And the tears come

Every month, for the last three or so, someone whom I cared about has died. I can’t even remember further back than that, but it seems to be pretty much on the reg, now. It’s a part of life, right? People die. People are born, and then they die. The Bigger Big Book says that each person is given about 60-70 years to live. Maybe more if you’re a truly amazing individual. But that’s really not the norm for the kind of people that I am acquainted with. The folks in my Tribe usually don’t make it past 40 or 50. Out of the last three to die, one was in his mid 40’s and the other two were right around 50.  

So, here’s the thing that prompted me to write about this: I don’t feel much of anything. I mean, one of these folks was a fairly close relative, and the other two had been important in my life at different times. Shouldn’t I feel…sad? I think intellectually I know I am sad, but emotionally I’m pretty well distanced from that pain. 
When I entered Treatment, I was all up in my head. I had a full-on case of Analysis Paralysis.  Someone told me that I did that to avoid feeling anything unpleasant. It took me a little while to become more aware of what I was actually feeling, and I think part of that lesson involved noticing the signals my body gave me. For example, when I’m initially anxious or stressed, my stomach aches. If I ignore it, the stomach ache moves on down my digestive tract. When I’m afraid I get tensed up and instinctively begin looking for an exit. I had come to distrust myself (and wear a mask) so much of the time, that I completely ignored these signs of my mental upset.  


I was in my teens I think, when I decided that I wasn’t going to cry anymore. I didn’t know it then, but I’d been depressed and struggling with PTSD for years, so crying had been part of a normal day for me. So, I concluded at this time that I wasn’t going to let anyone make me cry. God knows how, but I didn’t cry for more than a year. People died, relationships came and went, but I did not cry. I felt like I had grown callouses around my heart. Eventually I did allow the tears to escape, but even now, they are more difficult to access. There have been times when I was terrified and grief-stricken, but the tears only came for about 15 minutes at a time. Then they stopped. 


This concerns me.


It’s no secret that I have been taking medication to alleviate the depression for many years. I have been grateful to escape the darkness that lurks in my mind via Medical Professionals and pharmaceuticals. I remember telling someone who was considering trying meds for depression that they made me feel “appropriately”. As in, when it was a sad occasion, I felt sad, and when it was a happy event, I could smile and laugh. 
Before the medications, if it was a sad time, I was sad, and if it was a happy time, I was slightly less sad. Eeyore was of course my spirit animal.

I try to keep in mind that there are always many factors to consider when trouble-shooting my emotions. The biggest factor I can come up with now is that I’ve become more aware of PTSD symptoms when they crop up. I’ve figured out several scenarios where I am very much going to be uncomfortable and that I need to try and avoid. That awareness is helpful. It also makes it easier for me to see when others may be having the same issues.


So, in the process of self-examination, each time I learn of someone who has been important in my life dying as a result of this disease, I don’t really feel anything.  The last person, I was shocked at first, but that was just because I thought she’d dodged so many bullets already that she’d never die. And then when I thought about times that we’d been together – and there were ALWAYS shenanigans involved – I couldn’t really work up any feelings.  Same basic situation with the person before her, but we had been friends during childhood…nothing. Before that was my Uncle. 


Brett was a couple of years younger than me, and for as long as I could remember, up until I was 16 or so, I would spend at least a week with him on Grandpa’s farm. We were very much like brother and sister. We swam in the lake, fished, caught nightcrawlers for said fishing, climbed trees and even cleaned out an old pig house (like a very small shed) for a fort.  Brett was where I learned the amazing skill of rolling off of the top bunk directly onto the bottom bunk. Those were the days. As I think back, I miss that period of my life. I miss the carefree time out in the country, being as much of a tomboy as I could stand, and knowing that I was a part of
I’m not sure if that all even has anything to do with my uncle, necessarily. I am saddened to think of my innocence then, and how far I ran to the opposite extreme in my active using…years. Maybe it was the fact that I could count on, every summer, getting that break from my reality.  


So, yeah. I wonder about my lack of feeling. Is it a result of having had so many painful and traumatic experiences, that I’m just not (yet) able to open up that part of my consciousness? Is it the old standard “IDGAF” that I programmed into myself for such a long time? And then when I ponder these things, there’s the part of me that says I need to suck it up, remember there are many people who would LOVE to have my problems (I do, and feel terrible for not being more thankful), and make a gratitude list. Gratitude lists are EXCELLENT, by the way, but they’re not the end-all and be-all for overcoming these things. 


I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this sort pf thing, primarily because I’m not sure how to remedy it, and you know the old saying “You can’t think yourself to sober living. You have to live yourself into sober thinking.”


Do you have any experience with this all-encompassing numbness? Do you “know” the right feelings for situations and yet not have them? Do you think this is part of the whole “children of alcoholics watch others to see how they should feel” thing?


I don’t have the answers, and thank God I don’t have to, today. 

P. S. 

Moments after writing this, I was informed that my only friend in this state died this afternoon. It was an overdose. She had a son that was friends with my son, and another who was 4. I am feeling now. 


Written in my cabin in the mountains.

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Understand

I don’t. 

The Democracy thing is set up so that the majority vote decides, right? Has everyone gone mad? 

In my understanding, as a Christ-follower, I am to pray for our leadership, and remember that God is sovereign. 

Throwing temper tantrums never worked for me as a child, but I guess many folks were raised with a very different experience. 

I used to take people’s words at face value. Then I realised that unless the actions line up with the words, it’s foolish for me to take people’s words as truth. 

I’ve been quiet lately because I watch and see what transpires. So far, I’m embarrassed to be connected to the folks who are acting like savages. That is all.
…from my shack in the forest.

It’s a new day…

God only knows what’s in store for  “we the people”, but I’m excited. I’m so ready to stop the…sadness, sickness, anger…among other things that can be helped with just a bit of effort.

I am grateful for the liberties that this country affords us as it’s citizens. There are many countries in which people are being slaughtered for the crime of owning a holy book. Literally. Women and men made to watch their children’s suffering before they become the object of tormenting, the likes of which you can see on Criminal Minds.
I am grateful to be able to wear what I like and travel alone without being questioned or worse. 

I thank God for His never-ending mercies. He is a just God, but He prefers to show mercy to repentant hearts. 

I am grateful to be able to show affection to those I love and care about. 

I’m grateful for a husband who’s encouraging,  a hard worker, funny, quick to forgive, gentle when necessary and an ex-Navy Seal. Never have I felt safer in every way. He’s just one more example of my God’s compassion. 

So happy together

I am grateful for friends who agree with me as well as friends who don’t. 
I’ve lived long enough to know that things aren’t always what they seem, and sometimes that’s a GOOD thing. 

I’m grateful for being freed from the bondage of self, the chains of addiction, and from being a slave to sin. 

Thank you for reading, and for praying for peace. Let’s try to be kind to one another. 🌷

From my cabin in them thar hills. 

Time marches on.

Last week I wrote about the  3 tragic words I never want to hear again, and the phone call I got from my Aunt, about my Uncle’s impending… expiration.
Today I got another call, saying that he’s not expected to last the rest of the night. I felt, well, nothing at first. I suppose that’s my go-to, when situations come along that provoke strong feelings. I get kinda numb, then I process what I’m feeling, and how I’m going to get through it.

Family Disease
I want to call and talk to him, but I haven’t talked to him in years… so it seems kind of, I don’t know, wrong? It’s not that we ever had a falling out or that we cared less about each other. We just began to live in drastically different ways. I guess it began when Dad got sober, really: the line was drawn in the sand. This Uncle and my Grandpa were going to drink until they couldn’t, and to hell with anyone who tried to tell them that they ought to stop. (a la Nick Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas”). I have another Uncle, for the record, who is just the opposite of the others of us. I’m not sure he’s ever been drunk, and his life is the stuff of magazine covers.

Turkey Run State Park 042

Turkey Run State Park

Summertime in Indiana

I’m remembering things we did as kids, when I’d spend at least a week every summer on the farm…like the sleepovers where I learned how to flip from the top bunkbed to the bottom without touching the floor. Oh, yeah, that’s a trick you NEED to try!
Or the tree-climbing where we tried to see how far down our spit could go before hitting a limb below us. Then there were the times we had rock fights while standing, oh, about 5 feet away from each other. (Did I mention that I was kind of a Tomboy?) Come to think of it, I’m positive that he wasn’t trying to hit me, because he was a tough, sports-playing country boy, and I KNOW he could have if he’d wanted to. And there were the times after it rained, when they lived in town and we would go worm-hunting…we fished by the pond in the back yard, and swam in the rock quarry…

kids-climbing-huge-tree-9657018

Kinda like this, but poorer & dirtier

We talked about music and life, and whatever important things kids talk about when adults aren’t around…

And, I wonder if he’s ready to go, now. I’m sure he hadn’t planned on dying this soon. We were alike in many ways, not wanting to grow up, being but one. So, I pray for my Uncle Brett. May God rest his soul.
I wonder if I’m the only one who finds it harder to feel the heartbreaks, as time goes by. I was thinking of it earlier, and I think it’s like having thickened scar tissue. After so many traumas and heartbreaks, the scar tissue is so hard that the pain doesn’t really sink in, to where it ought to go. It goes…somewhere, and I don’t feel it. It doesn’t go away, mind you. It just doesn’t stay where I can feel it.
I read recently that it’s been scientifically proven that you can die from a broken heart. (Once again science proves something humanity has known forever.) I believe it. I somehow doubt that it will happen to me, considering that they also say that stress gives you gray hair. Really? Hm. Something at a very foundational level is different here, I guess, because I’ve got oh, about 8 gray hairs. SERIOUSLY. I’ve earned a butt load more than that. Eh, I guess it’s some consolation that it causes folks to think I’m younger than I am. (I’m not so immature, I guess, if I’m actually quite a bit younger than I am.) 🙂
My least favorite part of growing older, hands down, is people dying.

So, where was I?
Sad. Old. But not gray.
Meh. I’ll take it, I guess. Life is good, today. And I am grateful.

Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

images

Beware, little lambs

I just wrote a long post about a Newbie in sobriety and an older person who’s attempting to take advantage of her, and then erased it. Thinking of the emotional train wreck most of us are when we first get clean and sober, it’s altogether too easy to fall into a trap.

Nothing New Uunder the Sun
When I first got clean, I was sexually harassed by the Dr. who was supposed to be helping the women at the treatment center where I was being treated. I never told anyone at the time, because, honestly, who would believe a drug addict over a “respected” citizen? No doubt he was counting on that, and my only regret is that I didn’t speak up so as to possibly spare the next women coming behind me. At the time, it was the sort of thing that I’d gotten used to (sexual abuse/harassment) so much that it was “just another day” when he said those disgusting things to me. The same kind of scenario is going on with my friend: he’s a “model citizen”, and taking advantage of her vulnerability.

Books and their Covers
Prior to treatment, while in my addiction, I used my “womanly wiles” to get by at times. Heck, that was the only value I had, and the only way I knew to get something that resembled love, if only for a little while. However, I wasn’t usually as slick as the ones I was trying to manipulate, and ultimately I was always the one who got hurt.

Hurt people, hurt people
My friend is being sexually harassed in front of her child. He has already been damaged (seen) enough; he doesn’t need to learn more ways to behave inappropriately toward women. But I can’t do it for her. I can validate her feelings that “something’s not right”, and I can encourage her to set boundaries. And most importantly, I can pray for her.
That’s all I can bring myself to say, now. I’m going to go do some cleaning and blow off some energy. I know it’s difficult learning to stand up for yourself. I completely get it, boundaries are REALLY a foreign concept. It just brings back so many painful memories, and I want to help my friend to avoid them…

Service Work and Gratitude

Good Spiritual Morning!

So, this morning I met up with a new friend (from Celebrate Recovery), and dropped my boy off at her place to hang out & go swimming with her son. Then I followed her to an AA meeting, all before work. This required me being up and out of the house by shortly after 6am. (INSANITY, right?!) So, of course I was running late, and then my gps SUCKED, so we drove in large, gas-wasting circles, and ended up getting to the meeting when it was about halfway through. (Grrrrrrr.) 
I left the meeting 5 minutes early in order to get to work on time (yes, I do want a gold star for my Incredible  Adulting Skills), and was feeling somewhat less tense than before, by the time I pulled into the parking lot. I should mention that even though being late is definitely a part of my DNA, it still causes me great anxiety when I’m late for something as important as work.  
Work went along like it usually does, with 20% of staff doing 80% of the work, and the usual drama and high-tension, running around like chickens with our heads cut off…

“I love my job I love my job I love my job” annnnd deep, slow breaths…

Time to relax, right?

After I left work I was able to check my text messages and voicemails, and I discovered that my son had gone to the hospital with his new friend and his Mom. Something about a new medication for siezures…but I’m not sure what happened. The look of fear on her 13-year-old son’s face said a lot.

Rolling with the changes

So, now I’m sitting at home watching.”Daddy’s Home” with the boys and thinking about what kind of pizza we want to get. Thankful that, today, I am able to see a need and follow through on meeting it. One more blessing of sobriety. I may never see the boy again (he isn’t usually with his mom), but today I was allowed to be a positive force in his story, however briefly.

Grace under pressure?

The thing is, this kind of day is the kind of thing where my past experiences come in handy. I’m not great in the ordinary, average day-to-day stuff. I wish it wasn’t so, but the truth is, I generally handle crisis with relative ease. I truly wish it wasn’t so.

Which reminds me

Did I mention that I met my new counsellor yesterday? She’s nice enough and seems to know her stuff. We talked about CBT and how that would mean me having to do homework. Ugh. My son, of course, informed me that I will be doing my homework. Smart aleck kid. I will do it, but I don’t have to like it. Just gotta keep my eyes on the prize: peace, serenity, self-confidence. I deserve all of those things, and I will work for them.

Thanks for listening. You really do rock. image

What’s your week looking like, so far?

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

Saturday afternoon contemplations

I feel like I want to write something – God knows there’s plenty of verbage flying around in my mind – but I’m just not sure what.

Comparisons are baaad, mkay?

(Please excuse the South Park humor) I don’t have a functional radio/cd player in my ride, so I’ve been immersing myself in Recovery podcasts. It’s really been a blessing, and it’s good to be sitting in traffic, listening to “my people” talking about the kind of life that I -and not so many other folks -have experienced and lived to tell about. I catch myself laughing (a great recovery tool in its own right) and nodding in agreement on my way to and from work, and for that, I’m really grateful. (See links at the bottom of the post for some of my favorites.)

Just one problem

The drawback being, my (internal) Committee – you know, the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee – is forever comparing me to them. The guys and gals who are so witty, so good at expressing themselves, and (clearly) kicking ass in their own lives. They tell me that all of the writers and/or podcasters are infinitely smarter, younger, more attractive, better at their jobs, less damaged, self-confident, domestically skilled partners, living with financial security, great parents, being paid to do the work that satisfies their hearts and souls, and on and on ad nauseam…

Getting into the Solution

It helps me at times like this, to refer to the list of positive qualities that I’ve written down that sits at my make-up table.

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My positives list

Last week I solicited these from a couple friends who’ve known me for a long time, and from one wonderful person who’s seen me in a professional capacity, which is to say that we worked together. They were able to give me a respectable list of positive qualities, to be sure. Just knowing there women causes me a great feeling of gratitude. I’m humbled to have them count me as a friend.
I need to read this list DAILY.
I think I’ll go do that now.

Hang on.

To be honest

I suppose since “honest” is one of the words my friends described me with, I should tell you that what I referred to as a “make-up table” is, in reality, an ironing board in a closet where I put on the make-up before going into work. Ok, so that’s cleared up.

Anyway, it’s a difficult task, letting the positives come into my mind without immediately deflecting them, shooting them out of the sky like so many skeet shooters. I mean, I’ve known me for a REALLY long time, and I’ve SEEN some of the things I’ve done AND STILL DO. Some, more than just occasionally!!

What would I tell a friend in this situation?

Asking myself that question has been tremendously helpful. I have a gift for exhortations, but I am so often completely incapable of speaking to myself with kindness and grace.

Soooo….

If I were talking to a friend, I’d remind her that we tend to judge our own insides by other people’s outsides. The “beautiful people” may feel insecure and unworthy, just like me, but maybe they’re just better at hiding it.
Maybe I need to work on forgiving myself for being imperfect. Maybe I’ll pursue that counsellor I talked to my GP about the other day, especially now that I’ve got insurance again. Maybe it’s time to adjust the meds again.

Anyway, it’s gonna be ok. I’m working on transparency, here, again. I don’t know if any you struggle with these things, but if anyone else does, I’m hoping this will help.
You’re not alone.
It gets easier. It really does. I promise.

Here’s links to some of my favorite pod-talkers. (Soundcloud ROCKS,YO.)

Since Right Now / The Recovery Revolution

Sober Courage

Bad Story

Buzzkill

High Wire Girl

I so wish podcasts were around when I crawled back into pseudo-reality. They’re quite brilliant, and they go great with a strong cuppa joe and a bagel.

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.