J – Jealousy – Does It Ever Go Away?

When I was about thirteen, I was “dating a boy” and I remember standing on the street corner with him and some friends and this pretty girl walked by.  My “boyfriend” looked at her and I remember getting a twinge in my belly and then dismissing it.  After all, he was only watching a girl walk by.

Allegory of Jealousy
Allegory of Jealousy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast forward a year to my new boyfriend (and the guy I would marry, have children with and divorce) who took jealousy to a whole new level for me.  I had never been jealous before.  If you had asked me what it meant at that age, I probably couldn’t have told you. I was young, silly and failing at fitting in to any group or click.

Now, after I married this guy and he berated, belittled and abused me, jealousy was something I came to know first hand.  He took to pulling out Playboy magazines and telling me he wished I looked like the women that donned those shiny, seedy pages. Furthermore, he would (for a year) compare me to his ex-girlfriend in every aspect. Each time he did these things (all in the name of love, of course) I felt smaller, less than and wanted to be what he wanted me to be.  I would get that angry little knot in my belly and start mentally beating myself up.

I still struggle with jealousy.  Some people ask me why… and all I can say is, “your perception of me and my perception of me are on different avenues.” People tell me I am beautiful, pretty, smart, etc. And sometimes I really do feel that way.

But all it takes is my perception of beauty, intelligence or confidence to grace my presence in the form of another woman and boom. I’m jealous, insecure and comparing myself.  And I almost always turn it inward.

So I pray, write snippets on ripped pieces of paper and throw them in my God Box.  I talk to my friends in the program about how I feel sometimes.  It helps.  I hope someday to vanquish my jealousy.

I’m definitely better these days… Progress, not perfection.

Do you get jealous?

I – Inconsistency – The Backbone of Failure

rhizoming the plan of consistency . .Inconsistency should really be my middle name.  Throughout my life, I have been inconsistent about everything: work, family, kids, money and even hobbies.  I don’t know if I have untreated A.D.H.D. or if I am just inherently lazy, but this crap has plagued me since I was little.  I get all gung-ho about something and then a day, week or a month floats by and I say, “Wow, this is pretty f’ing boring.” Other times, I purposely refrain from proceeding, perhaps in an attempt to self-sabotage.  I’m really good at that.

Inconsistency is the main ingredient in any recipe for failure.  For me, not writing 500 words a day leads to no published novel (hell, not even a final draft!) along with many other unfulfilled dreams and aspirations that I could have if I just remained consistent.  I could sit here and make tons of excuses as to my lack of motivation, my screaming inconsistency and my lazy ways, but that’s just it.  They are excuses.

What I am consistent with: my program and abstaining from alcohol and drugs.  Please know that I am not bragging.  It isn’t set in stone that “I got this” when it comes to my recovery from alcoholism/addiction.  I see it too much in the places I go… people I care about falling off the wagon or never quite grasping the concept.  Maybe they did have the concept but for whatever reason, decided to “try to drink successfully.”  I can honestly say I have not seriously entertained taking a drink or drug in these past years… even when those silly, glamorized booze commercials come on the television or I watch a movie with blatant drug use.  I do get those little tummy knots sometimes when I watch something like that, but that’s my cue.  “Turn it off, Darlene.  Nothing to see here.”

By the Grace of God, I will have seven clean & sober years on May 26, 2013.

H – Hell: It’s Not Just For Satan

Demon
Demon (Photo credit: ark)

Through my addiction, I thought I was escaping the self-inflicted hell I had brought upon myself.  I used and drank to escape my demons, never realizing I had created more each time I picked up. It’s a hard lesson, really, and one I am glad I grasped before I fell too far down that pit of scarred brimstone.

The sneakiness of addiction is interesting.  One night I was high as a kite sailing through a windstorm in a vain attempt to mask my hate and loneliness.  Before I knew it, I was living in a basement, my kids taken from me and I was further into hell than I could imagine.

I looked like walking death (literally – I should have taken a picture).  All that hate, self-loathing and insecurity I tried so hard to hide, seeped out of my pores like puss from a poorly popped pimple.  My isolation was profound.  I had resorted to sitting in a basement, doing drugs and drinking while writing pages and pages of angry, tormented journal entries. Those journals are lost forever, but some of the stuff I wrote looked like:

Why am I so pathetic? What the fuck is wrong with me?  I wish I would die in my sleep.  I’m ugly.  I’m a loser.  I did so much coke tonight and drank so much Blackhaus, I was sure I would die.  But here I am… awake for another epic fucking day.

The thing about such a revolting self-inflicted hell is… it’s damn hard to climb out of that hole. Being unemployed (and unemployable), weighing 120 pounds (I’m 5’10”) and feeling sick (like dope sick) and having to look at that shit in the mirror, it’s hard to say (or think): What the fuck am I doing? This sucks!

That’s crazy, right? But that’s what the demon did.  It caressed me slow and soft, told me lies all the while dragging me day by day to hell. I am eternally grateful that by the Grace of God and getting help from my program I was able to crawl and then walk out of the shadows I created. It was not an easy road, but after a while, I realized that the road (my new road) although rocky and sometimes bumpy, was a lot more pleasant than my old road which went right through hell.

When you were in darkness, did you ever think you’d see light?

F – Fear – An Integral Part of Life

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...
Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit: epSos.de)

When I was little, I wasn’t scared of much, which is kind of scary in itself.  I remember being afraid of my closet and upsetting people.  Oh, and worms… but these days I love worms.  Funny how feelings change.  All my life, while not afraid of objects, heights, scary movies or a bad hair day, I was terrified of hurting others feelings, failing and not measuring up.  Most of us can probably relate to these fears which are normal to an extent.

These fears destroyed me!  My fear of failing caused me to not try. My fear of not wanting to hurt others’ feelings caused me to make choices in my life that were damaging. My fear of not measuring up kept me in toxic relationships because I felt, “hey, I cannot do any better than this!”

Having no fear isn’t healthy, either. I remember when that slogan was everywhere: NO FEAR.  I saw it on pickup trucks, shirts and have even seen a tattoo or two of this slogan.  It is fun to project the ‘no fear’ attitude, but fear is real and sometimes it is there for a reason. Fear is that feeling in the belly that says, “Danger!” It is up to me to assess that fear.

Is my fear legitimate?

I found a fascinating article on the five basic forms of fear here. The interesting this is that they all deal with the death of that crazy thing called EGO.  I suggest reading the article.  It details great explanations of the five basic forms of fear:

  • Extinction
  • Mutilation
  • Loss of Autonomy
  • Separation
  • Ego-Death

In my twelve-step work, I had to take an honest inventory of my fears (which was a fear in itself!) to get to the nitty-gritty of why the hell I could not stop drinking, why I insisted on sabotaging my life and a host of other calamities that caused me unnecessary stress.

When I got the core of my fear of abandonment, rejection and humiliation my life started to change; I started to change.  I asked for a raise.  I left a toxic relationship. I let my guard down and started being me.

As I continue my journey to self-discovery, I still have fears.  After all, that human element is something inherent in me forever.  With the help of God as I understand Him, my program, and the awesome people in my life, I am able to work through those fears and grow.

How do you handle fear?  Do you recognize an irrational fear?

E – Empathy – and Lack Of

Empathy (software)
Empathy (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Empathy is described as: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

A lot of people are able to sympathize, however, empathy is a little deeper than sympathy.  To sum it up: empathy is the ability to relate or ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ where Sympathy is feeling sad, sorry or bad for someone.  Now, you  might not be one to mix these two up, but I know plenty of people who have.

I learned about empathy in drug & alcohol classes in college (the irony, right) and that lesson flipped a light on in my head.  In order to be good with people, empathy goes a long way.  This is true when dealing with alcoholics, addicts and the mentally challenged.  This also holds true when dealing with someone who has a story that is hard to grasp.

I’d like to say that after the mountains of crap I’ve climbed in my life that I am one of the most empathetic beings on the planet.  I can be; but not always.  I’m human, therefore I judge.  It happens and it is sad but I owe it to myself to be honest with myself and my readers.  There will be no sugar-coating on this blog… ever.

And here is the scary thing about empathy.  It cannot be taught.  It is something inherent inside of most beings, and other beings lack the trait.  Still, others, like me, are empathetic at times and other times think things like:

  • you got what you deserved.
  • I cannot relate.
  • I’ve heard it a million times.
  • that is not an excuse.
  • suck it up.

And who of us hasn’t thought these things when listening to another’s woes? We might think it about the mother who is a stripper, the father who has a hard time paying child support or the screaming boss.  It happens.

What is your experience with sympathy vs. empathy?

A – Z Challenge ~ Z is for Zen

zen bedroom
zen bedroom (Photo credit: evoluc)
Zen is:
1. Chinese, Ch’an. Buddhism . a Mahayana movement, introduced into China in the 6th century a.d. and into Japan in the 12th century, that emphasizes enlightenment for the student by the most direct possible means, accepting formal studies and observances only when they form part of such means. Compare koan, mondo.
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2. the discipline and practice of this sect.
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Zen is also:
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The practice of finding complete peace and tranquility within one’s self.  I have a friend with whom I talk to about peace, zen and tranquility.  We have our own views of zen.  But, that is the beauty of Zen.  It is where ever you find peace.
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Your zen is unique.  Maybe your zen is sitting at a coffee shop surrounded by people, or maybe it is sitting on a giant rock in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees.
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Whichever your zen, try to find it at least once a week.  Go to your zen spot (if you can do up your bedroom in a zen-like state, even better) and breath in through your nose, exhale through your mouth and let your mind settle.
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This is the last in line for A-Z posts!  I had a lot of fun with this project.  I came upon a lot of cool blogs and had a lot of cool new commenters (and you old heads rock too!).
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My theme for the A-Z Challenge was mostly about SELF. Things that breed happiness, peace and confidence.
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Have a great week everyone!  😀
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A – Z Challenge ~ Y is for You

Image: xdwebsolutions.com

That’s right.  You.  Y is all about you.  You are the most important thing. It’s you baby. You are what you eat. You give love a bad name.

I mean, how many times has it been about someone else?  You are always sacrificing for your family, your job, your pets, your writing… the list goes on!

So today – make it all about you.  If you can’t do it today, do it in the next week or two.

Find a place to go, even if it is in your own back yard, and just make it about you.

Start a page in your journal or online diary (I use Penzu – love it!) and make it all about you.  What do you want?  What would you do if there were no consequences? Where would you live if you had the choice? What is your dream job?

These are questions that should get you on a track to questioning your intent in life and really get your head spinning.  I  mean, there is only one you.  You should be nice to you.  It is so important to value yourself, if you don’t, no one else will.

Every day, I try to ask myself a hard question.

Questions like:

If this was the last day of your life, would you wan to live it this way?

If helping someone out meant a slight inconvenience, would you still help them?

It is amazing how much we get back when we give just a little.

So make today all about you.

Journal prompt for the day:

What does a day ALL ABOUT YOU look like?

A – Z Challenge ~ X is for Xylophone

xylophone-highway
xylophone-highway (Photo credit: Anthony Citrano)

xy·lo·phone

[zahy-luh-fohn]

a musical instrument consisting of a graduated series of wooden bars, usually sounded by striking with small wooden hammers.  The history of the xylophone is vague, hailing from Africa and/or Asia.
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The xylophone is also one of the musical instruments used in a child’s early development.  Walk in any children’s toy store and in the baby section, you will see a variety of xylophones for children two and under.
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Xylophone – A great instrument, highly underrated, and totally cool!  When I was in fifth grade, I was selected to play the xylophone for the Christmas Concert.  I had a blast and realized then that music was something that I always wanted in my life.
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I seriously looked through the X part of the dictionary for a totally, off the wall uber cool word, but they were all like Xenophon and Xenon and all that garb and I didn’t want to talk about something I knew nothing about.  I then went down a list of emotions.  Maybe I could use a word with “X” in it.  Nope.  I thought that would be cheating, so here we are.
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I really don’t know much about Xylophones either.  They are, however, a musical instrument.  And that gets a smile going on my face.
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.Do you know any really cool “X” words?
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Related articles

A – Z Challenge ~ W is for Willing

We Rock!
We Rock! (Photo credit: !anaughty!)

Willing – Adjective

1.disposed or consenting; inclined: willing to go along.

2.cheerfully consenting or ready: a willing worker.

3.done, given, borne, used, etc., with cheerful readiness.
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Ready, willing and able. To do what?  To do what it takes to make life rock!  What are
you willing to do that will change it up?
What are you willing to sacrifice to reach the ultimate goal?
What are you willing to risk to live the life you want?
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Life is about living!  Life is not about sitting comfortable in your living room or kitchen while excitement passes you by. If you want to live the life you dream, the live you crave and the live you want to love, you have to be willing to make sacrifices, go out on limbs and take chances.
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Freaking scary, huh?  I mean, what if you fail? Here’s a better question: What if you succeed? Holy crap!  It could happen.  You could succeed and then think: Wow. Imagine if I hadn’t been willing to give my dream a shot?
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Today you are going to take out a piece of paper and you are going to write down three things.
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1. What you want.
2. What you’ll risk to get that.
3. The worst that could happen.
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Go into detail and really think about your life’s mission.  What will you give up to get where you want to go? Write down a schedule, a list of things you might not need or parts of your day where you could eke out a little extra time.  You can share it here, with someone you care for or tuck it away for later.
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What are you willing to risk to live the life you love?
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A – Z Challenge ~ V is for Variety

Coca-Cola 'variety'
Coca-Cola 'variety' (Photo credit: Toban Black)

Ah, variety.  They say it is the spice of life.  well, I’m not sure who “they” are, but they are correct.  Imagine eating the same thing every day, watching the same program every day or even wearing the same clothes every day. Yeah, booooring.

Variety is a staple in our lives because we have complex brains that need stimulation.  Sure, my cat can eat the same flavored crunchy cat food for the rest of his furry life because all he knows is that he is hungry, and the taste is palatable.

Last year I was on a health kick and this was my lunch:

1 Granny Smith apple, cut into chunks

3 ounces of low-fat cheese

4 slices of turkey

I ate it every day for about nine months until one morning I went to make my lunch and I couldn’t even look at those three items. My brain had become so conditioned to my daily routine, my motions and thought process was almost mechanical.  But that other part of my brain (the part that needs stimulation, I suppose) realized I was not married, nor in a long-term relationship with the apples, cheese and turkey and it was okay.  I could eat other foods.

Variety makes it interesting!

Challenge:  Think about something you do each day that you could change.  Maybe your lunch, clothes, make-up, morning beverage, route to work. Anything you can think of.  Take notice to how you react to it.  Was the change exhilarating?  Uncomfortable?

Journal about your change.