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

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Not of the World

Like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is in the tornado and sitting in her room watching out of her window as people and items fly by, my life continues to spin around me. Through it all, with the exception of that moment in the hospital with my dad, I have been fairly calm.

 I am still in my personal transition. Much of it is spiritual.  I am convinced, whether it is an addiction or just getting through life, you can't do it smoothly without some kind of spiritual connection-Higher Power. Mine is God.  I have been listening to various speakers, reading and doing a lot of thinking and applying.  The Bible has always been a fascination to me. More than just words and a history, I believe it truly is the key to living life well.  I think there are some negative and wrong interpretations that have held me stuck in my own spiritual journey.  In the past several months, I have been putting more effort into understanding what It is really saying. 

One saying from the Bible that finally hit home with me was (and I'm paraphrasing) is being in the world but not of it.  Yes, I understand the words, but I didn't really appreciate their meaning until I applied it to my daughter's experience with addiction.  Though my daughter still doesn't discuss all of her issues concerning addiction, she has often mentioned that one of the problems with her thinking was/is that whatever it was that she was experiencing, just wasn't good enough.  We could be on an amazing trip, she could be having fun, but somewhere in her mind, it just wasn't enough--not good enough.  Regardless of what it was, a meal, an experience, a compliment, it just wasn't enough. I think that that mindset morphed into I'm just not good enough.  Once she considered that thought, then the sadness set in, the loneliness, the comparisons to other people's lives, followed by a lack of gratitude because how can you be grateful when you feel that everything is just not good enough because you don't deserve it.  Then the need to block it all out, so in slithers the alcohol.  Sick thinking, but for my daughter, I do feel it applies. 

So, I was thinking about all of that and because I'm always trying to figure out behaviors, that saying came to my mind.  A lot of 'trouble' starts when we compare ourselves to others.  I know that I was (still am at times) captured by that mindset.  After high school, you have to go to college, after college get married, have children, buy a house, etc. Though I was living my life, I remember for myself, always having in the back of my mind, "What is everyone else doing?" That was then, this is now.

In the world, but not of the world.  How does this apply to my daughter and her drinking?  If you're in the world, you're considering and contemplating everything you hear, people you see, and events that occur.  You're  worried about what is going on around you and judging yourself by that measure.  How can you ever be good enough when you're measurement is so skewed?   However, if you're in the world, but not of it--if you're taking your cues from God and accepting His Grace, then what goes on in the world has no power over you.  You can appreciate the good that is in the world, but the negative influences can be ignored.  What a simple concept that, for me, has been glazed over and not truly utilized.  I'm utilizing it, now.  Here how it has affected me during this fight with addiction.  I got sad seeing other friend's daughters living their lives.  I worried about how it looked with my daughter still living at home.  I worried about how we were handling this process as compared to say, AA or some other group.  I was worried about the future.  I can honestly say that I have quieted those worries.  My daughter's situation is unique to her. My situation is unique to me. Our situation is unique to us.  Worrying about what other people are doing pushes what work God has to do as well as the ability to acknowledge that work taking place, away from my focus.   I need to be focused on God's plan not the world's actions.  It is a very comforting change of thinking. 

I came to that light bulb moment when we were driving in the car.  We were talking about something, I can't remember, and it just hit me.  I explained to my daughter what I was thinking.  She just smiled and nodded.  I'm not sure she's accepting it yet, old thoughts are hard to evict, but at least a new idea was introduced, so maybe the new ideas that are introduced, will start crowding out the old ones. I know she is trying. I know I am trying. I am grateful for the opportunities to understand more clearly my relationship with God, as I continue to maneuver my way down this rocky path of addiction.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Handing Off

I feel as though I have been chugging along as a passenger on a train that I walked onto by mistake. Work is still overwhelming. I have had five new students in five weeks. That has added to the already overwhelming paperwork that I'm still a week or two behind.  Then, there is my dad.  He has been feeling out of breath for several months after doing minimal tasks.  Finally, this group of amazing cardiologists determined the problem, scheduled some tests, and this past Monday, he had surgery to replace his aortic valve. He is recovering in the hospital. He has been there for five days and doing very well.  He should be home this weekend.  My brother has been here through the process and that has really helped.  My daughter has been working on her sobriety and that has been even more helpful. 

This experience has made me realize how much I have had to do, alone.  Don't misunderstand me, I am not lonely nor do I mind being alone.  I didn't realize, though, how much of an unhealthy, mental and physical rut you can dig for yourself when your perception is  that if you don't handle it, it will all fall down. I realize that that is not true. It is true, though, that the only thing that does end up falling down is you.  I had two light bulb moments concerning this revelation and they both involved the same incident.

My daughter and I went into visit my dad on Thursday night.  My brother and son had been there a few hours before us.  My daughter and I were there from about 4:30 to 7:00.  When we first arrived, my dad seemed fine.  Then he leaned forward and told us he had a question.  He asked us to look on the floor for a little round, red thing that  he felt might be a bug.  We looked, but could not find a bug.  Then he excitedly exclaimed that there it was, crawling up the wall.  He described it as being round, red and with six legs. There was no bug on the wall.  What was on the wall was a small, round stopper to prevent the handle of the closet from banging into the wall when it was opened.  We told him that there was no bug.  Though I think he partially believed us, he would give us updates on it's movements and seemed intrigued that we couldn't see it.  This started my stomach churning.  So, I went to the nurses' desk and asked to see the nurse who was in charge of my dad.  To make a long story short, two nurses, and a nurse practitioner came to look at him. I was afraid of a stroke, but they tested him and said that wasn't it. They felt it was something called Sundowners.  I had heard of that before, but he has never, ever shown those symptoms before.  Plus, he wasn't agitated. He was kind of intrigued by the 'bug'.  Of course, my first instinct is always nutrition, so I tried to get him to drink water--maybe he was dehydrated. Then dinner came and he ate.  During all of this, my daughter sat calmly and talked with him.  When he insisted that the bug was moving, she calmly reminded him that there was no bug.  Eventually, she taped up a Kleenex over the round stopper and he then said that the bug had disappeared.  My daughter continued to calmly tell him that there was no bug. When my dad started to finally believe her, she continued to talk to him about it.  Me on the other hand felt like jumping out of the window.  I was starting to feel claustrophobic and nervous. I kept calling my brother to tell him what was going on.  I went from sitting in the chair, looking out of the window, gritting my teeth, to calling my brother (the line was busy) to giving my dad water to drink.  I was getting a headache and my stomach was starting to feel sick.  When my brother finally picked up the phone, I explained what was happening and he said that he would drive back to the hospital and stay with my dad over night if necessary.  My daughter and I left before my brother arrived, but my dad had started acting like normal, again.  My daughter was calm, my brother was calm, I was a bag of aches and nerves when I walked out of his room.  I was a mess. I know I was scared and that fear was driving my actions. I'm not sure why I was so afraid, but I was. 

Once we arrived home, my brother sent me several texts updating me on my dad. He ended up leaving the hospital two hours after he had arrived, saying that dad was acting normal. My dad had realized that what he was seeing hadn't been there, but he still was trying to figure out why he was seeing what he was seeing. 

Once at home, I was able to sit down and realize that my daughter and then my brother had both taken over the situation. I was so proud of my daughter. Her calm and patience not only helped my dad, but it also helped me.  My brother not panicking and 'stepping up to the plate' not only helped my dad, but it helped me.  Me who usually feels the need to make the decisions and plans, froze because of how afraid the situation had made me.  I'm still not completely sure why I was so afraid, but I was.  It felt so releasing to be able to rely on someone else. I can't say it enough--how proud I was of my daughter. When I told her, she kind of fluffed it off as not a big deal, but it was a big deal. Another learning experience for me. Another growing experience for me. Another reminder that Signe doesn't have to have her hands in everything. That sometimes it's okay to hand off the baton to someone more capable for the job.