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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Worn Down

Fear is a big motivator.  The mischief it can cause in your life is like a complicated upright row of dominoes being nudged and having row after row tumble down. Then, once the fear has passed and you've come to the realization that you survived and that maybe it wasn't as bad as you anticipated, you begin to meticulously realign your life, again.

This road I'm sharing with addiction has refined my vision and understanding.  I have been afraid to varying degrees, my whole life.  I don't think it has stopped me from a lot, but it has stopped me from experiencing some opportunities.  In general, though, there has been this little ant force in me that at the last moment, will push and propel me toward the moment I was afraid of and low and behold, I make it through.  Whether it was confronting someone who had done something wrong, or speaking in front of a group of people, or calling a manager of a store to compliment someone's work, I have been afraid to some degree my whole life.  It has been exhausting.

Fear is exhausting.  It's time consuming. All of the scenarios that I play in my head of what could happen are rarely the result.  Even if I do hit the right outcome in my head, it is never as devastating as the fear painted it to be.  A little feeling of dread and then, "That's it?"  I would exhale, feel a little smile of relief pulling at the edges of my mouth, and then move on.  Fear is deceiving.

 I have written before that, the worst has already happened and I'm still moving forward, but fear still tries to jump back on board.  Like some train robber, it runs alongside of my life, trying to jump aboard or at least hang on to some opening in my mind so that it can whisper it's influence.  My understanding was reinforced this week with my dad.  My dad is a fearful person.  You wouldn't  know it by talking to him or if you first met him. He's not afraid to speak his mind or tell you what you're doing wrong, but he is afraid.  He was valedictorian of his high school back in the day, and turned it down because he was afraid to speak to the class.  He survived the depression as a child and that fear, I believe, embedded itself deeply in him and he's never let it go.  It surfaces in subtle ways.  I can only imagine how the reactions and words I heard as a child, that I have no memory of now, helped to train my thinking to align with something similar.  Fear the future. Fear what might happen--what could happen. 

Heres' the light bulb moment.  Almost every day I've come home from work, he as had a 'fear' question for me.  "The phone rang, today."  "Did you answer it?"  "Well, I wasn't going to be then I thought it might me you, or J, so I answered it."  "Good.  How'd it go?"  "It was someone asking if you wanted to change your electric company."  "What did you tell them?"  "I hung up." Said with a hint of a worried look.  "That's okay, dad. You can answer the phone anytime it rings."  Conversations like that.  But the one that clicked on the light bulb and gave me the 'ah ha' moment was,  "I didn't let the dogs out."  "That's okay."  "What if they have an accident?"  "Then I'll clean it up.  Don't worry, dad, it's no big deal." 

I realized that I used to worry about those things.  I have a clean house and house train my dogs, but accidents happen, and I clean it up, and life goes on.  When my dad asked me that question, with that familiar sense of this unknown dark dread attached, it took another one of those layers off of me.  I'll clean it up and life will be the same, nothing will have changed.  It's not going to melt through the floor, or damage the carpet.  I'll clean it up and it will be over.  We won't have to worry about it anymore.  I wasn't worrying about it, my dad still was. 

So, this experience with addiction has helped me in some ways. Made me stronger, more aware.  But it has also worn me down. Ironically, that wearing down has been the key that unlocked this cage of fear I've been trapped in.  I'm out and looking around, and I wonder, "What was I so afraid of?"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I never realized that I could go through one day and then another and another and not really notice myself until this weekend.  I took my dad on some errands that he wanted to run.  The post office to stop his mail for a week (he'll be here with me).  His house to pick up some items.  The store to return something.  It was when we were at the store and he was at the service desk returning the item he didn't want anymore that I drifted over to the make up area just to graze.  I was looking at the nail polish.  I thought about getting a color, something new and doing my nails.  Immediately, the thought popped into my brain, "Why bother?"  The feelings floating around that mental response were the emotions that accompany thoughts of my daughter, the addiction that is holding her so tight, and how little the 'fun stuff' matters when someone you love so dearly is in such a deadly embrace that it begins to reach over and start choking the desire out of you.

I used to spend time on myself.  I don't want to give the wrong impression. I still wear make up, wash my hair, buy new clothes, but I don't give anything the extra effort that I used to and that I really enjoyed doing.  Crabtree and Evelyn make, at least they used to, this almond hand/body cream that I love.  I used to use that after I showered, enjoying the few extra minutes to pamper myself.  No more. I mechanically shower opting to spend those extra minutes trying to catch extra sleep, even though I've already had eight hours.  My body is rested, but my mind is still foggy and disorganized. I  still use most of my energy trying to act as though life is as it should be at home. Functioning at work.  Listening to the healthy stories my friends share about their children is two sided.  My one side is happy that they are experiencing life so wonderfully.  For my other side, it's like hearing fingernails on a chalk board;  trying to listen to experiences that my daughter should and could be having, but is choosing not to.

So, I have been fading away on the inside.  I wake up, get ready, go to work, come home exhausted, play with the dogs, make dinner, sit down, and as soon as I'm lying at a 45 degree angle or less, my eyes close and I wake up an hour later only to crawl up to bed where I can finally find some solace in my dreams.  Friends call and I rarely go anywhere because when I do, the energy to feel normal is almost all used up from the day. I don't make the effort because I feel as though I'm abandoning my daughter in some way. Kind of like, "Why should I have fun when she's in such pain."  I get why people who are not happy with their lives isolate themselves.  I also get why it is so dangerous to do that.  Life becomes shell-like.  No substance on the inside and very fragile on the outside.  It's not supposed to be that way. 

What to do?  Change. Become more aware of who I am, what I'm doing. Where I'm going. Who I'm with.  Instead of mentally standing on the sidelines, jump back into the game.  Life goes on, regardless of the choices we make.  Good or bad, I think we're supposed to feel the experience.  Learn from it and pack it all with us, to take wherever we go so that we can be better examples, more patient, more understanding.  I wrote about 1 Cor. 4 being my guideline.  Well, as I sit here thinking of what to type, it occurs to me that, "How can we be all of those things, how can we experience Love if we hide from everything?"  How do you learn to be patient if you don't have to wait?  How do you learn to be kind if you stay away from everyone?  How do you learn to not hold grudges unless you've been hurt?  How do you learn to hope for all things, if you don't participate in the life you've been granted? 

Okay, today is a new day.  I'm going to make the effort, again, to notice me. I'm going to broaden my vision to look past the hurt and try to find some kind of healing, because I don't believe that this is the way I am supposed to be dealing with this experience.  I did kind of have a mental-exhaustion-light-bulb moment.  Because of what happened this weekend, I literally looked up to God, and said, "She's in Your hands.  She's all Yours. It's Your will not mine.  Whatever happens, is Your doing, with Your blessing.  So, I let that part go.  Let's see where it will take me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Letter

While I was out running errands with my dad yesterday, my son called.  He was mad.  Well, I think he was more hurt than mad.  After his graduation, and he asked where his sister was, I told him and everyone else, that she was home with my dad.  No one seemed upset, just sorry she wasn't there.  After dinner, before the drive home, he was walking with me and asked me how she was doing--it was a general question.  I think he believed me when I said she decided to be home with grandpa.  When I told him the truth, he seemed a little sad.  Well, I guess during the four hour drive home, that sadness slowly simmered into full fledged anger.  He called me, Saturday, to vent. I let him.  He had every right.  Why did she do this?  This is so selfish. Is this for attention? Were some of his comments. Bottom line, he was hurt that she put the alcohol before him.  (That's the way of it, feeling hurt at a loved one because the person with the addiction chooses the addiction above them).  After listening to him, I tried to encourage him not to stay mad.  I told him that I have lost hope in her recovery.  I told him that if she would die from this today, in a week, in a year, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself for being so angry, so vent and let the anger go.  He sounded calmer.  I went home and wrote him a letter.  About five years ago, he started thinking in a way that was not normal for him.  Obsessive thoughts.  He knew it wasn't who he was.  To make a very long story short, he fought for himself.  It took him three years.  He found out that he had the beginnings of OCD.  Not the line up soup cans all in a row or can't walk on cracks type.  He was having excessive thinking-worrying.  I don't know what caused it, but he knew something wasn't right and like a man possessed, found help.  The one therapist told him that she expected him to recover fully because he caught it so early.  She was right.  I tell you this, because I mention it in his letter.  Here it is:
March 16, 2013

Dear J-

First, I want to tell you how proud I am of you.  It has been a long journey to get to this chapter of your life.  What an exciting trip it has been.  Get ready for a whole new adventure. I am praying God’s blessings on you and a hedge of angels to always protect you.  You are truly a remarkable man.

 Concerning your sister.  I know it is frustrating.  Dealing with mental illness can be frustrating for those not in the same mindset.  Remember when I didn’t believe you about your OCD?  I couldn’t understand what you were talking about. I got frustrated.  I wasn’t respectful of the feelings you were having or the way your thoughts were affecting you.  How disheartening it must have been for you to have me react like that.  I am so sorry for how I was in the beginning.  But, as I began to read what you told me to and research, I have come to appreciate what it must be like, though I will never truly understand since, and it would be disrespectful of me to say, “I know what you’re going through,” because I don’t.  Only you can understand that.  Most importantly, though, you fought for yourself.  You didn’t let my disbelief or anyone else’s, deter you from getting yourself healed.  You knew something wasn’t right, and you researched and read and listened until you overcame it.  You were bigger than the problem.  You were the St. Michael to your dragon.
Your sister is going though her own mental struggles.  I truly believe she is suffering from some form of mental illness that doesn’t allow her to feel that she deserves goodness.  What might have begun as silly thoughts, have morphed into extremely sick thinking.  Thinking  that makes her feel that nothing is ever good enough: The core, pulsating thought being that she is not good enough.  That is why all of the stuff she gets, doesn’t solve the problem.  It’s not good enough, because she feels she’s not good enough.  She doesn’t deserve it.  Why she thinks like this I’m not sure.  I do think it goes back to feeling abandoned.  Whether we think that is realistic or not, her mind does, and that is enough to keep her brain in constant torment.   There was a movie where a girl was suffering from bulimia and she made the comment to her sister, “My brain is eating me alive.”  Your sister has been brainwashed by sick thinking and those thoughts are eating her alive.  I don’t know what to do.  I am daily, preparing myself for losing her.

You can’t save someone from themselves.  They have to be their own savior.  It’s possible to be healed.  They have to want the healing.
I get angry, too.  Mostly at God, but also at her for not trying harder.  She says she does, but my thought then is, TRY HARDER.  I don’t get it, but then again, I’m not in her head.  So, I try to keep 1 Cor. 4 as my guide.  Here it is:

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I love you,



Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Headache

My son graduated from the state police academy, yesterday.  I am so proud of him.  I took a personal day to drive the four hours to Harrisburg, spend the day with him, his girlfriend and my ex, and then drive back.  I was up at 3:30 am and home by 9:30 pm.  I'm tired, but in a good way.  On Thursday the day before, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  My dad's furnace is acting up again, and without getting into a very long and frustrating story, he is here, now, with me.  He was going to stay here Friday, alone with the dogs, because he feels he is too old to make the all day trip.  Turns out, he was probably right. We did a lot of walking and I don't think he would have been a happy camper.  My daughter was supposed to go with me, but, ended up buying alcohol and is in her room, now.  I hated coming home to this.  I really did feel like taking some arbitrary exit on the turnpike and never looking back, but I didn't.  I'm here.

I lied about why she wasn't there.  I told my son, his girlfriend and his dad that she decided to stay with my dad because he wasn't feeling good.  I guess those enabling behaviors still surface in the face of danger.  Her dad wants to come and see her.  Now what?  Another headache to experience. 

I'm taking my dad to his house to pick up his mail and do whatever else he needs to do before bringing him back here.  If the temperatures were not so cold, he could be at his house, but the nights get so cold and I don't think he's liking being alone so much anymore.  It's okay.  It's almost like having another puppy here.  When he's not napping, he's following me and we talk.  The problem is, unless I tell him that my daughter has caught the plague, I don't know how I can keep trying to explain why she's not coming downstairs.  He's too old to get into the truth of all of this. I just don't have the energy. My headache's getting bigger.

I'm mad at my daughter, too.  My birthday is on Sunday.  Yesterday her brother achieved a huge bit of success.  Yet, she decided to drink.  Here is what I'm thinking.  In the early stages, she sabotaged herself.  It took me awhile to notice, but the pattern was, whenever something good was going to happen, or she was going to have to do something, out came the alcohol.  Now, it seems as though she not only wants to sabotage herself but everyone else, too.  I think she didn't expect me to go without her. I think there is some distortion in her brain that has two sides. One side is the side that berates her.  She's not pretty enough. Not smart enough. She might fail. She isn't good at talking to people.  This side can't take compliments.  This side can't see herself, her real self. This side believes the lies of addiction. That side is kind of filled up.  Now, the other side, is starting to  pour that mental poison on everyone else.  I don't like this. 

I also don't like that I don't like her when she drinks.  She's a mean drunk.   Hurtful. Spiteful. Until she passes out, then it's just pathetic.  When she's sober.  She is fun to be around. Smart. Witty. Kind. Gentle. Thoughtful.  The part that I'm not liking is that she is spending less time being sober and more time drinking.  I don't like that person.  I realized, I'm starting to not like my daughter.  If she decides to never stop, will I stop liking her altogether?

Well, I just wanted to get it all out to see if it would make me feel better. 
I think I need more aspirin.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


There have been some good days, here.  Good days always mean no drinking.  I really think that everything else could be falling down around me, but if my daughter is not drinking, then life is good. 

As always, I am thinking about 'things.'  Though I'm slowly finding a way to keep the past buried and follow the 'no fear' way of thinking, (okay, last Saturday with my dad was somewhat of a set back, but it's okay now) some thoughts still manage to squeak through. I'm setting mental traps for them, though, and so far, one day at a time, I am making progress.  Overall I am feeling more mentally calm.

But I was thinking.  I guess I was trying to find a way to mentally find some logic in all that goes wrong in the world.  With all there is to learn and experience. Places to see and people to learn about, one life time doesn't seem long enough and with all of the negative that can go on, it definitely doesn't seem fair enough.  I know, who said life was ever going to be fair?  But who said life was ever going to be so unfair, either?  Maybe it isn't always so unfair, but sometimes it is.  Even if our only purpose is to worship God, free will can even make that a struggle. 

So, in my mulling things over, I thought.  What if, before we are all born, we get a chance to pick roles to play.  Some of us are rulers.  Some of us choose to be servants.  Some choose to be warriors.  Some farmers.  Some play the bad guys while others decide to wear the white hats.  And here, on this wonderful and exciting planet, we come down and get to act out a life.  Somehow, before we are born, we are given a description of what it will entail.  Not a script to follow, just a description of what to expect.  Like a trailer for a movie.  And somehow our spirit self knows before we are born, and then as we grow we begin playing the part.  Maybe to learn something. Maybe just for fun. But when it's over, we all meet, again, and get to talk and share our experiences together.  Tell each other what we did. What we learned.  How we grew, or didn't.  What we could have done better. What we did well. 

Thinking about life in that scenario was comforting.  Things didn't seem so dire. It settled my thinking into the perspective of being in a spiritual theater class verses the panicked mindset of  always feeling like there's not enough time or that if I mess up, I'll never get a chance to undo the negative.  A life of improvisation.  Each day, the curtain goes up and I get on stage and perform to the best of my ability. Learning what I can.  Making the best of what I've been given.  Not taking offense about what the critics say, because, they too, are just playing their part.

Well, it was just a thought...

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I had an argument with my dad yesterday. I called him in the morning to tell him we were coming over to visit and bring lunch later that afternoon.  He told me that his furnace wasn't working. I asked him if he wanted me to bring him over here, and that, was the beginning of a conversation that morphed into an argument.  At ninety, some things have begun to wear down on him, but not his tongue.  It is still as sharp as ever.  He made some very hurtful comments.  Comments that weren't true, but somehow still managed to short circuit my thinking.  He can be mean when he disagrees with what I say or is upset with something.  At those times, he won't stick with facts, he pulls out that verbal saber and starts cutting away.  Pretty soon, I'm just too numb to continue arguing.  The interesting part of that whole experience was that I woke up yesterday in a good mood. I felt good. Nothing ached. I felt refreshed.  After the argument, I felt exhausted. Really, thirty minutes after waking up, I was so tired I could hardly stand up.  My neck started aching.  The phone call lasted maybe fifteen minutes.  The residual effects lasted all day.  I never fully recovered.  I went through my day. Ran errands with my daughter. We donated blood. We ended up going to my dad's to bring him here  to spend the night (by the way, all was 'forgotten' on his end, while I was still having residual effects). And I was dozing by seven.

My daughter saw that I was upset. She kept saying to me, "Mom, remember. It's grandpa."  My response was that I knew, but, why did it still bother me?  She reminded me about that speaker's advice about letting things go.  She was right, but why couldn't I?

Expectations. That's why it still bothers me.  I have expectations of my dad because he is my dad.  He carries the mantle of 'father' and with that comes certain expectations.  But, just because he carries the title of father doesn't mean he's read the manual that comes with it. 

My expectations of a father are loving, kind, protective, wise, understanding, forgiving, encouraging. That's not how my father apparently has seen it, at least with me.  I'm not pouting here.  I'm stating reality.  It's been witnessed by everyone one in the family that when he wants to lash out I'm the target he seeks.  I have no idea why, and have long ago stopped really wondering.  I now only wonder why does it still bother me?  Yesterday, expectations was the answer that came to my mind.

Expectations can really cause a lot of trouble. Too high and you're never satisfied. Too low and you're never satisfied.  Nothing is ever enough when expectations aren't met.  So, why do we make them?  I have expectations for myself and if I don't achieve them, I mentally berate myself.  If they're too low, I feel bad about myself.  Those expectations I put on others have the same effect.  And ironically, I find that even when I do meet my expectations there's that little voice that says, 'what could you have done a little better?'  Is anything ever really the best you can do? 

Expectations have caused a lot of heartache in this journey with addiction.  Expectations pull the past along kicking and screaming and puncture the future full of holes.  Expectations, I'm finding, are a Trojan horse.

My expectations of someone often cloak them in a personality that isn't truly them.  So, my lesson from yesterday: lose the expectations and accept people for who they are at that moment.  Understand that regardless of the title they hold, father, mother, daughter, son, friend, everyone's manual is written and understood differently (and maybe never read at all). My challenge is to accept people for who they are not the title they hold.  Life can change in a second and all of the expectations in the world can't change that but they can rob you of really understanding someone; Of really knowing the individual standing before you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

In Disagreement

I am still working on not being afraid. I'm trying to take notes and keep a log of the writings, advice and ideas that I learn.  I'm not sure if I have just become more aware of the topic or if there is a Divine hand pushing me to get this straight once and for all.  I say that because the topic has been popping up unexpectedly throughout the day(s),  For instance, I was walking around a local book store and in the check out line, someone had placed a small book concerning fears on the little table where some chocolate candies were artistically displayed. I glanced through it as I waited in line.  I was drinking my coffee Sunday morning on the couch and turned on the television to listen to some news. Instead, there was a TV minister talking about facing your fears.  Honestly, I don't even really like listening to him, but this message hit home and he had some good points. 

As I was driving home, yesterday, I was thinking about being afraid and I realized I'm not afraid of the present or the future.  It's the past that keeps jumping in front of me, waiving red flags, reminding me of what has happened, not what will happen.  Unfortunately, that seems to be enough to paralyze my thinking enough resulting in me inviting in all of the negative 'what if,' agains' to tease and torment my mind.

I like having a plan of action.  You can tell me all of the negative scenarios that might happen, but if you don't give me a plan of action, I don't want to hear it.  Telling me to force those negative thoughts out of my head when they begin their chattering, isn't really a plan.  In fact, I have found that trying to push them out, really, makes me think more about them.  As I'm trying to squeeze them out of my mind, they somehow become bigger and more inflated the more I try not to think of them.  The TV minister on Sunday morning, though, gave me a plan that I can use.  Simple and it aligns with the spiritual teachings I know are true.  He reminded the audience that whatever two people agree upon here is bound in heaven.  He added that that principal can also work in the negative. If you think (and agree) with the negative, that can also be bound in the spiritual.  His simple plan was when that negative thinking begins,  say to yourself or out loud, "I'm not in agreement with that."  How simple.  How direct. How final.  My mind focuses on that, and the negative thought is kept outside.