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Friday, September 22, 2017
ODAT
When I concentrate on little things that annoy me, and they sprout resentments that grow bigger and bigger, I seem to forget how I could be "stretching" my world and broadening my perspective. That's the way to shrink troubles down to their real size.
Worrying about trifles saps my spiritual energy which I could certainly put to better use. Am I willing to waste my life in this way?
When something or somebody is giving me trouble, let me see the incident in relation to the rest of my life, especially the part that is good, and for which I should be grateful. A wider view of my circumstances will make me better able to deal with all difficulties, big and little.
Today's Reminder
I refuse to let my serenity be drowned out by happenings that are in themselves unimportant. I will not be made uneasy by what others do, whether they intend to hurt me or not. I will not clutter up my thoughts with resentment; it would not profit me but, worse, it would hurt me.
"Why do we accept things that trouble us, when we could do something about them?"


This is so timely!!  Right now, I just got upset over a good intention, but poor delivery that O had.  It was a minor inconvenience, but I was upset and already making it into a bigger thing than it was.  I read this (by the grace of God!) and almost immediately was able to find the gratitude and correct my atittude towards him.  Super grateful right now!!


Thursday, September 21, 2017
CTC
Trying to follow a suggestion I heard in Al-Anon meetings, I dutifully wrote lists of things for which I was grateful. I listed such things as my health, my job, and food on my table. When I was finished, I didn't feel very grateful; my mind was still weighted down with the negative thinking that had resulted from living with alcoholism. But I had made gesture, and the seed of gratitude was planted.
I gradually learned to appreciate the small accomplishments of my dailylife. Perhaps I was able to avoid a pointless argument by reciting the Serenity Prayer, or my sharing helped a newcomer, or I finished something I had been neglecting. I was beginning to change. I made a point of recognizing small changes, and my self-esteem grew. The daily application of Al-Anon principles helped me to deepen my sense of gratitude and replace those nagging, negative thoughts. Eventually I was able to go back to my original list and be truly grateful for those things I had taken for granted.
Today's Reminder 
I need to nurture myself with gratitude. Today I can practice appreciating myself, my world, and my Higher Power. 
"I would lie in bed at night and say the alphabet, counting all the things I had to be grateful for, starting with the letter A . . . This made a great change in my life." As We Understood . . .

I still do the ABCs of gratitude.  I appreciate the honesty that gratitude lists or any tool in our recovery tool box does not always work immediately.  It does, however, plant seeds!
Gratitude
1) Breath in my lungs - Good health
2) To be alive
3) To have a safe, positive place to live
4) My housemates
5) The cooler weather

Hmmm.  I woke up a little tired this morning.  I had a dream that I got evicted from the shelter.  Despite the feedback that I'm doing fantastically here by almost everyone, I guess the worry is still in my mind.  They couldn't tell me why either, in my dream.

It wasn't a nightmare, but it wasn't a good dream.

I have been the at the shelter the longest out of everyone, thus far.  It has to do with me moving directly to permanent housing, rather than going to transitional first.  The paperwork is just taking time.   I like the shelter, but I can't stop the anticipation almost every day that TODAY may be the day that I move.  This morning, I am wondering if it is today.  We will probably find out who is moving to transitional this morning at morning meeting.  We typically do on Thursdays.  So, that will be really exciting, regardless.  Things move quickly here.  The people who moved into the shelter at the same time as me, moved out 2 weeks ago...... 3 weeks ago?  It is a really exciting experience when people move back and they are excited and we all cheer.

Anyways.................  I think today will be a lovely day.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
HFT
Growing up in an alcoholic family, I did not escape without experiencing various forms of mistreatment, including sexual abuse. By the time I came into Al-Anon, I felt like a victim and I had become an extremely angry, resentful person.
Whenever the subject of forgiveness came up at our meetings or in our literature, I shut it out. I thought resentment would prevent me from ever being hurt again. It took some time in the program, and a lot of work learning to love myself, before I began to understand that living my life under the heavy burdens of rage and resentment was hurting me. It affected every relationship I had, including work contacts, friends, family, and social acquaintances. I knew it was likely to color future connections as well, yet many of the people I resented weren't even alive. I surely wasn't hurting them! However, in my vehement determination to no longer be a victim, I held the hostility that perpetuated my pain.
Once I realized this, I experienced a spiritual awakening in the form of a deep desire to let go of those feelings that were poisoning my life. I accomplished this by going to extra Al-Anon meetings, praying, sharing with my sponsor, and working Steps Four through Nine. Thanks to Al-Anon, I gave up my bitterness and regained my life.
Thought for the Day
Today I see forgiveness as an action I take to love myself more fully.
"No one ever found serenity through hatred." How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics, p. 86

I have resentment towards 2-3 people.  I created a page in my prayer journal, but haven't actually started praying for them consistently.  I often find comments I make about my mom to be in resentment.  I think it's healthy to be aware that the resentment is a form of protecting oneself, but it turns into hurting oneself.  Especially because it just feels bad when these comments come out of me.  Or the tone of voice I use, when I say them.

At a meeting, someone shared this strategy to end resentments and it's been on my mind every since.  I want to do this for myself and as a model for my kids.    

"'If you have resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don't really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it everyday for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate, understanding and love.'


CTC
In making a list of all the people we have harmed (Step Eight), some names come to mind at once, while others require more thought. Our Fourth Step inventory can help to refresh our memories. We can ask ourselves about situations in which each character defect might have led us to act in a harmful manner and add the names of those concerned to our Eighth Step list.
We can also look at names already on the list and ask ourselves if we have behaved in similar fashion toward others. Many of us discover previously hidden patterns of destructive behavior as a result of putting this list in writing. Even when our defects were not involved, we may have harmed others despite the most honorable intentions. Their names also belong on the list.
Once we are clear about the harm we have done, it becomes possible to make changes and amends so that we can feel better about our behavior and about the way we relate to others.
Today's Reminder
An Eighth Step list helps me to let go of guilt and regret I may be carrying from the past. I will approach this Step with love and gentleness because I take it for my own freedom.
". . . Our actions have consequences, and sometimes other people get hurt. By taking Step Eight, we acknowledge this fact and become willing to make amends." . . . In All Our Affairs


ODAT
An Al-Anon member with a particularly serious problem was told by another at a meeting: "I just wouldn't put up with it!"
The answer came: "I am not, as you say, putting up with it. I am trying to correct my own faults, keep my mouth shut when I am tempted to yell and scream at him, and keep hands off his problems. You see, I never want to forget that I have a commitment to my husband. I want to live up to that commitment which I made, willingly and solemnly, when I married him."
Today's Reminder
Any marriage made in expectation of lifelong bliss and freedom from care is bound to bring us to some shocking realizations that life just isn't like that. An adult point of view recognizes that alcoholism and its train of troubles is only one of the disasters that can happen to a marriage. We would face others with courage; why not this? The commitment to the person we married demands that we do everything we can to correct our problems. What to do we learn in Al-Anon. How we use it is up to us.
". . . in sickness and in health, for better or for worse . .

I like how this passage approaches our responsibility to correct our own problems throughout a marriage.  Also, how it broadens our perspective that there can be a multitude of "disasters" in a marriage.  I also don't get the sense that just because THIS person stayed in her marriage that she is right or wrong.  I thoroughly appreciate that point of view!
Gratitude

1) The teachers at my kiddos new school
2) The new friends I've made
3) Toothbrushes and toothpaste
4) My case manager
5) My health!

Sitting here this morning and I'm tired.  Aunt Flo has come to visit.  And apparently, I have the desire to call her Aunt Flo again.  I've been expecting her for awhile because I've been so emotional.

I feel off.  I feel a bit tired.  And....... I'm not entirely sure how to let go of that feeling.  I'm hoping these meditations will help and then, if I have time, I'll do some deep breathing.  Drop off has been difficult, as J has been pretty hysterical.  It upsets me.  Yesterday, I lost my temper and yelled at her, as I almost never do.  I felt horrible afterwards.........  horrible!!!  Almost the whole day, I felt horrible about it.  I had a lot of difficulty moving forwards.  A few days before that, I got in the car and just cried afterwards.  She is going through so much.  I have to remember that this is a typical part of development though and not something for me to overthink.  I have also been on edge waiting for my apartment.

I'm going to relax now, though.  Time takes time.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Recovery through the Bachelorette

I don't think I've written about this before.....  But, one of my avoidance mechanisms is the show, The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  I don't like all the seasons and haven't watched all the seasons, but occasionally, I get sucked in.  This happened recently with the last bachelorette.

At the end of the show, the lead had to choose between a handsome, dependable and emotionally mature man, who was confident in their relationship the entire time.................. or, the handsome, push/pull relationship of a man who was not confident and used subtle emotional manipulation.... oh and this man was her "type."  She's dated many men like him before and the excitement of the push/pull, tends to draw her in.

The man with the push/pull, kind of distant, emotional manipulation was the fan favorite.  But....... she chose the mature man with no drama after a heart wrenching and LONG breakup (this happens when someone doesn't accept your "no."


She said this in a recent interview.

Interviewer: "What advice would you give to college girls in regards to finding love?

RachelAs women, we make excuses for men. In the “Hunger Games,” President Snow is in the field of roses and he asks the guy what is more powerful than fear and he says, “Hope, hope is more powerful than fear.” That’s exactly what we do: we hope for something better and that we can fix it if we do this or that he will change and be better, but know when people show you who they are, that’s who they are. Do not try to make excuses for them when it comes to relationships, it will save you so much time. You have to know who you are, almost like a mental exercise, you have to know who you are and be strong. Of course my feelings get hurt and I have weak moments, but you have to tell yourself, “It’s not me, it’s him, he’s a waste of my time, onto the next one” and just train yourself to start thinking like that and it starts now, in college.  

Anyways............. the season turned out to be therapy for me, in a way.  I really loved watching this intelligent woman make a positive decision to change her trajectory.  I have no idea if the couple has lasting power.  I hope they do.  But, regardless, I really appreciate and felt inspired by seeing someone be aware of her old patterns and choosing change (which can be scary, but rewarding!)

Geographic Cure

"Even though we were whipped emotionally, we held out hope that a new relationship, a new job, or a move would be the cure, but it never was."  BRB p.334

We gave our all to other people.  We were trained to do that.  Who we were as people, our hopes and dreams, were not important.  We found ourselves in old situations again and again, with different faces.  We moved to a new city to get out of messes, we changed jobs and we ended relationships.  But our parents continued to appear in different forms, or there was the destructive relationship we had with our uncle or sister, but with a different face.

Some ACA meetings use this version of the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity 
to accept the people I cannot change
the courage to change the one I can
and the wisdom to know that it is me. 

It hurts when we start to come out of denial, but it doesn't hurt forever.  We hold on to our program and to our Higher Power.  We learn to nurture those parts of us that need attention in order to grow.  We bring light where there is no light by shining the love in the universe onto those wounded parts that still hide inside us.  They want to come out and tell their stories and heal.  

On this day, with my Higher Power's help, I will focus on myself to find the solution that will keep me from repeating my past patterns.  



This last phrase is super powerful to me, right now.  "I will focus on myself to find the solution that will keep me from repeating my past patterns."

I think that will be a prayer for me.  I do find myself wanting to start over.  But, perhaps a different view of this would be more accurate.  I want to start again, but with new knowledge and new tools, therefore resulting in new actions.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Today was a long day.  I feel like it was three days fit in one.  It began with dropping the girls off to visit with Grandma and Grandpa, while I went to church.  While mostly positive, there was some anxiety involved and it was mentally straining.  Mid day, I had wonderful moments of quiet time with J, while L napped.  And then moments, later, where J was so unregulated and I got so frustrated, that I strapped everyone into the car and we just ran the engine, pumped up the air conditioning and listened to music.  By dinner, I was exhausted.  Yet, after, came a lot of great moments.  L dancing with our housemate's son K.  They started super timid and when J joined them, L went from tapping her foot awkwardly to throwing her whole body up and down with abandon.  I laughed so hard, I believe it counts as therapy.  I ended the day making name tags with my fellow housemates......... glitter, glue and laughter.  The day ended with immense gratitude.  

A few things I'm grateful for:

1) My babies are not sick - Grateful for their cool fever free foreheads.
2) Homework assignments
3) Glitter
4) Internet
5) Farmer's Markets
HFT
As far back as I can remember, fear has clouded my vision. To cope with the active alcoholism in my family, I became a worrier. Worry gave me a false sense of being in control. I tried to fret my way out of the maze of alcoholism, judgment, and lake of support that characterized my upbringing. When I was able to leave my family and establish a home of my own, my habits came with me. Worrying soon became characteristic not only of my childhood but of my adult life as well.
In Al-Anon, I learned it's fruitless to worry about things I cannot change. However, simply knowing that didn't help me quit worrying. I had to find a positive behavior to replace the fretting. Today if I catch myself worrying, I write down my specific fears, no matter how preposterous they may seem. Once I get them out of my mind and fix them on paper, I ask my Higher Power to show me which ones are real and which I have imagined. Then I ask for clarification regarding which ones I can change.
This process reminds me of wearing my sunglasses inside a building. The glasses are useful in the sunshine, but once inside they make everything look dark and gloomy. So it is with worry. It helped me growing up, but today it can make even a bright, shiny gift look tarnished. Small shadows become big monsters, and I waste my energy worrying about nonexistent problems. When I invite my Higher Power to help, it's like saying, "God, please hold these sunglasses for me. Help me to see as You do."
Thought for the Day
God, please clear my vision so I can let go of fear and worry.
"He is a God of my awareness who serves as a guide in all areas of my life." As We Understood . . ., p. 93

I love this practical tool for dealing with FEAR!!
I'm baaaaaack!!!

Someone gave me an internet password and everything has changed.  Oh, it feels so good to have consistent internet back.  I am very very grateful.

It is also an interesting phenomenon.  I feel so confident as I pound out the letters.  I enjoy the sound of the keys tapping.  It just feels so right.  This has probably been the longest time, since I was three years, without a computer.

I need boundaries, though.  Perhaps, only when the kids are in bed.



Anyways..........  It's a beautiful, cloudy, Sunday morning.  The kiddos are sleeping in (it's already 7:40am and I am sitting on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed across from my sleeping beauties.  I'm leaning up against a multitude of stuffed animals, with my laptop on my lap.  It feels great!

I have so many updates.  But, a good starting point are my areas of study for probably the next year and a half.

EDUCATION FOR WORK
Structured Word Inquiry
Advocacy
Growth Mindset
Business

EDUCATION FOR LIFE
Al Anon
Bible
Spanish

Ok........ onto some meditations.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Bathroom - CHECK!  15 minutes in and the bathroom is cleaned!  That was the easiest place to start and so I started there.

It's all packed up and shiny now.  My mom has her guest bathroom back and that feels good.  A couple more things I'm going to pack in there (including vitamins, cue tips and first aid).  Then I'm printing out a label and into the car it goes.

Ok...................... moving on!



Our Past is an Assset



"We may have been alone as children, but now we have our fellow travelers."

"On this day I recognize that my past provides a unique opportunity to grow in self actualization."

  



Well, apparently, I am just really wanting to procrastinate packing.  I am often the person who has a thorough list and likes checking off the boxes.

Perhaps, there is something bigger that I don't understand, such as fear, preventing it.  But, it is the last moment now.  It is time for action, rather than procrastination.

This isn't a  case of perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis.  It's just a matter of doing it and getting it done.

And...................................... this afternoon, we move into our new place!  Yay!






Today, I have a vision appointment, a root canal and then, check-in at the shelter.  But, first, I have to work through the night to just pack everything.  Luckily, there is truly not much to pack.  Going to do a meditation and just start.  I went to sleep very early, so I already got around 4 hours of sleep.  We are in good shape.

Ok, that's all for now.  :)
Gratitude
1) Dental care/insurance
2) Overall good health
3) Opportunity to go to this shelter
4) People look out for one another.
5) Storage Bins :)
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
CTC
In Step Six I contemplate my life undergoing change -- tremendous change. The great fear is this: If I shed many characteristics that stand in my way, what will be left? It is as though I face a great void, a terrifying unknown. Yet when I acknowledge how far I have come, I can see how much I want to change. The desire to grow and to heal has brought me to this uncomfortable point, because I am tired of the way I have been. My Higher Power is there to guide me when I am ready. 

I find solace in the fact that in Step Six I need not change anything; I must simply prepare myself for change. I can take all the time I need. Such manageability is what I set out to find in the first place. Now it is a part of my life.

Today's Reminder
I need not judge the rate at which I change old habits or ways of thinking. If I am uncomfortable with old behavior, then on some level I am already moving toward changing it. Change will not be effective unless I am ready for it. I need only trust that, when the time comes to move forward, I will know it. 

"Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed. Let me look upward into the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well." Orin L. Crain


--------
mmmm, I love that quote at the end by Orin L. Crain.  It might be worth memorizing.  Change is uncomfortable............ but look at where I have come.  I had a powerful therapy session today.

My therapist talked about my toxic mother, my toxic father (who I normally don't like to think of in that way) and my toxic husband.  She also talked about how I was trained to be emotionally abusive, as a young child.  Sigh.  And that she thinks I accept bread crumbs, rather than "steak," in regards to my father.  I was also called a "good codependent."

I appreciate her blunt analysis of my situation  This is my couples counselor, yet O was out today, so I did a single session.  I told her of the pressure I felt last week.  She told me that she was just asking me to not divorce in three months, but that it would be unwise to lower my emotional walls.  There was a lot of validation and truth spoken.  She thought it was meant to be that O couldn't make it.  

Very powerful session.  

"The desire to grow and to heal has brought me to this uncomfortable point, because I am tired of the way I have been."

Toxic mother, toxic father, toxic husband.  If I don't change......................... I believe my kids may call me toxic one day, as well.  Just a thought.  Perhaps I have already changed enough to avoid this.  That being said............ I look forward to inching towards being the person I want to be. 
Gratitude
1)  Grateful for a healthy body!!
2)  Grateful for two precious tiny children.
3)  Grateful for a roof over my head.
4)  Grateful that I'm able to feel
5)  Grateful for the beach
Friday, August 4, 2017
CTC
I can certainly learn from criticism, and I want to remain open to hearing what others have to say, but neither my popularity nor my ability to please those I live and work with are legitimate measure of my worth as an individual. Al-Anon helps me to recognize that I have value simply because I breathe the breath of humanity. As I gain self-esteem, I find it easier to evaluate my behavior more realistically.
The support I get in Al-Anon helps me find the courage to learn about myself. As I come to feel at home with myself and my values, my likes and dislikes, my dreams and choices, I am increasingly able to risk other people's disapproval. I am equally able to honor others when they choose to be themselves, whether or not I like what I see.
Today's Reminder
With the help of a loving Sponsor and the support of my fellow Al-Anon members, I am learning to find my place in this world -- a place where I can live with dignity and self-respect.
"I exist as I am, that is enough, if no other in the world be aware I sit content, and if each and all be aware I sit content." Walt Whitman
Gratitude

1) Grateful for Stella and Sam TV series (based on the books) - <3 it
2) Grateful for moving forward
3) Grateful for my children's enthusiasm and laughs
4) Grateful for access to clean drinking water
5) Grateful for my health!!

There is no where else I'd rather be than right here in this very moment.

expectations = planned resentments

ODAT
One source of frustration we seldom recognize is in expecting too much of others, or expecting too specifically what we feel they ought to be, say, give or do.
If I expect another person to react in a certain way to a given situation, and he or she fails to meet my expectation, have I the right to be disappointed or angry?
Every human being has his own individual drives and motivations, beyond my understanding and control. I may say: "But he knew what I expected," not realizing that it may have been precisely for this reason that he rebelled and acted otherwise.
My search for peace of mind will bear fruit much more readily if I stop expecting and relax into acceptance.
Today's Reminder
I will not set a pattern based on my own experience and wishes -- and expect someone else to live up to it.
This is interference of a subtle and damaging kind; it damages my peace of mind and dignity, and those I am smothering with my expectations.
"I, too, often fail to live up to the expectations of others."

-----------------------------------
This was a very big Al Anon revelation for me and still is.  A great life lesson..... that we are free to choose how to live our own life and others are free to do the same.  

So, in a relationship....... if I want to do something a certain way and the other person wants to do something a certain way.  We are both free to do our own.  If it impossible to do both, ex: Person wants to load the dishwasher way A and person 2 wants to load the dishwasher way B and both feel VERY strongly about it..  

Then, there are decisions to make, but they are our very own to make.  I do not want to manipulate, plead with, or make the other person do something they don't want to do, in any way or form.  And I don't want the other person to do that to me.  I don't want them to try to trick me into it, shame me into it, threaten me into it, argument me into it (unless I ask for reasons).  I want that decision to be my  own.

And as two reasonable people, we should both be aware that there is a problem.  We can't on the very same day load the dishwasher two different ways.  And that's when we get to be creative with problem solving.  That's when we evaluate within ourselves "How important is it?"  That's when we might take a few days to think on it for ourselves.  And then come together and be a team to figure out this problem.

Maybe one person decides the loading of the dishwasher isn't that important to them, when they come together.  If they both feel it is important, maybe they can switch off months or weeks.  Maybe they get two dishwashers (haha!).  But, the mutual respect is what I want to give and get.  

That's what I desire from a relationship, no matter how silly or serious the matter.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Live and let live

ODAT
The Al-Anon slogans are little pieces of advice. If we were entirely capable of putting them all into practice, we'd be pretty close to perfection as spiritual human beings.
Take this one, for instance: Live and let live. A whole philosophy of life is condensed into these four words. First we are admonished to live -- to live fully, richly, happily, and to fulfill our destiny with the joy that comes from doing well whatever we do. Then comes a more difficult admonition: Let live. This means acknowledging the right of every other human being to live as he wants to, without criticism or judgment from us. It rules out contempt for those who do not think as we do. It warns against resentment; tells us to avoid construing other people's actions as intentional injuries to us.
Today's Reminder
The more I think about living, and letting others live, the more I will learn from it. I will try to make it my yardstick in everything I do, and especially in relating to the people in my life. 
"When my thoughts are centered on learning to live, I will be less tempted to involve my mind with the thoughts of how others live."


I think this has to be one of my favorites!
Monday, July 31, 2017

step 1

"I deal with what life throws at me."

I was doing some affirmations that someone posted on youtube, and this one popped up.  It reminded me of Step 1.

- I didn't have control over the unhealthy dynamics of my family of origin or the coping mechanisms i developed because of them.  Life "threw that at me."  I survived it and dealt with it the best way that I could.

- I don't have any control over genetic predispositions to anxiety, depression, procrastination, perfectionism (whatever my problem may be).  Life threw that at me, and I'm dealing the best way I know how.

- I didn't have control over O getting bipolar or starting to drink.  I don't have any control over the coping mechanisms he learned from family or origin, reaction to traumatic experiences or genetics.  When he started behaving that way, when life threw that at me, I dealt with it the best way I knew.  I'm still dealing with it.  It's hard.  But, I'm doing it.

-  I didn't have any control over getting sick during L's pregnancy.  Life threw that at me.  I dealt with it the best way that I knew.

-  I don't have any control over not getting any of the "career" type jobs I applied for or for private clients falling through.  I dealt with that the best way that I knew.  And still am..........




I have a lot of crossroads in front of me.  And I don't know what the best choices are.  But, I do know that my faults are mostly do to coping mechanisms from family of origin, trauma or genetics.  There is no point in beating myself over them.  And life threw some bad stuff at me.  Others have it much worse.  But, life threw stuff at me.  I didn't choose it.  I didn't choose to have my family teach me this unhealthy way of living, I chose O, but did it the best way I knew how, at the time.  I don't have control over him getting sick, over me, getting sick.  These were things life threw at me.

And even if life didn't throw things at me, if they are due to choices made in the past.  I don't have control over those either.  I already made those decisions.  Some made as self sabotage, some made unwisely, some made trying to do my best, but they are already made.  I can't make those decisions again.

All I can do is focus on what I have now.  I want to take responsibility for what has happened to me.  but, it truly has been out of my control.  I feel guilt.  But, it is out of my control.



"I  deal with what live throws at me."  I can take pride in that and move forward with that.




ODAT
I would like to look back over this month and see what progress I have made, and what changes have taken place in my life as a result of my practicing the Al-Anon program. 
Have I given sufficient attention to the Twelve Steps? Have I done at least a little reading each day? Are my family relationships more serene and happy than they were a month ago? Have I renewed a strained friendship; made good for an injury to someone, made an effort to avoid gossip, tried to learn something new?
Today's Reminder 
This will be my day of review and preparation for the coming month in which I will renew my efforts to progress in my personal development. 
If I cannot see any improvement in the month which is ending today, I will not be discouraged for, among other things, I must learn to accept myself as I am. Everything good I can bring about must begin with that. 
"An occasional review of my progress is an encouraging exercise, for it shows me that I am gradually learning how to live in poise and serenity."

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I love the gentleness of this program.  "I must learn to accept myself as I am.  Everything good I can bring about, must begin with that."

Over the last month, I do see progress.  I have not done reading each day and I haven't given sufficient attention to the 12 steps.  My family relationships are a little better, I renewed a couple strained friendships, I have made an effort to avoid gossip, and I am trying hard to learn new things.  

I'm working on giving myself credit where credit is due.  And I love this passage for today.  Mondays are truly my favorite day of the week!
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
I seem to be using my blog for getting things off my chest, lately and venting.

I'm feeling a lot of emotions right now.  And I want to get them out.

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I feel absolutely horrible.  I truly feel like the worst person ever.  I got into a discussion with my mom that I never ever should have gotten into.  And I told my mom things my sister had told me in confidence for my own special reasons.

It is horrible.  I honestly feel like trash.  I feel like the worst sister ever and the worst person ever and the worst hypocrite ever.



I have a feeling that my sister won't care that much.  But........... she might.  And........ she should.

She truly doesn't need another crappy person in her life who is going to betray her trust.

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I sent her an email apologizing.  And I think the only way to make amends is to avoid all conversation like this with my mom.  And just to never ever bring her up as a defense or validation for my own beliefs.  My sister doesn't need to deal with this and deserves much much more.

And just to continue working on myself, so I don't feel the need to JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain).

Whew.  Deep breath.

This brought out big ugly tears.  I feel like I have betrayed someone who has been there for me.

Ok.  More deep breaths.

I'm going to move forward..................... because I can't control what I did.  I already did it.  I can't undo it.  And I can control my need to JADE.

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I took a little break to send an email to a friend and now I'm feeling better.  Amazing how that works.  The beginning of my blog was written in one of those "depths of despair" moments, to quote Lucy Montgomery.  I've been having those occasionally.  They don't last long.  They are typically after something goes wrong that feels unfair.  This was the first one I've had after I was the one who did something wrong.

In my now clear state again, I do believe my sister will be ok with it.  I can't remember, but she may have even said it was ok if I told her.  Regardless, what I did was not ok.  But, I'm going to learn from it and not tear myself apart over it.

I think JADE is something I really really need to work on.  I've noticed myself feeling like i have to explain myself to random people.  Like, if I ask for soda water, I explain or justify why.  And, I can't think of another example, but I've been doing it frequently.  Oh..... today, I forgot J's blanket for preschool.  I felt the need to explain why.  I don't need to Justify Argue Defend and Explain and I've gotten into this habit that reeks of low self esteem.

And that is what I was doing with my mom.  I was trying to defend how I felt by using my sister's experiences.  That I was not alone.  I felt the desire to justify so badly, that I dragged my sister into a discussion/argument that she wasn't even here for.

I'm not going to say I feel like trash because I'm through that.  But, this desire was very very strong.  And I think I could really benefit by targeting it as my new goal.

Ok........... exhausted.  Actually, started my period today (which often happens after an emotional outburst).  And have a promising day tomorrow that my body needs rest for.




Saturday, July 22, 2017
I sit here right now........ and I wonder where the real me has disappeared to.

Warning - this is a message written in a moment of sadness.  I am wholly aware of that.



I have been privileged enough to share my story with a lot of people over the last week.  Maybe 8 or 9.... therapists, nurse practitioner, intake people in Mental Health Services and Family Stabilization Services, my case worker, etc..  

It just so happens that my appointment with my Primary Care Physician fell on the same week that I started Mental Health Services with Calworks.  I've wanted therapy services for awhile and am now, finally, going through the intake process through both insurance and MHS.  I also have been connected with affordable couples counseling through Calworks.  I should go full swing into actual therapy next week, including a couples session with O, hopefully a group therapy session, and one 1:1 (maybe two). The calworks system really expedited everything!  

I've had a few epiphanies during the telling on my story, not all of which I'll go into.  Most of the epiphanies came while I was telling my story to a kind, to the point, male therapist, who was evaluating me through my insurance.  He would have been the person to refer me for medication.  He did not at this time, but prescribed deep breathing exercises and physical exercise as my daily medicine.  Out of the professionals I've seen thus far, he impressed me the most.  This also includes the therapists I saw before leaving O, as well........ with the exception, perhaps, of my therapist who specialized in partners of sexual addicts.  She was also superb, in a different but equal way.  

He reminded me:
1) To keep a clear mind regarding my mom.  He saw the situation as black and white.  While talking to him, I used the phrase "Monster mode" to describe my mom when she is overwhelmed or angry.  I tried to retract the statement, it just popped out, but he told me not to retract it.  He encouraged me to keep a very clear mind, in regards to my mom and to hold onto that "monster mode" phrase.  It was interesting how he could see the situation so clearly, with so little information.  He also reminded me that the living situation with my mom is not safe for my kids, considering how she treated me and my sister emotionally, when we were children.  

Sigh.

That's not what I wanted to hear.


2) He reminded me that all of the issues that I've had with O are related to the chaos of my upbringing.  

3) He encouraged me to truly do the exercise and breathing like medicine, so that I get out of a reactive state.

4) When I told him my concerns regarding my short term memory, he responded that was "par for the course, when going through a life transition like this."

He's also going to hopefully get me set up with a therapist by the end of this week.  Wow!  Things have truly started happening.  I even got an acceptance from childcare I've been on the waitlist for since January/February (can't remember exactly).  We already have childcare, at this point.  But........... also, I have childcare.  So, I can work on my business.  And since I have all this support now, and will be more proactive about getting myself out of a reactive state, I'll hopefully be able to stick with it.  





I'm glad I'm writing this out.  It helps.  One of the things, I have been waiting for a regular therapy session to talk about is the loss of identity I feel and just overwhelming loss for having a life plan.

One thing, which I haven't come to terms with......... is what happened to my animals.  (deep breath).  When I adopted these animals into my home, I did it understanding the lifetime commitment I had to them.  I made intentional choices for them, bought them collars, trained them, researched what food to feed them.  They were part of my family.  

Through our split, they have been through very bad times.  ET died.  Tipsy and Snowball were happy with O, at his old house.  But, then he got evicted.  They are at C's again.  They are in O's room... but, he's not there half the time because he's commuting for work.  They aren't ridiculously unhappy, but they aren't happy.  It's not a good setting for them.  It's probably better there, then separating them again.  But, you see....... not only do I miss them.  I do.  But, I do not recognize myself as a person who would ever put them in this situation.  I try not to think about it.  It is too much to take.  

And Oso.................I miss him dearly.  I think he is fairly happy.  But, I, also, adopted him into a family that would stay together.  Every decision was so intentional.  And now, I have no say over those decisions. It is a part of me missing.

And being a person without a path, without a home, without a plan.  Who is this person?  She's not the person I know.  

I used to have all these ideas about school districts and buying homes and, you know, future life.  All that is gone.  

I suspect it will not be this way forever.  

But it is now.  And.............. yes.  Getting to know other moms, leaves me at a loss of words.  

ex: 
Them - "I live over by ________.  Where do you live?"  
Me - "Oh, I don't have a home.  But, I'm on a wait list for a local shelter.  I'm living with my mom, but I don't want to be here and she doesn't want me here."  

Yah..............  That wouldn't go so well.  So, I say, "I'm living with my mom, since I split with hubby."  Then I get pity.  

Or, they say what their husband's do or what they do, or talk about school districts or vacation or something that's a part of a stable life.

And..........I don't always feel like going into the fact that my life is unstable right now.  It's too raw, too vulnerable for a first meeting or second.  J mentioned a friend she made awhile back as one of her friends and I haven't arranged a play date.  I feel so bad that she is being affected by my desire to self isolate.  Sigh.  

Anyways................  It is getting late.  And it's time for my body to rest.

Thanks, Blog, for a wonderful vent.  I think next time, I'll probably have some positive recovery quotes.

Warmly,
F
Friday, July 14, 2017
J wanted to cuddle last night and I ended up falling asleep with the kids until the morning.

L wakes up and instantly says, "Where's J?" in toddler speak.  Kind of sounds like "/way/ /joo/?"  With the best question intonation (despite the fact that their bodies were literally touching each other).    She sees her sister and throws her body on her in a huge hug and a gigantic smile.  "/joo/ /joo/ /joo/!!!!"  She is elated to see her sister.  She is kissing her and hugging her.  J wakes up and says, "That's enough, L." in a groggy voice.  I mean, it is 4:50am   But, then she sees how excited L is and asks if she wants a hug and kiss.

It is clear that there is no place that J would rather be.    

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What an amazing way to wake up!!  She was so grateful to be with her sister.  And I am so grateful to have each of them in my life.  I feel they are perfect additions to my family tree.  As, we often say "perfectly imperfect."

Instead of just doing gratitude lists.  I have been trying to very intently focus on being overwhelmed with gratitude in the now.  I have been just exclaiming things I'm grateful for and ecstatic about, when in the car, especially.  And I've started saying to the kids, "There is no place I'd rather be, but here with you."  And meaning it with all my heart.

I am embracing the quote from Oprah, "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."

I have spent a lot of time focusing on what I want and don't have.  I want to get in the practice of focusing on what I have.  And despite being especially emotional the past few days, it's been working really really well.  And it is a vital principle that I want to pass on to my girls.  


Tuesday, July 11, 2017
And I just realized that I'm in pain (that's going to make me feel bad).

How can you forget that?? I don't know.  But, I have an issue with a tooth that I really probably need to take care of tomorrow.  But, possibly sleep comes first. I feel a mess.  Thank God, I know that I will be better tomorrow.  One day at a time.  and first things first  First thing right now = sleep .
HFT
One of the oddest things I learned in recovery was to develop tolerance and even desire for feeling good. At first I didn't connect much with other people. I didn't let anything approximating intimacy occur. Later, I noticed a paradox. When someone accepted or cared for me, I felt pleasure and pain. I was perplexed. Why would I feel pain in the same time as happiness? I asked an Al-Anon friend about this. She wondered if experiencing the good feeling I yearned for as a child might stir up some pain. She said the "receiving might, for a short time, bring up the "not receiving."

Her words proved to be true for me. I did go through a recovery phase during which receiving others' love, approval, and respect almost instantly recalled deeply buried sadness at not having received those things from my parents while I was growing up. In fact, I often didn't know such pain was inside until someone was nice to me. Then I would pour it out into my sponsor's loving ears and arms. Eventually I learned that my parents couldn't give what they didn't have, and I was able to feel compassion for them. 

Practicing "Easy Does It" helped me. I sometimes chose to leave meetings before they ended. I had received as much "good stuff" as I could handle on that particular day. Sometimes I had to limit the number of hugs I accepted. I'd share my thoughts and feelings afterward with my sponsor. Gradually, I began to like, and even love, getting the "good stuff" that leaves me feeling serene and happy.

Thought for the Day 
If recovery feels too painful, maybe I need to slow down and practice "Easy Does It." 
"Easy Does It" and "First Things First" help us to keep moving, but remind us we need only take small steps." From Survival to Recovery. p. 95



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This is really a great message for me today, when I'm feeling some pain on the verge of good changes happening.  
Feeling really low.

I'm tired of letting myself down and letting my kids down.




I know they don't feel let down.  And I do a lot of intentional and wonderful things for them.  But.............. J started talking about a sponsor's child today........... and I isolated myself from the sponsor (hence the child, too).  And I haven't talk to her (sigh).  It weighs on me occasionally that I would feel relief if I contacted her.  And then another potential friend of J's............. they wanted to continue to be friends after she left her past preschool.  And I isolated.  I just didn't feel comfortable talking about my life issues.  And when we got together, we talked a TON while the kids played.

And I'm planning my birthday party, as my birthday is coming up.   And more people I've isolated from.  Ugh.   Or the people I'd like to come are stretched across the country.  Last year, when I turned 30, I had 4 mommy friends, who had become very good friends, go out for dessert with me.  As of today, one of them is in Texas.  One is about an hour away from me, one is two hours from me and one I haven't kept in contact with.  These were real relationships.  They all knew about my current issues in my marriage (to a certain extent) and I was authentic with them.  Gosh.  I had so much more support a year ago.

Now, most of the people I've isolated from can be reconnected with, with a single text.  And it would bring relief to me, to a certain extent.  But, I still don't really feel a huge urge to socialize with them.  Just today, I responded to an old friend with an apology.  I want to be good friends for them when they need it.  But............. a lot of these people just aren't my "safe" people.  And I don't yet know how to be authentic to myself and not share too much or not enough.  If this makes any sense.

I'm just getting all this out.  My hunch is that I'm tired..........  I'm in a time of transition.  And........... I'm acutely aware of my weaknesses.  I know that I don't always feel this way.  And I don't believe I'll feel this way tomorrow.

I've been doing some really nice things that I can feel proud of lately.

I'm just going to post a reading or two and then be out for the night.


Monday, July 10, 2017
I'm so excited because it's my lovely J's first day of her new "preschool"/home daycare setting.  There are things to work out.  L loved hers at first, but has now been serious and sad "ish".  I'm going to see if I can group them together, possibly.  I can't decide if I want them apart or together.  But................ for today..... I'm excited!!

And we have a schedule today.  I do love schedules.  6-7am family exercise time.  I'm hoping to include a stretch session where we do gratitude and I want to do this every day before school/work.   Then breakfast, then drop off.  Then I do job search activities, then pick ups, etc.

Actually, I have to go get ready.  Oh and mindset work is coming into recovery too.  So so much to work on.

Too do loo!



Strengthening my Recovery - July 10th 

Codependence

"As adult children from various families, we focus on ourselves for the surest results.  We gradually free ourselves from codependent or addictive relationships."  BRB p.60

Before we entered recovery, it seemed like our relationships were codependent or addictive.  It's what we were used to; it's what we grew up with.  If anyone wanted something different from us, we were uncomfortable because we didn't really understand what that "something" was.  We could keep up the act for a short time, but the walls eventually went up.  We had no role models for healthy give and take.  

As we learn to focus on ourselves in ACA, at first it seems awkward.  Most of us are not used to taking care of ourselves emotionally.  Gradually we begin to see that we can walk away from those who still abuse us and we feel a sense of freedom that's new, because we don't feel guilty.  

We gather strength from those who have come before us in the program.  We hear how they have faced difficult changes with faith and trust in their Higher Power and those they share their journey with.  We see the promises of this program being fulfilled in others, and we now have the courage to ask for the guidance that's available.  

On this day I release my codependent and addictive relationships in favor of those based on mutual respect.  I will learn a new "dance" that fills me with life.  

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There is so much truth here for me.  I love the GRADUALLY freeing ourselves from codependent or addictive relationships.  It respects the process and also hilights my process, which has been extremely gradual.

I want to be a role model for healthy give and take with O and we are working on it.  I still want to tell him what to do, but there are many many many things I can control in myself.

1) Not correct O's parenting in front of the kids ever (unless it's an emergency).

2) Support his parenting decisions in the moment (and talk it over later, unless it's a huge huge deal).  No signs of disrespect, including facial expressions, if I disagree with the route.  Be kind, compassionate.  And realize that I may know the kids better because I'm with them all the time.  He can't be expected to with just a few hours a day.  And that would be the same if he was working full time.  That's no reason to be cruel about it.  :(

3) Follow my intuition.  And if things are not comfortable, make a plan to do it differently next time, instead of get unregulated or stressed out.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Strengthening my Recovery - July 8th

Willingness

"In ACA we become willing to apply what we learn in the program to our daily lives and to relationships." BRB p.401

When we first got to ACA, some of us couldn't wait for recovery to be finished.  How long was this going to take, because we had better things to do than hang out with damaged people.  After all, our story wasn't that bad.  We just wanted to fix the little things that were holding us back so we could get on with our real lives. 

Now Step Work and service are two of our favorite things to do.  Creating a safe place for ourselves and others - to acknowledge the wounds we all carry - and to begin to grow is the most exciting adventure we have ever been on.  The 12 steps are a design for living that is better than anything else we have tried up to this point in our lives.  We are grateful for those who came before us who kept the doors open.

In our homes and in our jobs we practice what we learn at meetings - like listening.  We allow others to speak their truth.  We learn not to control others and not to let ourselves be controlled or manipulated.   We trust that the principles of the program that have worked for so many others will continue to work for us in all our affairs.  We are becoming fearless in our pursuit of a healthy life.  We now have joy, and others can see that. 

On this day, I will be real in all that I do.  By doing so, I make space for others to own their truths. 

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Creating a safe place for ourselves and others - I really really want my home to be a safe place for me and the kiddos.

To acknowledge the wounds we all carry - There is something to getting out of the victim mentality and realizing that this is a common part of being human.

The most exciting adventure we have ever been on - Do I ever look at exploring myself or life as the most exciting adventure I've ever been on?  I sure want to!

We become fearless in our pursuit of a healthy life - pursuing health means change and it IS scary, hence the need for bravery and higher power.

On this day, I will be real in all that I do.  By doing so, I make space for others to own their truths. This will take practice.  But, a very worth endeavor! And noting that me being real is connected to others having space to decide to do the same.

Friday, July 7, 2017
Ok, this is a post dedicated to Mrs. Beason, based on my previous entry.  My one reader (haha), may also know this particular teacher.

Carole is a retired Elementary School teacher with professional experience as a Master teacher and Art Program Curriculum Coordinator for the San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD). Her efforts resulted in the creation of an Annual Art Fair for her school, Richland elementary, which became a tradition at the school that is going on each spring to this day.  Additionally she established a theater and symphony field trip program for the school.
Carole has been recognized with several District and Community awards for Art education, including Who’s Who in Teaching. Carole has a B.S. in English through U.C. Berkley and San Diego State University. Graduate studies including credential requirements, was accomplished at United States International University.
Carole has been involved in the growth of The Kid’s College and is now active on the Kid’s College Board of Trustees.
This memory that popped up during my last entry was of someone who was able to show me love and act in the "loving parent" role, even though she was a teacher and our interactions did not go far outside of the classroom.
What do I remember of her?  
She gave hugs that were almost uncomfortably long, for us 5th grade students.  She loved my reading and would encourage the whole class to clap for me after I read.  She was a big fan of the arts and apparently had some pretty big achievements in our little school and town, including an annual art fair, a symphony trip and an after school club for advanced learners.  She gave us advanced learners freedom to put on performances for books we had read, she did a unit on monet and was very excited that I was in musical theater.  I thinks he also gave me an extra credit assignment to write a 20 page report on a topic of interest.  
And, of course, she retired the  year we had her...... and she cried a lot during the retirement ceremony.  My friend and I made her a video goodbye and she accepted it lovingly, tearfully and with big hugs.  This is all through a 10 year old's memory.  
I wanted to spend a moment thinking of her, being grateful for her and hoping to be a bit like her.  She is still around and perhaps I will send her an email, if I see her address.  I am sure she has made a positive difference in many lives.  

Strengthening My Recovery - July 7th

People-Pleasing

"By transforming our people pleasing manner, we do not stop caring about others. However, we stop going over the line to ensure that we are never abandoned." BRB p.112

As children, we looked to others, such as our parents or teachers for approval.  Doing so, often kept us safe.  Over time, this practice taught us to abandon our own sense of worth in favor of someone else's external measure of our value.  Without others' approval, we felt like failures.

Through ACA, we learn to listen to our own inner loving parent's voice, no longer needing to rely on others to give us a sense of ourselves.  We learn to be true to ourselves, acting in ways that are aligned with our core values, beliefs and feelings that are becoming part of us.  We seek noone's approval, but our own. 

We sometimes find that our new actions may cause conflict with others.  But with confidence in our new inner compass and no longer fearing abandonment, we hold fast to our beliefs, speak our truths, and strengthen our sense of self.  We no longer need external forces to justify our existence.  

On this day, I will listen to my inner loving parent and know that it is all the approval I need for my thoughts and actions. 

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Wow!  So far, ACOA/ACA fits me like a glove.  It fits me despite me knowing that my family had an addictive family dynamic.

And despite realizing that the dynamic it had was one of shame.  I think I can say this and still remember and be grateful for the many positive dynamics in my family home.  It was a family home filled with laughter, in some ways being allowed to be a kid, involved "loving" parents, and shame, judgement and scapegoating.

So, interesting.  Anyways.  A lot of this passage spoke to me and challenged me.  This is not a way of talking that I am familiar with.

1) My people pleasing is related to a fear of being abandoned.  I'm not used to thinking of it this way.  This is probably why the stakes feel so high for someone to like me or not. And when they don't.......... why it feels so uncomfortable.  My "inner child" (the verbage is new, but I'm going with it) is saying, "If this person doesn't like me, I'm going to be abandoned and in danger."  I guess........(again this is new and uncomfortable), my inner loving parent can say, "If this person doesn't like you, it doesn't change a thing.  You live your life based on what's important to you.  Trust your intuition.  And you know that what is important to you is worthy and who you want to be.  Her liking you doesn't change that.  And there will be no danger if she doesn't like you.  Most importantly, your father in heaven likes and loves you.  You just keep being you."  Then my inner loving parent will hug me and give me a kiss.

By the way, I'm  having to breathe through that last part.  It's apparently difficult to "hear" this kind of loving talk towards myself.  It's eliciting an emotional reaction, I just can't identify what exactly it is.  And that's ok.  Maybe release of responsibility or facade.  Allowance to be myself???

2) Without other's approvals, we felt like failures.  This was not too much of a problem, during my first two decades.  Mainly because I had a lot of approval.  Now that things are not as universally approved of, I am having trouble being vulnerable and self loving.

3) Acting in ways that align with our core beliefs.  I feel like this makes all the difference in the world.  I am able to do things that are against popular opinion with my kids because I believe strongly that it how I want to raise them.  I sometimes still struggle, but that core belief helps me withstand my doubts or disapproval or let them just slip off.  I think I need to reevaluate my core beliefs explicitly.  Some of my old beliefs are at odds with how I'm living now.  One big belief was that I could power through any problem.  My new belief is that this is unhealthy and not a good way to live life.  I have spent so much time analyzing what I feel strongly about regarding child rearing, but not so much what I feel strongly about regarding how I approach conflict and life problems.

4) Inner loving parent - My first thought was................. I'm not sure if I have one of those.  I'm curious if there is a formula for it in the program.  I don't think I need the formula.  I do believe I'm blessed with kind words for others.  Giving that to myself right now, was novel and emotional.  That was not something I heard growing up.

It actually reminds me of a time with my 5th grade teacher.  I received an A- on an oral report.  Perfectionist that I was, I was extremely upset.  I was taking a long time to pack up my stuff to go outside and she could see I was upset.  She gave me some kind words and a hug and I just couldn't stop myself from crying.  The kindness elicited the tears.  And I cried and cried.  And I wished she hadn't hugged me because it was uncomfortable and a couple friends saw.

Mmmmm.  I think this work is going to be interesting.....