Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Look Back but Don't Stare......

Sparkling sunshine and sixty-three degrees are responsible for the spring in my step today.  I can't get that "Happy" song by Pharrell Williams out of my head either.  I think that  has to do with getting on the scales this morning.  I seem to have a pattern.  I will be at a certain weight ( number) and then it will go down a number and the next day back up again for a few days and then down until it settles there.  This morning I skipped a whole number!  I've been going to Weight Watchers for four weeks....actually five but four weeks of weigh-ins and I've only lost 7.2 lbs.  I know it is respectable but skipping a whole number is pretty cool when it's been slow progress.

The Son had been doing really well until the weekend and we saw a slip.  Granted, he has never given up alcohol altogether so it was/is inevitable.  But, it brings you back to those old fear and worry places.  The Dad is having a particularly tough time with the anxiety it brings.  It's hard to detach from worry when he is worrying so.  I need to distance myself from it and he wears it all over his face.  I guess we are both at different places in our journey.

Big Sister is having panic attacks over finances.  She is now financially independent, at least until she goes to grad school in the fall.  She is about to begin some research with a professor from her undergrad program and she has to spend money to register the research.  She has application fees for grad schools, she has to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding.........It seems unending sometimes.

Some of my "birdies" from the Homeward Bound program are out and taking steps to life outside.  They are a little like my scales...up and down until they settle one way or another.  They help me learn to manage expectation.  I catch myself getting tied up in their progress.  The new class is really going well.  Each class seems to carry it's own tone.  This class is an eager one for healthy change.  Investing yourself into the cause of addiction is very difficult when you aren't that great with slow change.  I guess God is teaching me patience. 

Hoping you are all doing well.  Oh, the title came from my Al Anon meeting last night.  I loved it.  Praying for all of you.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Looking Back on the Past

I just printed off all of the blog posts that I have written since the beginning.  Two hundred forty-four, single spaced pages.  Sometimes I don't like going back to read because it's so hard.  Sometimes I do because I am able to see some progress.  I'm going to go have it collated.  Here is the proof....proof of a long fought battle for quiet acceptance, proof that our awareness was awakened and continues to grow, proof that in a empty space that mainly housed only me and my fears, now resides a  space full of love of God and his will, with me close by allowing him to show me the way to myself. I wonder if any of you guys have ever done the same? 

A new session has begun at the jail.  I met the ladies for the first time on Thursday.  I am only offering a creative writing workshop this time.  I am relieved that I am not facilitating a class that I do not feel qualified to teach.  I guess some could argue that I am not qualified to lead a writing workshop but my goal is mainly encouraging them to look in and question and effectively communicate with themselves and others. 

I watched a great segment on writing obituaries on Saturday.  I must admit that I love reading them.  There has to be some really great stories tucked in those interesting snapshots of a life.  I learned that in Great Britain, their obituaries aren't always flattering.  I've included one of my favorites to give you a "happy" for today. 

Yesterday I got to spend the entire day alone.  To many, that may sound lonely but to me, it is a necessary part of my sanity.  I need quiet to allow myself to look in and be present with my feelings.  Then, I am able to understand them, deal with them and let them go.  I'll probably turn into the odd little blue haired lady who kids are afraid of before it's over.  Oh well.

I'm beginning to day dream about warm coastal breezes.  I fantasize about winning the lottery and packing only an overnight bag and checking flights not for price but warmth, buying a one way flight and staying as long as I feel like it, shopping for the proper clothes when I get there, eating delicious food and taking a huge stake of books.  Can you imagine? 

The son seems to be making progress, lately.  He has a girlfriend who seems very nice.  He is paying bills on his own.  He is visiting family, hanging out with us, talking on the phone with friends while staying in the same room where we are ( I know that a lot of you get how big that is), trying to quit smoking and making future plans. 

Big Sister is working as a vet assistant until the fall when graduate school begins.  She is paying her own way which was a little shocking to her at first but I'm really proud of the job she is doing.  She is even replacing the tires on her car this week.  That is a big financial burden off our plate.  I'm really proud of her.

Little Sister is quite excited about nursing school.  I purchased hot dogs at the grocery store so that she could practice IP shots!!  It's so funny to look at these kids that I remember so vividly as the little characters now enter adulthood taking on grown up responsibilities.  It's been great finally letting them go.  They are so much more than I could ever force them to be.......

This reason we are all here is the darndest thing, isn't it?  It almost broke us and yet, it has changed things in the most wonderful ways.  I guess that is what I will look for when I read about the past. 

Praying for Henry, my family and yours. 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is, Sister....

I've read a lot about things that help an addict to heal some of the issues which might fuel their addiction (yes I know there is no idea was that this falls under the ".....change the things that you can...." scolding comments, please).  I've read about attachment and shame.  I work (note present tense) the twelve steps continuously, initially of course in an effort to fix my addicted loved ones.  I have read about the need to examine the hurts of childhood and to grieve them and release them.  And, for the most part, I have accepted that I can only fix me.  To that end, I go to Al Anon.  I pray and meditate, I volunteer at the local jail.  I try to mind my own business....through gritted teeth and white knuckles.

But, if I have the hope that my addicted loved ones will take the necessary steps to find serenity in their lives then perhaps it is time for me to do the same.  Late last year I decided to try to enter a study at Vanderbilt University for diabetics not using insulin.  It was a very interesting study in many ways.  Regardless of which group ( control or study group) I would have randomly been selected for, I would have had supervision from a registered dietitian for six months.  Also during that time, I would have four different occasions where they would give me a stimulant and put me in an MRI and PET scan to flash food pictures at me while they watched my brain activity.  How cool is that? 

I had hoped that this focus on healthy eating would help me get my eating ( my addiction) on a path that would lead to a healthy weight, thus a healthier me.  I was DENIED.  I had been feeling really bad and a little hopeless that this problem would ever change.  The fact is diabetes and weight get harder and harder to manage as time goes by.  I was very down. 

You see I am larger than I have ever been.  My family has begged me to get healthy since the kids were little.  They watched both grandmothers go through the awful process of dialysis as their kidneys failed as a result of diabetes and high blood pressure.  And, in May, I turn the big 5-0!!!  I am on medicine for the diabetes, high blood pressure and my heart.  My eyesight is bad and it is harder and harder for them to prescribe the right glasses when my blood sugar runs high.  I was denied participation in the study because of my heart issues (arrhythmia).

My weight has always been a great source of shame for me.  I have never told my husband a number.  That number stifles me.  It means that I am less than.  It means that I am a loser.  It means that I am lazy and undisciplined.  Does all of that self talk remind you of anything?  Well, it did me and so I thought that if I expected my addicted loved ones to deal with it...already, then maybe I should put my money where my mouth is.

On January 1, 2014, I weighed ten pounds more than I did at nine months pregnant with my son.  There it is.  It's not a number yet, but I'm working up the courage for that.  I started trying to eliminate sweets from my diet.  I started to feel a little lighter but I never weighed.  The last week of January, I joined Weight Watchers.  I had done it before and it worked.  But, until now I knew that I wasn't ready.  I don't know what changed other than the fact that I finally associated step one with my weight and began praying about it, because I did not/do not know how to live day in and day out without eating the southern food that I grew up learning to prepare which always, always ends with dessert. 

After week one, I lost four pounds.  I was very excited and hopeful.  Some days were hard.  Some days I didn't totally comply.  But, this time, it was different because when I slipped, I got back up again.  Week two I started and I continued slipping day after day.  I felt pretty bad about the week as a whole.  I had tried as we often do, to make it work the way I wanted it to, plus Super Bowl Sunday was bad no matter how healthy I tried to make it.  I wanted to skip my weigh in.  I did not want to go and face those ladies.  But this time I realized that what I dreaded so intensely is exactly what alcoholics and addicts faced all of the time.  So I went and I weighed in and I gained .8 pound.  And, when I came home, I told my family directly instead of hiding in shame and guilt.

I'm going back too.  I'm trying again, today.  That's what I expect of them.  This morning when I stepped on the scales, I realized that since January 1, I am at my nine month pregnancy weight with my son again.  I'm not the largest anymore.  I'm not as ashamed telling anymore.  People understand.  They relate.  How foolish we can all be my friends.  Welcome to my journey.  You are a safe group to be vulnerable with.

I am happy to report that my little friend from Homeward Bound went to court, paid her fine and has that behind her.  And, when she asked me how she could get a job when she couldn't drive to work, I told her to ask around in her meetings.  I told her that many, many people start out without cars and rely on those who have started out just like she is.  The pre Al Anon me would have looked up job listings, worked out a schedule to pick her up and made my life a living resentful nightmare. 

Happy and Praying....for all of you and your loved ones.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ramblings of a Troubled Co Dependent

It's super bowl Sunday and we are expecting our friends and their children in a couple of hours.  It is a low key, no stress kind of entertaining as these friends have been our friends since moving to Tennessee almost twenty years ago and I can say, "this is the food I've planned to make, fill in the blanks...." and it's all good.

The dogs surprise me more and more as time goes by.  Their vocabulary seems to constantly grow.  I mentioned that I was going to go upstairs to the Dad and out of nowhere, they appear, tails wagging ready for an adventure.  They also know breakfast, supper, potty, treat, bone, outside, walk and bath (which sends them into hiding). Come and bad are words that suddenly make them appear deaf.

I often go to the open AA speaker meetings.  It is really enlightening for me to hear their stories.  It helps me to better understand my addicted loved ones.  Their words give me hope. Many times I get a little down when something happens that makes fear rear it's ugly head,  whispering in my ear that things will never change.  But, when I hear the ups and downs in their stories, I can step back and see that "it takes what it takes."  I can see God in their stories over and over again and those stories remind me to get the heck out of the way.

One of the girls from the Homeward Bound program at the jail asked me to help her by giving her a ride to a court date.  I am so hesitant about getting involved.  I have this tendency to know just how to solve the worlds problems go a little overboard to the point that I forget about my own life.  I didn't know whether or not to respond to her text so I began to pray about it by asking God if this need to help was really a product of my pride or if He was really calling me to help her.  It didn't take long until the loud and clear thought that entered my mind was reminding me that her mother had died while she was in jail and her Dad is in Hospice care as we speak.  This twenty-two year old literally has nobody. 

I felt OK about my decision but I have to say that I am concerned that I will go too far.  She kept offering to give me $20.00 to take her.  She has never gone to meetings.  I always try to encourage her to give them a try.  So I said, "if you will go to 6 AA meetings, we can call it even."  She said, "if you will take me, I will go."  Now I am screaming, in my head, you are going too are trying to control......  I was sick about it.  I prayed, "Father, I don't know if this is me and my pride trying to fix this or me trying to follow your me what to do." 

We went to the meeting and I must admit that she was not exactly a girl who knew how to pay attention and respect when another is talking and she lacked a few of the "softer skills" so I was nervous.  I thought if this goes bad, there is no one to blame but you.  But, it was really good.  She was so afraid to try it and she was able to see that it was actually good.  I am hoping that she can make some good connections and the program will take over in the miraculous way that it does of bringing in the broken helping them on their journey of self discovery, understanding and healing only to send them out to serve others.

Maybe you can all help me to be accountable by reminding me to  stay out of her way.  Looking forward to winter's end, my friends.  Feeling hopeful and remembering you in prayer.