Sunday, October 24, 2010


It seems that I have fallen into patterns of inconsistency in areas of my life where I need them the most.  Housework has always been something that I did in "fits and starts," though I have always longed for an orderly house, and have deeply appreciated my own home and that of others when the feng shui is working.
The kind of "housekeeping" that is suggested in Step 10 is also an area of inconsistency for me: I struggle so with setting and honoring my own boundaries that I tend to do this step in "fits and starts" as well, resulting in many episodes of clumsiness, where I inadvertently step on toes--even my own.

What I am learning now, as my attendance at meetings has become inconsistent this fall, is that the commitment to attend meetings regularly is as important now, six years into  my program, as it was six years ago, when I was just a beginner.

At the risk of over-analyzing, I will stop this post here, and leave it as a stated intention.  HP, please hear this and help me keep my focus on this intention.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I am trying to figure out why I often feel disrespected by my family.  The other night, my husband, my daughters (both young adults and both living out on their own) and I were hanging out in the kitchen. It was the first time we had all been together in a month or so and we were doing the usual catching up, reconnecting, and it felt pretty good.  My younger daughter was about to embark on a camping/hiking overnight to climb a pretty rugged mountain with a friend. They would be leaving the next day, and I was a little concerned about the thunderstorms that had been forecast.  I asked K if she had listened to a weather report, and she said that she hadn't but asked what I had heard, so I told her.  I then expressed my concern about the mountain hike and since I hadn't hiked this particular mountain before, but my husband has many times, I asked him what kinds of precautions the rangers took.  He explained that when predictions were in any way dangerous, they close the mountain, which reassured me and gave K some good information.  I then said that I hoped that she and her friend, whom we have all known since childhood, wouldn't decide to do anything foolish.  All of a sudden, I was receiving a lecture from my older daughter about how I shouldn't be such a "downer" and that I always kill people's enthusiasm and I shouldn't worry so much, but should be more encouraging.  My husband stood by smiling.

The next day, my older daughter, who, with our baby granddaughter, had spent the night, had a meltdown over the burden of responsibility that is currently falling to her in her young family.  I listened and empathized and, when prompted, made an offer of help that felt right to me.  Later, and not in her presence, I asked my husband if he and I could talk about what we could and couldn't present as some helpful options.  I wanted collaboration, and what I got was a lecture on how I shouldn't offer anything, but should wait until we are asked.

I feel disrespected when I am lectured at in this way, and when, despite anything I say or do, my attempts at communication are responded to with a lecture.  I find myself tonight ruminating on the fact that no one else in the family seems to get the same kinds of lectures.  And I wonder---what is my part?  What is it that I do that provokes this kind of response, particularly from my immediate family?  I am reminded of the quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can insult you without your permission."  Only I have not given my permission.  At least I don't think I have.  But what have I done?  Have I disrespected myself in a way that has given others permission to do the same?

I have some thinking to do about this.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In the meantime . . .

 It has been several months since I last wrote in this journal and, in the meantime, lots has happened. Since December, much of my energy has gone to coping with the aftermath of my mother's death--all of the practical matters fell to me and I did my best to follow through and to take care of my own emotional and physical needs while remaining available and responsive to (not responsible for--thanks to AlAnon) the needs of my loved ones.  Grief packed a subtle, but very powerful punch, and I know it will be a while before I have completely recaptured my breath, but I continue to inhale and exhale and there are many moments now when the air is nothing short of exquisitely sweet.

My youngest daughter, about to embark on her senior year in college, has moved to an apartment, so, somewhat unexpectedly, the nest is empty.  My older daughter and her daughter, now a toddler, are spending more time with us this summer, however, as her partner is spending more time on the road.  Mixed feelings for me about all of this, and in the meantime, I inhale and exhale and treasure the sweet air.

Another school year has passed, fraught with anxiety, pressure, and uncertainty due to politics, budget cuts, and other issues way beyond my scope of even imagined control.  For me, this meant beginning the year as part of a new team who was expected become an instantly functioning team (2 of the 3 of us had not taught that grade level in that school before), which of course is not possible, and ending the year not knowing what or where I would be teaching this fall up until the very last minute (though I heard many times from others that I should have been happy that at least I knew I would have a job.)  In the meantime, however, I thoroughly enjoyed my students, continued to learn and grow from relations with my peers, and was able to keep perspective on the chaotic situations around me.  And when I just lost in in a reactive mode, I generally recovered pretty quickly.

So life goes on, and continues, in my view to be much better than the alternative, and so I am experiencing the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the inhales and exhales with a degree of gratitude and appreciation that I have never known before.
Even the deep grief and panic that has been recently triggered by some uncertainties that I'll write about another time . . . even this is welcome to me now.

And especially welcome is the realization that I no longer want to live the same way I have previously lived "in the meantime."  I used to feel lost, almost literally beside myself, unless I knew that I had something, some anchor, either behind or ahead of me.  This could take the form of something to look forward to, or something I had done already that I could tell stories about.  But unless I had some "big thing" that had happened or was about to happen, I didn't know who I was or what to do. So those times between big things were horrifying to me,
A change has occurred and I just no longer need this.  I can't say that I always know who I am or what to do . . . these things seem to flow and change . . . but I can say that most of the time, when I am uncertain and in between things, on some level I am aware that I am ok.
Those big events will happen, whether we try to orchestrate them or not.  The in-between times, the meantimes, are not meant to be squandered in worries and fears.  The meantimes are what constitute and connect life itself, and every single moment is to be cherished and savored.  That is how I now want to live in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Entirely is a big word

This morning, while reading an old volume of "Forum Favorites," I came across this passage in a reflection on Step 6:

We continue in the same roles: giving loud lectures to the children--believing it's for their good; going out of our way to be helpful to friends and co-workers--to satisfy our own egos; demanding too much of ourselves; "managing" a husband or wife--just to avoid trouble.

Well, there I am.  The passage goes on:

We progress when we look deeper at ourselves and recognize that the parts we are playing are actually defects which add to our troubles. . . . When we gain this insight we realize how necessary it is to change our responses. . . . We may butt our heads against the stone wall over and over again until we are so uncomfortable, so sick and tired of hurting, that we'll finally cut out the nonsense, recognize the reality of the situation, identify our part in it, and decide once and for all that we don't want those defects that give us so much pain.  Then we'll be entirely ready . . ."

And that is where I would like to be . . . entirely ready.  But it seems I want to skip over the pain part.  I'd like to get to the change without getting sick and tired, and yet, the more I fight my own pain, the more I prolong it.  The old "stiff upper lip" business is a sham.  And then when I do let go and cry--why does it seem so odd to me that I feel better afterward??
I'd like to make the commitment to myself that today, I will feel my feelings whatever they may be and whenever they occur.   And let's see what happens.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


It seems that in the last couple of months, I have taken a giant sidestep off of my recovery path.  My mother's sudden, but not unanticipated death in mid-October brought on a lot of immediate "have-tos" and my usual everyday life was tossed aside so that I could attend to what HAD to be done.  In the aftermath, it seemed to everyone, including me, that I was coping especially well.  For a few weeks, my outlook was pretty sunny, and I returned to the appearance of normal life in due time.

But a couple of weeks ago, the shadows that lay beneath the surface of that bright exterior began to show themselves, and I began to sink into a sad, sorry state that is pretty pervasive at the moment.  I am still carrying on:  I go to work every day and am generally pretty cheerful with my students; I am getting Christmas preparations accomplished; I see an occasional friend.
This is not enough, however, and I know it.  I am not WORKING my program.  The word is work and work is sometimes not easy.  This is one of those times.  WORKING my program requires effort and I am not making that effort at this time.
My attendance at meetings, my reading of literature, my contact with either of my sponsors, my connection with HP, my writing, my applying the steps and principles in my everyday life have been sporadic at best.

A friend who runs marathons once told me that when he gets to the point in his race where he feels like giving up (and he gets to that point EVERY time he runs a great distance) he kicks into thinking thoughts like, "I only have to make it to the next driveway" or "I just have to get to the next telephone pole" and as he thinks in the very short term like this, he soon forgets that he is running this huge distance, and before he know it, his race is complete.

"One day at a time" feels like a marathon to me right now. Right now and in the next few moments is just about all I can handle.  So right now, I am getting back to writing.  Next, I will do some reading. Who knows, I may even call one of my sponsors today . . .

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A sigh, a plea, a prayer . . .

It seems a long time ago that I last wrote here, though my dashboard tells me it was just two weeks. But for me, two weeks between times that I sit down and write anything is a very long time. I have become an habitual writer, and, though my profession as a teacher calls for me to write regularly, I really miss writing for myself during those rare spans of time when I fail to do it. Today, finally, I am taking time to take a deep breath, allowing myself time to reflect, and giving myself opportunity to do some things that I want to do just because I want to do them.
There is my sigh.

I am beginning to wonder if, as much as I have thought I wanted it, I was ever truly cut out to act in collaboration with other human beings. My husband used to tell me that he lacked communication skills and social skills, and that just because I was good at talking, and I enjoyed socializing, I shouldn't expect him to be the same. OK, I got that. But, for the past few years, I have noticed that it is me, not him, who seems regularly to be in adversarial situations with other people--at work, in the extended family, among friends. Granted, I do DO more socializing than he, and my work requires more extroversion than his, but I am not sure that the difference in volume of activity accounts completely for my relative lack of serenity in my relationships.
My most serene moments occur when I am alone in the natural world. Paddling a kayak on calm waters, swimming in a spring-fed lake, sitting on a beach or walking on a mountain trail with my dog, I am at peace. When I am home alone in an orderly, clean household, I can feel a similar calm. Sometimes I can get to the same place doing yoga, stretching, or strengthening exercises behind a closed bedroom door. In the presence of other people, however, I all but forget that those moments of serenity can exist for me. My boundaries, though far better than ever before, are still so amoeba-like. And when I am in the presence of people whom I feel are demanding of my attention, I can become so unbound, unnerved, and agitated. I wish this weren't so, it is excruciating to experience this disconnect when I truly want to connect with others.
There is my plea.

I got into a verbal tussel with a co-teacher friend last evening before I left school. I was tired and short-tempered with her and I spewed an angry comment. This painful exchange has fueled my doubt about myself in relationships. Though I rarely get angry, disconnected exchanges with others are not unusual in my life. Today it seems to be yet another piece of evidence that I am ill-suited for meaningful connections. I want to make an amends to this woman, and at the same time, I want to be accepting of myself and my emotions, and to be open to the message that my feelings carry for me. So my prayer is for help receiving the message and accepting myself as I am, feelings and all, and for the wisdom to know the proper amends and the courage to carry it out.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Something New

A couple of weeks ago, I approached a woman who regularly attends my home Al-Anon meeting, and asked her to help me do a thorough and complete 4th step. (Not as in "once and for all," but as in a detailed and systematic inventory.) Though I have a sponsor with whom I connect regularly, for some reason, she and I have never been able to do this.

At about the same time, and it was right around the time that my surgeon told me it was ok for me to drive again, I made a commitment to work the steps to the best of my ability on my own addiction--food--and I connected with a friend in OA. After some discussion, we found that our dangerous times seem to coincide with each other, so we agreed to make daily contact via phone or email between 2 and 5 each day.

These commitments are scary to me, because they involve other people, which means I cannot have even the perception of total control. It also means that I have to trust, or at least act as if I trust (and both of these folks are trustworthy), even during the times that I don't, acknowledging and honoring my boundaries as I go. But I learned a great lesson through the experience of being totally vulnerable during and, to a degree, after surgery: that not only are there good people who are trustworthy, even though they, we, are all humanly flawed, and that allowing the connection between me and those people to develop without my constant attempts to control every aspect of it's construction makes for a stronger, more flexible and therefore more durable bond. And, even better, those connections between me and others and my connection to my higher power feed each other constantly, and, if I will allow them, have the potential to feed me the love and care for which food is only a very poor substitute.