T – Truth… Speaking My Own

truth by size
truth by size (Photo credit: Will Lion)

I was always a people pleaser.  Always… I couldn’t stand to be disliked so I would keep my feelings buried and wear that plastic smile, laugh that fake laugh and do what it took to gain acceptance.  This is probably the worst thing I have ever done to myself.  This is worse than sleeping with strangers, driving like a maniac or even breaking a window (on purpose).  Because by not speaking my truth, I fortified a wall of lies around my soul that I still chip at today.

I suck at speaking my truth.  I get that knot in my stomach and I get all frazzled and start thinking too much.  That’s when my truth turns into a monster.

Now, while I am an average writer,  I suck at talking.  Seriously.  I hold it in so long that by the time I do get it out (sometimes hours or even days later) it comes out all crazy and illogical.  And honestly, at that point I have lost my focus.  This has plagued me since I was little.

Here goes…

Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to a bar & grill.  Ugh, I know.  But his friend (who he hadn’t seen in over twenty years) was playing in a band (with his other long-lost friend) and he just wanted to clear the air with things in the past.  Okay… no biggie.

We talked before we got out of the car and made a pact.  Neither would leave the other under any and all circumstances. Period. If things got hairy or either of us started to feel uncomfortable we would say so and then we would jet. Okay, there is the pact.

That pact lasted about fifteen minutes.  Yeah, he left me sitting at the bar (with my soda and Loaded Nachos) and went to go mingle with all his old friends.  I sat there alone for thirty minutes being ogled by creepy old guys and the ‘shot girl’ asking me three times if I wanted a shot.  My blood pressure shot through the roof the first time she came by with her tray full of booze loaded test tubes. I snapped ‘no’ as I waved my hand.  Still, she came by two more times.  Ugh, again.

So I am trying to see through the wall to locate my boyfriend in the other part of the bar.  “Where the fuck are you?” I am thinking as I get upset.  I can’t see him but hope he is on the other side of that wall.

I finally spot my boyfriend and some hot blonde hanging all over him.  Okay, now I am feeling resentful, angry and jealous.  This is just not fucking going well… at all. My whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is kicking the shit out of me because I am extremely uncomfortable.

I do not belong here.

So finally after all that, he comes back over with one of his friends. I know my face says, ‘you suck’ because, after all, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  His friend apologizes to me for keeping him away. Do I get an apology from my boyfriend? Nope.  All I get is justification and ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’

For the rest of the night, true to form, I stuffed in all inside because I didn’t want to ruin the night or act like an ass in the establishment.  That’s what I used to do back when I was ‘out there.’ I’d act like a total psycho no matter where I was if whoever I was with at the time hit me with a perceived injustice.  But this time I wasn’t drunk or high.  I was just me… raw and real with my emotions.

So I guess I have grown up a little.  Most of my old behaviors didn’t ooze from my pores and I kept my composure for the rest of the night.  I did try to bring how I felt up later on when we got home, but that didn’t go well.

Today I did bring it up.  I had to speak my truth.  I had to say where I was inside and I had to let him know that I was not mad at him, but that he broke his word to me and that hurt.  And it wasn’t a question of me being right.  That’s not what I wanted.  I wanted an apology for him leaving my side; for him breaking the pact we made in the car.  He did apologize (sort of) after (from an outsider’s point of view) a hilarious argument/discussion/fight outside on Sunday.

Do you find it difficult to speak your truth?

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?

Book Review: Recovering My Kid

Recovering My Kid
Recovering My Kid

I like books.  I especially like books that teach me things.  Call me a nerd if you wish, but I read books the same way I watch television.  If I am not getting anything from it, I am not interested.  Not to say I don’t read fiction, I do.  However, given I have a short attention span (still not admitting I have ADD!) a book or show really has to grip me – unless I am learning.

I was recently asked to review ‘Recovering My Kid’ by Joseph Lee, M. D. I was skeptical at first, but as I read I was fascinated by the wealth of information and  tools to help any parent suffering through the addiction of their child.

Below you will find my favorable review.  The book is available on Amazon and Hazelden.

Recovering My Kid: Review

There are three parts which consist of forty-five chapters in the helpful book “Recovering My Kid” by Joseph Lee, M.D.  The first part is ‘Frameworks for Emotional Objectivity’, the second is ‘Frameworks for Leadership’ and the third, ‘Frameworks for Understanding Mental Health.’ The book really takes a hard look at how parents can help or hurt when a child is in the throes of addiction and/or alcoholism.

What is wonderful about this book is the broken down parts.  Also, at the end of each chapter there is a ‘bottom line’ and thought-provoking questions either for journaling, discussion with a partner or a group dynamic.

Frameworks for Emotional Objectivity

This part will fascinate anyone who wants to know the emotional turmoil of dealing with an addicted child.  The chapters cover different aspects of emotional baggage, enabling and codependency.  As a mother in recovery with an addicted child, I found myself highlighting parts of this chapter.  Guilt is a bullet point as Dr. Lee discusses how it can hinder any parent with the best intentions.  Dr. Lee gives examples of emotional objectivity along with enabling behaviors that could be misconstrued as helping your child. There is also a focal point on how leaning too far to the rigid, disciplinary side can hinder a child’s development and sabotage the child’s recovery.

Frameworks for Leadership

Boundaries and consistency are the main focal point of this section.  Let’s be honest, without boundaries and consistency, you’re raising a spoiled time bomb that could detonate at any moment.  Dr. Lee even asks the painful question: ‘Do I kick my kid out of the house?’ and discusses what your bottom line is. Having (and sticking to) a bottom line is paramount when handling an addicted child.  It is so easy to get drawn across that makeshift line in the sand and make any work up until point a waste of time.

Frameworks for Understanding Mental Health

While the first two sections of this book are packed with useful information and key questions for reflection, the final section is paramount because people cannot deal with something they do not understand.  Imagine being thrust into a situation without any education on it and being told, “Okay, handle this.” You’d probably scratch your head while your eyes darted around in a panic. Part three is the key to grasping the “how and why” of your child’s mental development and keeping a clinical mind while in an emotional upheaval.

In summary, addiction is a rough road for anyone involved.  There are several lines parents cross while they try to assist their child because it is so brokenheartedly painful.  ‘Recovering My Kid’ gives clear-cut information and steps to help through the process.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

image: idlehearts.com
image: idlehearts.com

What a cliché, right?  The first time I actually heard this saying was in the movie “Kiss of Death” with David Caruso.  David’s character was the one who said it and the phrase kind of echoed in my brain every moment since then when things got a little (or a lot) rough.

Also, “Stronger” is a great uplifting song by Kelly Clarkson.  Check it out of you haven’t heard it.  You’ll like it, I’m sure.

But I’m not here to talk about Kelly or David.  I am here to talk about the hurdles we face, the doubts that creep and the life stuff that keeps on happening even when we just want to slam the door shut and get five minutes of peace.

You see, I feel like God keeps testing me and my faith.  Is it a test of how sincere I am in my willingness to change and hand stuff over?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I do try to hand stuff over on a daily basis.  I pray every morning and every night and I always ask God for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out.  That is another blog post entirely, because I still struggle with that. What is God’s Will?

I always try to do the next right thing, keep my word and help others.  There is a lot of truth in the fact that if I always do these three things, I will always have a great day and will feel truly blessed.  And it really happens that way for me, until something upsets me.

Usually I try to figure the crap out by myself through journaling or talking with friends.  Tonight I tried something different.  I called my al-anon sponsor.

That was the best idea I had in the last three weeks.

The things that won’t kill me and have the capacity to make me stronger are those life events that I think I can’t handle, but wind up handling.  I then look back and say, “Wow.  How did I get through that?” You’ve said it, too.  Those painful, disturbing chaotic life events that happen to us – sometimes gradually, sometimes immediately – and take us to a realm of being we’ve never experienced before.  We get through them; all of them.  And when we come out on the other end, that’s exactly what we ask ourselves:  how did I get through that?

I think analyzing such things is pointless.  To reflect would be okay, but analyzing kind of kills the element that you did get through that thing you thought you never could.  Basking in the moment of triumph would probably feel a whole lot better.  Analyze later.

Was there ever a moment you thought you could not go on but managed to get through?  How did you feel afterwards?

Keeping It Real

serenity
serenity (Photo credit: dragonflaiii)

So I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) this morning and there were all these fascinating episodes that dealt with “self.” Like, how we treat the self, how outside events impact the self and so much stuff I went out and bought a book by one of the people Oprah was interviewing.  “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer.  The book is to liberate us from a contained self-image.

Based solely on the interview, the information I gathered from the show and snippets of the book I scanned, I have hope that this book will break me through my final barrier… me.

I have always tried to keep it real.  I’ve tried to remain grounded in all I do, say or feel along with trying to be there for anyone who crosses my life path. But there are these things, these feelings, that get in the way on a consistent basis.  And when I let my head get the best of me, I am no longer keeping it real per say, but getting sucked into a myopic array of disillusionment which takes me back to that dark room of self-loathing.

Yeah, pretty messed up stuff.  The more messed up part of all this crap is that I project this putrid bile onto other human beings.  Instead of just being in a moment or looking at things for what they are, I tend to read deeper into whatever is going on and then I project my thoughts, insecurities and the like others.

This leads to:

  • self-doubt
  • self-loathing
  • insecurity
  • feeling less than
  • depression
  • self-sabotage
  • resentment

That is a pretty hefty list of awful feelings, ideals and all around yuckiness.

Lately, I have been way up in my head.  This is a tough place for me when I am trying to live a life of peace.  My head is not peaceful.  It is constantly chattering, whispering and telling me rotten things.  I believe these things.  I give my thoughts weight and that is when the horrible list above comes into play.  I used to drink and drug to get rid of these thoughts and feelings.  Drinking and drugging is not an option for me.

This is why I bought the book.  My thoughts (and yours) are so automatic, I never question them.  You’ve heard the saying, “I think, therefore I am.” UGH!!! How awful is that? I certainly do not want to be what I think!  My twelve-step program helps ( a lot!) but lately I just feel like I need an added tool.

As I go through this book (highlighting sentences and paragraphs like I always do) I will be updating my blog with what I have learned and if any of it is making sense.  It made sense on Oprah’s show, therefore, I am sure it will make sense.

Also, I signed up for 21 Day Meditation Challenge.  It is free and looks like a lot of fun.  Check it out!

How do you battle your demons?

That Damn Heart On My Sleeve

Heart on Sleeve!
Heart on Sleeve! (Photo credit: Caro’s Lines)

It’s true.  I am an emotional, loving, caring, forgiving human being who seems to never remember that it is NOT all about me and I should NOT take everything to the life-giving, all loving heart that is in my chest and on my sleeve.

I have a hard time handling any kind of rejection.

You wanna hurt me?  Ignore me.  Pretend I do not matter.  Treat me like one of the rest.  That shit hurts.  It hurts deep.

Maybe I am the “sensitive artist type” or I am just sensitive period.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I love with all my heart and I just reveal myself (the real me) time and again and I get shit on and it hurts.

How do I be someone else?  How do I turn into this magical, mythical creature that never gets angry, hurt, upset, jealous, resentful or bruised?

This is the question I want answered.

Why do I do this?  Why do I pour my heart into everything?  The risk is always there and I know this.  But I give my heart anyway.  Over and over and over again.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel the hurt, the pain, the agony of rejection or dejection.  But then, I remember:

It is good for me to feel these things and sort them out. Because the moment I decide I can no longer handle feeling these feelings is the scary moment I might look to pick up a drink.  After all, not being able to handle my feelings was a huge part in my alcoholism.

So…

  • I journal.
  • I go to a meeting.
  • I talk to my friend, Heather.
  • I pray.
  • I think (this is not good).

The final thing I do is give it to God.  I have so many little papers in my God Box: things I want, things that bother me, people I cannot help.  All kinds of stuff.  I put those little pieces of paper in my God Box and then forget about them.  After I say a prayer and put my written thought in the God Box, I forget about it…

For a little while…

But, me being me with this heart on my sleeve, my head starts to mess with me again.  Sometimes I think wearing my heart on my sleeve is a huge character defect.  However, a lot of people (including my former sponsor) has told me it is an admirable trait.

Hmmmm…

How are you at handling your emotions? 

The Stalker Within Us

Image: epdeatonville.org
Image: epdeatonville.org

Not all of us have been a stalker or a stalkee, but for those of us who have been on either end of this creepy spectrum, this post should prove either interesting or appalling.

To the stalkers:  Your behavior does not make us want to be with you.  Sending us text messages, calling us frequently and threatening us with “you’ll never meet anyone like me ever again” does not work.  Like… really?  We are freaking hoping we never meet anyone like you… ever. 

You see, we left your sorry ass because of your suffocating, over-bearing, jealous behavior.  Nope, doesn’t matter how hot you are/were or how great in the sack you were or all the times you brought us lunch… we do not want you.

It is over.  Time for you to move on.

To the stalkees: Protect yourself!  Document all the irrational behavior on your stalker’s part.  If you can change your email or cell number, do it.  If not, keep text messages, emails, and all other correspondence.  This will come in handy should you require a protection order.

Do everything in your power to keep the stalker at bay: block them on Facebook, ignore their rants via text message, email and voicemail.  Most importantly, if they are harassing you in person, go to the police and get a protection order.

These situations are volatile and can turn dangerous.  Protect yourself!