Friday, November 30, 2007

Hope Confidential

A letter marked confidential arrived for me in the mail yesterday. How weird it was to see my own name on an envelope in my own handwriting. Confused yet? When I was in treatment one of our last assignments was to write a letter to ourselves. A letter that would be mailed to us around 90+ days post treatment. My letter came yesterday. I let it sit on the coffee table beside me for several hours before I opened it. I couldn't remember what I'd written. Eventually I did open it and my smile grew bigger the more I read. I share it with you for whatever it may have to offer you in your journey today:
"Dear Hope,
I hope this finds you sober and abstinent, still looking in the mirror and saying "Thank you for being you." I hope that today you were present in your body. That you were aware of stress and anger and dealt with them in a healthy way.
These past months may have been hard but I'm hoping you've discovered what true intimacy is.
I hope you've been gentle with yourself. Remember there's always more positives than negatives to be found and mistakes are part of our humanity.
Good self care is a way of saying thank you to God for this body he's blessed you with. Shower, dress well. Feed your body wisely. Have some daily exercise program. You're worth it.
I really hope your relationships have deepened. Remember that you are responsible for getting your needs met, either by yourself or by asking for what you need from others. It's okay to have needs. No one can be expected to read your mind or do for you what you can do for yourself.
For this day only - that's all you have to concern yourself with.
My smile grew bigger the more I read because I was nodding in affirmation the whole way through. What I had hoped would be my reality 3 months post treatment has come true. Some of it is still baby step by baby step. Some of it is solid habit. And it thrills me to pieces to realize that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who's Driving Your Bus?

I'm sick in more than just my body today. My thinking is, too. It was just last week when I said to dearest one that we sure didn't get sick very often. Maybe one cold/flu a year at best. I was preening a bit at the thought, as if I was in control of life so much that I could ward off sickness by sheer willpower. If life was a game show, a big buzzer would have just gone off at the insanity of my thinking.

My head is throbbing, my appetite has left me and the mucus is like a dripping faucet down my throat. I'm not sick enough to be in bed but not well enough to do more than sit in front of the computer or lay on the couch.

However that reality did not stop me from looking out at the new coating of snow on the deck and seriously consider not only shoveling it away again, but doing the whole walkway and then going for a walk. I miss my walk. Oh, and while I'm at it why don't I clean the kitchen, sweep the floor and vacuum the livingroom, too. You get my drift. Only a person sick in more than just the body would sit here considering such options while feeling as if their head is going to explode if they stand up.

And what's driving my insanity is that I want something to show for the past few days dearest one and youngest son have been gone. Not that they expect it, I do.

When I was in treatment I learned I had this silent mantra driving most of my action. That mantra was I need to justify my existence.

There. I knew if I just started typing I'd at least get this off my chest and it's ended with me figuring out what's driving my insanity today. Like Earnie Larsen says, "Who's driving your bus?" Today it's been my 5 year old self who always felt guilty that she lived despite her premature birth, while her brother Rodney didn't. Who felt like she owed the world an explanation of her days in order to justify her living.

I just kicked her out of the driver's seat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Shovelful of Character Defects

I came face to face with my not knowing when to quit character defect again today. I woke up in the night with a painful sliver infested throat (that's what it felt like) and by mid morning had a fever and headache, too. The weather has been cold and snowy so dearest one and youngest son stayed over in town last night and will again tonight.

Late in the afternoon I ventured outside to feed the animals, looked at all the snow piled up and picked up the shovel to attack it. I love shoveling snow. I haven't been able to do it for several years now because of my chronic health issues. Going to treatment this summer has changed that. Tonight I'm reminded that having a fever and headache is not the time to rejoice in being able to pick up a shovel and attack anything.

I also love shoveling out a barn. Dearest one and I spent some time working on dairy farms when only daughter was our only child. I happily shoveled shit as often as I could. We'd put only daughter in a walker on the dairy barn parlour floor and go to work milking cows and cleaning the barn.

Thank God there wasn't a dairy barn in sight today. :)

Grains of Sand

"Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand."~ from Carrie Underwood's song So Small

Monday, November 26, 2007


Life is good.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Creature of Habit

My sponsor celebrated her AA birthday today. It was fun to see her receive her card and medallion for 17 years of sobriety. The cake was good, too! This woman has been a Godsend in my life and I thank God for her. I trust her in a way I trust few people. She's honest, compassionate and kicks my butt when necessary. I'm blessed.

While sitting in the meeting today, a meeting I've never been at before, I realized what a creature of habit I tend to be. I'm not much of a risk taker. This meeting was much larger than what I'm used to. My home group has a handful of members and a big meeting there is 10 people. The meeting I was at today had 3 times that many at least. But there were familiar faces among them and for that I was glad. For the fourth time in a week or so I had someone who hadn't seen me in a while tell me, "You're glowing." Today they added, "Whatever you did at treatment worked because it's showing in your face." My smile just got bigger.

I got home in time to go to Mass where there is on a good Sunday, 10 people. How can you tell I'm not much of a crowd person? This new priest we have cuts through it all to preach Jesus again and again and again. I'm being challenged every week and am still mulling over his homilies from 6 weeks ago. I like being challenged like that.

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the Grey Cup (go Riders!!) and a few of my favourite tv shows. There again I have my favourites and Sunday is really the only day of the week when I call dibs on the TV remote.

In between I phoned my mom and made an amend for something I said to her last night. Well, it was more like a clarification. I had spoken a truth about someone in a rather blunt way. Speaking that bluntly is breaking the unspoken rules in my family. That part didn't bother me a bit. What did bother me was that I let the comment stand as if that bit of truth about the person was the WHOLE truth about them. As I listened in the AA meeting today and heard people talk about what it used to be like, what happened and what it's like now I thought of this distant family member I had spoken about (who died just over a week ago) and knew I hadn't been fair in letting my comment stand as if it was the whole truth about them. Without the fellowship of AA I wouldn't know there was another way to look at life. Including my own. For if I'd let that comment stand I would be saying I'm also characterized by my screw ups, and God knows I've made my share. I'd like to say it was easy to call my mom and clarify it but it wasn't. The good news though is that I did it. And for that I'll sleep easier tonight.

Snow is falling outside so dearest one and youngest son have plans to stay over in town until Wednesday night at oldest son's home. Being alone is one of my greatest times of temptation to relapse. Thank God I only have to do this one day at a time, one minute at a time, if necessary. That I know enough to pick up the phone if need be. God grant me the grace to make good choices.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Unwrapping The Day

It's been a beautiful gift of a day.

When I first went back to AA I chose a home group called Gratitude 24/7. At the time I thought people must be faking an attitude of gratitude and what they really needed was a dose of reality. I had no idea I'd been on a dry drunk for most of my sobriety, no idea what recovery looked like and no idea that gratitude was mine for the choosing. A dry drunk is not a rut I rest in very long these days. Most days on my walk I thank God for the ability to be grateful. Naming what I'm grateful for comes easily and that nearly makes me giddy. I realized one day this week as I was walking that what I was feeling was joy. I've spent so many years as a cynic. To find cynicism replaced with joy is pure gift.

None of this is possible on my own steam. I show up, I'm as open, willing and honest as I can be while my Higher Power works. I want God's will to be done in my life more than my own most of the time and when I don't I don't beat myself up for that anymore, either. Accepting my humanity has been so freeing. I can hardly fathom that progress is much more attractive to me these days than perfection. I know when I'm aching for perfection in myself or others that fear is the driving force behind it.

This month I've been chairing the meetings, getting there early to help set up when I can, and staying afterwards to visit. It's a concrete way to give back out of gratitude for someone else having done it before me, for making sure the door was open when I needed it. I used to dislike chairing meetings until my sponsor kidded me one day saying, "What's the matter, you scared of making a mistake?" Dang. She had me pegged just right. I don't take myself so seriously today and there's never a safer place to be human than in an AA meeting.

Today as the promises were being read I wanted to get up and dance. I wonder if I will ever get over the miracle that these promises are coming true in my life. I hope I never take them for granted.

Before I went to the meeting I finished up nearly all my Christmas shopping. That I could do that is a gift in itself. One I don't take for granted. We keep a fairly simple Christmas so the process is painless. That it's even an option is a gift. After my meeting I took oldest son's fiancee out for her birthday. She is a gift in herself. We had a nice lunch in a nice restaurant and a great visit. That taking her out for a meal was an option is a gift, too.

Dearest one chose more patience than not today when I accidentally hung up on him and then looked at my cell phone as it vibrated in my hand and thought, "oh it must do that when it's being turned off." Um, nope. It does that when someone is calling me. Like the person I accidentally hung up on who was done his class early and was stranded without a vehicle. The vehicle I was in when he phoned. And he chose to have more patience than not while in the midst of a wretched nicotine withdrawal fit.

Driving home later dearest one shared his reality in the face of nicotine withdrawal. If you only knew how much I have nagged him these past 25 years about his on and off smoking. How much I took it personally that he smoked. How much energy I've spent being resentful. Then you'd know what a gift it was that today I did none of that. I was more concerned about his quitting smoking cold turkey without a plan to deal with the stressors in his life than I was happy about his quitting. Addiction is addiction is addiction. And we set ourselves up to fail if we have no plan in place, no healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the issues that addiction temporarily relieves. So I was more relieved than not when dearest one stopped and bought a pack of smokes. Quitting will come in its time and accepting that I'm not the one who dictates the timetable is really a miracle.

It's been a beautiful gift of a day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Intense Shades Of Blue

There is a beautiful winter blue sky out there this morning. I guess that's the price of cold weather - because that intense shade of blue only comes with the cold! It was -17 C this morning and some of our windows were frosted over. I plan on enjoying a walk outside today. Yesterday was almost a write off - I had to go back to bed and sleep for 4 hours before I could function. I was tempted to panic because that kind of exhaustion was par for the course before I went to treatment in August. But I didn't. I simply listened to my body and chalked it up to the emotional toll of two separate counseling sessions the day before. This too shall pass.

Here are a few posts I've read lately that are worthy of a second look:

This one made me realize I would use an MP3 player if I had one: Of Richard Rohr and Parker Palmer. And with only dial up and no MP3 player I'm envious of those of you who can go ahead and listen to the links!

This post made me laugh out loud. I do love a good chuckle: A Silly Poor Gospel. Her whole blog is worth the read.

This is another post from A Silly Poor Gospel which I've gone back and reread several times: Covered Dish.

And in a different direction here is a post that might be offensive to some so consider yourself warned. I like the woman's honesty and humour.Beyond Blue. A totally different kind of blue than a winter sky.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Going Down That Road

Two separate counseling sessions, coupled with a pre dawn drive to town, made for a long day yesterday. Good self care was my goal for the day, especially after I opened my journal to realize I hadn't written in it since the kerfuffle with dearest one last week. For me, avoiding my journal writing is the same as avoiding reality. Combine that with one day of no shower, no walk, no getting dressed (not to mention having two meals in a row where one serving of caramel dumplings was the only thing on my menu)and it's a short hop and a skip to the slippery road called relapse.

And I'm so not going down that road.

I processed the day's counseling sessions with dearest one last night. We ended up having a great conversation about where we're at and what's possible for the future. Well, first we had a minor kerfuffle where he tried to put his shit on me and I nearly accepted it as my own. We're both so good at trying to escape responsibility for our actions and usually the other one obliges, taking it on themselves in that moment. After a quarter of a century living in this sick dynamic the flu season is coming to an end. Baby steps toward health are slowly edging it out.

Yesterday my after treatment counselor reminded me that 25 years of behaviour is not going to change overnight.
But change is happening.
And for the ability and grace to go down that road
I am so very grateful.

Friday, November 16, 2007

You Shall Know The Truth And The Truth Will Set You Free

"I leave you free to be yourself: to think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking."
from The Way To Love
I wasn't in treatment very long before my counselor suggested joint counseling for dearest one and I. As in "let's get the two of you together in one room to talk about some things". My initial reaction was NO! She asked me to dig deeper into what that 'no' meant. Eventually I told her that getting healthy was my thing. I felt threatened by the thought that dearest one might get healthy too. I wanted to be able to lord over him my new found health.
Spoken like a true addict.
Like one who needs it all under her own control
in order to be right with the world.
Uh huh.
I felt embarrassed admitting it because
it sounded just as sick to my ears as to hers,
yet it was the truth.

I was barely home from the treatment centre when I confronted dearest one about the most painful issue in our 25 years together. The one that prompted my counselor to suggest couple's counseling. The one that I was sure was all his fault. I confronted him in a loving way where both of us had our dignity intact by the end of the conversation. Although the outcome was not what I had hoped for I stood my ground while he tried to manipulate his way out of the situation. I managed not to swear, attack, or engage in any of my long standing sick behaviours as a form of retaliation. It hadn't been all that difficult either. Which surprised me and yet, didn't. I really was a different person with a new set of coping skills. I felt good at the end of the conversation even though I wasn't going to get my way. What was really important was that I had spoken up. Had said my piece. Had known that my freedom, my liking myself at the end of the day, was more important than being nice and smoothing things over. I told him I was moving forward no matter what the cost. For the first time in my life I knew what it felt like to have my integrity intact after a difficult conversation.

In the end that conversation did prompt dearest one to go for his own counseling though. Since then he has been doing the most grueling work as he confronts his past. He's been generous in sharing with me the conversations that take place in his sessions and often they've given me things to think over in my own life. Such as realizing the issue I confronted him about, the one I was sure was all his fault, I have my own baggage in that area. Which was news to me. I'd been convinced (and convinced him) I was totally healthy when it came to that. This past weekend he opened up his heart, made himself vulnerable and shared with me his deepest thoughts about this issue. I told him he was never more beautiful than when he bared his soul to me. Even though the original issue had not righted itself I felt peace that I could trust the process. That he was on a healing journey that would lead him to a healthier place. What I didn't realize was that I had healthier place confused with my particular point of view.

Which meant dearest one turned ugly in my eyes yesterday.
Right when his grueling work meant that he found freedom.
From me.

I felt threatened enough at his freedom to whip out every sick coping skill I had in storage and use them as ammunition. In the midst of my little hissy fit words from my counselor rose through my attitude: "Your family will want the old you back. They will try to swing the pendulum back to centre, to something they knew, even if it is sick." Oh God, I was trying to swing dearest one's pendulum back to centre, back to something familiar because the thought of breaking new ground in this area scared me. Scared me enough to shove my counselor's words out of the way so I could continue trying to swing dearest one back to safety.

In the midst of trying he said to me, "I've tasted freedom and I'm not letting go of it. Even if that means confrontation."

Oh shit.
My gig as chief controller was up.
I knew how exhilarating that freedom felt.
It had been the one thing I had been unwilling to give up
since coming home from treatment.
This man who absolutely hates confrontation and feels sick to his stomach at the thought of it, found the freedom to live his own life.
To choose his own boundaries.
To stop letting my insanity define him.
And he's unwilling to give it up.

I knew that place he found himself in was the most freeing, wonderful, peaceful place because I'd experienced it too. It had sunk right to the core of his being. My gig was definitely up. But I wasn't going to give up without a fight.

In the space of a half mile drive he managed to say to me basically what I had said to him way back in that first confrontation. He was moving forward whatever the cost.
I felt panicky hearing him speak with such emotional health.
I. did. not. like. it. one. bit.
Logic told me his freedom was a good thing.
But logic be damned, I was trying desperately
to manipulate him back to my way of thinking.

So I kept picking at him.
It didn't work.
It didn't matter what kind of insanity
came out of my mouth
he held his ground.
I couldn't wear him down.
Holy Mother of God pray for us.

I told him I felt farther away from him than ever. He said all that really happened was that the gulf between us was now exposed for what it had always been. That up until now there had been a thin level of ice covering it and so we thought it wasn't there. That we were really two separate beings with different life experience. I asked if I could shove him into the abyss between us and hold his head under. That's how scared I felt at losing control.

Nothing was going according to plan. It didn't matter how diligently I picked away at him he kept coming back to truth and reality. Eventually he told me he wasn't going to be backed into a corner. At that point I turned and headed down the hallway muttering fuck off under my breath. Which is my default setting when I'm not going to get my way. A setting I hadn't used in the 83 days I'd been home from treatment.

What's a girl to do?

Oh, I flipped him the bird behind the slammed bedroom door.
Jabs in the air like a boxer in the face of his opponent.
Only my opponent was still in the kitchen.

I crawled into bed where the tools and skills from treatment rose above the insanity.
I had finally shut my mouth long enough to remember them.
To dearest one the gulf between us, the abyss, simply meant we were two different people, with two separate histories, whose life experience had brought us to two different conclusions in this area. It wasn't a bad thing. It was normal.

Normal?!! WTF?
His acceptance of that truth was mind boggling. Honouring our differences meant life was going to become so much more unpredictable. I hate unpredictable. I could hardly believe how badly I wanted to pummel the freedom right out of him. And I would have done so except the centredness he was living was so good and true and right, made him so very beautiful, that it messed up all my plans to harm him.

When dearest one crawled into bed I told him how proud I was of him.
He replied that was rather a paradox wasn't it?
"How so," I asked.
"Well, two seconds ago you wanted to hold my head under water."
"Oh, ya, that."

I crawled into his arms and sobbed.
I let go, feeling my fingers uncurl
from their frozen grip on control.
Admitted my powerlessness.
Apologized for my behaviour.
Chose to embrace his freedom.
And in doing so embraced my own.
In that moment I hated knowing
there was another way.
A healthier way.
The only way if I wanted emotional health.

There is nothing to lord over him anymore.
Maybe there never was.
Dearest one is moving forward
despite me.
Not to spite me.
But in spite of me and my sick attempts
to hold him back.

This morning I bypassed beating myself up for behaving so miserably last night.
I looked dearest one in the eyes and told him I was choosing to trust the process
to take us to a much healthier place together. Surrendering to the reality that a healthier place is not synonymous with my point of view. Accepting that the abyss between us is simply a description of where I end and he begins. Learning to let go of trying to blurr the lines.

Yesterday as he was on his way to counseling I phoned dearest one to tell him I was praying for him. I prayed especially for healing. Uh huh, I did.

Thank God we are on a healing journey
that can take us both
to a healthier place.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Freedom From Insanity...... For Today

Today is a milestone worth celebrating. One year, 365 days, worth of abstinence from sexual addiction. There have been many tears, slips and falls since I published this post about my struggles nearly 2 years ago. That post took many hours of thought and hitting the publish post button felt akin to voluntarily getting naked in a room of fully clothed people. There have been many struggles to keep putting one foot in front of the other since then. For a while all I did was look backwards at the 120 days of abstinence that followed that post and beat myself up for not being able to reach 121. Repeatedly getting up and trying again has been one of the biggest battles of my life. My motivation for doing so was my yearning to be free of shame. To embrace truth instead of being bogged down in the lies.

In my counseling sessions I've been asked to define my sexual addiction - as in what behaviours are you referring to, they ask. At first I was ashamed to tell. I know I'm not the only one to struggle with those behaviours and today I'm able to be matter of fact about naming them. No, I don't offer it as small talk in social situations, after all there'd be spewed coffee and choking coughs to follow if I did, but if one asks me, I tell. Our human need to know we aren't alone in our struggles motivates me to be forthright about it when appropriate.

By the grace of God and my willingness to surrender - well I think that is a grace in itself, too - here I am today. It feels beatiful. Looking backwards and forwards is not the norm anymore. Staying in this day feels more comfortable. It's less of a strain on the neck, too. I'm not doing any of this perfectly and that's finally a comforting thought instead of ammunition to beat myself up with.

Never have Anne Lamott's two favourite prayers been my constant companions more than in this past year. They sum up my journey. In the morning, "Help me, help me, help me" and in the evening, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's Tuesday, Right?

One thing about spending three days without a timepiece in sight (they ask that you voluntarily give up all watches, cell phones,etc. for the duration and they cover up all clocks) is that I not only lose track of what time it is but what day it is, too. The only way I seem to be able to know today is Tuesday is to look at the calendar.

It was a wonderful weekend, spiritually refreshing, fun, loving and life giving. I feel blessed to have been a part of it. My spoon supply was adequate, which still seems miraculous. Not that I'm not weary today, but it's a manageable weariness not an overwhelming one. For that I am grateful.

It's a winter wonderland out there this morning. It looks beautiful. Hopefully tomorrow the roads will be driveable because I'll have my last sesion with Fr. Charlie in person for a while. We both drive between one and two hours for our spiritual direction sessions now and I'm not keen on winter driving so after tomorrow we'll talk on the phone until after the snow melts in the spring.

The nightmare that I alluded to in my last post; it's meaning was revealed to me during the weekend. It was the first time I had a dream where I didn't wake up until after the scary, heart stopping scene was finished. Anyway, the meaning went from murkiness for clarity and for that I am grateful. When that happened I acknowledged that scary things don't always have to be pushed to the recesses of our minds.

5 months of no binge eating as of yesterday. Thanks be to God. My session with the counselor from the sexual abuse centre has been rescheduled for next Monday as she forgot it was a holiday yesterday when we booked it. I can wait.

The thought that has been reverberating in my heart from the weekend came from one of the spiritual directors, a priest. We gathered for team Mass before the candidates arrived and he talked about how we didn't know where these women were in their spiritual journey and how our place was not to judge. He said we aren't called to tell people they are lost but rather to be there with them when they feel they are lost. What a freeing perspective.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sleep Deprived

Tired. Not a good way to start what will be a sleep deprived (I almost typed depraved) weekend. I woke up from a nightmare in the middle of the night last night and my sleep was haphazard after that. I may just go back to bed instead of packing my suitcase.

There's a light dusting of snow on the ground this morning. It looks like a baker took a sieve and sprinkled icing sugar over the land.

Dearest one and youngest son spent a night in town this week rather than risk freezing rain two mornings in a row. Two mornings ago dearest one passed a Greyhound bus about 5 minutes before that bus rolled, killing several passengers. After experiencing several traumatic deaths in our family whenever I hear of an accident I think to myself, "Their nightmare is just beginning."

I'll be gone until Monday night, spending the weekend with 80 other women. I'll be giving a talk on putting our faith in action on Saturday afternoon. Monday morning I have my first appointment at the agency in town that offers childhood sexual abuse counseling. Pray for me.

Here's my favourite posts from the blogsphere this week: tears and laughter in one post. Goodbye.

Have a blessed weekend. Covet your sleep. Hug your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

From Darkness To Light

I've had this link bookmarked for a while now. It's worth checking out.

Advent Conspiracy

Back To The Present

My procrastinating ways are going to catch up with me today. Tomorrow I'm off to a women's weekend. Today will be laundry, lists and packing. I'll be one of a dozen speakers over the course of the weekend. I look forward to that. This weekend is one of great love and fellowship. In many ways it's life giving for me. In others it's a challenge to my recovery.

One of the biggest hurdles for me this weekend will be no bingeing. I've binged my way through this weekend before. There is food. Lots of it. Everytime one turns around it's either meal time or coffee break. There's candy on every table throughout the whole day. And when the bowl gets empty they refill it! Social situations are one of my biggest triggers for bingeing. I'm not a social butterfly, I prefer one on one conversations. In social situations food can seem a safer companion than the person next to me.

On Monday, by God's grace, I'll have 5 months of no binge eating. I don't miss the insanity of it. The inability to stop shoving food into my mouth while my head is screaming at me to stop right this minute. My inability to listen to the voice of reason. My refusal to surrender to a power greater than myself until after the binge is over. I don't miss the shame, the guilt, the self loathing. I do miss the instant gratification.

There are certain foods I avoid today because to taste one bite of them will take me down a road I don't want to go. I can have the greatest intentions while plotting ways to get around my own boundaries. Because one has to eat my food addiction seems harder to navigate than alcohol. Yet in action it works the same way. Deciding to have just one drink when you know the whole bottle's going to call your name until it's empty is the same kind of relationship I have with junk food, candy and pop. Give me a little bit and I want it all and I don't want to share it either.

Today. That's all I have to live. I'm getting ahead of myself yet know I need a plan in place, too. In treatment we came up with a relapse prevention plan. I need to take a copy with me tomorrow and read it every day. I can't do any of this on my own strength. God help me. I can feel the anxiety between my words.

This little excerpt from Be-good-to-yourself-Therapy speaks to me right now:
"19. When you feel anxious, let yourself know that in your head you've moved into the future to something scary and your body has gotten up the energy for it. Come back to the present."
Come back to the present.
It's all you have.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Making Saints and Snow Angels

Winter weather is in the forecast for today. Dearest one barely made it to work on freezing rain covered roads early this morning. He'll stay in town overnight rather than risk the roads two days in a row. Snow is expected tonight and tomorrow. And so it begins.

I'm fine with winter but I'm not a great fan of winter driving and do it only if I have to. That means some weeks I get feeling stir crazy and house bound but really, that's temporary.

Nothing lasts forever.

I try to remember that especially when I'm miserable. It took me several hours to figure out just what was irritating me last night. Turns out it was myself. I'd spent the evening yapping at dearest one, having an answer to anything and everything he told me. Eventually I looked at him and told him he was irritating me. Ha. Projection at its finest. It took until we were snuggled in bed last night to realize my own yappiness was the issue. And then I proceeded to yap at him about that while he was trying to get comfy and sleep. He really is a saint in the making. Courtesy of moi.

Nothing lasts forever.

Dearest one whispers, "Thank God." I chime in with "Amen." Okay, okay, I'll be quiet now. I promise.

Monday, November 05, 2007


A new week.
A new day.
A new beginning.

Over the weekend I realized I was trying to hold in my grasp the feeling that life is more than good. As if clutching it tight was the same as the power to make it last forever. As I became aware of what I was trying to do I knew it's more important to accept reality, whatever it is, for this day only. My worth is not dependent on my state of mind. My attitude however, is fully mine to choose. My humanity a reality that's better to accept than deny.

In 10 days, God help me, I'll be celebrating one year of abstinence from sexual addiction. Sometimes I get upset that recovery can only ever be a one day at a time reality. A year ago I didn't decide I'd be abstinent forever but I hoped this time I would be. It wasn't long before I ran smack dab into a for this day only reality check. I find myself cussing a bit about that from time to time. Usually when I am in the midst of struggling and resisting the urge to chuck all recovery out the window. This 24 hours is all I have to deal with. Wrapped in God's grace it's possible to live in this day only.

Living in recovery is akin to living in awareness. I still have these ideas of good and bad feelings and find myself repressing the ones I deem bad. On the weekend I found myself telling dearest one and youngest son I wasn't mad about a situation that involved me setting boundaries that affected them. I must have said it three or four times in a 5 minute conversation. Methinks thou does protest too much surfaced in my mind like a drowning man coming up for air. Ya think? The more I protested I wasn't mad the more I realized oh yes I was. Why was that so difficult to admit? Because I still see being mad as being less than perfect and a bad thing. Oh, this is a journey Hope, stop getting your knickers in a knot about the destination. I need those reminders. They help me relax, take a deep breath and accept reality. Reality often means accepting my humanity instead of trying to outrun it.

Enjoy your journey today.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Grateful Reality

No snow. Beautiful sunshine. Frost on the grass. A new day.

My AA meeting yesterday was uplifting. So good to have a place to go where I can be human without apology. No fear of judgement. Just the nod of heads because we all know we can be just as human and messed up as the next person. To be in a place where I know I'm going to be loved and accepted for who I really am.

As I drove up to the parking lot I felt grateful. Then I felt grateful that I was grateful! It only gets better. Before recovery I was only capable of being grateful if life was going my way. With all my ducks lined up in a row, none falling over, then I might feel grateful. That's the insanity of addiction, being grateful for an illusion.

Being grateful for reality is so much better.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday, Saturday

Saturday, who sang that song? I'm thinking Bay City Rollers but I could be wrong. Remember plaid sewn into jeans for a cool cuff way back when?

A new day. A gift. I'm learning I just need to stay in this day. That seems so simple. To type, I mean. It's getting easier to live. I'm making baby step progress in doing so anyway.

I'm off to town for my AA meeting this morning. If it works out I may be going shopping with a loved one later on. I do most of my shopping solo so to go with someone will be a treat. I zipped up size 16 jeans this morning and could do more than hold my breath and stand like a mannequin in them. I didn't even have to do that lie on the bed to get them done up trick, either. That's progress, too. I mean not that I could actually sit down in them without feeling like I'd been cut in half but at least now I can breathe. Without a scale they're my progress chart for eating healthier, walking regularly and not binge eating.

I often still want to eat to deal with my feelings and sit on the couch all day. I have many days of wanting to do just that. By God's grace I don't. My gang eats a fair amount of junk food in my presence. Lately I've asked them if they could put the remains away once they're done. Going around and picking up half full bags of chips has the same temptation as if I had to pick up bottles of beer with a swallow left in them.

Usually when I want to binge I'm craving something deeper than food. And no matter how full I stuff my face that empty, craving feeling remains. So I practice asking myself what it is I really want. And often I don't know but asking is a step in the right direction.

In my parent's house eating is the pinnacle event of the day. My mom still cooks fabulous meals and she has ingredients in her cupboards I can't even pronounce. It's my parent's 51st wedding anniversary today. While I don't have the greatest respect for their marriage journey I am grateful they are still together. They had a double wedding (my mom is an identical twin) and every year they get together with my aunt and uncle and have a great meal together. Most likely they'll be cooking up a storm today.

On weekends here dearest one and youngest son do the cooking so I'm off the hook for today. All I have to do today is stay in this day. I can do that. I can. I will.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pick a number, any number

I've seen this around on several blogs and it started my brain running on overdrive. What memories to pick from my life 10, 20 and 30 years ago. Let's see what I can come up with.

10 years ago: 1997. 35th birthday. The year I had two lumpectomies to rule out breast cancer. My mom had breast cancer when she was 33 and again at 51.(she turns 69 next week) One of my maternal first cousins, who's in her early 40's, recently had breast cancer too so lumps must be checked. With the second surgery I hemorrhaged at home and had to have emergency surgery to stop the bleeding plus several units of blood afterwards. On the way to the hospital I swelled up with blood so much that I often joke I got to be Dolly Parton on one side for onle day. I don't recommend it. (You could poke someone's eye out) The good part of it all was this experience started doctors checking into the bleeding issues in our family and ultimately ended with the diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Type III, a connective tissue disorder, a few years ago. Generations of weird medical issues were finally answered because of that lumpectomy gone wrong.

20 years ago: 1987. I was 25. Very pregnant with youngest son while oldest son is one year old and only daughter is three. Not yet sober. Less than a year from sobriety and faith. One of the rockiest years. Nearly left dearest one. That episode brought him to his knees and back to God. We still get teary when we talk of how close we came to splits ville that day. How it would have boiled down to pride for us to have gone our separate ways back then. How grateful we are that we didn't. We've had lots of rocky times since but thanks be to God, we celebrated 25 years of marriage this past winter. My going to treatment has probably been the greatest threat to our marriage yet. As we both work through our issues and the layers get peeled back, we are beginning to see how beautiful true intimacy could be.

30 years ago: 1977. 15 years old. The year dearest one and I stopped being pen pals. I was heartbroken. He was raised in a conservative Mennonite home where church membership meant no dating, no girlfriends. Never having heard the term Mennonite before, I had no idea what it meant. Isn't that like, uh, me being Norwegian? Not. His immanent baptism meant he had to stop writing me. The night before his baptism he got drunk instead and opted out of the plan. With a few years we would reconnect and by the time I was 19 we were married.

And in the vein of dreaming dreams I'll add:

2017: I'll be 55. Best word I could hear in that year would be "Hi Nana" That would be what I'd hear when they knock on the door of my writing cabin. A place of sanctuary for young and old alike. Not that 55 will be old, but I will be fully grey by then. Heck, I'll probably be fully grey long before that.

2027: Retirement age. Knowing and living what is really important. Fewer words. More meaning. Deeper loving. Strong hope.

2037: 75. What a gift to reach that age. Family. Relationships. Faith. Passing the torch to the next generation. Love. At the end of it all, love is what matters. "God is love. And he who abides in love abides in God and God in him." What better legacy could one leave?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Navigating The Journey

I turned a corner yesterday. Simply and with gratitude.

I've been feeling as if I'd learned nada, nothing in treatment. Felt like I was navigating life from that old place, without a clue how to get back what I'd gained. I was trying, with little success, to accept where I was.

Yesterday during my time of prayer and reflection I read something that reminded me I wasn't God. What a relief. To be reminded, I mean. Grateful that my automatic response wasn't, "What do you mean I'm not God?!" I've had more than a few of those in my day. Recognizing I wasn't God brought me right back to step one (I can't), two (God can) and three (I'll let Him) and with that came surrender and serenity. Thanks be to God.