of ourselves, we feel lost, but when we follow the path that we were destined to walk while we are alive, we discover harmony within.  If you are feeling lost, it isn’t because you’ve strayed in life; it is simply because you’ve strayed from your Self.  I read someone’s post the other day on Facebook that said something about not following the path of God, and how this is “wrong.”  After spending twenty years following God and failing miserably, and trying to stay within the fine margins of “right and wrong,” I understand now that God is not some separate entity from myself.  The only way I can stray from God is if I’ve left myself behind in the wake of my running from who I AM.

Many times in life, we get into relationships that are painful, and we continue trying to make things work with that other person because we “love them.”  I’ve done this a few times in my life.  The truth is, that person is most likely a temporary mirror into yourself to see where you are still looking outside of yourself for wholeness.  When you discover your own wholeness, you will not settle for a painful relationship.  You will wait for the person who comes along and accepts you for exactly who you are without pressuring you into being something more, and who loves you unconditionally.  Continue loving yourself until you get to this place of wholeness.  Too many people settle because they do not understand their worth.

You are beautiful just the way you are, but if you feel otherwise, learn how to take care of yourself and nurture yourself so that you will feel beautiful.  Eat foods that are nutritious.  Take a stroll once a day.  Exercise.  Treat yourself like you would treat someone you actually love.  If you aren’t doing the best for your body, mind and soul, of course you are going to feel bad about yourself.  It is great to love your body, but if it isn’t healthy, then learn to nurture it.  We are responsible for our health, not God – so take responsibility.  Many times people live an unhealthy lifestyle and then expect God (through prayer) to turn that all around.  Isn’t it exciting to know that you have control over your life?  I know when I realized that I was responsible for me, that I became very conscious about my life.  And this makes life very exciting and fulfilling.  Don’t be lazy.  Be set free and walk in your body as if it belongs to YOU.  It DOES!  You CAN have a healthy body by nurturing yourself and by taking responsibility for what you eat and how you live.  This is not out of your control.

You can break free from anything – addiction, bad relationships, and cycles that no longer serve you.  YOU have the power to change your life.  You are limitless.  You are a visionary.  BE everything – you lack NOTHING.  Know this and own it, then go out and share your secret with the world!

 

Forgiveness is Not for the Other Person

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Children learn by example. The other day I was in the car with my twelve year old daughter and out of nowhere she said, “Mom, you are a really forgiving person.” My body was filled with chills from her words. It wasn’t like I’ve been trying to preach forgiveness to her; I’ve merely been walking my path knowing that she is paying more attention to my actions than my words. It touched my heart that she would bring this up and it opened a door for me to explain something valuable to her.

“Thank you for saying that. I am a forgiving person. I always have been a forgiving person. It comes very naturally to me, but not everyone forgives very easily.” She was listening so I went on. “I learned a long time ago that it takes much more energy to remain angry than it does to simply let things go. And if I’m angry, then I’m the one who is suffering. When you forgive, you set yourself free. When you stay mad, it’s like drinking your own poison, or deliberately swallowing hot coals. I really don’t want to waste my life being angry or jealous toward other people. It’s much easier to just forgive. Life is too short.” She took my words in and we talked about it for a little while. She gave me an example of where she observed me being forgiving. She sat silent afterward and I wondered what she was thinking about. Perhaps this was a moment in her life where she would deeply understand the precious value in forgiving a friend for hurting her feelings.

We derive from a Christian family, and she is very receptive to what the Bible says, so when I talk to her about my way of life, I always refer to the teachings of Christ. I don’t care what the Hebrew laws were in the Bible. I certainly do not take the Bible literally. I don’t pay much attention to the words of his followers after Jesus ascended. Very few people understood his message, including his disciples who also took his words literally. His message was simply compassion, which has been the message of all the major prophets throughout history. When I explained to my daughter about forgiveness, I referred to Christ’s very simple message of compassion. Learning compassion is a way of life. It is not an easy way to live, yet it is the most simple way to be.

There are a lot of things we could all be angry about, but how many times have we wronged others and screwed up in our lives? How many second and third chances have we been given? I’ve even heard so called spiritual people say things like, “Forgive but don’t forget.” There are all kinds of philosophies around forgiveness, but when you live a life in spiritual freedom, and you understand that your entire walk in faith is about constantly letting go (of everything), it won’t matter how people behave because you won’t be trying to get something out of them. You won’t be plotting your life out, trying to impress others, looking for acceptance, or making things happen the way you want them to occur. Most importantly, other people’s behaviors will not affect you. You will simply wake up in the morning without thought of yesterday or worry of tomorrow. You will live your day according to how it pans out and talk to people who come into your experience, while being present with them. You learn not to get caught up into any drama, which is happening all around you, yet you will be so aware of it that it’s impossible to get snagged into it. Often I play along, but I’m only playing along. Situations that arise between people are not real to me. The truth lies somewhere between the lines of physical reality and emotion. I pay attention to arising emotion, and if there are no emotions arising, then I am able to partake in dialogue without being a participant in the drama – kind of like an actor. Most of the time because I’m not interested in the drama, other people don’t include me in it, which makes my life a hell of a lot easier. I also don’t go around planning things any longer. If people want to spend time with me, I’m open to that. It doesn’t matter how they are as a person. I simply don’t care. I’m not trying to get anything out of anyone. I just walk in my spiritual freedom and let things flow through me without any agenda, which gives me the freedom to not be hurt by others. And when I do find myself with an agenda, I take a step back and let go again.

I used to be a really controlling person. I wanted things to work out a certain way. I wanted others to feel a certain way about me. I based the way I felt by how people responded to me. That’s a really high maintenance way to live. Who has time and energy for that? I suppose it’s because I’m getting older and I’ve grown up a bit, but whatever the case, I simply do not put much thought into daily situations (sitcoms) any longer. If I’m faced with intense drama, I try to deal with it as soon as possible, but above all else, I let things go. In fact, I let things go so quickly now that I forget why I was even mad toward another person. Being mad at someone is like carrying their weight around while they are out there living their life. It’s really pointless, and toxic to your body. Being angry and remaining stressed or hurt places your body in an acidic state, which is cancerous. Forgiveness and letting go keeps your body alkaline, which is healthy. If anything, forgive others for your own health!

Forgiveness for some people is not an easy thing to do. If this is the case for you, might I suggest that you look at your life situation and see how many people are taking up space in your head. I would guess that there are plenty, which is indicative that there is a great opportunity for you to practice forgiveness right this very moment. We are always offered opportunities to grow and to practice spiritual freedom by the way the world and people respond to us. Most of the time we are blind to this so we react. We are incredibly ignorant about the inner journey of life. We don’t see that the world is staged for our spiritual and emotional development. If people in your life are constantly bringing up anger for you, then they are simply reflecting what you need to work on within yourself. They are not your enemies. They are your teachers. Once your lesson is learned, they will either move on from you, or you will become the best of friends. I know this from experience. Take the opportunity to practice forgiveness –or don’t, and remain on the merry-go-round.

I don’t like preaching forgiveness – I simply live it and don’t put too much thought into it, but I felt it was relevant today because it is an important way to respond to life, especially in recovery. Sometimes I read someone’s blog, or watch a YouTube video that is so parallel to what I’m facing in my life – so when a topic comes up for me as I’m about to blog each morning, I write about it knowing that someone out there will relate. This came up for me today, so here it is plain and simple. Forgiveness is not easy for everyone, but it sets you free, so I highly recommend it. There are plenty of opportunities to practice forgiveness, and once you learn it and become it, you will discover that people won’t prod and poke you toward your anger any longer. Keep walking the internal journey and noticing that the outside circumstances are there to point you in the right direction – right back to yourself!

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that that violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” – Mark Twain

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JLForbes

The Magic of Relinquishing Resistance

Settled

Once in while, hopelessness crawls under my skin. It tells me that I’m wasting my time and that my life is never going to be anything extraordinary. It whispers to me that I will always be alone and that I’ve set my sights too high and the best thing I can do is accept that I’m a middle aged nobody. It brings up all the awful things people have said to me in the past, and callously reminds me of the rejection in my life. It harps on me for not being a size six and puts me down for not going to college. It makes me feel foggy and confused, and my clarity is wiped around – a dingy smudged window on a hot summer day. I can’t crawl deep enough under the covers, my jaw is locked tightly and I am unmotivated, so to pick up a phone and talk to someone is not going to happen, and going out somewhere would be to carry around two cement block feet. The covers are particularly comforting and sleep sounds like a million years of it wouldn’t be enough, so I close my eyes after speaking aloud that I need some help and a text comes through that I can’t ignore.

“How are you doing?” It states quite ironically. I stare at it. I stare at it. My mind is laughing – Oh, you really want to know, my friend… well, I’m going to tell you. I’m going to tell you exactly how I’m doing because it’s weird that you ask. I write back and soon we are in full conversation about my hopelessness. Things come up that I am surprised that I’m being honest about. My friend is helpful. The conversation is brief because I’m tired. As I click my phone off from the conversation a wave of pain overcomes me. All of the emotion I’ve been stuffing back rushes to the surface of my body and I decide to stop resisting it. “Fine, come on out and wreak your havoc. I am too tired to resist you now.” Tears, mania, sorrow, fear, anger – my acceptance of what is happening for me emotionally rears ugly faces and I decide to be ok with it. Why do I always forget to do this? Why do I go days and days resisting my emotions, instead of allowing them to simply flow through me? It’s so much easier to feel them as they are and then to experience them flee my body.

It’s never about the circumstances. I have a thousand things I could be upset about and a million other things to be grateful for. It’s when the circumstances bring up heavy emotion, that we must pay attention to the emotion arising rather than getting caught up in the drama of the circumstance surrounding it. Whatever is causing me to feel rejected is like a little act playing out so that I can feel the deeper part of me that tries to ignore that I am feeling lonely right now. The truth is, I’m feeling lonely right now. It’s ok to feel desperate and lonely. It’s not going to kill me. People feel this way quite often. It’s when we try to mask the feeling, or distract ourselves from the feeling that things get complicated, and for some of us, it can be a reason to self-destruct. I don’t want to ride that train any longer, so I am kind of stuck with the discomfort.

Breaking up is a whole process and it takes a lot of time for healing. It is easy to distract ourselves during the process, but when I finally admitted to another human being how I was feeling, and then sat with the awful feelings, I began to feel much better. Sleep came quickly and I woke up with a brighter disposition. It’s going to be ok, especially when I don’t resist the loneliness. At some point it will pass, but for now it’s hanging out with me and kind of mocking me. I don’t have to listen to what it says, however. I simply have to know it’s here. I simply have to accept it. It’s not who I am and this wave of sadness will surely pass in its own casual time. I’m not feeling good right now. I feel like a lemon tree in an apple orchard, but that’s ok. I don’t have to shake off the lemons. I just have to acknowledge they’re there and wait for them to drop on their own. In the meantime, I take one moment at a time and ask for help. I am human. Humans go through hard times. It’s not the end of the world and I expect to grow from this terrible experience. I’m sure I am growing right this very moment, although it feels like I’m being smothered and bogged down. I’ve been through this stuff enough however, to know that something really amazing is right around the bend when I don’t resist my emotions. We must trust in the experiences we are having. I can’t see clearly now, but I know there is magic when I am in acceptance with what simply is.

Anyway, in the meantime, I’ve found a new platform to promote my books, and I’ve placed them out there for free, so if you want some summer reading, here is the link to my author page with the books:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JLForbes

Restlessness – How to Settle the Inner Storm

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Restlessness is a sure sign to me that I am not in my body.  Even after three years and a couple of months in recovery, once in while I still become restless.  It is rare, but it does come up for me.  Yesterday even after meditation, a steadily busy day at work and an hour walk with a friend, I was still splitting at the seams.  A drive home in more traffic than usual, an unexpected encounter, an apartment that was too hot to cook a good meal for myself in – all more reasons to come even more undone.  I had hours before it was time to go to sleep and nothing I focused on could keep my attention for long.  I had to figure something out because this will last a few more days if I don’t get myself back to center.

I understand why I am feeling restless, which is good to know.  I just moved.  The break-up is final.  My daughter is gone for a couple of weeks.  Most of the time when I’m feeling restless, it’s a cue to take really good care of myself.  Back in the old days, the restlessness would vamp me up and I would turn into a self-destructive, unpredictable wild person.  Luckily the opposite of that is true for me today and I am able to see that I need some self-care.  I’ve been going to a lot of meetings and they help a little, but when it gets to a point where I am thinking about getting a tattoo (which probably could ease me back into my body, actually), I know that I’m in a bad space.  Tattoos are ok.  I have one.  I just don’t want anymore, especially one that isn’t planned out very well.  I can just imagine Jon Hamm’s face on my forearm holding a ‘Mad Men’ banner, or something even more outrageous.  I really needed to place my attention elsewhere, so first things first – I ate a healthy meal.  Nutrition and exercise are so important in recovery, but sometimes it isn’t enough, so what else can you do during times of restlessness an/or boredom?

Self-care during restlessness is the opposite of self-destruction, so that’s what I did last night.  There is a quaint little massage therapy place close to where I live.  They were slow last night, so I made myself an appointment and offered myself a little pampering.  It absolutely helped.  Afterward, I was in a different space and I slept very well.  Upon waking up today, I feel more centered.  The place I go is not expensive, which is great, but in the beginning of my recovery I may not have been able to afford any type of massage.  I know how that can be.  During these times, I would take myself to an artsy movie, or walk to a farmer’s market and engage with the people.  Sometimes they offers massages for a dollar per minute at farmer’s markets.  Massage is a great solution, especially if you can find someone who gets in tune with your body and feels what you need.

If you can’t get a massage, I encourage you to take care of yourself no matter what.  Bake yourself your favorite dessert.  Make yourself a delicious meal.  Watch your favorite comedy – laugh out loud.  Whatever you can do, or whatever you can afford to pamper yourself – do it.  Talk to people who are also in recovery.  This is a good time to do service as well, but don’t forget that you need some self-care too.  Even buying a new item of clothing, or getting a haircut and color will change things up enough to loosen that discomfort in you.  It’s important that you don’t spend money you don’t have, because that would be self-destructive.  Spend what you can afford, and if you can’t afford anything, perhaps you can take a swim, or spend an evening with friends.  Go somewhere new.  Take a long walk and listen to soothing music.  Pick yourself some wild flowers and put them in a vase.  Take a bubble bath with lavender to sooth your restlessness.  Love yourself and honor yourself back into your body.  This has really helped me in the past, and it certainly alleviated the discomfort last night when I had a massage.

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Restlessness is part of life.  Any big changes, or even the slowness of life can trigger this experience.  For addicts, however, this is a trigger to use or drink.  Remember that recovery is doing the opposite of what we know, so instead of splitting into several parts of yourself and destroying everything in your path, reign it in and pull yourself together by taking really good care of yourself in these moments.  If you are too busy to do anything for yourself (which is probably an excuse), just remember that this too shall pass.  The restlessness is not eternal.  It will flee at some point, but do not resist it.  Find harmony within it.  Allow to be with you and get curious about why it’s there.  Learn something about yourself while you are experiencing the discomfort, and be present with it.  Tell yourself it’s going to be ok, and then be good to yourself.  Take one moment at a time and don’t judge yourself for being human.  Peace be with you today.  Remain sober (no matter what) and this too shall pass.

Turning Chaos Into Harmony

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In Jr. High I took a Home Economic class with a very intense teacher.  She was half my size and intimidated the hell out of me.  We made our own dresses which we were supposed to model in front of the school and I ended up sewing the upper arm hole shut so that I couldn’t attach the sleeve, or even slide my hand through.  The teacher fixed it for me by tearing out the thread with a little tool that I cannot recall the name of today.  When we baked muffins, I used two cups of baking powder instead of two tablespoons of baking soda.  This was all occurring while I was impressing my creative writing teacher, along with making lead roles in the skits and plays we performed in drama.  Home Economics and Biology were not my cup of tea, but obviously I excelled in the creative arts.  During this time of my life I became very depressed and withdrawn because I felt lost.  

When I wore my homemade dress in front of my schoolmates, I was happy that all the holes and seams were in the correct places, but the dress itself was a little Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz-ish, minus the pleats, and it was a much more novice version.  I chucked that dress in the garbage after wearing it once.  I didn’t want the reminder of my failure as a seamstress.  In retrospect it was a good experience because it taught me something about myself.  I wasn’t interested in sewing or baking.  To this day, I do not enjoy either of those things, unless I’m eating the cookie dough during the baking process.  In that class, I got a D, which is one notch above failing.  I’m certain my teacher would have given me an F, except that she didn’t want to have to deal with me again the following year. 

The thing that I don’t enjoy about baking and sewing is that it creates a big mess, and I have a difficult time looking past the mess in order to create a masterpiece out of the chaos.  This week as I was moving, I took things really slowly, only moving a carload per day, as not to overwhelm myself.  I do not own a lot of “things” because I don’t like the burden of having them.  If I decide to move to Greece on a whim to write a book in a window overlooking the Mediterranean sea for a year, I don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of “stuff.”  I just want to get on a plane and go.  My daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t get rid of anything.  When I opened the door to her bedroom one afternoon last week, a rush of panic took over my sanity.  That evening I ended up eating a ton of chocolate candy for dinner, and then headed to two AA meetings.  It was just too much for me to take in.

Lucky for me I have a former boyfriend who knows how to place things in boxes without having an emotional breakdown.  The next day I came back to a very clean and organized bedroom.  Everything was taken off the walls and neatly rolled up into boxes.  Toys and books were neatly compiled and I was off the hook.  (Sigh of relief inserted here).  All I had to do was move those boxes into my car and sweep the floor up afterward.  I was a little disturbed at how easily my ex cleaned up the disastrous room.  He did it in one evening.  I’m certain that it would have taken me at least two or three days, and I would have been cramming M&M’s down my throat in the meantime, or chewing through packs and packs and gum just to withhold an impending panic attack. 

The really ironic thing is that the packing for me was way more intensely difficult than the move itself, or the breakup.  I understand that there are greater things awaiting me when I let go of burdensome relationships and hefty rent payments, but it is terrifying for me to clean out a dirty refrigerator.  On another level, I am extremely comfortable organizing my random thoughts into words on a computer screen, and I enjoy the process of putting on a performance in front of an audience, although both of these things are tedious and time consuming endeavors.  I am not a chef, or a very good housekeeper.  If my kids need something sewn, I would rather toss the item of clothing into the garbage can and go shopping for a replacement.  I am actually envious of people like my ex, who know how to focus on one thing at a time rather than overwhelm themselves in the details.  I’m quite the opposite.  I focus on the bigger picture, but get very overwhelmed with the small details during the process of getting there.

So how do I go about my life without feeling incomplete?  I can beat myself up all day long for not being a detail oriented person, or I can accept this about myself and focus on my assets, which is making things happen.  I’m an artist.  I envision end results.  I put things out in the universe and watch them come into fruition.  I don’t get hung up on people, places and things.  I’m good at helping others understand their soul journey.  I definitely understand my own.  I can interpret dreams. As a mom, I’m very accepting of my children.  I am more of a guide than a dictator.  I laugh more than I yell.  Although I’m not the best housekeeper, I certainly know how to make a place feel like a home. Wow, these are all positive things that I can say about myself.  Why do I stand back and beat myself up for what I consider “flaws?”  There has to be people like me in the world, and there has to be those who know how to turn some thread and material into a lovely costume.  Together, our contrasts and differences create a beautiful tapestry throughout the planet.  This is why it is so important to stop comparing yourself to others.  You have a purpose here.  You are a light to others through your dynamic gifts and talents.  Focus on those things and learn to connect with others who compliment you by doing what you are not exactly good at. 

I think it’s incredibly amazing that the world is made up with so many different people who all make up the wholeness of the planet.  We have doctors and teachers, musicians and speakers.  We have givers and helpers, lovers and wise leaders.  No one holds all of these gifts in one package.  We all came here to offer something to the world in order to create a harmonious planet.  Sadly this is not how it exactly works out, but it isn’t up to me to worry about what other people are doing, and what they aren’t doing.  It is up to me to stop beating myself up for not being a good baker, and to focus on my writing instead.  If I have a difficult time packing because it overwhelms me, I should feel confident enough to ask for help from someone who doesn’t find it overwhelming.  If I can’t bake a cake for a party, I should offer another service, like making the invitations.  We are all in this together, and rather than envy the soccer mom who is a dynamic organizer, I should do what I know how to do, which is coaching the team. 

I wrote this today because I’ve been annoyed that I couldn’t clean that room without melting down, when I should be pleased with myself for being brave enough to make an enormous change in my life to benefit my children and my own well-being.  Life is not easy, but it is more difficult when you focus on the negative, instead of seeing the big picture, or realizing your own worth.  I’m not a detail oriented person by nature, but I can write a manuscript no problem.  We all have something that we excel in.  This is where we should place our focus.  This is what we should offer to the world.  Simply do your part.  Then and only then, will we discover harmony in the midst of universal chaos. Like they told us in drama class, “There are no small roles…”

http://www.amazon.com/DEVILS-ALTAR-Addiction-Awakening-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404057542&sr=1-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

“This Isn’t a F*cken Friends Episode!…”

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Those infamous words knocked me back into my seat as I sat in a circle with my recovery peers who all stared at me, shocked at the way I was being put in my place by the director of the program.  It was “Focus Group” which meant that we got to sit across from someone we wanted to confront.  This was a way to clear up tensions in a healthy manner, and to also point out behaviors in one another so that we could assist each other in changing the things that led us to drinking or using.  I was rarely focused on by any of my 40+ peers.  I had it all going on as if my shit didn’t stink.  What I didn’t realize was that my behavior of “looking good” and being everyone’s buddy was exactly what was going to kill me in my addiction.  This was pointed out by the counsellors, not my peers, because we were all too blind at the time to notice subtle behaviors, or to even relate perfectionistic traits as a revelation of a sneaky addict.  Yeah, I was one of those.

Humility was part of the process of changing our behaviors, but you cannot really get to a place of humility if you’re not aware of yourself.  So that’s how the director of the program saved my life in a sense.  After that dramatic session with my peers, another director walked into the evening house gathering and pointed at me.  She told the group that they were letting me “die” because they weren’t aware of how I navigated through the program like a little “honey bee.”  At first I was clueless as to what this even meant, but as time went on, I became aware of my own intensions to be everybody’s best friend, and how I buzzed past important things, including my assignments.  I knew how to get things done quickly without putting much effort into them.  Basically, I was living on the surface of my life to avoid difficult emotions.  Life to me was a checklist – “Get this done… CHECK!  Get that done… CHECK!”  I was driven to complete tasks as swiftly as possible and to make sure that everyone liked me in the meantime.

Laughing out loud right now at the thought of spending so much energy trying to please everyone.  Handing all of my assignments in on time was a way for me to get acceptance from my counsellors.  Like they even paid much attention to me when there were 40 of us addicts running around with minor dramas always occurring.  I was so self-centered, I swear to god.  When I left that sacred place, it was scary walking out into the real world where people are pretty much oblivious to their behaviors.  I recall thinking that I wish I could have focus group at work, or with my family.  It really did save my life and I was scared to not have that safety net of a group because I was still wobbly on my own two feet.  Luckily I continued going to groups and moved into a sober-living environment with many of my peers. The group I graduated with has been a very solid handful of people.  Most of us are doing very, very well.  We were really hard on each other too, but now there is nothing but love and support between us.  I know I can call any of my peers at any time and they would drop everything to be there for me.  I have needed some of them this very week, and four of them have immediately been there for me, even if it was merely words of encouragement after listening to my “drama” for the week.

There was a little upheaval this week with my ex and for the first time in a very long time, I felt extremely overwhelmed.  But that only lasted for a day.  I went through it, got sucked into it for a little while, and then stopped pointing my fingers and began looking at my part in the situation.  Once I did this, I stopped myself in my own tracks – almost as if I slammed myself into my own chair with awareness of my negative behaviors.  I felt ashamed, and scattered.  I took myself to three meetings and announced my “behaviors” to the group.  Afterward, I apologized to my former boyfriend.  I haven’t heard one apology from him, but that’s ok.  I’m not in this to even out the score.  My only obligation to my recovery is that I recognize my part in every situation and clear it up as soon as possible. 

I felt better when I got out of the drama and took some responsibility.  Last night, I ran into “him” and he was clearly uncomfortable.  He left the restaurant immediately after realizing he was uncomfortable.  I was not at all uncomfortable.  What I would love to tell him is that all of this turmoil coming up for him is simply a guiding light into himself.  It’s nothing more than emotional growth occurring.  Regardless of the obvious happenstance, and the “drama” surrounding me moving out and our breaking up, there is something much greater happening.  I don’t take much interest (any longer) in surface situations.  People are dramatic.  I’m even dramatic.  The daily dish comes and goes, but the real deal is what’s below the surface.  A year from now when we are both a little stronger from the situation, we will look back and see how much we changed because of our year long encounter.  When we met, the stars were in alignment.  Fireworks ignited.  We went into the relationship open hearted and confident.  Both of us knew that we might get hurt, but we were very ambitious because we were extremely aware of the yin and yang between us.  We knew that in harmony, we could be a dynamite couple.  It was difficult for us to keep that harmony, so there was a lot of conflict instead.  That ambition between us stretched us to the max, however, and this part of our experience (the turmoil) is merely growth occurring quickly.  That’s all it is, and I see it for what it is. 

Forget the scene, or the way things are playing out.  Look beyond them.  Life is not about the drama occurring – it’s truly about what is happening for you (emotions) during the experience.  I took a massive bite of humble pie this week.  It was bitter to the tongue, but sweet to my belly.  I’m in a much better place because I took some serious responsibility.  I’m not writing any of this stuff to pat myself on the back. I have such a long way to go, and there is still some wreckage to attend to. What I do understand in all of this, is that my former boyfriend was simply a player in my life to show me what I really need to work on in myself, and where I need to grow. For him, I was also a player in his life who stirred up a lot of things for him. When I met him, he talked about longing to be more flexible and easy going. When he met me, I spoke of wanting to keep growing as a person. I think we organically provided this for one another. He really opened my eyes to myself and I am growing greatly because of it. For this, I am incredibly grateful for him. He’s been a great teacher.

I can’t change some things that are occurring, or that have occurred, but I do know where I could have done better.  Progress… It’s funny – My former boyfriend used to call me “Phoebes.” This was his name for me. I’m going to miss that a lot, but this isn’t a Friends episode. The season has ended and life moves on.