As this new year begins to settle in, many folks will be beginning the precarious tight-rope walk of sobriety. This post is full of wisdom.
Source: Stand Up
For the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing some more emotions coming up than usual, for me. I mean, the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s time of year is almost universally difficult for many of us to get through.
I’ve been thinking of when I was younger, like maybe middle-school age or less, I had a conversation with my Dad in which we talked about me being depressed. I think I’m really not alone in the kind of reaction I received: “You? Depressed? (Laughter) What do you have to be depressed about, little girl?! You have a nice home, food, clothes and 2 parents who love you!” And he wasn’t wrong. But he wasn’t entirely right, either.
As a very small child I learned to be “PERFECT”, because when I stepped out of line -even accidentally- I was going to pay a painful price. Dad had a hair-trigger temper, and he punished me with his belt when he was ANGRY. I was terrified of his anger my entire life, and even now I have a lot of anxiety when a man raises his voice in anger.
I later learned that I had had A.D.D., which looks different in girls than in boys. I was called a daydreamer, or space cadet. I got in trouble for talking all the time, and it was next to impossible for me to get all my supplies and homework to where they were supposed to be without forgetting or losing something.
At the time, these traits just infuriated Dad, because he was sure that I “had to be doing it on purpose”. Then I heard “stupid, lazy, doesn’t pay attention, lazy and doesn’t even try”.
I was reminded of that situation when I heard recently of a relative of mine, in reference to his teenager being depressed, saying things like Not going to medicate and Counsellors are a waste of money. It really bothered me to hear that, because that kind of thinking has cost far too many people struggling with addiction and/or mental illness their lives. If you see that your child is miserable, with no obvious reasons for it, why wouldn’t you do whatever it took to at least find out WHY?
News flash: mental illness and addiction are things that our kids are PRE-DISPOSED toward. It’s not an entirely hereditary issue, but it makes the odds of developing addiction/mental illness go up about 100%. It has been proven that children with untreated mental illness are several times more likely to develop a dependancy to drugs or alcohol. And, p.s., telling someone to “suck it up” or “snap out of it” DOESN’T WORK.
Ok, back to the holidays. When I think of Christmas, I think of family get-togethers with lots of food and presents and all the adults getting hammered. I don’t really remember much about my earliest Christmases, because PTSD.
I used to have my ideas about what I’d like to happen, memories of what had happened in the past, and fears of how it was more than likely going to turn out, as I walked in the door. I knew what to expect, but not how to protect myself or my sobriety.
Someone gave me some simple definitions once:
Anger: I’m not getting what I want.
Fear: I might not get what I want.
Resentment: I didn’t get what I wanted.
Those are possibly overly simplistic in this scenario, but they do fit.
Most of us have had unpleasant and difficult childhoods. I’m not trying to put the blame on our parents; they did the best they could. They may have come up in the same kind of dysfunction, or worse.
The truth of the matter is that we learn the family “script” as children watching how the adults do things. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
When we get together with old friends or family during the holidays, it may be with apprehension and great reluctance. Nobody knows how to push our buttons like family. Oddly, when we start making positive changes in our lives, those are the folks who may be the most resistant. It’s kind of like the family has a script with everyone’s roles established. Everything goes as usual until someone doesn’t read their lines.
Or it’s like if you are dancing with a partner and you change dances mid-song. They’re going to want you to go back to the dance that you’d been rehearsing, even if it does look bad and feel worse to the dancers…
Anyway, it’s late and I’ve got to work tomorrow.
I encourage you, if you’re doing anything tomorrow that gives you that old familiar pain, to plan ahead.
Be sure you have Recovering folks #s on you, don’t forget to pray in the morning and more, and keep your expectations low. Don’t expect yourself to walk through a bunch of drama and come out serene and beaming. Likewise, don’t expect anything from your family that’s not realistic for them.
If Uncle Frank likes to have spiked eggnog starting at breakfast, then maybe it would be helpful for you to decide how to deal with him before you get to the party. If your Mom feels the need to treat you like a 10-year-old even though you’re 50 and have grown children, it could be a good idea to practice setting boundaries beforehand. And if you know that everyone will be sh*t-faced by 9pm, make your excuse when you arrive, (like I’ve gotta catch a meeting @ 8) and then it won’t seem so abrupt when you bolt out the door.
Posted from my treehouse in the woods.
Hey, gang, it’s time for another WONDERFUL Guest Blogger! As you know, I only share the best writers with you all, and this girl is no exception. Without further adeau, I give you Christine Hill
Why Do We Procrastinate the Things We Want Most?
By Christine Hill
I think one of the most useful skills that I learned in college was how to write a 10-page paper in one night.
That’s right. I was one of those students. The major pity is that I kept getting away with it, so I really didn’t have much incentive to change my ways. Now that I’m an adult and there are certain things that simply CANNOT be put off (like the rent check) I’ve learned a little bit more self-regulation. But procrastination is still something I struggle with.
20% of the population considers themselves “chronic procrastinators.” And because it has such a major impact on job performance, tapping into our potential, and creative power, it’s the subject of an awful lot of research. For business start-ups and managers, especially, it can be difficult to decide when to “pull the trigger” and just put an idea into action. Amidst all the research, I think the most effective insights into procrastination are detailed by Tim Urban, author of Wait but Why.
A vivid dramatization of the procrastinator’s struggle is the subject, both on his website, and in his TED talk. Check it out below. It will strike a dramatic chord with anyone who has found themselves panicking the day before a major essay is due.
Because so many people tend to procrastinate, it can be hard to share a one-size-fits all solution. Instead, I’m going to share a few different ways to look at it, and you can decide which one strikes a chord for you:
Connect with the Future Self
One study at Stanford monitored the neural pathways of subjects when they were asked to envision themselves, a stranger, and their future self. For some students, envisioning their future self was much closer to envisioning a stranger than to envisioning their current selves. Others felt a closer kinship and continuity with the future self. Can you guess which group held the worst procrastinators?
Many behavioral theorists believe that procrastination is caused by a disconnect between the current and future self. We prioritize immediate gratification over long-term rewards. There are a few ways that you can trick yourself out of this mindset, though. A study at USC found that when people phrase future plans and deadlines in terms of days rather than months or years, they’re more likely to take action quickly. For example, 3 months away feels a lot farther than 90 days or less. So, in order to connect with your future self, or overcome the divide:
- Think in terms of days, or even hours.
- Be realistic about your future expectations.
- Make a habit of visualizing your future self and the consequences you’ll need to deal with.
Focus on One Step at a Time
Another study on procrastination observed that students procrastinated less if the deadlines were closer and the projects were smaller. In other words, dividing a big task into a lot of little tasks can motivate you to get a project done better. This might sound really obvious, but the science–and the actual implementation of it–is always more complicated than it seems at first.
Breaking down a large task into numerous small ones takes advantage of our natural tendency to value immediate gratification over long-term results. After all, it’s hard to look forward to the reward of working out every day when it could take months for you to start seeing results. However, if you start anticipating a reward that you get with every workout, it can be a lot easier to motivate yourself. Even the rush of completing a task can activate our brain’s reward center. So, in order to use your natural instincts to your own advantage, try breaking down large tasks into small ones with lots of deadlines. Instead of getting overwhelmed with a colossal task, take it one step at a time.
I saved this approach for last because for me, it’s the most striking and motivating. It boils down to one cold hard fact: we procrastinate to avoid pain. To be completely blunt, procrastinators let their life be ruled by fear. Look back at the Wait but Why illustration. Only when the fear of turning in nothing overwhelms the fear of turning in something crappy (i.e. the Panic Monster kicks into high gear) does anything get done.
Phil Stutz and Barry Michels shared an excellent parallel to help procrastinators overcome the habit. They theorize that every procrastinator procrastinates simply in order to avoid pain for as long as possible. Think about the things you put off; they’re unpleasant things that you don’t want to face. It’s a social situation that could be awkward, a time that you risk rejection, something that will require effort and sweat from you. Phil came to know the star runner on the High School football team and came to learn something profound. This boy wasn’t the star runner because he was better at running. He wasn’t stronger or faster than anyone else. He was the best because he ran toward pain instead of trying to avoid it.
He knew that when he tackled someone, it would hurt for a minute, but afterward, he would feel on top of the world! So he learned to run toward pain because on the other side was his actual goal.
Megan Mcardle posits an interesting theory in her article “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators.” She points out that kids who were good at English class tend to have a “fixed mind-set” instead of a “growth mind-set” and believe that tests and challenges aren’t a way to learn new things, but rather it’s a way to sift people into their fixed values. Therefore, the true fear behind procrastination is that ultimately, we’re not enough, and now it will be proven to everyone.
Therefore, when you’re tempted to procrastinate, you need to ask yourself one simple question: are you going to be ruled by fear?
Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.
I need to tell you all, that during the time I was trying to get this post up, the biggest problem I encountered was, you guessed it, procrastination. (Thanks, God!) I guess this is a timely message for all of us. And P. S., Christine, I am a firm believer in the power of a pint of ice cream to make all things better. 🙂
Even after a number of 24s, there are always a few remnants of the old life around.
I remember once I had a CD I wanted to share with my pastor & her husband, especially knowing that he drove a truck cross-country, and was always looking for something good to listen to. After about 2 weeks or so, I went up to Tim and asked him if he’d gotten the CD from Trisha yet. He said “No,” and with a funny look on his face he moved closer to me and said “She’s bogarting it!” He knew it would surprise me, and it did. We had a good laugh. Tim has been clean since long before we knew them. It’s fun to share the “code language” with others, especially when most of the people standing around (think: old church folk) have no idea what’s so funny.
There are several other words that come to mind from the Old Daze, that have continued to pop up on occasion, and it’s a strange feeling when you’re trying to explain the meaning to a non-addict.
The thing that got me thinking about this is when I was getting a cup of coffee at the mini-mart just a while ago.
They have out “Christmas” flavored creamers, with names like Peppermint Mocha, Chocolate Chip cookie, and Chocolate Carmel. Ordinarily I’m a French Vanilla kind of girl, but I do love me some Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, so the Peppermint Mocha caught my attention.
I was looking forward to a delicious -different-tasting- cuppa Joe, as I started adding the sweetener and things. I put in a couple of the Peppermint Mocha creamers, but then I thought “this might be too much for this early in the day”. So I put in another two of the Regular creamers, just to be safe.
I went to pay and mentioned the flavored creamers to the cashier & we talked with another customer about the flavors & which sounded good. Then it happened. I said that I tried the one new kind of creamer, but I “put some cut on it” with the regular creamer.
I wonder to myself what others think when we do that. It’s like the… resin… of what once was. Or am I the only one?
Have you had any experiences where old jargon fell out of your mouth before you realised it?
Posted from the laundromat. Of course. 🙂
July 25, 2016
16 years ago today…
…my youngest child came screaming into the world. Oh, wait, maybe it was ME that was screaming. At any rate, my baby is 16 today. So many things have happened in 16 years. When he was born we were living in the Florida panhandle, loving the life, with a pier behind our place for fishing. Then we moved back to Indiana, where E has remained for most of his life. There were several moves while in Indiana, for financial reasons, mostly. The last place we lived was a small town about halfway between Columbus, IN and Indy. I think it has 2 stop lights.
Then last year we moved across the country to the place we currently reside. I suppose it’s easy to forget how difficult the teen years are, because our brain is able to “forget” extremely difficult periods. At least mine is. I know that when I was 15, I had just begun to investigate what would be the “solution” for what ailed me: alcohol and drugs. There wasn’t much talk, back then, at least where we were, about eating disorders and depression in teenagers, so it’s understandable that nothing much was done. I presented as a teen full of angst, I’m sure, moody as hell, and unhappy with the world. Dad diagnosed me with the “poor me’s” which is likely what he heard growing up. Maybe my attitude problem was an actual illness, that could be addressed and gotten past. But nobody thought that way, then, and there.
I’ve told my son that as miserable as he may be, he ought to try to imagine feeling like that every day instead of occasionally, and without any medication to regulate his brain chemistry. I’m sure if I lived today as a teenager, as much publicity as self-harm and suicide get, I’d be right on that bandwagon. What better way to lash out at uninterested parents, or worse (and usually the case), to try to release some of the emotional pain growing inside?
I’m told that one of the things that causes people to self-harm is the way that the chemicals in the brain respond to pain, with endorphins or dopamine, or whichever of those feel-good chemicals. That makes sense. Internal, or external, we’re going to find some way to escape the pain.
So, moving to a new place at 15 years old, might not be a big deal for a well-adjusted, emotionally stable (is there such a thing, at 15??) kid. Considering the things that life has handed him, I think my boy has adjusted as well as anyone else in his circumstances would.
Moving at this time was one of those “jump and know that God will catch me” things. I’m not gonna say that I don’t think we were supposed to move here, as hard as it has been. I mean, really, things are tough all over, right? My husband and I believe that God allowed this move, if not willed it. And before we moved, I specifically asked the boy if he was ok with it. He said yes (3 months of summer break was a motivator). If we’d have known then what we know now, I’m not sure any of us would have agreed, but move we did, and getting settled, we are.
So, my boy is celebrating his 16th birthday with his big brother, back in Indiana. I know that’s probably the best gift he could have received, as much as he loves his Bubby.
Update: My boy came back home, and I, for one, was READY for him to be back. It was nice having the place to ourselves, but much nicer having him here. At HOME.
I’m glad E got to hang out with his brother, and one of my best friends, and my Mom…I know he had been “homesick”, and really looked forward to the trip. But I’m also pretty sure that his dreams of how a visit “back home” would be, weren’t too close to how things actually went.
So, now, I have a 16-year-old again. I wish things had been different when my elder son (B) was 16. I was an emotional trainwreck, then, and it seemed best for B to go stay with my mother for a time. The continual fighting between the two boys was like plunging a knife deep into the back of someone who’d already been beaten to a pulp. It tore my heart out, and I just didn’t know what else to do. I have deep regrets about that period of time. I know I did my best, but my best at the time seems to have been pretty poor.
In spite of me being such a mess, B has grown up to be a tremendously sensitive, insightful, and compassionate individual. He lives with some of the same inner dragons as I do, and I see him working it out. I’m proud of the man he is becoming. And I pray for him.
My younger son is a Highly Sensitive Person, and by that I mean he feels things more intensely, (including textures) and even his hearing is much better than most. He is thoughtful and caring and smart to the extent that it’s a handicap. E is the guy that his friends come to when they need a shoulder to cry on. High School is super challenging, as it is for everyone, but I know he will find the strength to rise above the difficulties. And I pray for him.
I thank God for each of my children, every day. And I pray that He will lead and guide them as they continue to find their way in the world.
Since I haven’t gotten this posted yet, I want to add some more…
In spite of everything else, this school year looks to be better than last year for E. He’s finding his people, and involved in something that he loves. I’ve changed jobs recently, from one that I loved my co-workers but couldn’t live on the money, to a place where I’m not sure about the co-workers (not that it matters) but eventually we will catch up on the bills and be able to LIVE again. And it’s the same kind of work that I was doing at the last place. I know how to do it. It’s caring for people that seemingly no one else cares to, or wants to care for. To be fair, it’s not something everyone CAN do, I guess.
But, here we are. I’m growing fond of our new home. My son appears to be less unhappy here, and my husband enjoys his work, and also he’s making progress in the corporate ladder-climbing thing. So, I’ve been slacking on my writing, and I thought I’d get this up while I’m thinking of it.
Happy Fall, Y’all!
Someone said that the way you spell love to a child is T-I-M-E. Isn’t that really the way we spell love for anything that matters in our lives? The reality is, that if you take my money, I can make it back. If you take my time, it’s gone forever.
I got up this morning thinking about priorities. The best way to tell what really matters to a person is by looking 2 places. Can you guess where they are? Their checkbook/bank statement and their calendar. As I apply that to myself, I am sorry to say that “Leisure” appears to be my biggest priority. The other night at Celebrate recovery we were asked the question “What prevents you from doing God’s will?” and there was a list of things like work, family, pleasure, and church…
What is God’s will?
Someone said that she wasn’t really even sure what God’s will was, and I remember thinking that same thing. Eventually I figured out that God’s will for me was usually going to be something that didn’t immediately benefit me, but benefited someone else. (Selflessness is a big thing to my Higher Power) I learned over time that God’s will was without a doubt going to be the best thing for me, when it was all said and done. I’m great with that. Maybe it’s because of my age, at this point, and/or experience, but my next thought is “what am I going to have to go through BEFORE it’s “all said and done”? It’s true that if it’s not the best, them it’s not all said and done.
Well, the majority of my funds at the moment (outside of the bare necessities)are going to things that make ME happy. I can’t remember the last time I tithed, in an actual church. Shoot, other than the trip to Indiana a couple of months ago, it’s been a rarity to find me in a church, period. And I don’t like that. I miss the days of being at The Revival, when we would be in God’s presence -I mean, like, tangible Presence- for hours, 5 days a week. I know, you’re probably thinking “What do you do at church for hours?!” I’ll tell you. We sang to the Lord, and we prayed, and mostly, we sang. The sound of a couple thousand people singing “hallelujah” together will give anyone goosebumps. It was literally like you could hear the unseen angels singing along. But I digress.
I’m a fairly down-to-earth kinda woman, or so I’ve been told. I’m willing to accept that, if it means relatively low maintenance, and practical. I guess it tells my age that I think those two things are pretty complimentary. So, what I do spend my “mad money” on…mostly things that make me feel better about how I look. As a married person, I think a certain amount of vanity isn’t a terrible thing, but I’ve been known to rationalize, before. But, yeah. I want to look nice for my husband, and I suppose, for myself too. It’s pretty minimal stuff, though. I’m grateful to have discovered that if I stay out of places like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s I don’t spend money on craft supplies, and the less I go to the Goodwill, the less I spend on clothes.
I think this is the biggest culprit of my wastefulness. Anyone who knows me, if they were being blatantly honest, would have to say that it’s true. I waste a lot of time in front of the “Idiot Box” (My Dad’s loving description. Still true today, though, isn’t it?). This morning, I actually got out my Bible and read. Not enough to feel too “holy” about, mind you, but some. And then I realised that this was what I was going to share with you today.
I have, in the past, gone out of the room when my family is watching tv, and I have gotten out of that habit. After work, I want to decompress, doesn’t everyone? But a half hour turns into an hour turns into the rest of the night and then it’s bedtime. I want to find other things to fill my time, things that will enrich my mind and my life. As the weather gets back to a tolerable temperature, I’d like to think I will get outside and walk. I know it could only do me good. But…I’m lazy. I can rationalize it a dozen ways (just ask), but the truth is “I don’t want to!”
However, I DO want to lose weight, and I DO want to be able to breathe more easily after walking upstairs to our apartment. I DO want to feel the sun on my face…Therein lies my dilemma. I am torn between what my SELF wants to do, and what my Spirit wants to do.
Never thought of it like that. That makes sense. My Self wants to lay around and eat. My Spirit wants to make the most of this life. THIS TIME WILL NEVER COME AGAIN.
So. I feel certain that I can do a little housework each day, do a little writing, and then find something to do that involves me NOT sitting on my butt.
I’ll let ya know how this works out for me.