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Thursday, February 15, 2018
I love Valentine's Day.

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs, for me.  I did some things really well at work and parenting and some things not so well.

I need to let go of the bad, learn from it and let it go... and then cling to the good.  And just enjoy it.

I am having a bit of trouble with being a yes person, procrastinating, etc.    So, just things to work on!

One of the most inspiring and encouraging things that happens at Al-Anon meetings is an expression of heartfelt gratitude from a member. For those who are hopeless and despairing, such a message as this gives a foretaste of lightened burdens:
“Life begins to make a great deal of sense to me since I came to Al-Anon. The world is beginning to reveal its beauty which for a long time was obscured by my worrying over my troubles. I am learning to deal with them now, and what makes it easier is that I deal only with the problems that are mine. I am learning I cannot carry another’s burdens, no matter how much I love him.”
One of Al-Anon’s important fringe benefits is that it increases my awareness of the world around me, so I can see and enjoy it. This alone helps to dim the difficulties I had been concentrating on, creating my own misery.
“After a time in Al-Anon, we discover we are acquiring a sense of reality which is absolutely essential to serenity.”

We talk a great deal about working the steps the program. Actually what we do is to practice what we’re learning. It’s like studying a second language. A student reads books and attends classes, but this only gave him technical knowledge. To be able to use the language he must be around those who speak and understand it. He practices listening and speaking while continuing to read. If he stays with it, in time it will become a lifelong skill.
So it is with many of us. We begin with little knowledge and many misconceptions. We go to meetings, learn about alcoholism, and study al-Anon literature. But to actually be able to use this knowledge takes time, patience, and effort. We spend time around people who speak the Al-Anon language, especially those who are making a strong commitment to practicing Al-Anon’s principles in their own lives. We continue to listen, to read, to learn. In this way the Al-Anon way of life sinks in until it becomes second nature. Then, because we are constantly changing, we have opportunities to learn and practice some more.
Today’s Reminder
If I want to become skillful at applying the al-Anon program to my life, I need to do more than go to an occasional meeting. I must make a commitment and practice, practice, practice.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence , then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
I wrote this yesterday but just never published.  I actually had a fantastic day yesterday, but these thoughts were part of my authentic journey, so I'll leave them in.

I woke up cranky and resentful.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day.  But, I was resentful of the fact that I chose to sleep in the kids' bed last night.

J has been scared lately - totally developmentally appropriate.  And she wanted me to sleep with her once I went to bed (even if she was already asleep).  I told her I would.  Yet, she didn't even know I was there because she was deep asleep, by the time I arrived.

She woke up at 4am, asking me for water.  And I felt resentful.


Those are the feelings, I am not proud of.  They are my children....  my babies....  They are so young and so little.  Of COURSE, they are going to need me to take care of them.  And if they are asking me to do something for them that they COULD do by themselves, they need my instruction and support to get that autonomy.

There are lots of ways to solve this problem.  I think the number one thing is not to tell her that I'll sleep in her bed.  Saying you'll do something that you don't want to do from the joy of your own heart.... yah, it's not wise.

And then, second, is just put a water bottle in there, which we often do anyways.

And third (which, really is first) is t work on my self care.  I am cranky because I am not taking care of myself.  I am tired.  This is why I want to sleep in my own bed.  And I have been binge watching a show.  which is REALLY fun, but I'm dong it to avoid the parts of my life I'm not loving.

I want to own it  I need to own this beautiful life that I have.  Decisions that I've made.... ofr me and my family...

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change.  (like the decisions made up to today)
The courage to change the things I can (like staying on a path to reach my future goals)
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time (ONLY today)
Enjoying one moment at a time (I can choose to enjoy THIS moment)
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Today I have a chance to make a contribution to my sense of well-being. I can take some small action that will strengthen a relationship, pursue a goal, or help me to feel better about myself. I don’t’ expect to dramatically alter my life. My goal is simply to move in a positive direction, knowing that major strides often begin with very small steps.
Perhaps I will ask someone to become my sponsor, reach out to a newcomer, or try a different Al-Anon meeting. I might get some exercise, make an appointment for a check-up, listen to some music or clean a closet. I could write a letter to a friend I’ve neglected or spend some time alone enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet. Perhaps I’ll do something I’m afraid to do, just for the exercise. I might pick up groceries for a sick friend, fix a wobbling table, read a book to stimulate my mind. Maybe I’ll meditate on one of the Twelve Steps or share my experience, strength, and hope with someone who wants to hear it.
Today’s Reminder
There are so many ways in which I can improve the quality of my life. Instead of fretting about what I can’t have or can’t do, I’ll take action to create something positive in my life today.
“To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.” Samuel Johnson

LOVE THIS!!!!  What great tangible examples. 

1)  Last night, we had an amazing Bible Study.  I was just ready to call that Bible Study quits and then a new person came and brought up some amazing discussion.  The passage we discussed was really amazing too.  And it went from being surface level to super real.  I am so grateful for that.

2)  So grateful for my new sponsor person.  It is such a gift to have someone so actively working their steps and trying to improve themself, guiding me.  

3)  Today, I get to attend a college fair.  It is different than the norm and should be fun.  Hopefully, I will get some sign ups!

4)  The pool at the YMCA

5)  These cleanliness checks that we get.  
Somehow, it makes my own burdens easier to live with when I hear the stories of others at Al-Anon meetings. Sharing experience, strength and hope acts like a medicine on the spirit, giving us a perspective on ourselves and our woes. We see how much worse off others are, and are able to help them by listening and giving them some of the strength we have gained from the Al-Anon program. The coming together of various personalities and points of view, responding to each other in the light of the Al-Anon philosophy, is a very real therapy.
When I am “too tired” to go to an Al-Anon meeting, do I realize I am depriving myself of stimulation and refreshment of spirit? I may miss hearing a single chance phrase that would throw new light on my own problem; or I may miss an opportunity to help someone else.
“I pray that each day may advance my steps on the road to understanding; that I may leave nothing undone that could have changed the course of my life for the better.”

I really really like that last quote.  And I am grateful that I almost always am appreciative of my meetings.  
My acting sponsor asked me if I am a big reactor.

I told her that I used to be and I've improved dramatically, but then I kind of regressed.

I need to work on reacting with my kids.... specifically with J. 

Last night, after I put J to sleep, I went outside to wait for count (just sitting at the door) half sleeping until 9:50pm.  I come in, tired, to see L with some paint in her mouth and all over her face and part of her body. 

I go in my room and J had gotten to our acrylic paint and made a mess.  Paint on the carpet.... 

It triggered me.  Something that bothers me about living here is the cleanliness checks and kind of a heightened fear of getting kicked out, because I'm in a program, not just a housing facility.  And, at first, I told J that I couldn't talk to her because I was angry.  And then, I shamed her big time.  My mouth was my weapon.  She knew not to do that and she took advantage of the fact that I was outside (like most little kids will - I will just need to make sure the paint is up higher).  She did something normal for kids her age and I acted like it was abnormal.

Then, I cried while trying to get the paint out of the carpet.  Wow!!!!  Overreaction much?  Yes.  I was angry...... on only a few hours of sleep (because the girls and I were sick the night before with a stomach bug and if I wasn't up, one of the girls was), AND on my period.  A trifecta of reasons to HALT.  And what spewed from my mouth was a dialogue of shame.  Did my mom even say such horrible things to me?  She probably did.  Or am I worse???

There is no point staying stuck in a place of shaming myself for shaming her.  I just need to move forward.  But, yes.  I need to control my tongue.  Nothing can justify me saying those words.  And I apologized.  But, you can't take those things back. 

Sigh.  So crazy, me lecturing a 4 year old and telling her she is bad for doing what 4 year olds do. 

It was a mess.  She really poured that paint into the carpet.  And it was red and blue (not carpet colored).  I spent an hour working on it last night and it looks a lot better.  I just need to start saving now for everything that will come out of my security deposit.  It is my reality of having young kids and being me.  I also had a hanging fall off the wall and damage the base board in one area.  That had nothing to do with J or me, really.  The wood is warping a bit.  But.... yah.  I hate that we are destroying this place and should probably pursue the "why" of that reaction at a different time.  I'll finish with a passage this morning and some gratitude.

Friday, February 2, 2018
Some notes from my recovery the last few days.

"Working the steps" is recovery.  Meetings are release/relief."   
I so identify with this.  I can attend a meeting every night of the week, but if I'm not working the steps, I'm not walking on the path of recovery.  I'm getting to talk and learn a little and feel a little better.  But what is head knowledge without putting it into practice?

Good Old Chameleon Me
I have been getting anxiety at work.  Not anxiety attacks, but just turning into a people pleasing, kind of chameleon version of myself.  It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens frequently.  But, I think I finally got a glimpse of WHY it is happening, when speaking with my amazing Codependency case manager yesterday. 

1)  She congratulates me for putting myself in an uncomfortable setting so that I can learn.  When everything is going my way and I'm in charge, I don't feel this anxiety.  This is an opportunity to learn and practice.  I could just do things the old way, but it wouldn't lead to growth. 

2)  I try to people please because I am trying to protect myself from being violated, judged, criticized or condemned.   Well, this sounds about right.  When I asked her how to work on this because it resonated.....  She encouraged me to look at the things that I am scared of people seeing first.  I tend to do coping mechanisms so other people can't see these things, but I also am scared to look.  Failure.  To my mother (who I'm sure did the best she could), I was not enough.  I was teased and made fun of and violated, judged, criticized and condemned.  It felt bad.  It felt so bad that I decided to try to be perfect to avoid feeling that way.  This attempt to control my mom's verbage only partially worked.  She could brag about the good things that I did, but I was still humiliated and torn apart for things that were out of my control.  So, I seized control where I could so that I could try to protect myself.  This is the effect of a verbally abusive mother.  This is also why I am hypersensitive to criticism, at times.  (I also think I'm pretty good at embracing it).  But, if anyone does it in an unkind way to others, I am the first to stand up and defend them.... because noone did that for me.  It is also why I'm hypersensitive to people judging me, in situations where I feel that they have control over me.  I want to avoid that at all costs. 

Anyways.... I'm starting to get circular here.  But, those are some big insights.  I finally reached some clarity on the "why" of things. 

I am pretty sure this is textbook people pleasing, but it finally clicked.  So, before I go.... some positive character traits that I like about myself, to combat my inner talk about failure and my weaknesses.

I like that I am....................  gosh this is so difficult, in the moment........  I am looking through a list of traits and I don't know if any of them apply to me. 

Ok... baby steps. 

I am.
1)  Considerate
2)  Friendly
3)  Kind
4)  Patient
5)  Playful