I am trying to sort out my experiences and thoughts to better understand how to move forward and not stay stuck in the past.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Everything's Going to be Okay.

I'm cleaning out my closets and bagging clothes and shoes for the St. Vincent DePaul store.  I like downsizing.  As I was going through some summer clothes, those bad memories of this past summer floated to the surface.  As I folded and put them into a plastic bag, I was reminded of this site I found on the computer.  Here's a crazy moment of mine.  During the summer, I was getting so frustrated, that, sometimes in the morning when I was at the computer I would just type things into Google, like, "Are You Listening, God?" (I'm always looking for a more direct line to God, so I was hoping He had email)  or "Is Anybody Out There?"  Goofy stuff like that.  Things did pop up, but I didn't pay any attention to them.  It just kind of felt good typing that in.  However, once, in a moment of total sadness and desperation, I typed in,  "Is Everything Going to be Okay?"  A site was listed, and I clicked onto it.  It is a site with pictures of people saying, things like, "Mike says, 'Everything's going to be okay."  or  Jill says, "Everything will turn out fine."  Things like that.  Just seeing those smiling faces and reading those, short positive messages, made me start to smile.  It really did help.  I still click on that, sometimes when I'm alone and feeling that panic start to rise.  So, if you're wondering if everything's going to be okay, the consensus seems to be, yes, everything's going to be okay. :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012


It was snowing here, this morning.  I was sitting in my room, in a chair watching the flakes drift down outside. The wind blew around and then stopped.  The sun wasn't up yet. The light outside was bluish and gray, and white where the snow was on the ground.  There was no sound, in the house or outside.  There is something very cozy about that time of the early morning in winter.  There is also something isolating about that time, too. 

I don't know why but it made me think of the time we had moved down south.  A job transfer had taken us there.  The children were small, my daughter wasn't even a year old.  We still had our house up north to sell.  The market was slow at the time, so we packed what we needed, and left the rest in the house.  Family and friends checked on the house while we were gone.  Strangers had been walked through.  We had been gone for three months, when I flew back with my son and daughter to take them for their check ups (A good way to spend time with my mom and grandmother, too).  I remember us driving to the house after we had been to the doctor's.  Driving up to it, it stood there in the evening light, silent and still.  Windows sporadically lit by the timers attached to the lamps.  I remember walking into the house. It was cold.  Quiet.  Our furniture and a few pictures were still up.  Some clothes were still hanging in the closets.  The house hadn't sold. It was still ours, but in a way, it wasn't ours.  We had started a new life down south, and were only visiting this life we had  left.  There was a loneliness about it.  Even when the heat came on, and all of the lights were lit, and food was simmering on the stove, it still felt as though we had broken into someone else's home.  It made me sad.  I loved that house (even when I have dreams about 'going home' it is that house that I find myself in). 

My life feels like that to me now; like I'm wandering through rooms and spaces that I still own, but aren't really mine, anymore.  We were on a path, not a smooth path, but we had plans as a family.  My daughter had plans. And then this stranger called Addiction, set up house, and now I don't feel at home anymore.  The life I was participating in, is not my life anymore.  There are days were I do feel like packing up and moving; That new surroundings and people may help me to feel at home or 'right' again.  I did call a realtor last summer, but when I walked around the house looking at all of the packing I would have to do, and being kind of sad and foggy in the head to begin with, I dropped the idea; though I have started going room by room and downsizing, so I'm not totally through with the idea of moving.  But I'm kind of resentful that I even have to think of something like that.  I'm  just tired of feeling 'not like me'. 

I'm really not whining.  I do try to make the best of a situation, you know, 'bloom where I'm planted.'   I've done a pretty good job of it.  It's just that I miss the plan that was in place before this; life would be so much different now, if all of this hadn't happened. Anyway, that was what I was thinking of as I rambled around in my 'old house' this morning, while the snow was falling and for a few muffled moments, I paused between the past and present.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Building Fences

I have been thinking a lot about enabling.  Enabling doesn't just happen because a person with an addiction is in your life.  Enabling happens other places, too.  I think anytime you don't confront what you are really thinking, the potential to enable is there.  For instance, if you are in a relationship that is abusive, and you finally come to that moment of clarity when you finally understand what is happening, but you do not change your behaviors, and the abuse continues, you have enabled that person to continue being an abuser to you.  I realized this awhile ago about myself. I lived that.  You are an enabler when you allow people to cross boundaries, no matter what type of boundaries, you enable them to continue wrong behaviors by not acting or saying something to halt those behaviors.  Not being able to say, "No," to requests is a form of enabling.  You enable people to turn to you, because you've made it easy for them by never saying no, and now, they don't have to think too hard if a project/favor arises, because you've enabled them to come to you. 

So what's the difference between enabling and helping?  I love doing things for people.  I don't do it for praise.  I don't do it for reward, I love doing things, or giving things to people for the joy of knowing I made someone happy or relieved or special.  A lot of the time, I do it anonymously.  Not just for my family, but for friends, and strangers.  If you have the spirit of something, I have the spirit of serving, and I can't help it.  It has only been an issue with me during a bad marriage and now, with my daughter's addiction.  For me, it's hard to filter out help with enabling.  I have had to readjust my boundaries and it's been difficult.  A complete change of direction for me, and very uncomfortable.  I started to feel isolated. In conversations with a friend who has her own experience with addicts, it was hard for me to explain myself because so much of myself had to change because of someone else's choices; my ex and then my daughter.  I went to AA meetings and heard people's stories and saw how they had enabled in their past, then had enough, and finally set their boundaries.  Good people, waiting patiently for me to see the light.  This is how I felt.  So, I started setting up boundaries. Different from the boundaries I already had in place, I had to tear them down, and build new fences.

I know that boundaries are necessary fences.  There have to be fences around at all times.  Boundaries are bad, however, if there are no gates to allow people in and since you are in charge of the gates, you decide who gets in and who doesn't.  That is a truth for me.

Enabling still sounds a lot like helping, though.  That's where I get into tricky territory.  Is all helping, enabling?  I don't think it is.  When I read other people's stories, there always seems to be such a sad doubting that is entwined around the words, or a dusting of anger when it comes to assisting their loved one.   If a stranger helps their loved one struggling with addiction, generally, that seems to be okay.  However, if they (we) help, it's enabling.  Each person's story has that shadow of wanting to help, but holding back, hoping and praying that a good Samaritan intervenes.  It makes my heart sad.  So, three years into this, and I'm still in my mental yard building fences and attaching gates.  It seems like such a maze, sometimes.  I find myself at a dead end, and attach a gate, but then end up in a wide open space, nervous and waiting, feeling very venerable. So, I start building, again.  I am not sure where this is going to take me, but at least it is giving me some type of path to pursue.  I'm still working on this.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

All Consuming

I was cleaning, yesterday.  Sometimes, cleaning is very therapeutic for me.  I'm trying to downsize; getting rid of the excess.  Anyway, I had a movie on while I was doing this. I wasn't really paying too much attention, but something one of the character's said made me stop.  The movie was about a girl struggling with anorexia and her family's interactions and responses.  She was talking with someone, and said, "My brain is eating me alive."  Boy, did that hit home.  My daughter has often said how she drinks to stop thinking.  Thinking of regrets, sad moments, lost opportunities, happy memories that are gone...she says she thinks too much, and just wants to be numb.  I have never understood what she meant.  That quote, though, hit the right note with me.  That quote gave me a clearer picture of what it must feel like.  Not only for my daughter, but of the other people struggling with addiction who want to get numb. So, now I have a new question to ponder.  I know what thinking and thoughts feel like.  I know what stress feels like. I know sadness.  How, then,  am I able to dismiss my thoughts or tone them down?  How am I able to compartmentalize my thoughts?  Why can't my daughter's brain do the same?

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I realized something about myself, last night, that I don't like.  I'm usually a pretty easy-going person. Calm, not quickly angered.  I thought I was a pretty positive person, or at least I used to be.  Last night, however, I was talking to a friend, and the conversation was generally neutral and good, however, I noticed that I would end a few of my comments or observations with a tiny critical, negative comment. For instance, we were talking about an email that one of our friends sent out.  In the email (and this was a school-wide email) she wrote, "I know I spelt my name wrong..."  My friend said, "That's not right is it?  Spelt?"  I said, "No, she should have written 'spelled'."  My friend, "That's what I thought.  Is spelt even a word?"  (Turns out it is, it has to do with an ancient grain...who knew?)  Anyway, I said, "Well, she should have known better before sending that out...she is a teacher after all."  My friend: "Well, I'm a poor speller, too, it's easy to make mistakes."  Me:  (As I'm noticing I'm being critical and knowing I shouldn't be, here comes another critical comment)  "Yeah, I am too, but she should have known better."  Like I never make mistakes.  I'm a hesitant speller, too.  I carry a dictionary around with me. So, why such a critical comment to a good friend?  We all make mistakes.

I thought about it all the way home.  I thought about it last night. I thought about it this morning.  I think I'm becoming critical because I'm still resentful of the situation, here.  I'm still angry inside that my daughter and our family have been put through this experience.  On the surface, I think I'm handling it fairly well, but on the inside, I think I'm still seething.  That's not good.  I don't like negative jabs.  I don't like the feeling of  those critical comments  as they're leaving my mouth.  I don't like knowing I'm saying something I shouldn't but doing it anyway.  I think I'm wanting someone to notice my hurt and comfort me, so I randomly jab out, like throwing a net.  That net is like asking, "Can your subconscious hear my subconscious crying?  Is my small word-pinch enough to have you focus on the source--my hurt?  Did I get your attention?"  I think that's what I'm doing.  I know about this because the kids I work with do the same thing.  The difference is, I'm an adult. 

So, today, I change.  I know when I'm doing it, I'm just not forcing myself to either keep my mouth shut, or choose different words.  I'm not being lazy in my speech, today. I'm not letting residue anger and resentment guide my thoughts.  Today, my words will be more deliberate and focused on the positive.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Unchaining the Melody

I am learning that addictions come in all shapes and sizes.  What makes an addiction bad, it seems, is the amount of time and quality of life it takes away from that life.  If you have an addiction to movies (guilty) and you spend a day watching movies, you've wasted time that could have been spent in a more productive way.  One movie a day is okay;  ten, not so much. 

I have a parent who I think is addicted to chaos and sick children. She is a master manipulator and can compose another's caring emotions into a montage of disjointed and frenzied tunes.  For a few years, now, she has been trying to get her son tested because she's sure he's autistic and stutters.  I know the child. He's neither. He's been tested over and over and all of the experts say the same: normal boy.  She has been 'luckier' with her daughter.  Each time her daughter shows improvement (she's in my class) all of a sudden the mother has to up the meds, which causes major problems. The situation is static for a while, and I get frantic emails and phone calls, and slowly, things get back to normal, and we start all over. It's like a sick version of Groundhog's Day.  (I think she has a form of Munchhausen by proxy syndrome, but I'm not a medical person, so that's just an opinion.)  This girl's best friend is a cat at her father's house. One day a few months ago, I was checking my email and there was one from the mother. Panicked, she wrote that the cat was dead!  Oh, no!  This was going to send the girl into a spiral!  The email said the mom wasn't sure but the dad has texted her saying the dead cat looked a lot like Smokey.  There were four emails back and forth about this cat, and the tsunami of emotions that would be coming if it were true that the cat was dead.  Then I get the email that said, "It's a miracle!  It wasn't Smokey!"  Whew! So, for an hour of back and forth, we were all panicked. We were doing the Crazy Dance.  (I should say here, that I normally don't have the emails up when I'm in class, but I checked on my prep and saw that one, and kept them up to keep updated so that I would know how to handle the girl at the end of the day).  Anyway, after the kids left and I was alone, I started thinking about how that mother had controlled my afternoon;  and I had let her.  I realized that she did that, a lot.  It made me angry.  If the cat was dead, the girl would have managed.  Sadly, death is a part of life and we all experience it at some point or another. 

That day was a moment of clarity for me.  That day I decided to change the tune. I wasn't going to dance to this mother's manic music anymore.  I put up those healthy boundaries.  I have to say, there was some passive aggressive action on the mother's part after I started changing the tune. She had lost a dance partner (me) and it didn't feel comfortable to her.  She would call into my room, while I was teaching. I didn't pick up.  She would email me these exhaustive emails.  I skipped over the emotions and only answered the 'facts.'  I changed the tune, and things have been quieter and more stable.  I spoke with the social worker and guidance counselor and they also, changed the tune. The mother is handled differently. In fact, I handle everyone differently, now. That experience brought some clarity to me.  Without fighting, yelling, or panic, things have changed; everyone is now dancing to a more normal and stable melody.